Located on the West Coast of Ireland about 130 miles from Dublin, Galway is known as "the most Irish city in Ireland" for its allegiance to traditional Irish culture, including the language and music. What makes Galway so Irish also makes it an enchanting place for visitors, and a perfect stop for couples planning an Ireland honeymoon/ honeymooners looking for a wee bit of romance in Ireland. Here are the most romantic things to do in Galway.
Shop for a Claddagh
The traditional Irish claddagh ring (which is designed with two hands holding a crowned heart) is linked to the city of Galway; it's believed that the ring was designed by a Galway native, Richard Joyce, when he was held captive by a goldsmith in Algiers. You'll find the rings for sale throughout the city, but the best place to shop for one is Thomas Dillon's, which has been making the rings since 1750 and has a small museum attached to the shop. The claddagh is very symbolic: The ring's hands, crown and heart represent friendship, loyalty and love, and the way the ring is worn indicates the woman's relationship status. If the point of the heart faces out and away from the wrist, the woman is looking for love, while if it the point faces inward it means she's committed to someone.
Have a Romantic Meal
Irish food has a reputation for being hearty, homey comfort food (think lamb stews and fried fish) and while you'll find plenty of these delicious dishes, there's much more to the culinary scene in Galway. Galway is home to two Michelin-starred restaurants, including Aniar, which puts a modern spin on traditional ingredients. On a smaller budget, the Seafood Bar at Kirwin's Lane, offers European-inspired cuisine featuring the best of Ireland's bounty, such as grilled hake, smoked salmon, Atlantic lobster and Connemara lamb.
Listen to Live Music in the Pubs
Galway has a large Irish-speaking population (as many as 70 percent of residents speak Irish as well as English) and as a university town, it also has a young population, which makes it a lively place to hear traditional Irish music. Music is a large part of the local culture and nightlife, with many pubs offering live music sessions throughout the week. In the city's pedestrianized Latin Quarter, pubs like Tigh Neachtain and Tig Cóilí offer low-key sessions where you'll typically find the musicians seated around a table as they play without amplification.
Stay in a Cozy Bed and Breakfast
There are hundreds of options for charming B&Bs around Galway. While styles and prices vary, the constants are warm, Irish hospitality and a hearty Irish breakfast. One great option is St. Judes B&B, a six-room guesthouse located in Salthill, about 10 minutes from the heart of Galway by foot. Each room has an ensuite bathroom, TV and antique furnishings and there's a large sitting area and communal dining area. Breakfast will fill you up for a day of exploring; it includes coffee, tea, juice, cereal, fruit, pastries and made-to-order dishes including poached eggs with smoked salmon or a traditional Irish breakfast of black pudding, sausage, egg, mushrooms and roasted tomato.
Go for a Scenic Stroll
Join the locals in a favorite pastime, walking along the Salthill Prom, a 1.25-mile seaside promenade that runs from the edge of the city along the bay to the area of Salthill, where on a clear day you can see the hills of Clare and the Aran Islands. Today Salthill is a lively area of its own, with several bars and restaurants, including the Galway Bay Brewery.
Take a Day Trip
Galway's location makes it an ideal home base for road trips around the West Coast of Ireland. With 90 minutes, you can reach the towering Cliffs of Moher, wander charming small towns like Westport and Doolin, explore the rocky Burren or the rolling hills and pastoral coastline of Connemara, or spend a day on the sprawling grounds of Ashford Castle — former home of the Guinness family — where you can have a luxurious afternoon tea, go for a horseback ride around the grounds or learn the art of falconry.