With so many amazing cities to see in Ireland, it can be hard to narrow down which ones to put on your itinerary. Most people include Dublin and Belfast, but you’ll also want to include Galway. Even if you’re short on time, I recommend spending at least one day in Galway.
I first visited the town several years ago on an Ireland road trip and quickly fell in love with it. It’s a colorful city with plenty of stores to stop in, delicious seafood to devour, and a scenic ocean view you can see from many parts of the area. While I only had time for one day here, I found myself wishing I had more time.
This itinerary tells you what to do in Galway in one day, how to get around, and where to stay so your trip will be easy to plan.
Things to Do in Galway in One Day
Whether you’re planning a day trip to Galway or simply stopping by on your way to spend a day in Dublin, this quaint town has plenty to see and do. But with such a short time budget, you’ll want to make sure you space out your activities while still reaching all the main Galway attractions.
Here’s a handy guide on spending your day in Galway.
Morning: Wake Up to Waffles and Stunning Buildings
Start your 1 day in Galway slowly but purposefully, have breakfast, and enjoy architectural beauty before diving deeper into Galway’s magnificence.
Get Your Coffee and Breakfast at Mr. Waffle Cafe
Mr. Waffle is a cute little café with excellent coffee, and the service is as welcoming and friendly as you’d expect in Galway.
While the menu offers several mouthwatering sweet waffles, there is a wide range of other food. You can select your typical egg-based breakfast or a savory bagel, and salads and salads are also salads and toppings on either Quesadilla or Ciabatta. You’ll find something on this menu if you’re a picky breakfast eater.
Address: Newcastle Road
Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 am – 4 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm; Sun 9 am – 3 pm
See the Quadrangle
After grabbing a bite to eat, take a 4-minute stroll down University Road until you reach the National University of Ireland. The main campus building is an impressive piece of architecture worth admiring during a day in Galway.
The building is often used for photoshoots, thanks to the magnificent Tudor Gothic architectural style and the Boston ivy crawling up the walls. This ivy turns from a healthy green to a fiery red in autumn, making for an even more impressive sight.
Address: University Road
Hours: Mon-Sun 8 am – 9 pm
Admire the Galway Cathedral
You’ll reach the Galway Cathedral as you continue down University Road, and you can do this on a scenic 9-minute walk. The cathedral building is relatively new, having been completed in 1965. However, it’s still impressive, with beautiful stained-glass windows and modern designs.
Stepping inside, you’ll be mesmerized by the stained glass windows and the incredible domes and arches. You can take as long as you like to admire the inside, and before you leave for your next stop, pause at the gift store to purchase a small Irish souvenir.
Address: Gaol Rd
Hours: Tues-Fri & Sun 8:30 am – 6:30 pm; Sat 8:30 am – 7:30 pm; Mon 8:30 am – 9 pm
Mid-Morning: Visit Eyre Square and Galway Museum
Now you can head into the heart of Galway and explore some of the main attractions in the city center.
Walk Around Eyre Square
From the cathedral, it’s just a 9-minute walk to Eyre Square, so you’ll want to add this to your Galway 1 day itinerary. You’ll pass over Salmon Weir Bridge to get there, and there’s plenty of time to stop and photograph the Wooden Salmon Weir statue.
Eyre Square is the central point of Galway and a great place to start your exploration of the city. This is one of Galway’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s easy to see why. There’s not much to do here, but it’s one of the top things to see in Galway City.
The square is lovely, with plenty of green space and a beautiful fountain at its center. If you’re visiting on a Saturday, there’s a farmer’s market in the square where you can buy local produce.
Window Shop at Shop Street
From Eyre Square to your next stop (Galway City Museum), it’s a 9-minute walk, but you’ll pass Shop Street on your way. Here you’ll find the best shops in Galway.
Take a moment to discover Shop Street, which is the best place to pick up a Galway souvenir or do some people-watching. This is the busiest street in Galway, and it’s always bustling with activity. You’ll find plenty of shops and restaurants here, as well as buskers and street performers. You’ll also pass by the fortified house, Lynch’s Castle.
Learn About History at Galway Museum
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Galway, pay a visit to the Galway City Museum. The museum is small but packed with information, and it’s definitely worth a quick visit if you want to learn more about this Irish city.
This is one of the top free things to do in Galway, and it’s also a great way to get inside in case of rainy weather. Kids may love exploring here too, making it an ideal thing to do with kids in Ireland.
Address: Spanish Parade
Hours: Tues – Sat 10 am – 5 pm
Noon: Stroll the Latin Quarter After Lunch
After a morning of cultural enjoyment, Galway still has plenty to show you. For this part of your day, fill up on some delicious Irish food and then step out to see even more of the city’s wonders.
Eat Lunch at The Quays Bar and Restaurant
Before heading to the Latin Quarter, enjoy a leisurely lunch at The Quays Bar and Restaurant. This is one of the best places to eat in Galway, with a menu full of traditional Irish dishes like shepherd’s pie and fish and chips.
The Quays also has an extensive drinks menu to enjoy a pint of Guinness or something else while you wait for your food. The restaurant has an outdoor seating area perfect for people-watching on a sunny day.
It’s often the decor of the restaurant that attracts patrons. There are Gothic arches, stained glass on the bar, and an old stone fireplace that quite literally warms the heart.
Address: Quay Lane
Hours: Mon-Sat 10:30 am – Late; Sun 12 – 11pm
Explore the Latin Quarter for Street Art and Shopping
After lunch, stroll through the Latin Quarter, which is one of the best places to visit in Galway. This is the city’s cultural center, and it’s full of artists, musicians, and students.
You’ll find plenty of cafes and pubs here to pop into, as well as some interesting shops. Be sure to explore down all the little side streets, as there are plenty of hidden gems to discover. You can also find plenty of traditional Irish goods, such as woolen sweaters and Celtic jewelry.
If you’re visiting Galway in December, this is also where you’ll find the city’s Christmas market. It’s a great place to do holiday shopping or enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Afternoon: Go on a Leisurely Stroll
There are still many more things to see in Galway, so ensure you have enough energy for your afternoon activities.
Have Tea at Cupán Tae
Cupán Tae is a great place to relax for a bit and have a small bite to eat. This authentic Irish teahouse is both cute and quirky and deserves a spot on your Galway 1-day itinerary.
You can have an afternoon tea with bread bites and warm scones or a dessert tea with a glass of Galway bubbly. If you need a caffeine fix, they also have a great selection of coffee. And it’s all served in the daintiest fine bone china.
Address: 8 Quay Lane
Hours: Mon, Thurs, Fri 12 pm – 6 pm; Sat & Sun 10 am – 6 pm
Go on Galway’s Long Walk
The Long Walk is one of the city’s most popular attractions, and it’s one of the most fun things to do in Galway City. This scenic route takes you along the coast, with stunning views of the sea. Despite the name, the walk truly isn’t that long. It’s about 4 kilometers long, so it’s a great choice if you want to get some exercise during your trip.
Along the walk, you’ll spot the Spanish Arch, which was built in 1584. You’ll also pass more of Galway’s fascinating street art and murals. If you’re visiting Galway in the summer, make sure to bring your swimsuit so you can take a dip in the ocean. There are plenty of spots along the walk where you can access the water.
The walk takes only 15 minutes, but there are plenty of photo opportunities, so you may need to take some time for that.
Evening: Watch an Irish Sunset
As the day ends, you undoubtedly have bittersweet emotions as you have just a few last hours in Galway. But you can make the most of your evening and end your visit with a bang.
Relax at Salthill Prom
To get from the Long Walk to this 2 km long promenade that overlooks Galway, you can drive (a 10-minute trip), or – if you time it right – you can make the 40-minute walk. This allows you to fully appreciate the sights on the way, and you should make it by sunset.
From Salthill Prom, you can look over the city of Galway, all of the quaint houses, the bars and pubs, and the fantastic spots you’ve visited throughout the day. This makes it the perfect place to end your 24 hours in Galway.
Have Dinner at an Irish Pub
As the evening draws near, there’s only one thing left to do in Galway: enjoy some traditional Irish music and a hearty dinner. Galway is known for its lively pub scene, and there are plenty of great places to enjoy a pint and listen to some live music. Galway’s food scene ranges from traditional Irish stews and pies to freshly made seafood.
There are a few great pubs in Galway that you can choose from. You could find one closer to Salthill if you’re starving, or head back to your accommodation area for a shorter walk home.
Some great pub restaurants include:
- Monroe’s Tavern
- Seven Bridgestreet
- The Black Gate Galway
- The Quay Street Kitchen
Places to Go in Galway in 24 Hours: Last-Minute Tips
Before you pack up and head to this beautiful city, here are a few last-minute tips:
- Bring comfortable walking shoes, as you’ll be doing a lot of exploring.
- Be sure to pack a raincoat, as the weather can be unpredictable.
- Don’t forget to pack your camera, as there are plenty of photo ops!
- Finally, make sure you have a map of the city, as it can be easy to get lost in all the winding streets.
And with that final advice below, you’re all set for a fantastic trip to Galway! Enjoy your time in this beautiful Irish city.
How to Get Around Galway
Most of the city can be walked, especially if you follow the above guide, as everything is considerably close, and there is enough time to reach each destination. Plus, the walk provides gorgeous sights and scenes you may miss if you drive, so you can easily visit this part of Ireland without a car.
The city has a good bus system for tired feet that will take you to all the key tourist destinations. You can buy a day ticket for €3.80, which gives you unlimited rides on all buses operated by Bus Éireann.
A bike-share program is also a great way to see the city if you’re feeling active. The town is well equipped for cyclists, and you’ll pay around €6.50 for a 4-hour bike ride.
Where to Stay in Galway for a Day
There are plenty of outstanding places to stay in Galway, but it really depends on your budget and what you’re looking for. Ideally, you’ll want to spend the night as close to the city center as possible, to be close to each of these top Galway things to do.
These are the top hotels I’d recommend:
- The Lane – Boutique Residence offers guests convenient access to the heart of the city and a cozy space to come back to at night. The rooms are elegantly furnished, and the staff’s mission is to make you comfortable. (rates start at $116 per night)
- Eyre Square Hotel is casual and cozy, with spacious rooms and a lively bar downstairs. It’s also near the stunning Eyre Square, making for beautiful surroundings. (rates start at $150 per night)
- Salthill Hotel is ideally situated overlooking Salthill Promenade. Indulge in a drink at the Blackrock Cafe and Bar before retiring to your room and waking up to a full Irish breakfast in the morning. (rates start at $215 per night)
There are many ways to spend one day in Galway, so I know you’ll love exploring this city!