If you’re in search of worthwhile things to do in Salthill in Galway, you’ve landed in the right place.
Home to a number of excellent restaurants, pubs and places to stay, it’s a great town to base yourself in while exploring the many places to visit in Galway.
In the guide below, you’ll discover the best things to do in Salthill, from sea swimming and traditional pubs, to walks, drives and much more.
Things to do in Salthill if you want to take it handy
The first section of our guide tackles things to do in Salthill in Galway if you’d like to take things handy-ish (aside from the first activity in the list, that is!).
Expect everything from distillery tours and coastal walks to tasty treats, beaches and much more in the section below.
1. Start the day with a bang – hop into the sea from Blackrock Diving Tower
Believe it or not, women have only been allowed to swim at Blackrock since the 1970s and only then because they turned up uninvited.
The men didn’t know how to react, so the women have been swimming there since. A dive into the sea from the Tower is now one of the most popular things to do in Salthill.
The Blackrock Tower has been in place at the end of the Promenade since 1942, and most visitors want to take a dive from it.
Keep an eye on the weather, though; it’s not safe to swim here when the weather is poor, so please use common sense.
2. Or keep your toes dry and head for a ramble on Salthill Beach
Salthill Beach is a grouping of small beaches separated by rocky outcrops, so if you’re scrambling over to see the rock pools, you’ll want to wear more than flip flops.
Some beaches are sandy and some pebbly, and there are lifeguards on duty all day during July & August and at weekends in June. Joy of joys, you can bring your dog so long as it’s on a leash, and you clean up after it.
As you make your way towards the Blackrock Tower, you’ll arrive at Ladies Beach–where the women used to be segregated before they invaded next door.
There’s a reason Salthill Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Galway. This sand is well worth sauntering along.
3. Then warm up with something tasty from the Gourmet Tart Company
The Gourmet Tart Company celebrates its 20th anniversary this year (2021), and for all that time, they’ve been expanding the waistlines of Galway’s tourists and citizenry.
Everything is so scrumptious you don’t know when to stop, and it’s all topped off with a liberal dash of friendly staff.
Everything with a pink label has been made in their own bakery, and if you’re environmentally conscious like the owners, you’ll be happy to know that all their cups, cutlery, napkins, etc., are compostable.
If you fancy trying some of the best brunch in Galway, book a table here and bring your appetite!
4. Grab a coffee-to-go and head for a stroll along Salthill Prom
Next up is one of our favourite things to do in Salthill – a ramble along Salthill Prom! Stretching for just over 3km, the Prom at Salthill is the longest in Ireland.
How long it takes you to walk is up to you as there are plenty of places to drop off to the beach for a bit of sunbathing or swimming. Rain, hail, or shine, you’ll see people walking, running, or cycling along its length, from early ’till late.
There’s a variety of shops and cafes to venture into, as well as the Aquarium and Fairground. A sense of wellbeing pervades the place, and as you walk (I don’t have runner’s knees!), you’ll see smiles all around. Remember to layer-up; it can be windy!
5. Or take the long stroll from Salthill into Galway City
The trail from Salthill into Galway City (or vice versa) is one of the most popular walks in Galway and it’s loved by locals and tourists alike!
Get the fresh Atlantic air into your lungs and clear away the cobwebs of the night before as you walk along the Coast Road from Salthill into Galway City.
A mere 1.5km, you’ll want to take your time to take in the views of The Long Walk and downtown Galway or stop at the Claddagh Church or Katie’s Claddagh Cottage, the area made famous by the Claddagh Ring.
You can’t help but be struck by the sense of history as you cross the Wolf Tone Bridge and end up at the Spanish Arch in the City. A lovely walk in on a good day; it’s exhilarating on a bad one.
6. Try traditional Poitin on the Micil Distillery tour
“Gather up the pots and the old tin can. And the mash, and the corn, the barley, and the bran. And then run like the devil from the excise man. Keep the smoke from rising, Barney”
A song from The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Maken about the illegal distillery trade in Ireland, back in the day.
Since 2018, Micil have been offering a distillery tour experience that gives visitors a unique insight into the world of poitin and gin.
Things to do in Salthill with kids
The second section of our guide is packed with things to do in Salthill with kids, and we’ve included a mix of indoor and outdoor attractions.
Below, you’ll find everything from sea creatures and amusement parks to water activities and more. So, go on – dive on in!
1. Take them on an adventure to Galway Atlantaquaria
An excellent place to start is the deceptively large Galway Atlantaquaria. All the tanks are adapted especially for the fish they house, with plenty of room for the water splashing to replicate waves.
The variety of species is excellent, from basking sharks to giraffe fish. The guides are knowledgeable and have lots of information to share about Ireland’s marine ecosystem and how pollution affects it.
Racking up an impressive 4.2/5 from 2,776 reviews on Google at the time of writing, there’s a reason this is one of the most popular things to do in Salthill with kids.
2. Or for a Splash at Leisureland
Situated opposite the beach, Leisureland is an ideal place to keep the kids occupied for a few hours, or days, as I’ve been told.
With a 25m swimming pool and the leisure pool that has a 65m water slide and inflatable obstacle course, they’ll be busy for hours.
There’s plenty to keep the adults entertained, too, with a state-of-the-art gymnasium. Extensive opening hours and no joining fees for the Gym are just some of the features that make it attractive and accessible to all.
3. Keep them occupied at the amusements when it’s raining
An Irish seaside village wouldn’t be complete without The Amusements, and Salthill is no exception. Situated along the Prom, you’ll be transported back to your own childhood as soon as you enter.
Inhale the smell of grease, feel deafened by the cacophony of sound created by the slot machines, and then that moment when there’s a hush followed by the sound of coins tumbling out to the delighted player.
Sure, isn’t that what The Amusements are all about? There’s both indoor and outdoor amusements here, which should suit those of you looking for things to do in Salthill when it’s raining.
Things to do in Salthill at night
You’ll find an almost endless number of excellent restaurants in Salthill, so it’ll come as no surprise than some of the best things to do in Salthill at night involve food and drink.
Below, you’ll find everything from places to kick-back with a fine feed to where to enjoy a pint (or whatever tickles your fancy!) with some live music.
1. Kick back with food and live music in O’Reilly’s
Delicious food accompanied by relaxing jazz music on a wintry Saturday afternoon, can’t you almost feel the atmosphere?
O’Reilly’s is lovely like that – the staff are friendly and can’t do enough for you, and there’s a good variety of items on the menu.
If you’re there for a Saturday night, there’s live music and, in Ireland, we all know that a music pub on a Saturday night in a holiday village is great craic.
2. Try Galway Bay Beer on Galway Bay at the Oslo
The Oslo Bar & Restaurant is the home of the Galway Bay Microbrewery. While there, you have to try the Galway Bay Ale and Stormy Porter, brewed on the premises.
It’s a place known for its great food as well as a considerable number of craft beers–if you don’t know what to order, ask the staff as they’re incredibly helpful and will help you choose.
If you haven’t tried any of the Galway Bay produce yet, hop into our guide to the best Irish beers for an insight into what to expect.
3. Round off a day of exploring in one of the best pubs in all the land (O’ Connors)
With a Travellers’ Choice award from Trip Advisor, which puts this pub into the top 10% of ALL establishments on the site, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.
Drop in for a whiskey, a pint, or a cup of coffee on a chilly evening, and savour the atmosphere and the décor.
You could easily get lost in the detail as you try to work out what all the items hanging from every conceivable surface are.
The pub dates from the late 1800s, with some of the bits and pieces surviving since then—it’s a terrific place for a bit of craic.
Things to do near Salthill
One of the beauties of visiting Salthill is that it’s a reasonably handy spin from plenty of things to see and do in Galway.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to do near Salthill to keep you busy if you’ve polished off all of the activities mentioned above.
1. Explore Galway City
Galway, known around Ireland as “The City of Tribes,” is a playground for tourists and locals alike. From the nightlife to its rich history, it must be at the top of your list of places to visit.
The City is legendary for its vibrancy, with numerous festivals and events taking place throughout the year.
The most significant dates on the social calendar are the Galway Races and the Arts Festival, which draw visitors from near and far. Galway as a destination is up for the craic all year round.
2. Take a spin out to Connemara National Park
With 20,000 hectares of adventurous terrain, there’s plenty of room for everyone at the Connemara National Park.
There are three walking ‘Loops,’ from 30 minutes where you can walk with the children, to 3 hours, which takes you to the peak of Diamond Hill.
The views are breathtaking, you can make friends with a horse or two, and there’s a coffee shop at the end of the trail where you can take a breather. Not to be missed when you’re visiting Galway.
3. Visit Dunguaire Castle
Yes, of course, there were battles and sieges and various other bits of bad behaviour as is expected of a castle in Ireland, and you can find out about those in the castle museum.
The four-course Medieval Banquet with entertainment and education in equal measure is a winner with tourists, and it’s obvious the staff love what they do.
If you’re not around for the banquet, take a walk to enjoy the fantastic views and photograph the (supposedly) most photographed of the many castles in Ireland.
4. Take a Ferry to the Aran Islands
Drive an hour west of Galway City to Rossaveel from where you can catch the passenger ferry to the Aran Islands – no cars allowed.
Filled with traditional Irish culture, music, crafts, and ocean-going currachs, as well as the warm and welcoming locals, no trip to Ireland is complete without a visit to the Aran Islands.
Norah is a writer and self-publisher of fiction and non-fiction. She adores the excitement of unknown places and together with several locations in Ireland, has, over 21 years, made her home in London, The Hague and New Zealand, returning to Ireland with her Kiwi rescue dog Barney, in tow.