Anyone who’s been to Ireland knows that as amazing as Dublin’s pubs may be, the real craic is in Galway. Sure, I may be biased as Galway was once a place that I called home, but I’m not alone in my thoughts. Even the locals agree that Galway’s craic is top notch, with many of them choosing to spend their weekends or holidays in Ireland’s famous west coast town.
Traditional music, great beer, and friendly locals all add to the draw of Galway’s nightlife. But another huge factor, especially important to solo female travellers in Ireland, is that Galway has been awarded the purple flag; crediting the city for its vibrant, diverse, but most importantly, safe nightlife.
Convinced? Then here are Galway’s best pubs for good pints, great music, and authentic Irish craic.
The Roisin Dubh, which is Gaelic for Black Rose, is one of Galway’s best known pubs and famous for its live music scene. There a live shows every night of the week (along with the occasional comedy act) many of which are free.
Address: 9 Dominick Upper Street. Open until 2am.
The Front Door/ Sonny’s
Five bars, two floors, and an outdoor area? The Front Door is MASSIVE and can accommodate about 500 people on its busiest nights. It’s most popular with a younger crowd, and a DJ takes over later in the evening making it more of a club than traditional pub scene. Still, its a good place to dance, and they offer great food until 9pm.
Address: 8 Cross Upper Street. Open until: 2am
A smaller, cozy Pub, Tig Coili is another well-known pub in Galway’s city centre. If you are looking for a place to experience traditional Irish music, this is where to come. A good mix of both locals and tourists come to spend some time here.
Address: Mainguard Street. Open until: 11:30pm (Monday-Thursday) 12:30 (Friday) Closed Saturdays.
If The Front Door feels like a club, then the best way to descrive Murphys Bar would be as an Old Man’s bar. But don’t let that stop you, it may be small (really small, actually) and cozy, but if you are looking for a quiet(er) spot to enjoy a pint and meet the locals, this is your spot.
Address: 9 High Street. Open until 11:30pm (Monday-Thursday) 12:30am (Friday-Saturday) and 11pm Sunday
While it’s a popular spot for the locals, most tourists will walk right past Freeney’s; not even realizing it’s a pub. Their loss, because Freeney’s is part of the Irish Whisky Trail and has over 50 different Irish whiskeys to choose from. If you’re a whisky fan, don’t leave Galway without visiting Freeney’s.
Address: 19 High Street. Open until 11:30pm (Monday-Saturday) and 11pm (Sunday).
The Kings Head
A Galway classic known for its morbid history which, you guessed it, involves a king losing his head. This pub can trace its history back over 800 years, but today is known as a great spot to grab a pint and listen to the live music. The Kings Head also make amazing beer battered fish and chips (along with other pub fare) served all day long.
Address: 15 High Street, Galway. Open until 2am (Thursday-Saturday) 11pm (Sunday) 11:30pm (Monday-Wednesday)
O’Connors, which is in Salthill rather than Galway proper, is probably the most famous pub in Galway. It brands itself as being the first singing pub in the country. Whether this is true or not is up to debate, but it’s absolutely worth a visit with great pints, and good music. It’s also where Ed Sheeran filmed part of the video for his song, Galway Girl.
Address: Salthill House, Upper Salthill. Open until: 11:30pm (Sunday-Thursday) and 1am (Friday-Saturday).
The Quays (pronounced ‘Keys’) is one of Galway’s prettiest pubs with stained glass and Gothic additions that were imported from a medieval church in France. It’s very popular with tourists, but locals and other Irish from around the country will stop in as well. There’s often music here but expect it to get incredibly busy, especially during the summer months.
Address: 11 Quay Street. Open until 2am (Monday-Saturday) and 12am on Sundays.
A newer pub in the city, The Dail was opened in 2008 by the same man that owns The Front Door. Like The Front Door, The Dail attracts a younger crowd and has a DJ on the second floor giving it a more club like feel at night. Even if that’s not quite your scene, stop by for a meal during the day; they serve up some great food.
Address: 42 Middle Street. Open until 12:30am (Sunday- Wednesday) and 2am (Thursday-Saturday).
Another traditional style pub, Garavan’s, like Freeney’s, is also on the Whisky Trail. It’s won the title of Irish Whisky Bar in the year from 2014-2017 for the Connacht region. A family style pub, it has more of a laid back and friendly atmosphere that attracts locals and tourists alike. Live music sessions happen a few times a week.
Address: 46 William Street. Open until: 11:23pm (Monday-Thursday). 12:30am (Friday-Saturday), 12am (Sunday).
A Galway classic, Tigh Neactain is another historic Galway pub and has been run by the same family for over 100 years. It attracts a diverse crowd and puts on some great live music shows, especially on Sunday night.
Address: 17 Cross Street. Open until: 11:30pm (Sunday-Thursday), 12:30am (Friday and Saturday).
Recently redesigned, An Pucan now has two live music stages. It was originally best known for its traditional music, which can still he heard during the evenings. However, on late nights there are often cover bands or DJs.
Address: 11 Forster Street. Open until: 11:30pm (Monday-Thursday), 2am (Friday-Saturday), 11pm (Sunday).