A local's guide to Galway: spend a weekend in the City of the Tribes
Before I begin, a slight disclaimer because as a Galway native, I'm completely biased about the county and its many charms.
In saying that, one can't deny that the City of the Tribes has a lot to offer in terms of craic, ceol, fantastic food, beautiful scenery and general good times.
One thing that struck me on a recent visit was how cosmopolitan the city has become and yet it hasn't lost any of its authenticity, which is just one of the many reasons Galway has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2020.
During a two-day stay, I rediscovered many an old haunt while also taking in some up and coming places of note.
If you're planning a break to this warm and welcoming city, the below should feature on your itinerary.
I'd heard Brasserie on the Corner mentioned when in the company of my Galway-based friends so I was eager to see what all the fuss was about. Based on Eglinton Street, just off Eyre Square, it's ideal for date night especially when followed by a night on the town.
The pan-fried scallops went down a treat and the warm chocolate brownie was described by my companion as the best "ever ", quite the accolade when you're a brownie connoisseur. There's also live music and Blake's Bar right next door so if it's raining cats and dogs, as happens on occasion, you'd be happy to spend a night in its cosy confines.
John Keogh's The Lock Keeper, a 'gastropub', is the perfect place for a spot of relaxed grub on a Sunday evening. The steak is extremely flavoursome, get the red wine jus to accompany it and a nod must be given to the Peanut Butter Parfait dessert dish. Heart eyed emojis all around.
Dim lighting, comfortable seating and a well-rounded wine list earn this venue a special mention and believe me that's one tough call, especially considering how many there are to choose from. Located on Upper Dominick Street, it's within walking distance of all the bars and pubs, in case you fancy a nightcap after.
As Galway's first gin bar, there's been plenty of hype about this little hidey-hole. Tigh Nora might be small but given the fact that it boasts over 100 different gins, people have been flocking to try it out and unsurprisingly, the place was absolutely hopping on this particular Saturday night. There's a cocktail menu and a gazillion different gins and mixers to choose from. Of course, given the gin craze of late, Tigh Nora has been a huge hit with both locals and tourists alike.
— Cathy Donohue (@cathy_donohue) June 25, 2017
Adjacent to Tigh Nora, you have no excuse but to sample one of Galway's most popular pubs, The Front Door. If you ask a Galway native where to go on a night out, you can be sure this spot will be mentioned. The night we called in, three-piece acoustic act Beggars Velvet (all multi-instrumentalists and singers), were playing and their set was a major hit with pub goers. When they finished up, we were absolutely raging that we hadn't made it in to see the full performance.
Having a few free hours to while away on a Sunday and the foresight to book annual leave for the following day, a trip to Connemara was on the cards.
Out the road towards Clifden with the magnificent Twelve Pins towering above us, it was a sight for sore eyes and a welcome distraction from four hours sleep and too much dancing. The picturesque town was the perfect spot to stop off in while on the search for some sustenance. We eventually had a light bite in Guy's Bar & Snug but not before calling into Lowry's Irish Music Bar for a look, where the craic was ninety and the jiving started before well 4 pm.
As we were in the car anyway, we decided to head for Roundstone having heard people rave about the beautiful Dog's Bay, situated on the outskirts of the fishing village. Turning a bend in the road, the stunning strand stretches out ahead and as someone who is obsessed with beaches, (yes people think it's a strange one), I can verify that it is one of the best coastal views in Ireland.
If you have time, depending on how long you're staying, try squeeze in a walk around the sprawling grounds of the NUIG. The college's Quadrangle building is like something straight out of Harry Potter and it's steeped in history. To get there, walk along the River Corrib for some gorgeous Instagram opportunities.
The House Hotel is the ideal location for a city break in Galway. It's just around the corner from the city's liveliest spot, Quay Street and it comes alive at the weekend. This place is destination number one when it comes to the Galway Races and as it's bang in the middle of the Latin Quarter, you're never stuck for entertainment no matter what day of the week you visit. It's the perfect mixture of old and new: the old stone building adorned with flowering window boxes is complemented perfectly by the quirky Art Deco interiors.
— House Hotel (@The_House_Hotel) March 28, 2017
If you're looking to destress and chill, booking your accommodation in Salthill is the way to go. The walk along the pier, (don't forget to kick the wall) will blow away the cobwebs and there's any number of quaint bars, (can't beat O'Connors) and tasty restaurants. The Nest, a boutique hostel, offers low-key, affordable accommodation with open areas to chill alone or mingle with other guests and a fully-stacked kitchen...in case you want to try your hand at cooking some local produce.