Galway is home to some of Ireland’s best pubs, where everyone from poets to plumbers come to rub shoulders over a pint.
Galway might be a small Irish town, but when it comes to pubs it punches well above its weight. There are dozens of them dotted around the city, from traditional taverns to contemporary craft beer bars. It’s a university town too, which means student-friendly prices. Add to this live music every night of the week and a proud beer-drinking heritage, and it isn’t hard to see why Galway’s pubs frequently rank as the best in the country. But in a land of so many, where do you begin? To help make the decision a little easier, we’ve rounded up five of the very best.
Those looking for cosy snugs, roaring fires and good beer should hotfoot to Tigh Neachtain. It’s packed with personality, from its cornflower blue facade to its timber-lined interiors. The beers, brewed by Galway Hooker, are excellent, but with a 130-strong whiskey selection, you might want to save yourself for something stronger. There’s a good range of food on offer too, provided by Kasbah Wine Bar. Live music takes place every week, with the occasional big name from the Irish folk scene dropping in to perform.
17 Cross Street Upper
Taaffes Bar has been welcoming thirsty punters for over 150 years, and the building itself has been around even longer, built over 400 years ago. It’s a Galway GAA (Galway Athletic Association) pub and one of the best places to catch a televised hurling or Gaelic football match, as evidenced by the numerous photos of the team lining the walls, though it’s well-known for its live music too. It gets busy, but if you manage to sneak in early you might be able to grab one of the coveted seats by the roaring fire, best enjoyed with a pint of Guinness.
19 Shop St
If you’ve had your fill of traditional Irish pubs, Bier Haus might be the perfect antidote. Craft beers, contemporary music and cracking conversation flow easily here. Opened in 2005, the pub offers 20 beers on tap and over 60 craft beers, including some from the best of Ireland’s craft breweries, and there’s also an excellent cocktail menu on offer too. Unlike the usual no-frills food served up at most pubs, Bier Haus boasts one of the best sandwiches in Galway – a piping hot ‘Banh Mi’ Vietnamese pork sandwich. It’s particularly lively at the weekends, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
2 Henry St
The Quays is one of Galways’ oldest and most famous pubs. The 400-year old establishment has even won Ireland’s City Bar of the Year, so it’s fair to say they know what they’re doing. It boasts some of the best toe-tapping, drink-spilling live music in the city too, with more space than most to dance. Inside, the decor is equal parts medieval church and industrial chic, which shouldn’t work as well as it does. The pub is popular with tourists but it hasn’t sold out and is still widely considered a local institution.
This cosy pub is beloved for its nightly trad (traditional Irish music) sessions, but it’s no secret. Come summertime, the crowds spill out onto the street and you’ll need to elbow your way to the bar, but that’s really just all part of Tigh Chóilí’s charms. Walls are plastered with photos of past performers and pub paraphernalia, and the beers on tap are excellent. Prop yourself up at the bar with a pint of Galway’s Nan Frank IPA. Live music sessions take place at 6 pm and 9 pm every day, featuring a wide roster of local and international bands.