When it comes to the best beaches in Galway, there’s stiff competition for the top spot!
County Galway is home to many of the best beaches in Ireland, with a handful of the county’s sandy stretches looking like something from a land far more tropical.
From the incredible Dog’s Bay to the often missed Dumhnach on Inishbofin, there’s an almost endless number of Galway beaches to saunter along.
In the guide below, I’m going to show you what we think are the best beaches in Galway – if I missed one that you’re particularly fond of, let me know in the comments below!
The best beaches in Galway
The breath-taking county of Galway is home to no end of natural and man-made attractions, from mighty mountains to castles and everything in between.
However, anyone that’s flicked through our guide to the best places to visit in Galway will know that beaches contribute hugely to this county’s beauty, as you’ll see below!
Water safety warning: Understanding water safety is absolutely crucial when visiting beaches in Ireland. Please take a minute to read these water safety tips. Cheers!
1. Trá an Dóilín
Trá an Dóilín is lauded for its outstanding natural beauty—white coral and blue waters that are suitable for swimming and snorkelling.
Located just outside the Carraroe Village, lifeguards patrol the beach in the summer season, and it received an International Blue Flag award in 2014 (Blue Flag beach awards denote a beach meets cleanliness and facility standards.)
It has changing rooms and toilet facilities, making it a great place for a day out when the weather is glorious. This is the best beach in Galway, in our opinion, for good reason.
2. Dog’s Bay
What everyone notices first is its shape—a spectacular horseshoe—and then its long stretch of white sands that gives it that wonderful tropical sparkle.
The colour comes not from traditional limestone but the crushed fragments of seashells. Thanks to its shape and location, the beach is sheltered and safe for swimming, and faces south making it warm and welcoming in the summer months.
Wind and kite surfers love Dog’s Bay Beach too, and the area is famous for its rare ecological, geological and archaeological features.
Warning: Both of the Roundstone Beaches (Gurteen and Dog’s Bay) get mobbed during summer and idiots park dangerously all around it. Please use common sense.
3. Lettergesh Beach
You’ll find it on the Renvyle Peninsula around a 30-minute drive from Clifden where it looks like a scene from a postcard.
Lettergesh is a fairly sheltered bay with the chilly, blue waters tempting people in for a paddle. It is worth noting, however, that there’s no lifeguard service on the beach.
The grassy hinterland is home to a flock of sheep, bleating in the background, somewhat in juxtaposition to the gentle splashing of the sea and caws of sea birds.
4. Glassilaun beach
Glassilaun Beach is another of the best beaches in Galway for a reason and you’ll find it right at the mouth of the Killary Fjord in Connemara.
Soft white sand collides with turquoise water at Glassilaun to make this sandy stretch a go-to for locals and tourists alike come summer.
The beach sits in the shadow of Mweelrea Mountain and, although it attracts the crowds come summer, it’s generally quiet throughout the year.
5. Mannin Bay
The mighty Mannin Bay Blueway is famous for its ‘coral’ sands, crystal clear water and mountain views and you’ll find it 10 minutes from busy Clifden town.
We spent a morning here last summer during a mini-heatwave and it really did feel like being somewhere far more exotic.
As we kicked back on the white sand, a group of people slowly bobbed along the water on stand-up-paddle-boards, gazing down into the clear waters below.
Just keep in mind that this is one of the more popular beaches near Clifden so, like most Galway beaches, it gets busy during summer.
6. Gurteen Bay
Gurteen Bay is Dog’s Bay Beach’s twin, as it lies back-to-back with the latter, the two beaches jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean.
The name comes from the Irish word ‘goirtin’, which means a small field or plot, and like its twin, the beach’s sand is formed from shell fragments (foraminfera).
Up until the 1990s, coastal erosion threatened the future of the beach, but extensive efforts by the local community and the beach restoration committee have helped to drive back the erosion and preserve the beach for future generations.
If you’re in search of beaches in Galway that are brilliant for a ramble and a swim, Gurteen Bay is well worth a visit.
7. Silverstrand Beach Barna
There are plenty of Silver Strand beaches in Ireland, but Silver Strand in Galway is a particularly popular, as it’s next to the city in Barna.
Frequented by those with young families because the waters are shallow and safe for paddling and/or swimming, though at high tides the beach is mostly covered.
Lifeguards patrol the beach during the summer. As the beach faces directly into the Galway Bay, visitors are rewarded with fine views and the promenade has parking capacity for up to 60 vehicles.
8. Salthill Beach
Salthill Beach is a group of small beaches (some are more pebbly than sand) and is popular with swimmers in the summer months.
There’s a large car park (including disabled parking) and there are plenty of great restaurants in Salthill for a post-swim feed.
There is a diving tower—and a diving board has been here since the end of the 19th century—from which you can watch the brave leap from the 30-foot platform or have a go yourself…
There’s also plenty of other things to do in Salthill, if you fancy spending some time exploring the area near Salthill Beach.
9. Renvyle Beach
Near Tully Cross, Renvyle Beach with its stunning blue waters is enclosed by the islands of Clare and Inishturk off the coast and flanked by the nearby mountains—Achill, Croagh Patrick and Mweelrea.
As an added bonus, dolphins can often be seen and it’s also a stone’s throw from the village of Clifden, where you will find shops, pubs and restaurants.
This is one of several Galway beaches that can get very busy during the summer months but, if you visit in winter, don’t be surprised if you have it all to yourself!
10. Kilmurvey Beach (Inis Mór)
The beach is a great place for a dip and a on a sunny day and it makes a good spot for respite if you’ve just cycled around the island.
There are toilet facilities and lifeguards on duty during the summer months (noticeboards on the beach will tell you when the lifeguards patrol the area).
11. Dumhnach Beach (Inishbofin)
Another stunner of a location, Dumhach Beach is on the south-east shore of Inishbofin Island. This long sandy beach with sand dunes provides enough shelter for plenty of sunbathing on warm sunny days.
Inishbofin Island is your perfect ‘get away from it all’ destination—it lies seven miles off Galway’s coast and is surrounded by wild Atlantic scenery.
There are plenty of walks to head off on (the island is home to one of our favourite walks in Galway) and the island is renowned for its corncrakes.
Dumhach Beach has achieved Green Coast Award for their exceptional water quality and their natural, unspoilt environment. This is another of the many overlooked Galway beaches.
12. Trá gCaorach (Inis Oirr)
Trá gCaorach on Inis Oirr island is another one of those beaches (and islands) you go to when the rat race becomes too much…
This, the smallest of the Aran islands off the Galway coast, is about 3kms long and 2kms wide, and has a population of 260.
Trá gCaorach is another of our favourite beaches in Galway as, on a clear day, you’ll be treated to mighty views of the Galway coastline and you may even catch sight of Dusty, the islands dolphin.
13. Traught Beach
The pictures above really don’t do the stoney Traught Beach in Kinvara any justice.
Located on the southern edge of busy Galway Bay, Traught is one of the less-popular Galway beaches, but it’s worth rambling along if you’re passing by.
This is a long sandy beach that’s home to a variety of plants, shellfish and birds (you’ll often spot seals and otters here).
What great Galway beaches have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some nice beaches in Galway from the guide above.
If you have a beach that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!
FAQs about the finest beaches in Galway
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the Glenveagh Castle Gardens to the tour.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Does Galway have beaches?
County Galway has plenty. The city and its surrounds have just two – Salthill Beach and Silverstrand Beach. Both are worth a visit.
Which beach is best for kids in Galway?
Salthill Beach, Silver Strand and Trá an Dóilin are good options as each has lifeguards during the summer and toilets on-site. As always, use caution at all times when near the sea.
What are the best beaches in Galway?
In our opinion, the best Galway beaches are Mannin Bay, Glassilaun, Lettergesh, the beautiful Trá an Dóilín and Dog’s Bay.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.