When someone mentions Ireland, Dublin is inevitably the first city you would think of. However, though Dublin is the biggest city, it does not necessarily mean it is the best. Sitting on the opposite side of the country is the charming city of Galway, teeming with traditional Irish culture and the home to many internationals, giving it a multicultural edge. The main street, ‘Shop Street’, is filled with, as you can guess, a multitude of shops of which most sell Irish souvenirs. But don’t let this kid you into believing that the city is only full of touristic attractions; once you leave this main street, there are plenty of lively and authentic bars, pubs and restaurants. If you are not one for being the typical tourist, here are a few hidden gems in the city to visit in a day:
First stop of the day: The Secret Garden
If you fancy some tea in Galway, this is the place to go. Filled with over 30 different kinds of herbal teas, The Secret Garden is wonderfully quaint and relaxing. The counter has multiple jars of tea, open for you to smell in order to choose which incredible blend you want to try. You can get a whole pot at a very reasonable price, accompanied by a sweet treat or cake. They frequently have live music, generating a very mellow atmosphere. Shisha pipes and Moroccan style furnishing add to the chilled out vibe.
Lunchtime: McDonagh’s Fish and Chip Restaurant
You simply cannot visit a seaside town without eating fish and chips and McDonagh’s is the best place in town. The walls are covered in rope, fish and other sea-related objects to make you feel as though you’ve just boarded an old ship. The menu is extensive including oysters, battered haggis and every fish you can name under the sun. It is a long running establishment of over 100 years; they really have perfected the traditional fish and chips.
Afternoon or early evening pint: The Salthouse
This is one of nine pubs owned by Galway Bay Brewery in both Galway and Dublin. Despite being the smallest, it boasts 23 taps and over 200 bottles of the finest craft beer. The beers on tap rotate frequently giving you a great opportunity to try many different beers from all over the world. The guys behind the bar are very knowledgeable and really try to help you find a beer that you will like. If you can’t make up your mind, you can even buy a ‘beer bat’, which allows you to try a third of a pint of three different beers! The bar itself has low ceilings and is covered in fish-eyes (the graphic on beer taps…) creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Every Sunday night, there is live bluegrass music making you want to stay all weekend. Just make sure you don’t ask for a Heineken…
Evening: Róisín Dub
Finish your day off at one of Ireland’s busiest and most acclaimed music and comedy venues. Open until 2am every night of the week, it boasts live music with either a band of DJ set. The venue contains four bars, of which two are craft and two serve your regular grog. There is also a large covered smoking area giving the bar a very open feel. ‘The Black Rose’ (as translated) has a very hip atmosphere and is always packed, no matter which day you decide to make a visit!
And the absolute final stop any night of the week: instead of demolishing a giant, greasy kebab, buy one of Ireland’s famous ‘chicken rolls’ at your local Centra…
Images courtesy of Phalinn Ooi, Professor Bop and Peter Gorman via Flickr