Oh Galway, how wonderful you are. This beautiful little city is jammed packed full of music, charm, and of course – pubs. And while each pub has its own unique and awesome charm, I thought it was important to write about the pubs I personally liked the most.
Here is a list of my personal top 10 pubs of Galway, Ireland:
10. McGinns Hops House
McGinns was so close to where I lived – I ate and drank there often. It’s a small, quaint sports bar in the Woodquay area of Galway with a wide selection of brews – 18 draught handles and lots of bottles. My regular was the Punk IPA, a draft beer important in from Scotland. McGinns is known for their wood fired pizzas, which are awesome. But I’ll be honest, I usually got the chicken wings – it’s the true American in me, but those wings were a comfort food and they were decently priced.
9. The King’s Head
Built over 800 years ago, The King’s Head, named after the beheading of King Charles of England, is one of the best-known and oldest pubs in Galway. It is a good place to hear live music and comedy right off Shop Street in the Latin Quarter. The place has three floors, so there is a lot of room to wander. Whenever I went I had great pints of Guinness and Smithwick’s Red and heard some really fun traditional music, and just all around had great times.
8. The Quays
Now this was the party place. Located right off Shop Street in the Latin Quarter, The Quays is the perfect place when you’re in the mood to celebrate. It was nearly always full of people, with lots of music, great vibes and great beers. There were small corners to sit and floors to dance on. The Quays has four floors, and on the top floor you pay five euro to hear some top acts and dance your heart away. The amount of “attempts” at ballroom dancing and good times brings smiles to my face. Worth the visit for sure if you’re in town.
7. Barr An Chaladh
Oh wow, this was a fun find. It’s a small, quaint place by day, little party place by night. It was one of my favorites to take friends or family who visit because the atmosphere was so nice. It’s charm won me over, and I found it a great local spot to go to. It has this warm, friendly atmosphere that’s made even warmer by the fire. It’s open seven days a week and plays live traditional music there. This is a proper “Irish style” pub. Quaint place, I think worth the visit during the day, or to celebrate in at night.
This is a “warm” pub. Traditional music flows from the inside, and laughter and singing can be heard from within. Carrols has good beer and the staff has always been helpful. One of the most standout points about the place is there is a whole bus in the very back of the pub selling pizza. I never ate it, but it looked good! This pub is on the list because every time I was there, drinking with friends or family, it was beyond a pleasant time. I once even had a rough rainy night where it seemed nothing was going right, and I ended up stranded in Carrols during a rainstorm. They had a great local guitarist, a relaxing beer, and a charger for my phone – flipped my feelings right around and was a true refuge from the cold!
5. Tigh Neachtain’s Pub
This is the famous blue pub on Shop Street in the Latin Quarter. My favorite place here was outside in the outdoor seating, or inside in one of their many “nooks and crannies.” It is a great place for music. I once heard this gypsy band play in there – and the energy from the crowd and musicians was absolutely unreal! And Tigh Neachtain has 130 different types of whiskeys to choose from. Add that fact to a strong connection to music and the arts, and you end up with an exploding heart. With whiskey, art, and music, how can you go wrong?
This pub used to be a grocery store and small a small bar, the evidence of which is still present to this day. With stained glass windows and antique lighting, this historic bar looks like you are in a museum. And out back is this huge eclectic beer garden, equipped with wooden awnings, and heating lamps for when it gets cold. In the warmer months, Dough Brother’s Pizza is served out back; one of Galway’s newly famed pizza restaurants. Great atmosphere, great place, I absolutely love it there. Located just off Eyre Square.
3. Crane Bar
Crane bar was one of my absolute favorite spots – a hidden jewel of the city. It is a place full of traditional music, history, and story telling. Crane is intimate, full of locals and performers casually playing traditional tunes. The best time to go to this cash-only establishment is around 9:30, find a set for the music starting around 10. And then just let yourself be moved and transported by the music in the intimate surrounding of the pub.
2. Salt House
Seriously. I spent so much time here on the weekends. I think it’s because the people are just great. Salt House is next to the Calddaugh River and is a popular pub for locals and tourists alike. Serving beer from Galway Bay Brewing Company and others, they have 21 different taps and more than 120 different bottles made locally and internationally. The atmosphere is small and cozy, with candle lit tables, décor all over the walls. On Sundays they play Blugrass which is a nice addition to the place. A dog friendly establishment, this is one of my favorite places to go, rain or shine, and just talk and banter with friends.
1. Roisin Dubh
Oh the Roisin Dubh. How I love thee. This is easily my top pub because it is home to some of the most special occasions I have had in a pub ever. Roisin Dubh is a bar and club that hosts live music and comedy acts. It has two floors and back patio – pretty simple for how great it was. The atmosphere is warm, friendly and it’s easy to socialize, especially outside on the patio. It is the perfect place for student-aged people that want to talk and hang with other cool people. Every Sunday there is a free open-mic night – something so intimate and special, it is worth it to attend if you ever have the luck and opportunity. Honestly, I think I spent most weekends here, just hanging with friends, listening to tunes and just having a great time. This is exactly the kind of vibe I want in a night pub, with all the right kinds of people. Have a beer or three, listen to some music, and feel the heart that is Galway pumping through your veins. Or is that alcohol? Maybe both.