24 Hours in Galway – Taste Travel Guide
Whoever said size doesn’t matter is a fibber. When it comes to cities, the smaller the better, and when it comes to cities such as Galway it means that even if your stay is a full 24 hours there is still plenty of time to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with what the compact city has to offer. Walkable, accessible, a blend of truly old-fashioned and new-fangled, and bursting with character, a fine old time is guaranteed in the City of the Tribes. For the sake of argument, by the way, as well as trying to pack as much as possible into the 24 hours period, your arrival time in the city is presumed to be mid-afternoon. Ready? Steady? Here goes!
3pm: Coffeewerk+Press, 4 Quay Street
You’ve just landed, and before you check in you need a restorative coffee. Bring your weary bones to, which this year celebrates its fifth birthday. A multi-roaster café that works with over 30 local and international socially-conscious coffee roasters, the place is also a subtle mecca for designers via its small art publishing house that works with artists close to home and far and wide. In other words, as you sip from your mug of coffee, have a gander around the shelves – you never know what nifty piece of work you might see.
4.30pm: The House Hotel, Spanish Parade
Situated in the very centre of Galway’s Latin Quarter, and making its presence felt with the kind of design touches that you thought had disappeared (think bold, bright, chic and just a little bit cheeky), the House Hotel is a smart 4-star boutique property that you can make your home-from-home as much as your start-the-party pad. Did we tell you about the hotel lounge’s endless list of cocktails? No, on second thoughts, maybe it’s best not let you know about that.
7.30pm: Tigh Neachtain’s, 17 Cross Street
Yes, we know there are more great pubs in Galway than you could manage to visit in one week let alone in a 24-hour period. That’s why we’re choosing what you could justifiably describe as an old reliable. The snugs here are social distancing heaven (for close friends, anyway), while the atmosphere, in general, is the kind that warms the cockles of your heart just as much as the pub’s open fires.
8.30pm: Loam, Geata na Cathrach
“Our philosophy here,” writes owner/Head Chef Enda McEvoy on Loam\s website, “is only to use ingredients that are from the west of Ireland.” In a commitment to keep it local, Loam steers clear of spices, lemons, olive oil, and the like, using instead wild garlic seeds, pickled roses, sea vegetables elderflowers. Such innovation has raised the standard for Irish restaurants, with Loam’s continued Michelin star status (from its opening in 2014 to this year) upping the ante even further. In other words? You’re going to love it here. (Please note that Loam is closed Sundays and Mondays.)
10.30pm: The Quays, 11 Quay Street
Top the night off with another visit to another pub? Why ever not – you’re in Galway so you need fully soak up the atmosphere. It would be difficult to best The Quays, which has been around for almost 400 years. Inevitably, the pub seeps tradition with gothic arches, carved wood, stained glass (some of which originate from a medieval church) and music every night. Don’t stay too late – you have a full day ahead of you tomorrow!
10.30am: Merchant Café, 6 Forster Street
You had breakfast at least two hours ago, you’ve made/taken a few phone calls and caught up on early morning emails, so what’s next? Grab a paper and your phone and head for this new-ish addition to Galway’s coffee culture. Located right beside Eyre Square, close to bus and train depots, this is an airy and brightly lit space perfect for a mid-morning, personal think tank session.
11.15am: Nuns’ Island
Currently undergoing urban regeneration, this former industrial quarter, situated between the River Corrib and the canal, once hosted flour mills, a brewery, a granite works, and – hence its name – a convent and a fever hospital. Historically, it’s a very interesting area of the city with intriguing insights into the past.
12 noon: Galway City Museum, Spanish Parade
Admission into this marvellous space remains free but pre-booked tickets are required for admittance. Once here, the display of material will make you aware of how rich the history and heritage of Galway city is. Across three gallery floors that house in-situ and rotating/temporary exhibitions, themes of Galway-related architecture, sea science and history are explored, from prehistoric and medieval Galway to times of rebellion. Please note that the museum is closed on Mondays.
1pm: Ard Bia at Nimmo’s, Spanish Arch, Long Walk
You won’t need to walk far to get here, as it’s virtually opposite the Galway City Museum. Ard Bia at Nimmo’s (named after the nearby pier, built by Scottish engineer, Alexander Nimmo) is one of the city’s most representative restaurants that is as much an experience in food as aesthetics. It’s no surprise the food is the epitome of quality (translated from Irish, Ard Bia means ‘high food’), but what does is how this most established of venues manages to maintain the same levels of quality, year-on-year.
2pm: Shop Street
The time has arrived – you have one hour left before you hightail it back home, and you know your head will be placed on silver platter if you don’t return with a present. You have, most assuredly, come to the right place – or street. The very aptly-named Shop Street has been Galway’s primary shopping artery for many years, and so mixes traditional with contemporary retail stores/shops. Check out the several side streets for other shops with a difference.
3pm: Bye, bye Galway!
You know we’re missing you already, don’t you?
WRITTEN BY TONY CLAYTON-LEA