People sometimes call Galway the graveyard of ambition, a moniker locals hold near and dear. The true meaning of the phrase isn’t as morbid as you think it is, though. It actually means that people intend to come for a little while but often end up staying. Rain or shine, Galway sucks you in and holds you captive, making it easy to fill your time during your two-day stay. There’s not much to do or that much to see, but, for some reason, visiting makes you want to stay forever. Only those who commit themselves to exploring this enchanting town the way those who live there do can understand why everyone seems so freaking happy. After a few nights at the pub with live music singing Piano Man with a group of strangers and a day “sparching” like the locals by the Spanish arch, you’ll slowly fall in love with Galway. You might not notice it happen, but just wait. Soon when you look at the colorful facades of the very short Long Walk, you’ll feel your heart swell just a touch and you’ll know that Galway part of you now. If you have 48 hours to spend here, this itinerary can help you get the most out of your stay.
Pop by a museum (and a church) and take a food tour of Galway.
Morning: Stop by Galway City Museum to learn about Irish history
Picture this: you’re hanging out by the Spanish Arch and it starts to rain. You could go back home and get in bed, or you could pop into this free museum to learn about the history of Galway, Scottish fishing, the Galway Hooker, and marine biology. It’s a slightly odd combination, you got us there, but you might as well peruse the museum’s three floors. Some artifacts of note include those lying in the glass cabinets at the center of each room. The panels along the wall explain oft-forgotten history like the Irish Civil War. For a history junkie, you’ll find lots of things to explore. For someone looking for a game, check out the interactive submarine simulation upstairs. Thank us later.
Lunchtime: Take a food and walking tour of the city
What better way to get to know Galway then by eating and drinking your way through the city? A local guide will show you all of the most popular sights and landmarks, including the Spanish Arch and Eyre Square, plus some lesser known side streets. You’ll definitely discover some hidden gems as you nibble and sip your way through the afternoon.
Afternoon: Take in the quiet at Galway Cathedral
This cathedral’s marble floors and enormous walls forming the shape of a cross around a central marble pew almost make you forget that this church was built in the 60s. And by the 60s, we mean the 1960s, not the 1560s. In case you forget what time period you’re in, the circular mosaic portrait of former president John F. Kennedy on the wall in the side chapel, next to a larger-than-life mosaic of Jesus’ resurrection, will remind you. While the church isn’t old, it is a beautiful work of architecture, and as music wafts from the speakers mounted on the walls, you can explore the wall panels explaining the church’s history.
Evening: Learn all about the history of Irish Whiskey
You can’t come to Galway without indulging in a little (or a lot) of whiskey, right? Settle into a bar and let a local fill you in on the history of this local drink on a whiskey experience excursion. You’ll sip and sample as you learn all about this unique Irish creation, with tales dating all the way back to medieval monks.
Get out of the city with a day trip to the country’s famous cliffs.
Morning and afternoon: Take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher
You can’t—we repeat, you can’t—visit Galway without visiting this famous landmark, and a guided tour is the best way to do it. Glide along in a luxury coach bus as you soak in the stunning views of the Irish countryside on your way to County Clare, where the cliffs are located. You’ll stop at a few scenic spots along the way, including a quaint fishing village and a 16th-century castle. But the real stunner is when you reach your destination and can soak in the raging waves of the Atlantic Ocean and Aran Islands in the distance. Spend a few hours enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime experience before hopping back on your bus to spend your last night in Galway.
Evening: Listen to some live music at The Quays
Sure, you’re probably exhausted after a long day of sightseeing, but it’s worth it to muster up the energy for your last night in town. This giant pub is where everyone in Galway eventually ends up, singing along to the live band from one of the three bars inside. In between pints, take a look around—and not just at the rowdy Irish football fans yelling at each other. The stone walls, stained glass and instruments on the wall give off a medieval vibe that doesn’t seem like it would work with the glowing dance floor and alternative covers of “Hey Jude,” but hey, it does.