January certainly isn’t the right month to visit Galway, but as I mentioned in this post, I’m spending most of this month in Ireland thanks to a project Jass is working on in Dublin. I’ve always wanted to explore more of the Emerald Isle since our first visit back in 2014, and while the timing of his work project (weather-wise) isn’t ideal.. I certainly wasn’t going to pass up an incredible opportunity like this! There are weeks that we don’t need to be back in London, so instead of travelling back and forth, we’re planning to travel to other parts of the country too – starting with Galway!
THINGS TO DO, SEE & EXPLORE
You’ll inevitably find yourself strolling down Quay Lane at some point when you’re in Galway – you can’t miss it! It’s a colourful, lively pedestrian street lined with pubs, shops, cafes, restaurants and many talented musicians performing on various street corners. It’s organised in a way so that only one artist plays at a time – either that or they’re far enough apart so both songs can’t be heard at the same time. You could spend hours exploring this street, weaving in and out of the side and back streets, poking your head into the shops or stopping to listen to the music.
Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop
Galway is full of quaint second hand bookshops, but none of them quite compare to this little treasure. The rooms at Charlie Byrne’s are crammed with over 100,000 new, secondhand, old, discounted and out-of-print books. The shelves are lined with books from floor to ceiling, in every genre imaginable, and if you exit the shop at the back (inside the shopping complex), you’ll notice all the discounted books are displayed all around the back and sides of the building – it’s pretty spectacular (and very instagrammable too)!
Experience Galway’s bohemian spirit at the street market. You can’t miss it – they sell everything from fresh produce alongside, ready to eat meals, arts, crafts, cakes and clothing.
The Long Walk
Take a walk out of town, towards the Spanish Arch (two remaining arches from an old city wall) and you’ll see a couple of restaurants, followed by a row of colourful houses facing the waterfront. It’s a nice relaxing walk with a pretty view of the city over the water.
WHERE TO EAT
This is a cute little cosy spot for a vegetarian/vegan lunch or brunch. The menu is quite limited and we weren’t blown away by the food – it was nice enough for a quick bite to eat, but the cafe is tiny and so all the tables are very tightly packed, making it extremely crammed and uncomfortable at times.
Jass went for the soup of the day and I had the hummus on rye with spiced sweet potato, tahini and seeds – it was lovely. The service was great and I would go back – just before midday next time though as their breakfast menu sounds a bit more appealing.
This quaint, homely little tea shop is the perfect spot to take a break from walking around all day and have afternoon tea. The vintage decor is designed to take you back in time and is reminiscent of a grandma’s house. It’s cozy, warm and inviting – just like a soothing cup of tea.
There is an entire menu dedicated to tea; with so much choice available, and a small selection of coffee and hot chocolate. I went for the ‘Truffle Kerfuffle’; a black tea with macadamia nuts, cocoa kernels and coconut chips. I had it without milk and it was nutty and sweet without being sickly sweet – simply delicious!
Jass went for the ‘Dreamy Creamy Galway tea’; a black tea that contains coffee beans and jasmine flowers. It’s meant to have a subtle coffee flavour, and though we couldn’t detect it, he loved it. I’m not a tea drinker, and so I much preferred my own one as it was that little bit sweeter.
We didn’t have afternoon tea as we weren’t hungry enough, but we did share a slice of coffee and walnut cake. The portion was huge but it was oh so good!
There’s also small shop at the back where they have all the loose leaf tea available to purchase.
After all that tea, I needed a coffee! – I know what you’re thinking, but as I’m not usually a tea drinker, it makes me sleepy whenever I do. We found this cute spot on Quay Street which has a really unique concept, reminiscent of Scandinavian design.
The coffee shop, downstairs, make their own coffee which is available to buy, alongside postcards and prints by local artists, while upstairs is home to a little gallery and design shop with a few seats overlooking Quay Street. It’s a lovely place to sit and relax – and the coffee is pure perfection too!
This popular hipster joint has a pretty cool concept and has an interesting story behind it. It started as a food truck, which turned into a pop-up restaurant and then this permanent restaurant complete with a huge wood-fired oven and industrial elements; tiles, upcycled furniture and music paraphernalia around the place. Their menu is innovative, brilliant for vegans and the pizza’s divine – with fresh, flavoursome toppings, delicious dips, perfect crusts, craft beers and a casual vibe, it’s one not to miss!
Trust me, it’d be a crime not to order the Garlic Firebread – it was up there with some of the best garlic bread I’ve ever had! This, dunked into the chilli mayo crust dip is a match made in heaven.
Jass went for The Tandoori; ‘San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Tandoori Chicken, Corn, Pickled Chilli, Mint and Cucumber Yoghurt, Coriander & Lime’, and I chose the Vegan Tandoori; ‘San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Violife Vegan Cheese, Tandoori roasted Cauliflower, Pickled Chilli, Corn, Mint and Cucumber Soy Yoghurt, Coriander & Lime’.
They were both delicious, but in all honesty, I was eyeing up the pizza the girl sat next to us had ordered; The Fun Guy – ‘a whack of oven roasted mushrooms, young buck blue cheese, garlic, on a cream, parmesan & mozzarella base’ – that had my name written all over it and the one I’d pick next time!
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at the Clayton Hotel, a contemporary 4* hotel in Galway and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
We intentionally chose a hotel with free parking, that isn’t in the city centre as this can work out to be very costly – particularly in Galway where parking is pretty extortionate anyway. It worked out well as this is only less than 4 miles away from the city centre (about a 10 minute drive).
Our room was incredibly spacious, clean and comfortable. Wifi speed was very decent, which was fab as we had to spend Friday working from the hotel. While we didn’t have breakfast in the hotel, there is the option to add this to your booking, and there’s also an independent coffee shop in the hotel lobby which serve great coffee.
We stayed in room 317 which looked out onto a dual carriageway, so it was pretty noisy throughout the day. There was also a lot of draught coming in through the windows which was pretty annoying, so I’d ask to stay in a different room next time.
It’s also worth noting that there is a swimming pool, sauna and steam room at this hotel, which is fab.. if only we’d packed some swimwear for this trip! *insert face palm emoji*
If you missed the vlog, you can see it down below.