It’s next to impossible to visit Galway – or anywhere in Ireland for that matter – and not visit a pub. In pretty much any Irish city, pubs, bars, and laidback beer halls are a dime a dozen, yet somehow, nearly every single one manages to provide a top-notch Irish pub experience, no matter where you go.
That said, there are always going to be standouts that go the extra mile, offer a little bit more, or have something extraordinary about them. We’ve rounded up a list of the best pubs in Galway, so you know exactly where to go to make sure you get an authentic Irish pub experience.
Table of Contents
- The Best Pubs in Galway
- Where to Stay in Galway
- Ireland Travel Tips
- What to Pack for Ireland
The Best Pubs in Galway!
Taaffes Bar is definitely one of Galway’s best-known pubs. Its location is optimal, right in the heart of the city, so if you’re out and about or doing a pub crawl, chances are you’ll come pretty close to it at some point. Like many places in Ireland, it’s been around a long time (150 years as a pub, in a 400-year-old building), so it’s ripe with history, stories, and charm.
The bar is popular with all ages, and you’ll find a mix of tourists and locals. If you came to Ireland with the desire to listen to some truly authentic Irish music, get into Taaffes before the crowds hit in order to find yourself a place to sit. It’s a popular spot, and there are 5 pm and 9:30 pm jam sessions every night April through to October. And bonus – no cover charge.
Location: 19 Shop St, Galway
Insider Tip: Looking for a beer recommendation? Try the Galway Hooker.
If you’re looking for a lively pub in Galway, that’s precisely what you’ll find at Tig Coili. This bar has been a staple of the city for years and boasts some of the finest Irish music around. You’ll see their inside walls decorated with dozens of photos of past performers! Sometimes the bartenders even jump in to join the band when they can spare a few minutes away from pulling pints.
There are 14 musical sessions a week, so you have an excellent chance of hearing some wonderful traditional Irish music if you happen to drop by. The Latin Quarter, where the pub is located, is a vibrant neighborhood of Galway with plenty to do and see, and Tig Coili is just one of many places to visit in this part of the city.
Location: Maingard Street, Latin Quarter, Galway
Insider Tip: Mind the incredibly steep stairs on your way down to the bathroom.
As far as historical interior decorating goes, The Quays Pub has pretty much got the ‘cool’ factor locked down. The outside of the pub is quaint and colorful, painted cream and deep blue with red window panes and hanging flower baskets adorning the outer walls. The inside, however, gets cooler the further you go in. Many of the features – stained glass windows, pews, and intricate wood carvings – were imported from a medieval French church to add to the effect.
This pub is a little more stay-friendly since food is served in addition to the generous range of beers. And with an upstairs lounge dedicated entirely to nightly live music, there’s a good chance you will want to order a meal and stay for a while. Be warned that this is a popular spot with tourists, so it gets busy and crowded fast.
Location: Quay Ln, Galway
Insider Tip: Try the beef-and-Guinness stew for a wholly Irish dining experience!
We have probably just found your new favorite bar. O’Connell’s Bar is a neighborhood favorite (especially with the locals for post-work drinks), and between an easygoing, laid-back vibe and the comfortable vintage interiors, it’s not hard to see why.
But the best part about O’Connell’s, and what sets it apart from many of the other bars and led us to put it on the list of best bars in Galway, is the huge outdoor beer garden. Coming in through a modest entrance and emerging into the enormous patio has been likened to Doctor Who’s TARDIS or Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
Made to look like a mock street (complete with fake shop fronts that are actually bathrooms!), it’s paved with cobblestones and set with picnic tables in nicer weather (or covered and set with heat lamps for the drizzly months). Bonus – you can also rent it out if you have an event.
Location: 8 Eyre Square, Galway
Insider Tip: The beer garden also has a brick pizza oven, so you know there’s going to be some pretty great food! O’Connell’s is a fantastic place to eat in Galway.
John Keogh’s Gastropub
Sometimes called The Lock Keeper, with this unassuming pub in the city’s Westend, there’s more than meets the eye. At first glance, it has all the charms of your typical cozy Irish pub, thanks to traditional decor, vintage gas lamps, and fireplaces with squashy armchairs. But its food selection is more modern, so much so that this has been branded a gastropub.
While this means the prices are a little higher than your average pub, the bar is also raised (no pun intended), and the result is a selection of creative and innovative dishes. While nut-crusted duck cake or Guinness oysters may sound odd, this little spot is award-winning for its culinary creations. The slow-cooked lamb shoulder and duck spring rolls come highly recommended.
Location: 22-24 Dominick Street Upper, Galway
Insider Tip: The wine list is pretty lengthy in case you’re not in the mood for beer.
More than just a bar, the Roísín Dubh is more quintessentially known as one of the country’s best music venues. From Steve Earle to John Paul Jones, this classic venue has seen its fair share of live talent, making it one of the best Galway pubs with live music. To this day, there is still live music seven nights a week (some with a cover charge and some without). Since it’s open until 2 am, it’s a good choice if you want to be out late but don’t fancy a club.
Since the pub underwent some renovations, there is also a covered rooftop patio, perfect for when the weather is amazing (pairs nicely with a pint). It is not a non-smoking area though, so be prepared for cigarette smoke. If you want to try something different, come on a Tuesday at 11 pm for their weekly silent disco!
Calling all whiskey lovers! While you can get a great pint of beer at pretty much any bar in Galway, not many of them will have a whiskey menu, and definitely not to the extent that they do at Tigh Neachtain. There is a wide range of both Irish and Scottish whiskeys (long considered among the best in the world), but their collection is growing to represent distilleries from the US, Australia, and even Japan.
Like any good Irish bar – and like nearly all the rest on this list of best pubs in Galway – there is regular live music and more than a few highly-rated pub dishes (the seafood chowder is a particular favorite among patrons). And like many, it’s comfortable and welcoming no matter the season. Grab a plush armchair for chilly winter nights or seat yourself outside in the beer garden in the summer sunshine.
Location: Corner of Cross Street and Quay Street
Insider Tip: The live music will vary from jazz to traditional Irish to rock, so check in advance if there’s something specific you want to see.
Monroe’s Pub is a staple of the neighborhood, with a visually distinct and austere exterior. With its white exterior and black framing, it’s about as traditional as they come – and the inside is about as welcoming as it gets. The bar operates on the lower floor only, featuring an open plan and lots of comfortable seating, open stone fires, and warm coloring.
The upper floor, however, is a standalone music venue (owned by the bar, and called Monroe’s Live). This is widely regarded as one of the best places for live traditional Irish music, and you can catch it here every night. Settle in, order a pint and maybe some food – either from the award-winning pub menu or from the pizza takeaway next door, which is often available from inside the pub!
Location: 14 Dominick Street Upper
Insider Tip: The fish and chips here are highly-rated, with a touch of garlic added to the tartar sauce.
If you’re the kind of person to abide by the motto “go big or go home,” this bar will probably suit you just fine. The Front Door Pub, often called just “Sonny’s” (named for Sonny Molloy, a local choir singer who once owned the building), is a huge Galway pub with a dual-street entrance (accessible both from High Street and Cross Street). Like many pubs in Ireland, it’s an older building, but modern renovations have expanded it, and it now encompasses five bars across two floors (yes, you read that right!).
As this is a very spacious bar that can accommodate a large number of patrons, it gets busy fast. It is also popular with a younger crowd, so you are likely to see a lot of 20-year-olds here in the evenings.
Location: 8 Cross Street Upper, Galway
Insider Tip: For fans of G&Ts, one of the five bars is a gin bar!
If you’re strolling down Upper Salthill Road, it’s pretty hard to miss this bar. Painted a sunny yellow, with “O’Connor’s” in bold black lettering, this is a favored bar for many locals. Once inside, the decor will likely blow you away; knickknacks and odds and ends are hanging from every free inch of space on the ceiling. You can find nearly any piece of old junk, from dishes and photographs to statuettes and old farming equipment.
Fun fact: this was the filming location for Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl music video featuring Saoirse Ronan, so even if you’re not a drinker, visiting O’Connor’s is still a fantastic thing to do in Galway.
Location: Salthill House, Upper Salthill Road, Galway
Insider Tip: While the eclectic decor is certainly a conversation starter and worthy of a few photos, be sure to watch your head!
The King’s Head, High Street
This is often the first stop for many visitors to Galway City, as it is so well-known both to locals and travelers. The King’s Head is immensely popular in the city, making it one of the busiest pubs in Galway, Ireland around. The property once belonged to King Charles I’s executioner, giving the pub its name. Because of this, the building is extremely old (with a fireplace dating from the 1600s!).
The Ruby Room on the top level is a more compact live show venue, from music to local comedians. The beer range, like any good Irish pub, is equally as varied, and many patrons report favorable feedback about the King Charles Blood Red Ale (a house-made specialty!).
Location: 15 High St, Galway
Insider Tip: If you need a different kind of pick-me-up, the coffee selection here is quite varied.
An Púcán Bar & Restaurant
If you feel like you need to let off a little steam, An Púcán might be the bar for you. Previously, it fit more into the typical mold of a quaint but lively Irish bar, but following new ownership in 2014, it underwent some renovations. The result is something that maintains the heritage of an authentic Irish pub but with elements from a more club-like scene.
The bar offers two music venues, each with a stage, and live music is available every night. Since the new ownership, there has also been a revamp of their menu; this is a great spot to get locally-sourced oysters. The bar has also partnered with a local whiskey distillery to produce a “house blend” of whiskey that can only be purchased here.
Location: 11 Forster St, Galway
Insider Tip: The seafood here is excellent, from the oysters to the mussel pasta dish. You can even get crab claws!
Where to Stay In Galway?
You’re going to need somewhere in the city to stay after enjoying your time at the best bars in Galway, here are some options.
It’s tough to get a better location that the Jury’s Inn. It’s located smack dab in the middle of Galway only a few minutes walk to just about everything.
The Galmont Hotel & Spa
A posh waterfront hotel that is set on the Lough Atalia. It only 230 m from the Galway railway station and a 5-minute walk from Eyre Square.
We often opt to stay in Airbnb while traveling as it allows us to cook and relax in the comforts of a home. We didn’t stay in one for the festival as to add to growing rent prices in the city, but we did stay in this lovely home on the coast after the festivities.
If you want to know more learn about our best Airbnb tips or want to pick up a coupon read our post about Airbnb.
Quick Ireland Tips
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Gaelic: “Dia dhuit” and “Go raibh maith agat”
- Currency: Euro – (EUR) – €
- Visa: The Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland are separate countries on the island of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland known as ‘Ireland’ grants 90-day visas. Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom also grants 90 days.
- Weather: Expect lots of weather! Ireland is known for having rapid shifts in and lots of rain – it’s only the only reason a country like Ireland remains so green and fertile. See our full packing list here.
- When is the best time to visit Galway? Ireland is a fantastic country to visit year round. Though you’ll find crowds during the summer. My favorite time to visit Ireland is in September when the weather is cool and the crowds are low. Plus it’s when the famous Galway Oyster Festival happens!
What to Pack for Ireland
It should go without saying that the weather in Ireland can be a bit rainy, this is the most important item in your suitcase. You have two options for style of rain jackets. The first one we recommend is a classic outdoor rain jacket that is a solid choice for outdoor adventurers. The second option being a trench coat for those looking to maintain style while dodging puddles. One of the best raincoats for travel is the North Face Resolve.
The fleece sweater is a perfect layer when combined with an outer shell to keep you warm. We purchased wool sweaters from independent retailers in Ireland, and good ones were fairly easy to find for a decent price. For those with less time a little bit of online shopping for wool sweaters will suffice. Start here!
Hiking PantsTechnical pants like these
are water resistant and dry quickly, not to mention they’re comfortable on long walks. These pants can be pretty ugly, but if you’re serious about exploring and hiking in Ireland I would suggest picking up a pair.
It’s wet in Ireland and you can expect a lot of boggy weather year round so packing a pair of good waterproof boots for hikes is crucial for protecting your feet. Good Boots or hiking shoes for Ireland are essential.
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem everywhere so it’s best not to contribute to the problem by buying plastic water bottles everywhere – plus the water from the taps in Ireland is perfectly safe to drink.
We’ve shifted to using an insulated aluminum water bottle as it handles the hot sun well. However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottles for travel in our post.
We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country and it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage.
Remember that Ireland uses the three-prong British plug. Make sure you have a universal travel adaptor like we have before landing!
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