There’s some mighty beaches near Galway City.
Sitting on the Wild Atlantic Way and tucked into Galway Bay, the city is just a short drive from a wealth of different types of sandy spots.
And the best part is that there’s plenty a short spin away, as you’ll discover below!
The closest beaches to Galway City (under 30 minutes away)
The first section of our guide is packed with the closest beaches to Galway City.
Below, you’ll find everywhere from Salthill Beach and Silverstrand to two often-missed beaches near Galway City.
1. The Various Beaches in Salthill (5-minute drive)
Blackrock Beach offers a mix of pebbles and smooth sand, and is safe for swimming. In fact, there’s a semi-famous diving board, plus a lifeguard service throughout July and August, and at weekends in June.
Meanwhile, the sandy Grattan Beach is a top choice for families, with shallow waters for paddling, and a wealth of sea life to uncover.
It also offers great views of the city and amazing sunsets. On top of that, you can enjoy facilities such as toilets, changing rooms, and a number of cafes.
2. Silverstrand Beach Barna (20-minute drive)
Just down the coast from Salthill, you’ll find Barna and Silverstrand Beach.
Boasting ample parking for around 60 cars, and great facilities, the beach faces into Galway Bay and offers shallow waters and amazing views.
It’s popular amongst swimmers and it has a daily lifeguard service throughout July and August, and at weekends in June.
Around 250 metres long, the small white sand beach is bordered by cliffs and rocks. Curious explorers will find a number of small caves hewn into the rocky cliff face as well as rock pools teeming with life.
Wind and kite surfing are popular in the area and it can be great to watch them from the beach. This is one of the most popular beaches near Galway City for good reason!
3. Furbogh Beach (25-minute drive)
This lovely little sandy beach arches around the coast and gazes out into Galway Bay. Enjoying gorgeous golden sands bordered by rocks and boulders, it’s a fantastic place to relax in the sun and enjoy the views.
It’s not normally as busy as some of the beaches closer to Galway City, and while there is parking, there aren’t any toilets or other facilities.
However, there’s a great little pub within walking distance of the beach, ideal for refreshments!
It’s also a great place for coastal walks and a top spot for catching a glimpse of the local wildlife. If you’re lucky, you can see an array of seabirds and maybe even seals.
4. Spiddal Beach (30-minute drive)
With gorgeous golden sands, clear blue sea, and amazing views across Galway Bay, Spiddal Beach is one of my favourites in Ireland.
It boasts incredible open views south and west across the bay, making it a superb place to catch sunset and moonrise. It’s also pretty relaxed compared to some of the beaches closer to the city.
While the golden sands stretch for just 200-metres, you’ll find some amazing rock pools bordering it, brimming with sea life such as crabs and shrimps.
There’s parking in the village, as well as public toilets, picnic benches, and a number of craft shops, cafes, and restaurants.
More beaches near Galway City (over 30 minutes away)
Now that we have the various beaches near Galway City out of the way, it’s time to see what lies a little further out.
Below, you’ll find heaps more stunning beaches within a 2-hour drive of the city centre.
1. Traught Beach (40-minute drive)
Crossing over Galway Bay and we arrive at Traught Beach, a blue flag sand and shingle beach. It’s a fairly rural area and typically avoids the crowds of the city beaches, though during peak season it can be popular.
It has a large car park, public toilets, and there’s a campsite nearby. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the summer months, and with its sheltered location, it’s a good place for swimming and paddling.
Rock hunters may also find a range of shells and fossils, and since it’s dog friendly (on a lead), the entire family can enjoy strolling its shores.
2. Coral Strand (55-minute drive)
Coral Strand in Carraroe is an absolute stunner and it’s one of the more impressive of the many beaches near Galway City.
More commonly known as Trá an Dóilín, it’s pure white sand and turquoise water makes it a joy to ramble along.
Now, although it looks like there’s coral on the beach here, it is in fact had fragments of seaweed called ‘maёrl’ which have been crushed by the Atlantic and bleached white by the sun.
This is one of the quieter beaches in Connemara and it’s well worth a visit.
3. Fanore Beach (70-minute drive)
The immense sandy Fanore Beach lies on the edge of the Burren National Park at the mouth of the Caher River.
It faces out to the mighty Atlantic Ocean, with views of the Aran Islands and amazing sunsets, and is a great place for walking.
The beach itself boasts golden sands and clear blue seas and is patrolled by lifeguards throughout the summer.
Surfing is a popular activity and there are places to rent a board and wetsuit if you fancy giving it a go. Swimming and paddling are also popular amongst visitors, while a stroll along the length of the beach, taking in sand dunes is a great way to pass the time.
4. Gurteen and Dog’s Bay (80-minute drive)
Crystal clear water, soft white sand, and remote, these two popular beaches in Roundstone are well worth a visit. Gurteen Bay and Dog’s Bay back onto one another, with a slim ridge of sand dunes and grasslands dividing the two.
Dog’s Bay boasts a mile of coastline that arches round in a horseshoe shape. Both are sheltered and enjoy calm waters that are great for swimming in, as well as activities such as windsurfing and kitesurfing.
The white sands are actually formed from seashells rather than rocks, giving it its unique colour and texture. Parking is fairly limited on a hot day, so it’s worth arriving early, but you’ll be glad that you did!
5. Glassilaun Beach (85-minute drive)
Boasting incredible views of Mweelrea Mountain in one direction and the majestic Atlantic Ocean in the other, Glassilaun Beach is a superb place to relax and enjoy your surroundings.
Slightly off the beaten track, the glorious sandy beach backs onto fields of grazing cows, while the clear blue sea laps the shore.
Craggy cliffs border one end of the horseshoe-shaped bay and there are plenty of opportunities to explore the rock pools and caves.
Fairly quiet and relaxed, it’s ideal for those looking to be at one with nature for an hour or two. It also boasts some incredible sunsets! There’s a fairly decent car park with portaloos, but not much else in the way of facilities.
6. Lettergesh Beach (85-minute drive)
Surrounded by mountains, Lettergesh Beach is a beautifully scenic area with a fine, sandy beach.
When the tide is out, the sands seem to stretch out forever, providing plenty of space for walking, sunbathing, and making sandcastles.
This hidden gem is peaceful and has plenty for you to explore. The sandy cove is home to craggy cliffs and caves, as well as rock pools.
The car park is pretty small, but it’s seldom very busy despite how beautiful the beach is. Otherwise, there isn’t much in the way of facilities, with no toilets.
However, you’ll find some good pubs in Tully Cross, just down the road, perfect for refreshments.
FAQs about beaches near Galway City
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Which are best for swimming?’ to ‘Which are the quietest?’.
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.
What are the best beaches near Galway City?
We’d argue that the Salthill beaches, Silverstrand in Barna and Furbogh Beach top the list.
What is the closest beach to Galway City?
If you’re looking to minimise drive time, aim for Salthill. It’s a 5-minute drive from the city and the beaches here are gorgeous.