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Explore Galway City’s quarters with these free things to do
Discover the best wallet friendly activities in Galway City.
Galway is a tapestry of distinctive quarters and boroughs, each with its own charm. On top of that, you can experience so much in the city for free. Wander down lanes and across winding waterways. Take a dive from dizzying heights or spend a reflective day in museums and churches.

Our guide will help you find all the best things to do in Galway as you discover the city’s historic and natural wonders.

Latin Quarter

1 | The Spanish Arch

Stride through the Spanish Arch in the footsteps of the many arrivals who have passed underneath this gateway to Galway City. This surviving fragment of the city walls once served as a checkpoint for nautical travellers. These days, you can sit by the grassy banks and soak up the atmosphere, watching kayakers paddling by on the River Corrib.

With both the Arch and the Latin Quarter, where it’s located, named after the influence of Spanish galleons visiting in the Middle Ages, the area celebrates the resulting mix of cultures. Today quirky shops, serenading buskers and a diverse selection of restaurants bring the cobbled streets to life.

Galway shopfronts
Take a stroll through the Latin Quarter.

2 | Hall of the Red Earl

Take a free trip into the city’s medieval past at the 13th century Hall of the Red Earl. On Druid Lane (across from The Mick Lally Theatre), it’s the oldest building to be excavated within the city walls. Chosen as Lonely Planet's top attraction in Galway City, over 11,000 artefacts, from ordinary clay pipes to gleaming golden cufflinks, hint at what life was like here over eight centuries ago.

Hall of The Red Earl, Druid Lane, Galway City
Take a trip back in time down Druid Lane.

3 | St Nicholas' Collegiate Church

Take a self guided tour of St Nicholas' Collegiate Church and appreciate the architecture. Rich in history and dating from the 1300s, this church has presided over Galway as it developed from a tiny village into a busy city. Look out for the many monuments and memorials inside and outside of the church and its population of stone creatures. Will you be able to find the intricate mermaids, dragon, lion, dog and gargoyles?

Look out for hidden details at St Nicholas' Collegiate Church of Ireland.
Look out for hidden details at St Nicholas' Collegiate Church of Ireland.

4 | Galway Farmers Market

Nestled just beside St. Nicholas’ Church, at the Galway Farmers Market every weekend you can meet the locals and savour the best of local producers. There’s bound to be a free nibble or two to try as you decide what you’d like to buy. In the end, you might select something creamy from Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, something crusty at The Happy Loaf, and perhaps a taste of Galway Bay fresh from the Oyster Man. Browse the arts and crafts stalls and pick up a painting or a hand-knitted hat as a reminder of your visit to last long after you return home.

People enjoying some food at Galway's Farmers' Market
Discover the variety of produce available at the Galway Farmers Market.

Woodquay to the West End

5 | Waterways walk 

The River Corrib flows from Lough Corrib to Galway Bay along a network of waterways inviting exploration. Start at Woodquay and follow along the Eglinton Canal, then continue to the West End with its lively pubs and top music venues. Move on to Claddagh, an ideal spot for a panoramic view of the sunset if you time it right. This easy stroll gives a taste of how Galway’s neighbourhoods formed and how local people have shaped the city.

Woodquay, Galway City
Appreciate the panoramic views of Galway City.

6 | Galway Cathedral

When exploring the city's waterways, there’s the option to detour across the bridge and visit Galway Cathedral. Although the city has a complex history going back around eight centuries, this is a relatively recent addition. Completed in 1965, this makes it the youngest of Europe’s stone cathedrals. Under its domed roof, gaze at a variety of religious art with intricately sculpted statues, an elaborate Crucifixion mosaic and shimmering glass rose windows.

Gloomy skies over Galway Cathedral and a view of the Salmon Weir Bridge over the River Corrib
Take in Europe’s youngest stone cathedral.

7 | James Mitchell Museum

Go all the way back to the primordial beginnings of the area at the National University of Ireland Galway when you visit the James Mitchell Museum in the Department of Geology. Take the staircase in the southeast corner of the Quadrangle to find “Galway’s Hidden Museum” and dig up the geological history of the west of Ireland. With 15,000 rare rocks, precious minerals and fossil specimens if you’re looking for hidden gems you’ll find them sparkling here.

Salthill

8 | Walk the Prom

Stretch your legs along 3km of Galway Bay coastline and look for the hills of County Clare across the water. Following local tradition, when you get to the end of the Promenade, kick the wall to celebrate the achievement of walking the Prom’s entire length. The scenery is stunning no matter the season, and there are plenty of benches along the way if you’d like to sit for a spell and gaze at the rolling waves. 

Enjoy the view on a walk along Salthill Promenade.
Enjoy the view on a walk along Salthill Promenade.

9 | Salthill Beach

Sea swimming in Salthill is a ritual for locals, with brave bathers taking a dip from the early hours of the morning. An iconic part of the Galway landscape, photogenic Blackrock Diving Tower is a must for snapping and sharing. Warm up after a bracing paddle with a hot chocolate or coffee at Ground & Co. nearby to make your seaside visit complete. Alternatively, enjoy cakes and pastries made by a team of French bakers at Gourmet Tart Co. or stop off for a smoothie, milkshake or ice cream at the popular Jungle Beach Break.

Blackrock Diving Tower, Salthill, Co Galway
Take a dip at Salthill Beach.
Explore more free things to do on your next Galway City trip

Check out our Galway City destination page for great ideas on all the places you can visit when holidaying in this vibrant city.

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