With its pretty coastline, Galway is often thought of as a popular destination for summer. But with its Bohemian vibe, arts scene, and buzzing nightlife, this city on Ireland’s west coast is a great stop at any time of year. It’s especially tantalizing during the last weekend of September when, every year since 1954, the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival brings foodies galore to town (This year’s event will be held September 22–24.) Oyster shucking contests, talks, and tasting events are all on the menu – as are champagne and stout beers, of course.
If you’re heading to the festivities, you’ll want to partake in the local culture, too. Which, of course, means heading to the pub for a pint (or two). Beloved by tourists and locals alike, here are five pubs worth bellying up to:
It’s all about the music at this charming spot, located in the heart of the city’s Latin Quarter. Here at Tig Coili, where many of the area’s best players are drawn, you’re likely to catch a lively session of traditional tunes. Fancy a seat outside? You’ll still be in luck; excellent regular buskers tend to play just outside the front door.
Open fireplaces, live music, and an artsy, intellectual vibe can be found between the walls at Tigh Neachtain, also located in the Galway’s Latin Quarter. If beer’s not always your thing, don’t worry – whiskey is theirs. Choose from more than 130 varieties to sip on. Since 1894, this traditional pub has been a gathering place for eclectic crowds, and to this day it attracts actors, musicians, artists, business people, and tourists alike.
Popular with a younger crowd, Bierhaus supplies an outstanding selection of regional and international craft brews that would surely get any American beer snob excited. But you don’t have to don a manicured beard to feel at home here – the diverse crowd is friendly and warm. Tucked into Galway’s West End neighborhood, Bierhaus has a fresh take on music and food – offering gourmet sandwiches like Banh Mi in place of traditional fish and chips.
Yes, it’s listed in every tourist guide, but there’s a definite reason why. For almost 400 years, The Quays has served the good people of Galway and it’s happy to serve you, too. A beautiful stage and pipe organ serve as backdrop for the lively bands that play at Galway’s most famous and historic drinking establishment.
Housed in a historic building, this three-story bar is large, but its interior spaces are inviting and cozy. On the ground floor of Monroe’s Tavern, you’ll encounter traditional Irish dancing and song, along with hearty pub fare. Head upstairs later in the evening, where the crowd favors more contemporary bands and a club-like scene seven nights a week. A Galway institution, Monroe’s has been family-owned for decades.