This article was first published in the Itinerary Planning Special Report 2016. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
Galway’s position at the midpoint of Ireland’s rugged coastline offers the cruise tourist untold unique experiences in the medieval city, the outlying coastal drives to Connemara to Kylemore Abbey and south to see the Cliffs of Moher.
Why not take a helicopter trip to the Burren, Europe’s largest Karst region and fly out to the Aran Islands taking in the Dun Aengus Fort from the skies. Enjoy seafood chowder in Joe Watty’s Pub and fly back to the city for a pint or some shopping. Or learn to make soda bread the traditional way in a replica of an old Irish cottage while being entertained with Irish dancers and musicians.
If history is your thing, then go no further than St Nicholas Collegiate Church where Christopher Columbus prayed in 1477 or visit the Kings Head pub where you’ll read of the beheading of King Charles I in 1649 by Charles Gunning who lived to the rear of 15 High Street, now the pub. Legend has it that Gunning ‘felt the muscles on the neck of the King’ before execution. A visit to the Museum located adjacent to the port is another must and is a nice way to pass an hour should the rain decide to fall.
The city is also known as the entertainment capital of Ireland – its narrow streets are alive with a multicultural and multinational chatter of different languages making Galway such a diverse place. The Galway Races, the Galway International Arts Festival, the Oyster Festival to mention a few is what keeps the city bustling with content, smiling and welcoming faces.
It's also been crowned as the European Capital of Culture 2020, ensuring in the lead up to and after 2020, there will be much activity in Galway to suit the delights of cruise passengers young and not so young.
And it doesn’t end there. Galway UNESCO City of Film; Galway – World’s Friendliest City; Galway – Europe’s Micro City of the Year; home to two Michelin star restaurants, I could go on and on.
Cruise passenger number are increasing year on year, and many of the larger cruise line companies have confirmed that they will visit Galway when the new port extension is completed in 2020. This will redefine the tourist industry in Galway City and the West of Ireland.