Thank you Ed Sheeran for the major inspiration and for hyping me up for visiting the beautiful city of Galway! Though this trip was quite spontaneous, it was always in my plan to see Ireland as much as I could in my one full week there. Galway was an easy choice for us when it came to picking a home base for all of our excursions out west because of its convenience in location and plenty of tour options. Galway is the 6th most populated city in Ireland with over 80,000 residents. In comparison, Dublin, the capital and largest city in the country, has a population of around 2 million! As you can probably imagine, Galway city is actually quite small, and city center itself can be quite easy to navigate after walking around for just a few hours. You can imagine how well we were with out directions after just a couple of days!
I spent a total of 4 nights in a Galway, while some of my friends split up and headed back home early. It was the perfect amount of time to see Galway itself, spend some time at the Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, and of course, the Aran Islands (posts to come). I recommend at least one full day here to fully check out all the cool pubs in the city, visit the Spanish Arch, check out the weekend market outside St. Nicholas' Church, and on a nice day stroll along the Salthill Promenade looking out over Galway Bay.
Stroll through the Latin Quarter
Galway has a very unique personality, but the Latin Quarter has to be the most beautiful and charming parts of the city. In the 4 nights that I stayed in Galway, we walked through the Latin Quarter so many times, I could probably list out all of the restaurants and shops in order and give a stranger directions on where to walk. In this very small part of the city spanning a few cobblestone blocks lined with Christmas lights during the holidays, you can find dozens of bustling pubs, traditional and trendy eateries, cultural exhibits and museums. It's a very easy neighborhood to get lost in and never want to leave. I know I didn't!
Eat a slice at the Pie Maker
Back in college, one of my go-to, no-fail recipes was a chicken pot pie that I would make all the time. I've never made it again since for whatever reason, but every time I eat a pot pie or get chicken pot pie soup from Hale & Hearty for lunch, it is always nostalgic for me. The Pie Maker is a small, cozy spot in the Latin Quarter that serves a relatively simple menu with an assortment of savory pies and sweet pies for dessert. The individually sized savory pies are served with soup or salad, and was surprisingly very filling. My chicken and wild mushroom pie was so delicious, and I made sure to save room for dessert because their sweet options will give you a run for your money.
Sip tea at Cupán Tae
There's nothing as sweet as a good afternoon tea time, and when it's pouring rain and outdoor activities are not a viable option, Cupán Tae comes to the rescue. Located right near the Spanish Arch at the end of the Latin Quarter, this cute little eatery is the perfect place to stop by for a mid-afternoon snack. They offer a large selection of baked goods, including cakes, scones, cookies, brownies and more. Or if you're looking for the traditional high tea experience like I always am, they have that too! We shared a 3-tiered assortment of finger sandwiches, scones, and cakes, and each had our pick of a large pot of tea. Trust me, picking just one tea is going to be the hardest part with the endless options of the menu. Try the popcorn tea - it's unique, buttery, and delicious!
St Nicholas' Church
Founded in 1320, St Nicholas' is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland. It also happens to sit in the heart of Galway city and is difficult to miss. Make sure to stop by for a quick visit since it's both free and a nice escape from the rain. I've always enjoyed visiting churches and cathedrals in every city I visit because I think they all have very rich and deep histories to tell. While some are more ornate and decorative, I appreciated the simplicity of this church a lot. We also enjoyed our time outside of the church at the Galway Market, which is around every Saturday. Luckily, we were coincidentally in town the same day so we didn't have to miss out on it!
Visit the Spanish Arch
The Spanish Arch is one of Galway's most treasured Gems and is located on the left bank of the Corrib River. It was built in 1584 by Wylliam Martin (34th mayor of Galway) as an extension of the 12th century Norman-built town wall. The Arch was originally known as the Ceann an Bhalla (Head of the wall) and housed many soldiers keeping watch and manning cannons on the roof. It later became known as the Spanish Arch, most likely due to former merchant trade with Spain and the Spanish ships that would dock there. Christopher Columbus actually visited in 1477! One of the arches seemed to be under construction during out visit, but we were still able to walk through the main arch on the left.
Wander through Eyre Square
Every city has a heart and soul, and Eyre Square is the center of it all in Galway. I'm so happy we came in the month of December because that means the square was all decked out with lights, decor, a bustling Christmas market and even a ferris wheel.
Grab a Pint at O' Connors Pub/ O' Connell's Bar
Can you really expect 5 girls to go to Galway and not visit to the pub(s) that Ed Sheeran shot part of his Galway Girl music video in?! I think we listened to that song at least a dozen times in Dublin to prep ourselves for the Galway portion of the trip.
We visited both O'Connell's Bar (located in Eyre Square) and O'Connor's Pub (located in Salthill), which we're both incredible fun, festive, and full of a mix of both tourists and locals. It's really not hard to have a great time at a pub on the weekend in Galway or Dublin, but these two definitely lived up to and exceeded our expectations. The best part were the holiday drinks and the decorations everywhere reminding me that Christmas is coming soon!
Yes, these hats traveled 3,000 miles just for this picture right here. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and holiday! I'm looking forward to sharing more Ireland highlights with you guys :)