by Josh Davies
With hikes along the coast and some of Ireland’s hottest weather, the towns in Galway are a treat to enjoy with the whole family. Take a walk through the history of Ireland on a journey through these Galway towns.
On the West Coast of Ireland, County Galway is one of the least populated counties. That leaves plenty of green open spaces with lots to explore around these Galway towns.
While many flock to see the medieval city, there is much more to see around the local towns. But with limited time on a holiday, where should we start?
Get out and explore Ireland’s west coast with a visit to one of these towns in Galway…
– History of County Galway
– Our Favourite Galway Towns to Visit
– Complete List of Towns in County Galway
Dating back over 7000 years, County Galway is a prominent feature in Ireland’s rich history.
The city of Galway was founded in the 12th century. That was due to its fishing potential around the rich Irish waters.
By the 13th century, they built defensive walls around the city, which helped prevent ongoing raids from the local clans.
Things started to change in 1396. Richard II passed on the governance of the town to fourteen merchant families. So, “The City of Tribes” was born.
From there, the city continued to grow to make use of the surrounding lands for farming. That led to many of the local towns in Galway and villages.
But, it wasn’t until 1569 the region officially became County Galway.
Since the formation of County Galway, the region has seen many ups and downs. But it is these hardships that have helped to strengthen one of Ireland’s 26 counties.
You can find more about these County Galway towns by visiting them and exploring the historical links.
With the claim to Ireland’s best-preserved medieval town, Athenry is full of history.
Here you can see Athenry Castle and Dominican Abbey. Plus, this Galway town still has over 70% of the medieval town walls. Ideal for a day of discovery with the kids.
As well as the historical value, Athenry has a variety of traditional pubs and cafes to enjoy.
The town is 25 kilometres east of Galway City. Perfect for a day trip to enjoy the Norman Ruins.
If you want to get a taste of this Galway town before you visit, listen to “Fields of Athenry”. It represents the hardships many townsfolk endured throughout the Great Famine.
Located on the coast, Barna is a quiet town on the outskirts of Galway City.
Over recent years, Barna has grown a reputation for high-quality restaurants. Being on the coast, the choice of fresh seafood is fantastic.
West Restaurant is ideal if you want a unique tasting menu that changes every day. Or head over to Donnelly’s of Barna to enjoy an indulgent seafood chowder.
When you’re not busy eating at these charming restaurants, the Barna landscape is a scenic wonderland.
Head into the mountains to enjoy the views over the bay. Or, cast a line out on a local fishing charter to reel in your own catch of the day.
Whoever you are travelling with, Barna is a great little town in Galway to enjoy a quiet break.
On the River Clare, Claregalway is a Gaeltacht town (Irish speaking) 10km north of Galway City.
The town has over 1000 years of history, much of which you can see on a visit to Claregalway.
Nowadays, the town is more of a commuter town for Galway. But many of the historical ruins remain.
You can find out more about the history with a visit to the Claregalway Museum and the Claregalway Castle. It’s a great way to keep the kids learning on their holiday.
Now, Connemara isn’t strictly a town. However, it is a must-visit destination in County Galway.
There is so much natural beauty on display with the inclusion of the 12 Bens Mountain Range.
From here, you can discover bogs, heaths, and woodlands, an ideal way to see the county’s natural landscape.
As well as the mountains, Connemara is home to the Connemara National Park. The perfect chance to take photographs and breathe in the fresh Galway air.
Along your walk, you can find picnic areas, nature trails, playgrounds, and even the rare Connemara ponies.
If you love nature, Connemara is a must-visit. It is an opportunity to discover some of Ireland’s most scenic countryside.
Located near the Coole Park Nature Reserve, Gort is at the southern end of County Galway.
It is a quirky town with close links to County Clare. But why not look around before you think of leaving.
The Kilmacduagh Tower is Ireland’s highest round tower. Plus, it is home to a set of monastic ruins, a chance for the little ones to learn about Gort’s history.
However, if you enjoy hitting a golf ball down the fairway, Gort Golf Club is perfect for any golf enthusiast.
For any nature lovers, Coole Park is a great location. It is a complex wetland that has many hikes. Just don’t wander into any swallow holes.
Gort has something for everyone. From nature to sports, it is a charming Galway town to visit.
Lettermore is a small island that is on County Galway’s east coast.
The Irish name Leitir Móir translates to the “great rough hillside”.
In the summer, head out for a day of sunbathing or try your hand at open water swimming.
The fresh sea breeze will keep you cool all year round, and the rocky landscape is perfect if you want to go for a walk.
Why not explore this area more with a break in one of these Lettermore holiday cottages.
If you want more of a city break, Salthill might be more for you. The town is within touching distance to the city of Galway.
From the town, enjoy beaches, cafes, bars and a casino.
The promenade is home to Trad on the Prom, where you can enjoy live music and dances.
Because of the central location, Salthill is perfect for a day away from the busy city. Head out with the family and enjoy a day exploring this Galway town.
Head down to the Blackrock Diving Tower on Christmas day to experience a traditional dip in the sea. Rather you than me.
Heading further west, Spiddal is a coastal town part of Galway Bay.
Throughout the years of the Great Famine, Spiddal was a base for many hospitals. The name Spiddal comes from ospideal or hospital.
Nowadays, Spiddal is a bustling craft village. That can be seen with the many shops in the area. Spiddal Craft & Design Studios, Glass Craft and Standun are there if you need to find the perfect gift for any craft lovers.
Like with many seaside towns, Spiddal is known for its fishing links. If you want to throw out a line, get in touch with Blue Shark Anglingand Galway Bay Fishing.
Why not make the most of your stay with a break in one of these Spiddal cottages.
If you really want to get away from the busier towns in Galway, Tully is by the seaside to the north of Connemara National Park.
The quietness draws you in, and the looming Twelve Pins mountain range looks over you from all angles.
From Tully, you can forget about everything as you discover the national park and enjoy the views of Mweelrea.
Book a holiday cottage in Tully and enjoy some time away with the whole family to enjoy.
County Galway is full of magical towns and villages to visit. But, if you want to see more of Ireland, take a look at these popular places to visit in Ireland.
From seaside towns to mountain villages, County Galway has something for everyone. You can take your family, friends and pets and enjoy the scenic views along the way.
Staycations in Ireland are one of the best ways to enjoy your holiday. And County Galway is one of our popular destinations.
But how do you make the most of the time in Galway? Try booking a holiday cottage in County Galway for your next visit.
Corr na Mona
Image Credits – Andreas F. Borchert – (CC BY-SA 4.0); G. Mannaerts – (CC BY-SA 4.0); Mark McGaughey – (CC BY-SA 4.0); P L Chadwick – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Cisko66 – (CC BY 3.0); Robert Linsdell – (CC BY 2.0); David Brossard – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Alan Reid – (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Hi, I'm Josh. I recently joined the Sykes team and love all things travel.
I enjoy spending my time travelling throughout the ...
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