Staycation inspiration: How to spend 4 wonderful days in Galway

Summer is finally here! While we might not be jetting off to far flung places this year, we’re lucky to have some wonderful holiday destinations right on our doorstep.

Ireland really does have it all, from beautiful beaches to bustling cities. And one place that encompasses everything that you could possibly want from your 2020 staycation is Galway.

This wonderful medieval city nestled on the River Corrib has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a fun getaway with your friends or a romantic break with your significant other, it’s the perfect place to spend four days (or maybe even more).

So, to whet your appetite, we decided to create the ultimate Galway getaway itinerary. Now all you need to do book your stay.

Day 1: Explore the city

Start your Galway adventure in the cultural heart of the city, The Latin Quarter. This area is defined by some of the city’s most historic landmarks and stretches from the Spanish Arch at Long Walk to O’Brien’s Bridge to St Nicholas’ Church and back (via Buttermilk Lane) to An Taibhdhearc on Middle Street.

While the history is plentiful, it’s usually the atmosphere that attracts tourists and Galwegians to these cobbled streets. The Latin Quarter is home to the city’s most popular bars, restaurants, retailers and places to stay. Visit some of the unique boutiques, gaze in wonder at the fabulous street performers or grab a pint of Guinness and just watch the world go by.

This year, the area is welcoming holidaymakers with flags and bunting from each county. From Cork to Antrim, Donegal to Waterford, the 32 counties are all represented so you’re sure to feel right at home.

Just up from the Latin Quarter you’ll find Eyre Square. This imposing public space was originally a town green but in the 2000s, it was revamped to become a modern plaza. It’s a lovely place to spend a sunny afternoon. Don’t forget to check out the wonderful artwork such as the Quincentennial Fountain.

If you’re looking to try some local fare then you need to head to the weekend market in the shadow of St. Nicholas’ medieval church. The market is full of colour and wonderful characters. It’s got a great selection of local cheeses and charcuterie, as well as curries, sushi and Mediterranean favourites. Bring a bag to carry all your picnic supplies.

Take your delicious treats down to the Salthill promenade. Galway is a unique city as it’s based right on the Atlantic Ocean. On a sunny day, it’s the perfect place to relax, go for a walk, or maybe even swim if you’re feeling brave.

Day 2: Take the ferry to the Aran Islands

On day two of your ultimate Galway getaway you should venture a little bit further afield and head to the Aran Islands. Each of the Islands, Inis Oírr, Inis Meain and the largest Inis Mór has its own individual character.

The islands are a great place to go walking, swimming and biking. There are also some wonderful monuments and ancient forts to see on each one such as Poll na bPeist and Dún Aonghas. Plus, if you’ve got Cúpla focal, now is your time to use them as the islands are a Gaeltacht area.

To get there, you can travel by ferry or air. Ferries operate to the Islands from Doolin in Co. Clare and Rossaveal in Co Galway. Flights leave from Inverin in Connemara.

After a long day on the road treat yourself to a delicious meal in Galway city centre. Quay street and Middle street are lined with a host of places to eat from pub grub to fine dining. Many have on street seating so you can take in the atmosphere of the city.

Day 3: Hit the road and drive around Connemara

Just a short drive from the city lies Connemara. The best way to get there from your Latin Quarter base is to take the coastal route or the R336. Known as the Connemara Loop, this wonderful drive is the best way to see the area’s incredible scenery and desolate countryside.

Take a trip to Connemara National Park for some wonderful scenery and epic hiking spots. The Diamond Hill walk is a great option and the loop starts at the visitor centre. You can chose between the upper Diamond Hill trail (7km) and the lower Diamond Hill walk (3km) depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. You’ll get some wonderful views on both routes.

Next, head to Kylemore Abbey and Victorian walled-garden. Kylemore Castle was built in the late 1800s by Mitchell Henry MP. Today, the abbey is owned and run by the Benedictine community who have been in residence there since 1920.

During your visit, you can explore the six acre walled garden, take a walk through the extensive woodland, visit the neo-Gothic church and visit the abbey’s two pet pigs, Gloria and Ken! Before you leave, grab a cup of tea and a scone in the Garden Tea House.

Day 4: Cliffs of Moher and The Burren

You can’t visit the west of Ireland without taking a trip to the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare. These iconic cliffs rise to 214m at their highest point and stretch for 8kms. If you’ve got time, explore the coastal walk which starts in Doolin and ends in Liscannor (20km). It’s a fantastic way to see the area and appreciate the ruggedness. If 20km sounds like a lot, you can also do a shorter stretch from the cliffs to Hag’s Head (5km).

The cliffs are part of the UNESCO Global Geopark, also known as The Burren. Most of you will remember learning about this place at school but you truly need to visit to understand just how beautiful it is. The Burren National Park offers free guided walks along the trails. It’s a fantastic way to learn more about the flora, fauna and geology of the place.

So, there you have it, the perfect way to spend four amazing days in Galway. Now the only question is, when are you going?

Get to Galway and live it up in The Latin Quarter! Stay, shop, socialise and soak up the ambiance of Galway’s cultural heart.

It has top class accommodation, over 50 restaurant and 20 bars, along with a vast selection of boutiques and retailers, not to mention large pedestrianised areas with street entertainment. The Latin Quarter, Galway is where your summer should be spent.


As featured in the Irish Independent

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