With a thriving student population and relaxed Irish west coast attitude, Galway has long been known for its pub scene. In particular, the city is famous for its live traditional music sessions which take place every day of the week. There is plenty to do in Galway, but after dark falls, the most popular activity is to head to a cozy pub for a pint or two.
Traditional pubs still reign supreme in the coastal Irish city, but Galway has a pub, nightclub or craft beer bar to suit every taste. From old school bars to beer gardens, here are the 10 best pubs in Galway.
Known for its passion for music, Tig Coili has live, traditional sessions seven days a week. The charming pub is decorated with photos of the visiting musicians who have stopped into play a few songs inside the hallowed pub walls. The atmosphere is lively and friendly, with most people coming in for the music rather than any wild nights out. Set right in the Latin Quarter, it is one of the must-visit pubs for a pint when visiting Galway.
Rivaling Tig Coili for live music supremacy, Taaffes is another classic Galway pub with a penchant for traditional Irish music. Live performances take place every day, with local musicians gathering to play some tunes at 5:30 p.m. If you have your own instrument, feel free to ask if you can join them, but otherwise find a seat and a drink to enjoy the informal show. The pub in the Latin Quarter is also known for showing GAA games – traditional Irish sports including hurling and Gaelic football.
Roisin Dubh is Gaelic for “Black Rose,” and is the title of a famous Irish political song from the 16th century. It is a fitting name for this pub on Galway’s West End, because the bar is one of the most famous live music venues in a city that is known for its music. The red and black pub has hosted Irish legends like Christy Moore, but also now has comedy shows and other forms of entertainment depending on the day of the week. Head up to the rooftop to enjoy a smoke, or find a seat inside to keep an eye on the show while tipping back the pints.
Galway’s artsy crowd always seems to make its way straight to Tigh Neachtain. The wood-lined pub is built inside the former home of Irish animal right’s activist Richard Martin and attracts free spirits of all types. The pub is well known to support local musicians and artists and serves its own brand of creativity in the form of home-brewed beer (though it also has Irish favorites and craft beer on tap, as well).
O’Connell’s has one of the best locations in Galway – set right in the heart of the city on Eyre Square. Inside the large pub is decorated to look like an old-timey general store with vintage packages of food on the wall. However, the pub is most popular on warm days when crowds flock to the enormous beer garden. The outdoor space with tables and chairs is decorated to look like a street dotted with storefronts and old-fashioned pubs.
There is something undeniably charming about Galway’s traditional Irish pubs but Bierhaus offers a welcome modern addition to the city’s bar scene. Found in Galway’s West End, the craft beer and cocktail bar offers a departure from the usual pints of Guinness being served at the other pubs around the city. The bar has 24 taps with a rotation of Irish and international craft beers, as well as an impressive selection of local gins. Bierhaus also does music a bit differently – offering a great line up of DJs rather than the Irish session found in other cozy pubs.
Bedecked with hanging baskets of flowers and bright blue paint, The Quays (pronounced “keys”) is a pub that is pretty from the outside, but it is truly stunning once you walk through the doors. The inside of the pub has been decorated with antiques from a French church with pews, stained glass and Gothic arches which date back to medieval times. The lovely setting is perfect for a quiet pint, but head upstairs and you will find yourself in one of the best rock and roll venues in the city. There are often regular Trad sessions, as well, with the pub featuring musical acts seven days a week in summer. Stop by on a sunny day to grab a seat at one of the outdoor tables along Quay Street.
The Front Door Pub is so large that it spans two streets, with entrances on both High Street and Cross Street in Galway’s Latin Quarter. It is so big, in fact, that it is actually made up of five different bars on two floors. Packed with 500 people on busy nights, the pub is most popular with 20-somethings who dress to impress on their evening out on the town. The buzzing pub is sometimes as known as Sonny’s in homage to a well-known Galway local who once ran his shop out of the same building.
Monroe’s is a Galway institution which is extremely popular with visitors. Stretching over multiple stories, the bar is one part pub and one part venue, with regular live show and club nights. The pub has been a stop on Galway’s West End drinking scene for over 50 years, and has one of the longest bars in the city, with plenty of seating on the ground floor. The upstairs concert space has special shows on the weekends, but there is live, free Irish music seven days a week, as well.
The heart of Galway is brimming with restaurants and pubs, but it is worth the trip out to the Salthill area to experience more of the city, as well as to stop for a pint at O’Connor’s. The pub considers itself famous for its singsongs and it is certainly famous among the visitors who fill the bar in the summer. The cheery yellow pub has adopted a “more is more” approach to decorations so it can be hard to know where to look when you first step inside. Navigating the hanging doodads is all a part of the fun.
This pub is popular from morning to night thanks in a good part to its excellent menu. Start the day with a full Irish breakfast or stop in for a drink and a full lunch menu, with bar food served through the evening. The pretty pub is well decorated with plenty of intriguing details tucked away through the bar area and an overall welcoming atmosphere for a few pints.