Considering Galway is a big city with lots to offer, we actually spent relatively little time in the city itself! Galway is in an area where lots of day trips are easily accessible. En route to Galway, we stopped for a half day at the famous Cliffs of Moher.
Brad’s questions when planning this day were similar to what a lot of you may be thinking: “Is it going to be too crowded” [ NO ] “Is it overdone?” [ NO ] “It’s so touristy… is it worth seeing? [ YES ].
Sure, the Cliffs of Moher will show up on every ‘must see’ list you google… but for a good reason! They are absolutely worth exploring. We spent about three hours here. The cliffs are jagged and GIGANTIC and green. The water is deep blue and you may even spot a puffin if you have some binoculars. There are lots of people here, but it’s such a huge expanse of land to walk around and explore, we found ourselves alone most of the time. The crowd thins out over all the different paths and walkways and there are so many good vantage points to view these magnificent cliffs that you never feel like it’s overrun with people.
If you want to learn more about the ecosystems around the cliffs, their history or formation, there is a museum on site. They also have lots of little local shops carved into the hillside which I think is really cool.
Overall, we had wonderful weather and LOVED walking through all the pathways and seeing this rugged coastline from so many different angles. We love it here!
We headed back to central Galway for the evening. The city of Galway has tons and tons of shops and restaurants to explore, it’s a much bigger city than some of the other towns we have been blogging about. The downside to this is it feels like… a big city. There were areas of town that felt specifically European, quaint and cute, but overall you get more of a big-city, dirty, grungy vibe from Galway.
In the most central area of town, dinner spots tended to fill up with reservations and/or have about an hour wait on any given night. The pedestrian streets have plenty to do to keep you busy while you wait for a table, but it’s just something to be aware of.
Almost everywhere boasts outdoor dining and offer traditional dishes to try. We loved our Irish stews and seafood chowders as the weather cooled down for the evening!
The next day we had in Galway we spent on the Aran Islands. If you have time, we highly recommend a day trip to the largest island, Inishmore. You can catch a ferry in the morning from the port in Galway and take it back around 5:45 in the evening giving you plenty of time during the day to explore.
There are only a few ways around the island if you aren’t a local: jaunting car (horse and buggy) or bicycle. We rented bikes at the end of the pier (make reservations beforehand!) and used them to take the coastal path past the sea colony and over to an old fortress called Dun Aonghasa. On our bike ride, we passed tons of local cows and sheep and the beautiful limestone walls that separate the properties.
Now, if you know me well, you could probably ascertain that the actual cycling was not my favorite part of the day. I am not a good cyclist. Any indication of a hill or incline whatsoever sends me into a frenzy of complaining that my husband is not too fond of.
Regardless, the fortress is something that can’t be missed. So find your way there and take it in, because it provides some of my favorite views in the whole world.
Once you bike to the bottom of the hill where Dun Aonghasa sits, you lock up your bike and hike up the hill for about 20 minutes. It’s a short hike, but it’s pretty steep – having water and snacks in your bag is a good idea. When you get to the top you can see the remnants of the old fort, with a few different levels to climb up to.
The views from everywhere are incredible – but our favorite spot was on the upper level, sitting on the edge looking back at the cliffside we just came from. It doesn’t get any better than this. Of course when you head back to town, don’t forget to support their local economy by purchasing some woolen items to take home! The Aran Islands are famous for their fisherman sweaters, knit caps, wool gloves, etc – all intricate with traditional Celtic patterns and weaves.
Our time in Galway was split between Galway, the Aran Islands, and the Cliffs of Moher and I would suggest that itinerary to everyone. It’s way too hard to pick and choose- make all of them happen 😉