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48 Hours in Galway Ireland

When I first started planning my time in Ireland the top things that I wanted to see were countryside and castles. I wanted to see nature and natural beauty and lush greenness. After researching the top things to do in Ireland I knew that getting over to the west coast to see the Cliffs of Moher was a definite must-do. And from there my plans for Galway Ireland started to fall into place!

Cliffs of Moher near Galway Ireland

The Transportation Dilemma

Since seeing the Irish countryside wouldn’t be possible without some mode of transportation I decided that a tour bus was my best option. Renting a car for one person wasn’t as cost effective plus navigating random country roads by myself did not appeal to me at all. During this trip I wasn’t brave enough to attempt driving by myself in a different country but now that I’ve done it I wouldn’t hesitate to do it in Ireland when I go back. I have however heard that navigating some of the country roads can be quite an experience!

Initially I was a bit leery of the tour bus option since it seemed so touristy and lacking in flexibility, however this specific tour ended up being one of my favorite parts of my entire trip. I booked a two day tour package through the Galway Tour Company. You have the option of starting the tour in Galway or for a few extra bucks they’ll pick you up in Dublin. Since I flew into Dublin I was thrilled to have an easy way to make it over to Galway and have it all be part of the same package.

 

The Benefits of Going The Tour Bus Route

It’s about a two hour bus ride from Dublin to Galway and I spent the time peacefully napping on the comfy tour bus. I also quickly found out that taking a tour bus is ideal when you’re traveling alone. I met two girls who were traveling together and eventually met up with them in another city in Ireland later in my trip. I met a group of six girls who were traveling Europe together for multiple weeks and hung out with them quite a bit. I also met a girl who was staying in Dublin for a month and she and I hung out at the Cliffs of Moher and took pictures for each other. So not only was the tour company itself wonderful but it was a great way to connect with other travelers.

48 Hours in Galway Ireland

Also, after doing all of my own planning for every little detail of the trip, it was really nice to sit back and let the tour company do all the work. I just had to get off at the right times, and the rest of the time I got to sit back and watch the Irish countryside go by while listening to fantastic bus drivers who were immensely entertaining.

I got to see a lot of cool things during the two tour days, way more than I could hope to cover in a blog post. I’ll try to cover some of the highlights though.

 

The Cliffs of Moher

The most important thing is that I discovered my favorite place on earth during the first day of the tour. It had been overcast all morning but when we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher in the afternoon we got a glorious dose of sunshine. Sadly I was only able to spend two hours there but it was hands down my favorite two hours of my entire trip. I am in love with that place. The natural beauty is stunning and none of my pictures can truly do it justice but here are some pictures anyway.

Cliffs of Moher near Galway Ireland

Cliffs of Moher near Galway Ireland
Cliffs of Moher near Galway Ireland
Cliffs of Moher near Galway Ireland

See those tiny little people in this picture? That gives perspective to how big these cliffs really are.

Cliffs of Moher near Galway Ireland
Cliffs of Moher near Galway Ireland

 

Other Stops During The Tours

The Burren – amazingly unique landscape.

48 Hours in Galway Ireland

Cong – An adorable and very tiny town that’s completely surrounded by rivers.

Cong near Galway Ireland

Kylemore Abbey – this is a pretty classic Irish tourist destination and it’s absolutely stunning.

Kylemore Abbey near Galway Ireland
Ross Errilly Friary – this ended up being our last quick stop right at the end of the second tour day and I took some of my favorite pictures here.
48 Hours in Galway Ireland

Galway City

Included with the bus tours was a 1.5 hour walking tour of Galway itself. Like both of the bus drivers I had the guide for the walking tour was awesome and I loved every minute of it. I also loved every part of Galway that I go to see (although I’m sure I saw mainly the touristy part).

48 Hours in Galway Ireland

Random tidbit: Galway is pronounced gaul-way (like gallbladder). I was saying it wrong for the longest time before some of my co-workers from Galway taught us the correct way to say it!

I went to a pub that was recommended by one of my co-workers prior to the trip and ended up being there on a night with a fantastic band and some great Irish dancers. I absolutely loved the music. The pub is called The Kings Head and I highly recommend it if you ever have an evening to spend in Galway!

48 Hours in Galway Ireland

The Lodgings

Amusingly enough the hostel that was included as part of my two day tour package ended up being my favorite hostel in Ireland. I spent hours upon hours researching all the hostels for my trip and the one hostel that I didn’t actually pick myself ends up being one of my favorites. Funny how things like that work out!

I stayed at Snoozles Galway and would recommend it for anyone looking for hostel accommodations in Galway!

Summary

Galway (and Ireland in general) is currently my favorite city/country that I’ve ever been to. I can’t get enough of the green lush beauty and the amazingly nice people. A good Irish accent is absolutely wonderful from my perspective. Hopefully someday I’ll get to pay another visit to my (current) favorite country!

It was also during this trip that I learned that taking bus tours can be a fantastic way to experience a country despite the obvious limitations on flexibility and despite the fact that they stick to the pretty touristy places. But let’s be real – most of the time I end up going to the touristy places even when I plan out all the details myself! I greatly enjoyed being able to sit back and enjoy the (gorgeous) view while someone else did all the work. ;)

 

48HoursInGalway



Next stop in Ireland – Dublin!

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  • I love this, Mandy! I tend to write off tour companies, but it sounds like you found a really great one! I can definitely see the benefits of this if you’re traveling alone. Also, how perfect that the sun came out for you during the most beautiful part of the trip!

    • Thanks Brittany! I used to be leery of them too but now that I’ve had a few good experiences with them I’m really excited to take some tours in Italy. I’ll keep everyone posted on how they work out. =)

  • This trip sounds incredible! I love all your pictures of the gorgeous scenery. I like the idea of going with a tour company, especially since you were traveling alone. It’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything, and you don’t have to be completely alone!

  • Hi Mandy! We are going to Galway in a couple days, and I remembered that you’d written a post on it, and it’s been very helpful to go back and reference! We will definitely look for that pub you recommended! :)

    • Seeing all of your posts make me so happy! I went to so many of those places on my trip in 2013 and it’s been fun to see the other places you’ve done while you’re in those countries. Where are you guys headed to next?

      • Thanks so much for following along! We just arrived in Bruges, Belgium today, and after this we head to the south of France! We end this trip in Italy, so I’ll definitely reference your Italy posts for that. :)

  • elena

    I lived in Galway for a few months last year and I think I left a (very big) piece of my heart there…is such a stunning place! Your post is beautiful, you really captured the beuties of Irish west coast

  • elyce

    Realize I’m a couple years late on this post, but I think I used the same tour company when I went to Galway 2 years ago (just the day tour, though, of the cliffs, and we went out to Inis Oirr island, which included a ferry tour of the bottom of the cliffs). I travel alone often and I’ve found day tours are a great way to see things you want to see without the hassle (or fear) of renting cars in foreign countries.

    Sidenote: your shirt, go cats! I went to UA too, many moons ago.