Galway is divided into two contrasting regions by the expanse of Lough Corrib. To the west is Connemara - a region of superb scenic grandeur, dominated by the rocky mountains known as the Twelve Pins. Many Connemara inhabitants are Irish speakers and much of the ancient Gaelic culture is preserved. To the east are the flat plains of the of the country leading down to the River Shannon, Ireland's longest river and one of Galway's most prominent natural attractions.
Galway City itself is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and has a national reputation as a lively, energetic town with a huge young population. Some of the best nightlife in the country is to be found in Galway City and it also provides a great base from which to tour Connemara and the rest of the western region. Galway was the primary trading centre for the West in centuries gone by and the heritage of the city can be seen in what remains of the city walls and the famous Spanish Arch. The warren of small streets and alleys run along the same lines they have for centuries and give the city a unique flavour.
An essential part of any trip to Connemara is the trip across the water to the fabulous Aran Islands. The greatest stronghold of the Irish language and culture left in Ireland the island has spectacular scenery with mighty cliffs and ancient hill forts scattered through the islands. Bike tours are probably the best way to see the island, which attracts thousands of visitors every year making the short trip from the mainland. A trip to Aran is an unforgettable experience.
Further east the Shannon provides cruising and watersports of all varieties. Connected to the far North the Shannon-Erne Waterway is a must for anyone with an interest in cruising and brings you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Ireland. The small towns and farms of the east of Galway provide the backbone for a friendly open community.
Galway City is the capital of the west and the surrounding countryside provides a memorable setting for any holiday. With every possible variety of scenery and a multitude of things to see and do Galway is an essential part of any visit to the Ireland.
Features on Places to visit in Galway • A walk on the wild sideJON MYLES visits the rugged Connemara coastline for a walking holiday and a magical experience.