48 Hours in Galway

Galway Travel Guide - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

A few weeks back we spent a few days in Galway at a friends wedding.  We were blessed with the weather and managed to get visiting the towns of Oranmore and Salthill, along with Galway City.  I’ve spent many a summer in Galway as I have family in the small town of Moycullen, and have holidayed in Salthill quite regularly.  We’ve also visited Connemara, Spiddal and Clifden in the past although none of these places since starting the blog (sigh).  We tried to cram in as much as we possibly could in during our short trip to Galway, and with so many festivals in the county throughout the year, we hope to get down again soon in the not so distant future.

First stop, Oranmore

This was our first time visiting Oranmore and it’s fair to say we were pleasantly surprised.  We stayed at the Maldron Hotel for the night and it was great.  Really well priced, great room and the food was nice as well.  We were also left a nice wee box of chocolates (we did mention we were food and travel bloggers).

We arrived in Oranmore on St Patrick’s Day and the town was in full flow with parades along the main street.  Oranmore isn’t a huge town in terms of size, but chatting to a local taxi man, the population of the town has been growing steadily in recent years with many people choosing it as home to commute from Oranmore to Galway City (approx 15 minutes away).

Dinner and drinks in Basilico and Coach House Bistro

As we were in Oranmore for one night and it was St Patrick’s Day, there was only one thing really to do; find a bar and get comfy.  There was a number of bars all within walking distance of one another and our first port of call was the Coach House Hotel and we decided to dine at the Basilico Restaurant which is one the McKennas Guide.  They seem to have a good reputation for their pizzas and as pizza after pizza passed us at the bar while we waited to be seated, we quickly knew what we’d be ordering when we took our seats.  One meat feast and one parma ham and rocket pizza later, we were left more than impressed and ready to go exploring the other bars of Oranmore.  With pizzas ranging from €10.00 – €13.50, we’d definitely recommend giving Basilico a visit if you’re ever passing through Oranmore.

Food in Oranmore Galway - Pikalily Food Blog

With our bellies filled, we left Basilico to enjoy a quick drink in the Coach House Bistro, before swinging by Keanes and MacDonagh’s (known locally as The Thatch Bar).  MacDonagh’s, as we were to learn later, was a place popular with Nial’s grandfather when he would make regular trips to Galway.  With a couple of pints of Guinness settled in the belly, it was time to call it a night and get ready for what was no doubt going to be a long day the following day.

A quick visit to Oranmore Castle

We got up bright and early the following morning and enjoyed breakfast at the Maldron Hotel and it was a great way to start the way.  We were blessed with the weather so took the opportunity to go and explore this picturesque town a little more.  First up was Oranmore Castle, a castle that is reported to be haunted, and even appeared on a US TV show for the scariest places on earth.  The castle was certainly impressive, and the surrounding area looked quite peaceful and undisturbed, nestled along the North Atlantic Ocean.

Oranmore Village and Castle - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

From the castle we took a leisurely stroll around the town and noticed quite a lot of runners out and also noticed that for such a small town, you’d never be stuck for your shopping, with a Tesco, ALDI, LIDL and SuperValu all within walking distance of one another.

We went back to our hotel to get ready for the day ahead (a friend’s wedding), and made the short trip to Claringbridge before heading to the Salthill Hotel for the wedding reception and our home for the night!

Onwards to Salthill

With the sun out, it would appear that half of Galway flocked to Salthill on the Friday as traffic from Galway City to the seaside resort of Salthill was crawling.  Nevertheless, we made it to the Salthill Hotel in good time and checked into our room.  The room we stayed in was a standard double room with a simple decor.  We unpacked our bags and made our way down to the bar to meet some friends and make the most of the weather by drinking al fresco!  The food served that evening was definitely up there with the very best we’ve enjoyed at a wedding, with the fillet steak main earning rave reviews from everyone we spoke to.  The goats cheese bruschetta to start was a hit with Helen.

Wedding at Salthill Hotel - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

The next day we enjoyed a lovely full Irish breakfast in our room before setting out to explore Salthill with some friends.  Having spent many wonderful summers in Salthill as a child, we were a little disappointed in the town itself.  It certainly looks like an area that could do with a little bit of investment, although the Salthill Promenade still draws a crowd and provided the setting for a refreshing morning stroll.  The Oslo Bar is well worth a visit though and is Galway’s only microbrewery and home of the popular Galway Bay craft beers.

Things to do in Salthill - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

We spotted a lovely wee park next to the Salthill Hotel called the Circle of Life, a commemorative garden from the National Organ Donor.  If you are visiting Salthill any time soon we’d recommend taking five minutes to explore the gardens, a real poignant place celebrating those who have donated organs, with the national heritage wall in the gardens sporting the emblem of all 32 counties in Ireland.  From Salthill, we set off on the short journey into Galway City Centre to quickly explore the city before making the long journey back home to Newcastle.

A quick walk around Galway City

With it being St Patrick’s weekend, and a Saturday, the streets of Galway City were bustling.  We spent some time exploring Eyre Square and made our way down to the Spanish Arch, The Docks and The City Museum.  While Galway City wouldn’t be of the same size as Dublin, Belfast and even Cork, it’s really handy to get around, and if it’s a weekend of entertainment, drink, and all round craic that you are after, then Galway City is hard to beat.

Pubs in Galway City - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

The Galway races in particular are well worth getting along to although other popular festivals like the Galway Oyster Festival, Galway International Arts Festival and Galway Food Festival (which we missed by a week), are all worth getting along to.  After a short time walking through the city, it was time to hit the road again to make it home before sunset.  With such a busy weekend now behind us, Galway had once again left a good impression on us and we can’t wait to head back again later in the year, as we plan to drive the Wild Atlantic Way.

Other areas to visit in Galway

Having been to Galway on many occasions in the past, here are just some of our favourite places to help you when planning a trip to Galway.

  • Connemara
  • Spiddal
  • Clifden
  • Oughterard
  • Athenry
  • Tuam
  • Inishmore and Aran Islands

48 Hours in Galway

We made a short video of our time in Galway which you can see below.

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Have you ever visited Galway or are you from Galway?  We’re looking for suggestions for hidden gems that we simply must see when exploring the Wild Atlantic Way this summer.  Let us know where we should go in Galway but commenting below or sharing your recommendations with us on Facebook and Twitter.


Welcome to Pikalily, an award-winning food, travel and lifestyle blog. We are Nial and Helen, a happily married couple from Northern Ireland, who share a passion for food and travel among many things. We became parents to our beautiful boy Lewis in 2017. Follow our adventures through the blog.

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