Even with its reputation for partying, Ireland is one of the absolute best countries in Europe to bring the whole family. Not only are there plenty of landmarks, museums, and attractions that will grab (and hold) the attention spans of young travelers, but the friendly and patient nature of the locals makes it ideal for sightseeing with the kids. Galway, in particular, provides a relaxed atmosphere ideal for navigating with young kids and plenty of open spaces for them to burn some energy. Here are some great ways to have some family fun in Galway.
Traveling as a family can present some challenges, and one way to keep things simple is to find a convenient Galway bag storage location where you can drop off anything you don’t need for your sightseeing day. Exploring will be so much easier when you aren’t carrying too much.
Here are a few ideas for what to do with the kids in Galway:
Things to do for fun in Galway with older Kids
Visit the Cliffs of Moher
One of the most recognizable images of Ireland is the drastic shores off of its western coast. Located near Galway, these craggy cliffs offer stunning views of the coastline. The massively steep (we’re talking 90-degree angles, here) cliffs overlook the crashing waves that will seem otherworldly to most travelers. Fun fact: these same cliffs were used in the Harry Potter movies.
It’s only a 90-minute drive from Galway, and numerous tours are operating out of the city that provide both transportation and a guide. While these amazing geographic phenomena will capture the imagination of anyone, it might not be best for the really little ones.
Day trip to the Aran Islands
One of the most remote parts of Europe is only a short ferry ride from Galway’s city center. The Aran Islands are a small archipelago of three tiny rocks that jut out of the Atlantic to miraculously make a home for a small number of intrepid Irish who live there.
You can visit three islands, the largest of which is Inis Mor. Inis Meain is the seldom-visited middle child of the bunch, and Inis Oirr is the smallest, most charming, and most accessible for travelers. The islands are covered in sparse farmland, but there’s plenty of topography on Inis Mor and Inis Oirr. You can rent a bike and pedal around the island, stopping at pubs and inns for lunch or a pint.
The locals are extremely charming and very welcoming to visitors, given that tourism is such a large part of their local economy. The uneven surface of the islands makes for stellar views, as the peaks provide surreal vantage points where you can see the tiny villages dotting the landscape. This is an unbelievable experience for younger travelers, as they will learn about people’s lives in the most remote places.
Take them fishing at Salmon Weir (or simply watch)
If your older kids fancy themselves as accomplished fishermen, they can try their hands at catching the wild salmon that cross the River Corrib just outside the city center. As the river cascades toward the sea, the weir causes a bottleneck for the sea trout and salmon, allowing anglers to really clean up during spring. Even if the kids aren’t into fishing, a quick hike to the mouth of the River Corrib makes for a nice outing.
Visit the Spanish Arch
Galway’s most prominent landmark has had quite a lifespan. Originally part of Galway’s Medieval walls, the imposing stone structure overlooks the quays and harbor where the fishing boats and ships are docked outside the city.
It was almost completely destroyed by a tsunami that ravaged the coast of Ireland after the Lisbon earthquake in 1755. Today, it’s a gathering place with lawns and picnic areas overlooking the mouth of the River Corrib. Keep an eye out for kayakers and the distinctive round-hulled fishing boats known as “Galway Hookers.”
Things to do for fun in Galway with younger kids
Tire them out at Wildlands Adventure Park
While mom and dad hardly picture their trip to Ireland involving an amusement park (cue the “we have that at home” rebuttal), Wildlands Park is a great attraction to get some of the energy out before dinner or a trip to more historical or cultural endeavors. There’s a zipline, a full playground, climbing walls, and even archery across this massive park.
Stroll the Salthill Promenade
Across the river from Galway City Center is the Salthill neighborhood, perched on a hill overlooking the rest of the city. You can stroll along its wonderful promenade that hugs the coastline, enjoying the sounds of crashing waves and sea breeze.
Admire Ireland’s aquatic wildlife at the Atlantaquaria
Being a coastal town where fishing has been the way of life, it would seem the residents of Galway are more concerned with catching and eating fish than admiring them. But over 150 different species of marine wildlife are kept at this incredible aquarium just outside of Galway’s city center. There’s a massive tank where exotic fish make a mosaic of colors, and even whale skeletons and model submarines.
Learn a thing or two at Galway City Museum
If you get stuck with a rainy day (non-zero chance of this) during your trip, head indoors to this charming museum that tells the story of Galway. From a small fishing village to a small medieval walled city to a hotbed of political and cultural activity, Galway’s history is fascinating, and this multi-level museum’s exhibits, artifacts, artwork, and relics are undoubtedly enjoyable for guests of every age.
Family-friendly places to eat in Galway
Treat your picky eaters to pizza from Dough Bros
Sometimes, something familiar is all you need to satisfy your hungry (but fussy) kids. Ireland isn’t exactly known for its pizza, but one of Galway’s best restaurants is the popular pizza joint Dough Bros. This shouldn’t be surprising, as Galway is a university town, but the classic Margherita pies are fairly authentic, with charred crust and the freshest basil imaginable.
Get the kids a proper fish and chips at McDonagh’s
If you leave Galway without trying fish and chips, whether as a full meal or an afternoon snack, then you didn’t get the full experience! Galway’s best fish stand is situated right on Quay Street, so you’ll walk by it more than a few times during your trip.
If you’re sightseeing through town, pop in there and order some battered cod with extra crispy chips (french fries) served up with house tartar sauce and vinegar. It’s popular, so you won’t be alone, but you can always take it to-go if you can’t find a space at the long picnic tables.
Treat them to gelato at Gino’s
Ireland can be surprisingly warm during the summer, so a frozen sweet treat after a long day of sightseeing can be well-earned. There aren’t that many great ice cream parlors in Galway, but you can find fantastic gelato right in the city center at Gino’s. This unassuming gelateria offers more than 30 flavors, including a few original creations, and serves them in healing portions. If it’s colder out, there are also crěpes on offer.