5 Reasons To Never Bypass Galway

2 April 2016
Read Time: 2.4 mins

Dublin's little brother Galway is busier than most expect. Named one of two 'European Regions of Gastronomy' for 2018, the city also just revealed a rare century-old bottle of whiskey that's going to fetch thousands once the gavel strikes.

However, Galway is more than just gourmet eats and a good drop to wash it down. Those aren't hard to find, but more thorough exploration rewards travellers with some of Ireland's most memorable experiences.

1. Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle in Galway Make the journey out to Dunguaire Castle for an immersive medieval banquet (Image: Getty)

If Game of Thrones has taught us anything, it's that we're all closet medieval fanatics. Unfortunately, although there are thousands of castles to visit around the world, walking the ramparts and visiting the dungeons isn't the same as living out authentic medieval culture.

This is where Dunguaire Castle rises above many of the rest. From April to mid-October, the 16th-century fortification hosts the Dunguaire Castle Banquet.

It's far more G-rated than GOT, with a musical introduction and performances of works by literary greats. But this isn't why you paid. No, you paid to eat four courses of delicious Irish cuisine inside a real-life castle's banquet hall with oak tables and mugs of mead!

If you just want to see the castle, there's no need to attend the banquet. Dunguaire is impressive enough with its 23-metre-high tower and tactical position on a rocky outcrop overlooking Galway Bay.

2. Salthill Beach

Leisureland at Salthill Beach Ride the Ferris wheel at Leisureland (Image: Wikipedia)

Not all of Galway's beaches fit the typical UK mould of pebbles and grimy water. Salthill is comprised of multiple beaches – some sandy, some pebbly – that all boast blue ocean.

However, it's the Salthill Promenade that makes this a year-round attraction. Along with beachfront accommodation and fine-dining restaurants, you'll find Leisureland.

Leisureland's lap pool and gym keep the locals happy, while a nine-hole mini-golf course, outdoor fairground with Ferris wheel and roller coasters, and regular events attract the masses.

More Ireland holiday inspiration

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3. Rathbaun Farm

Hand-feed lambs at Rathbaun Farm Hand-feed lambs at Rathbaun Farm (Image: Getty)

This family-run farm offers more than just a taste of rural life in Ireland. You can spend the day or an entire season there learning the ins and outs of sheep farming from people who have been doing it their entire lives.

The highlight for most is hand-feeding newborn lambs, but this is closely contested by the freshly baked scones and soda bread enjoyed with tea in the cosy confines of the thatched-roof cottage. There are also other animals to see and a bounty of that classic Irish greenery to explore.

4. Cliffs Of Moher

Cliffs Of Moher The Cliffs of Moher live up to their fame (Image: Getty)

One of the world's most famous natural attractions, the Cliffs of Moher can be seen in such Hollywood blockbusters as Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince and The Princess Bride.

However, none of the films can compare to standing on the edge of the Cliffs with the coastal winds swirling and the seaweed-green ocean crashing against the rocks 200 metres below.

This is Ireland's rugged appeal on display 365 days a year, but it's only one part of the experience. Climb the top of 19th-century O'Brien's Tower for the most spectacular view of the Cliffs and make sure you explore the visitor centre.

Called the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, this interactive centre includes a virtual tour to parts of the Cliffs only birds and fish can reach, a video game that puts you in control of native wildlife to see if you can survive, and a cafe with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the coast.

5. Traditional Irish Craic

Live traditional Irish music Traditional Irish music is all about the craic (Image: Getty)

The Irish love their craic (good time), which is found in ample amounts inside any of the traditional Irish music bars around Galway. These stone-walled watering holes come with warm fires, tall pints of Guinness, hearty Irish fare and plenty of that award-wining whiskey to warm your belly.

Hang around to watch the musicians perform traditional ditties. Some of the venues also open the dance floor up for Irish set dancing.

Don't waste your time searching; head straight to Tigh Fox, Tigh Coili, The Crane Bar, Monroes Tavern or Taaffes any night of the week.

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Ireland.

Ben Stower

I love the kind of travelling that is one part strategic planning and two parts spontaneous adventure. Whether I'm exploring my local city or a small town in the middle of nowhere, I'm always hoping to find something no one else has discovered.