To experience a less touristy and, in my opinion, more beautiful side of Ireland, head to the coastal city of Galway.
Situated on the west coast of Ireland, Galway is the perfect countryside getaway. Filled with authentic pubs, boutique shops and natural wonders, there is no way you’ll be bored in this seaside city.
Do and See:
- CLIFFS OF MOHER: Ranked as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Cliffs of Moher are the number one suggested sight in Galway. On a clear day, visitors can catch a glimpse at the vast display of cliffs, which are situated 710 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, the site is roped off relatively far from the edge for safety measures, so you can’t as close to the edge as desired. Also, if traveling in the spring, don’t be disappointed if much of your view is blocked by a thick fog. There is really no way of planning around this, as a fog could roll in at any time, but prepare yourself for the possibility. If so does occur, as it did when I was there, there is always the option of going to the lower cliffs (still hundreds of feet high) along the Atlantic edge for a clear view.
- KYLEMORE ABBEY IN CONNEMARA: A monastery that sits between the hills of the Connemara and directly on the Atlantic. Both guided tours of the church and a guided mountain hike is available.
- DUNGUAIRE CASTLE: Perhaps the most photographed castle in Ireland, the 16-century Dunguaire Castle sits on the shore of Galway Bay. The grounds are open for tourists to explore, and many tour buses stop at this location.
- Lunch: You can find a number of great cafes along High St. and Shop St.
- Dinner: Some of the best fish and chips can be found in Galway, as it is a coastal city. Have a try of the local pub food.
- Late Night: Pizza Napoli. Huge slices for €2. Enough said.
Night Life: The pubs in Galway are much like bars in the United States. They are much cheaper than anything you’ll find in London, very crowded, and a genuinely good time. Beware though: the locals find nothing wrong with talking politics over a pint, so make sure you’re well informed!
Getting There: The course of travel we chose (taxi to Victoria Coach Station, shuttle bus to Stanstead Airport, Stanstead to Shannon) is not recommended — try to fly out of Heathrow if at all possible! Fly into Shannon Airport, then take a bus (we chose Bus Eireann) into Galway. Remember to purchase (and print!) your bus ticket, with a return, beforehand.