Where To Stay In Galway: A Guide That Demystifies Galway’s Towns, Villages And City

Wondering where to stay during your visit? We've got you covered!

where to go in ireland road trip
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

If you’re wondering where to stay in Galway during an upcoming visit and are starting to stress out, then relax.

This guide will make navigating Galway’s many towns, villages, and city a breeze.

As there’s an almost endless number of places to visit in Galway, it’s important to pick the right area to base your self from.

Why?

Well, it’ll make exploring that little bit easier (and, potentially, cheaper).

What you’ll get from reading this guide

  • An insight into Galway’s many towns and villages to help you decide where to stay
  • Information on accommodation prices
  • Advice on bus routes to the city 
  • Information on how long it’ll take to drive to Connemara and the city
  • Loads more

Where to stay in Galway (the best spots in my opinion)

When I visit Galway, I tend to stay in either one of two places:

  • Galway City
  • Clifden

Why Galway City?

I love Galway City – here’s why:

  • It’s always abuzz with tourists and locals milling about 
  • There are plenty of things to see and do
  • Top-notch restaurants and cafes are scattered all over the place

Galway’s also home to some of the best pubs in the country, which makes it a great spot to visit with friends.

galway city buskers
Photo via Extreme Ireland

Another reason is that it’s a handy spot to base yourself from.

Especially if you’re travelling by train (there’s a station in the city) or by bus (the city is severed well by a number of routes).

If you’re driving, you’ll find many of Galway’s top attractions within handy reach of the city, also.

Why Clifden?

I live in Dublin, so I tend to jump at any chance to stay away from busy cities and towns.

Clifden is a gorgeous little coastal town at the heart of Connemara and it’s a place that I’d happily live in.

sky road in clifden
Photo by Chris Hill

If you’re looking for amazing scenery (the Sky Road is minutes from the town), great restaurants, lively pubs, and a solid base to explore Connemara from, then Clifden is perfect.

The hotels here can be pricey, but there’s plenty of B&Bs that are more on the affordable side.

Traveller Tip: If you plan on visiting a pub for a drink and some live music, make sure you’re within a 7-10 minute walk of the town. I made the mistake of booking a place based on how far it was from the town on Google maps (20 minutes) but the roads were too dangerous to walk (dark and unlit) and we had to get a taxi.

Best places to stay in Galway, Ireland

Driving near the Derrigimlagh Bog
Photo by Tourism Ireland

If you’re reading this and you’re specifically looking for advice on hotels and hostels, visit one of our guides below:

In the next section, we’re going to help you find the best area to stay in Galway.

12 of the best villages and towns in Galway

Too many people are led to believe that you need to stay in the city to really experience the best of what Galway has to offer.

Below, you’ll get a better sense of the wider county to help you decide where to stay in Galway during your visit.

Here’s where I’ll be taking you through:

  • Barna
  • Clifden
  • Galway City
  • Inishbofin
  • Inis Oirr
  • Inishmaan
  • Inis Mór
  • Kinvara
  • Leenane
  • Roundstone
  • Salthill
  • Spiddal

1 – Barna 

barna galway
Photo by Christian McLeod via Failte Ireland

If you’re wondering where to stay in Galway that’s near the city but that still has that small-town vibe, Barna is a solid option. 

Often referred to as ‘The Gateway to Connemara’, Barna is a lovely little seaside village that’s a handy 8km from Galway City and close to some great beaches.

The town is home to an ample number of great restaurants and pubs and boasts plenty of accommodation options.

  • Distance from Galway City: 10-minute drive
  • Public transport to the city: The 414 bus with City Direct takes you to the city
  • Distance from Connemara National Park: 1 hour and 15-minute drive
  • Accommodation costs: Hotels in Barna are reasonably pricey so, if you’re on a budget, flick through Airbnb. If you’re happy to spend a few quid, the Twelve Hotel is one of the best in Galway.

2 – Clifden

clifden town connemara
Photo by Chris Hill

I fell in love with Clifden on a visit back in 2015.

A group of friends and I were climbing Diamond Hill in Connemara, and we wanted to spend the night nearby.

We arrived in Clifden late in the evening on a wet Saturday, tired, hungry, and looking forward to a well-earned pint.

We had our bellies filled in Off the Square and then spent the night drinking and listening to live music in Lowry’s pub.

  • Distance from Galway City: 1 hour and a 10-minute drive
  • Public transport to the city: The 419 route with Bus Éireann
  • Distance from Connemara National Park: 15-minute drive
  • Accommodation costs: Accommodation in Clifden ranges from pricey to affordable. If you’re looking for somewhere that’s budget-friendly and in a great location with excellent reviews, stay in the Clifden Coach House.

3 – Galway City 

walking tour galway
Photo via Galway Tourism

Galway City needs no introduction.

If you want to stay at the heart of the action, then stay here.

The city is home to an almost endless number of restaurants, pubs, shops and things to do.

It’s also in the city that the Christmas markets take place. Check out our guide to Galway at Christmas for more info.

  • Distance from Connemara National Park: 1 hour and 20-minute drive
  • Accommodation costs: Hotels in Galway are ridiculously expensive. Any time that I visit the city, I stay in a B&B or an Airbnb, as you can get a decent location for a fair price. There’s also plenty of hostels to choose from.

4, 5, 6 & 7 – Inishbofin, Inis Oirr, Inishmaan, and Inis Mór

where to go in ireland road trip
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

If you’re wondering where to stay in Galway that’ll take you away from the tourists and immerse you in tradition and scenery, then an island will be right up your street.

People tend to think of Inishbofin and the Aran Islands (Inis Oirr, Inishmaan, and Inis Mór) as places to visit for a few hours before scuttling back to the mainland.

I’ve been guilty of this myself!

The thing is, if you’re looking to experience old-world Ireland and see some of the most unspoiled scenery that our island has to offer, an island is the perfect destination.

The islands are easily accessible by ferry and each is home to plenty of adventure opportunities. 

Inisbofin

  • Getting there: A ferry leaves several times a day from the pier in Cleggan.

Inis Oirr

  • Getting there: You can grab a ferry from Doolin in Clare or from Rossaveal in Galway.

Inis Mor

  • Getting there: You can catch a ferry from Doolin in Clare or from Rossaveal in Galway.

Inishmann

  • Getting there: Yep, you guessed it – you can hop on a ferry from Doolin in Clare or from Rossaveal in Galway.

Accommodation costs

I’ve spent about 20 minutes flicking through the different costs of spending a night on each of the islands.

Like most places, prices vary hugely. If budget isn’t an issue, there’s plenty of hotels and B&Bs where you can spend the night.

If you’re looking to keep costs down, turn to Airbnb.

8 – Kinvara

Kinvarra in Galway
Photo via Galway Tourism

I’m a big fan of Kinvara.

We stayed here about 10 years ago during a very random trip and I remember the day we spent here fondly.

While Kinvara is a gateway town to the Burren in Clare, it’s also a great spot to explore Galway from.

It’s the county’s only prominent sea village and is located on the southern shores of Galway Bay.

If you’re looking for a town with charm and character by the bucket load, then get yourself here.

  • Distance from Galway City: 35-minute drive
  • Public transport to the city: The 350 route will take you from Kinvarra to Galway and back again.
  • Distance from Connemara National Park: 1 hour and 50-minute drive
  • Accommodation costs: Accommodation in Kinvarra varies hugely. You could stay in a hotel like the Merriman that’s central and pay €100+, or kick-back in a cottage on the outskirts of the town for €80.

9 – Leenane (one of the best places to stay in Galway if you’re looking to experience a small Irish village)

Killary Harbour boat tour
Photo by Big Smoke Studio

You’ll find the little village of Leenane at the head of Killary harbour, beneath the  Maamtrasna and Maamturk mountains.

In a nutshell, Leenane is small, quiet (aside from the summer months when tourist buses flock here during the day) and boasts scenery that’ll make you never want to leave.

If you’re wondering where to stay in Galway that’ll allow you to experience spectacular scenery and traditional pubs, get yourself to Leenane.

  • Distance from Galway City: 1 hour and 5-minute drive
  • Public transport to the city: The 419 route will take you from Leenane to Galway and back again.
  • Distance from Connemara National Park: 20-minute drive
  • Accommodation costs: Accommodation in Leenane is pretty reasonable. You can find a room in a B&B near the village from €70.

10 – Roundstone

O'Dowd's Pub Galway
Photo by @mariaheatherx

I’ve never been to Roundstone, but it’s one of those places that’s been on the list for years at this stage.

This is one of the most picturesque towns in Galway.

You’ll find Roundstone in the west coast of Connemara, where the majestic mountain of Errisbeg provides the backdrop to the town.

It’s also home to O’Dowd’s – a pub that I’ve been promising myself that I’ll nurse a pint or two in for a long time.

Just look at the view in the snap above.

  • Distance from Galway City: 1 hour and 15-minute drive
  • Public transport to the city: The 419 route with Bus Éireann will take you from Roundstone to the city and back
  • Distance from Connemara National Park: 40-minute drive
  • Accommodation costs: Hotels in the centre of Roundstone range from €135 to €182. There’s a handful of B&Bs that’ll cost you around €60 to €70 per night.

11 – Salthill 

salthill galway
Photo by Tamara Polajnar (creative commons)

Salthill is another perfect location for those of you looking to stay near the city but not quite in it.

Situated on the northern inner shore of Galway Bay, Salthill is a fine base for exploring Galway City, the Aran Islands, the Burren (County Clare), and Connemara.

The Irish translation for Salthill is ‘Bóthar na Trá, which means ‘the road by the sea’.

If you visit, take a stroll along the promenade.

On your walk, you’ll be able to enjoy views out towards the Aran Islands. The chances are you’ll also see people hopping into the icy sea from Blackrock Diving Tower (pictured above).

  • Distance from Galway City: 20-minute walk, 5-minute drive
  • Public transport to the city: You can take the 401 route into the city
  • Distance from Connemara National Park: 1 hour and 25-minute drive
  • Accommodation costs: As Salthill is so close to the city, hotel and B&B prices are still steepish. Rooms range from €75 to €189

12 – Spiddal

Spiddal is a gorgeous little seaside village set in Galway’s Gaeltacht.

If you arrive during the summer months you’ll find the place buzzy away with tourists, locals and students visiting to attend Irish language courses.

Visitors to Spiddal can expect idyllic sea views, charming restaurants, and some top-notch traditional.

  • Distance from Galway City: 25-minute drive
  • Public transport to the city: The 424 route will take you from Spiddal to Galway and back again
  • Distance from Connemara National Park: 1 hour and 20-minute drive
  • Accommodation costs: You can grab a night in Spiddal from between €80 and €100

Wrapping it up: Where to stay in Galway

The biggest factors you need to consider when deciding where to stay are;

  • Your budget
    • If you decide to stay somewhere to save on accommodation costs, make sure that you factor in transport costs
  • What attractions you want to see
    • If your visit to Galway is going to revolve around exploring Connemara, for example, stay closeby to cut down on travel time

I’ve said it about 20 times already, but I really do love Galway.

There’s something to do that’ll appeal to every kind of traveller, there are fantastic restaurants and even better pubs, and the public transport and roads are decent for the most part.

Keep in mind, if you’re visiting with a group and you’re looking to keep costs low, Airbnbs in Galway are usually your best bet.

If you’re planning a trip to Galway and need advice, just pop a comment into the comments section below and I’ll help you out within 24 hours.

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi,
    Struggling to decide between Clifden or Leenane… Wanting to book a 2 day trip for January for myself and my partner, criteria = Views, views, views, walks, lakes, national parks, traditional pubs with live music etc.
    Hope you can help.

    Thanks, Rachel

    • Hey – if you’re solely after views, I’d go with Leenane.

      However, it’s definitely worth noting that you’ll find a lot of places around Leenane shut around January. I visited in April, for example, and the little cafe in the village was still closed.

      If you’re looking for pubs with live music, I’d go with Clifden. There’s plenty of places to see nearby (Sky Road, national park, etc).

      You should definitely visit Leenane, though. I love that neck of the woods!

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