From great views to tasty ice cream and coffee spots, Salthill Beach is one of those special beaches that’s got a little of everything.
It’s even got a diving board! And as the cherry on top, it’s located less than 2km from Ireland’s (arguably) capital of craic – Galway!
Below, you’ll find info on parking, swimming and what to look out for at Salthill Beach in Galway.
Some quick need-to-knows about Salthill Beach
Although a visit to the beaches in Salthill is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Salthill Beach is located on Galway City’s southwest coast and is around km from the city centre, making it top of the list of the many beaches near Galway City.
2. There are several beaches
Yep, although we’re referring to it as ‘Salthill Beach’, there are a group of beaches here – Grattan, Ladies Beach and Salthill Beach (Silverstrand in Barna is a 10-minute spin away).
You’ll have plenty of room to park your car near Salthill Beach. There are two free car parks – one at the end of the promenade (here on Google Maps) and one beside the aquarium (here on Google Maps) – as well as ample on-street parking..
Salthill beach is a Blue Flag beach (meaning the water quality is excellent) and gets very busy in good weather during the summer. The beaches here are lifeguarded from mid-May to the end of September.
About Salthill Beach
Arguably one of the more popular beaches in Galway, Salthill Beach is busy throughout the year, but it really comes alive during the summer.
I call it Salthill ‘Beach’, but technically it’s a group of small beaches, some sandy and some pebbly, that are separated by rocky outcrops alongside the Galway suburb of Salthill.
Sea life and stunning views
Salthill Beach is located on Galway Bay and is within a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), meaning there’s plenty of wildlife so expect to see birds like Terns, Cormorants, Red-breasted Merganser and Black-throated Divers.
Keep an eye on the water for seals and otters too! On a clear day, you should be able to see across to The Burren on the other side of the bay.
Blackrock diving tower
At the far western end of the promenade, you’ll notice the Blackrock diving tower. Here you can watch divers leaping from the 30-foot platform performing all manner of acrobatics.
The current tower dates back to the 1950s, but there has actually been a diving board here since the 1880s.
Back in that more conservative era Blackrock was a “men only” bathing area, hence why the ‘Ladies beach’ next door has that distinctive name today.
Things to do at Salthill Beach
There’s a handful of things to do in and around the beaches in Salthill. Here are a couple of suggestions to get you going:
1. Grab a coffee or a sweet treat from Coco Cafe
Located underneath a curving art deco-ish building as the promenade bends towards Blackrock Beach, Coco Cafe is pretty easy to spot! So don’t have any hesitation heading there for a solid caffeine fix, before hitting the beaches and taking in the fresh coastal air.
Don’t forget about the mighty sweet treats here either. Have you ever tried a cronut? The calories are somewhat eye-watering but the taste is unreal! Look out for their Nutella and snickers cronuts, as well as their apple crumble cruffins!
2. Followed by a ramble
Once you’re sorted for a take-out coffee, cross the road and make your way down to the rocky beach.
As a side note – did you know that Salthill is the midway point of the Wild Atlantic Way? So if you’re rambling Salthill Beach and you’ve come all the way from Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal – well done!
I digress. The sand changes to pebble the further west you go and slowly the shape of the famous diving board will come into view. Take in the sea air and enjoy the views across the bay over to The Burren and beyond!
3. And perhaps a dive?
If you’re feeling brave, head on up to Blackrock diving board and hop in (once the weather conditions are good, that is!).
But if that’s a little outlandish, then you can always kick your shoes off and go for a refreshing paddle along the shores of Galway Bay (be careful underfoot on the pebble beaches!).
If it’s a sunny day, then you’ll get some cracking silhouette images of the diving board as the sun sets in the evening.
Places to visit near Salthill Beach
One of the beauties of the beaches in Salthill is that they’re a short spin away from many of the best things to do in Galway.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Salthill (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Galway City pubs (7-minute drive)
Galway’s a small city, but it’s packed to the rafters with some of the liveliest pubs in Ireland. Yes, the city does attract plenty of tourists but Galway’s pubs are home to some mighty craic! From great trad music at An Púcán to the ample whiskey selection at The Front Door, you’ll find the best of the best in our Galway pubs guide.
2. Menlo Castle (18-minute drive)
For some reason, castle ruins always look prettier when nature takes over. Maybe that’s just me? Either way, Menlo Castle is a 16th-century castle that was ruined following a fire in 1910 and greenery and vine have since been allowed to climb all over what’s left.
3. Wildlands (19-minute drive)
If strolling the beach is a little too placid for your liking, then you’ll get a shot of adrenaline at Wildlands! With a mix of indoor and outdoor activities, there are thrills to be had whatever the weather. With everything from zipline and climbing walls to disc golf and archery, it’s a fun spot for both adults and families.
4. Spiddal (25-minute drive)
There’s no doubt that Galway can get pretty busy, especially during the summer, so why not take the coastal road west and check out the charming village of Spiddal? With scenic beaches, a lovely old pier and a high street with some cracking pubs and restaurants, it’s a great spot for a day trip.
FAQs about the beaches in Salthill
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘How many beaches are there?’ to ‘Can you walk from the city?’.
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.
Can you swim in Salthill Galway?
Yes, once you’re a capable swimmer. Please do note that this Blue Flag beach only has lifeguards on duty during the summer months.
Is Salthill Beach sandy?
So, several beaches make up ‘Salthill Beach’. Some are stoney and some are sandy. They’re all close together so you can suss them out when you arrive.