Places to Visit in Galway: The Latin Quarter
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Places to Visit in Galway: The Latin Quarter

Whether it’s dinner and drinks, a trip around the shops or a bit of culture you’re after, The Latin Quarter really is the epicentre of it all. Cobbled streets, kitschy boutiques, tasty treats – you name it, it’s got it, and with an abundance of medieval heritage monuments scattered about, you’ll see exactly why this is one of the busiest spots in Galway city.

Galway’s Latin Quarter stretches from the Spanish Arch to O’Brien’s Bridge, all the way to St Nicolas’ Church and as far as Middle Street. With every step you take there is something new and exciting to see, whether it’s a colourful character busking on the corner or some intricately decorated storefronts, discover all about it right here!

Tempt your Taste Buds

At the heart of all the Latin Quarter buzz is its food and drink scene. It offers a wide array of tantalising options and come a dry day we have to recommend that you sit outdoors to enjoy your food/drink while catching snippets of passing conversations and soaking up the atmosphere of this busy neighbourhood.

above: photo courtesy of Ré Nao 

To begin your food tour of the Latin Quarter, check out the incredible Ré Nao Bar & Restaurant. Overlooking the historic Spanish Arch, they specialise in authentic Chinese cuisine and also offer a full vegan menu with its own separate kitchen. A short stroll up Quay Street will bring you to their sister businesses; Ré Tea and Xian Street Food. Xian Street Food is the perfect post-pints takeaway and their Spice Bag is truly legendary, you seriously need to try it for yourself. Ré Tea provides the ideal breakfast and lunch options thanks to their variety of jianbing and bubble teas. If you are a fan of bubble tea you definitely need to check out Nana’s Tea whose menus feature a surprising amount of bubble related options.. We feel that one of their bubble waffles with a zingy fruit tea is the perfect afternoon snack. When dining out in the Latin Quarter with friends we recommend visiting Umbrella Asian Tapas. Here, you and your pals can enjoy loads of fabulous asian-style sharing plates in a fun and unique space.

For stunning Latin American tapas, Sangria Tapas Restaurant offers a full menu of rich flavours and several signature sangrias to enjoy, trust us when we tell you that you'll want to add them to your Galway bucket list! Bringing the City of Tribes some of the finest Latin American street food, the dishes at Crazy Corn are all corn based complete with tasty toppings and sauces. This is also the only 100% gluten free restaurant in Galway, which is pretty cool if you ask us! Across the street, Cava Bodega showcases the very best of Spanish food and wine. Cava is one of Galway’s most popular date night spots so if you’re on a romantic night out with your significant other you could do a lot worse than award-winning Spanish tapas and a cosy candle lit atmosphere. If your evening calls for exquisite Italian cuisine, Trattoria Magnetti is exactly what you are after. Fresh pastas with rich creamy sauces - yum! Did you know that they were actually Galway’s first ever Italian restaurant? For a more casual dining experience, Freddy’s has earned its place in the hearts of all of those who visit it. Ticking all the boxes for a stress-free family meal, the pizzas here are some of the best we’ve ever had.

above: photo courtesy of Freddy's

To indulge in evenings of wine and cheese, The Lane is a cosy neighbourhood wine bar for people to come meet like minded others and enjoy beautiful wines and stunning food boards. There’s no snobbery here so if you think yourself to be a wine novice this is the place to try. Over on Buttermilk Lane, Trieste Café & Wine Bar’s cheese and meat boards became so popular amongst the people of Galway, they had to start creating them for takeaway! It’s a fantastic option if you want to have a lovely night in but we recommend reserving a table for sit-in because you won’t find anywhere else quite like Trieste. Comprising a wine bar, restaurant and café, Éan on Druid Lane has a passion for using both artisan methods and locally sourced seasonal ingredients in all their dishes and you can really taste the quality and love in every bite. Every Thursday to Sunday, their sister business, Magpie Bakery bakes up a storm creating fresh sourdough breads and sweet and savoury pastries. Since opening they have not gone a day that they have not sold out of their treats so you best get there early!

For those who like a fresh pint with their food, these Latin Quarter gastrobars have you covered. A historic and landmark pub, The Kings Head has earned a fantastic reputation for live music and comedy, good honest hearty food and great craic. In particular their seafood is always spoken highly of and when paired with their exclusive Blood Red Ale it’s truly a match made in heaven. If cocktails are your kinda buzz, The Dáil Bar & Liquor Lounge is exactly where you need to be. Award-winning cocktails, delicious pub food and live entertainment, you’ll find it all here.

Attending all your drinking, dancing and dining needs, Busker Brownes + Kirby’s Restaurant is one of Galway’s most popular party places and for good reason. Upstairs at Kirby’s you get to enjoy all the pleasures of quality traditional Irish dishes and downstairs you can enjoy pints, live music and all the top matches on big screen TVs. Recently having undergone fabulous renovations, at M.Fitzgeralds (formerly 1520) you can enjoy an authentic Irish bar atmosphere, whether you’re taking refuge from the rain with an Irish coffee, stopping by for a well-deserved bite to eat, or getting your mates together for a good old session at the bar.

above: photo courtesy of M.Fitzgeralds

A vibrant bar and restaurant, Seven Bridgestreet has all aspects covered. On the food side of things they’re famous for both their Full Irish and Wings, and they’ve been known to draw a crowd thanks to their amazing drink deals and student offers. Upstairs, The Loft venue welcomes a blend of both local, national and international artists and since there’s always something in the works be sure to check out their lineup during your Galway holiday.

If you don’t know where to begin, Galway Food Tours can provide a unique insight into all the wonderful sides of Galway city. Let them guide you on a 2-hour culinary walking tour of Galway city. These tours give a great overview of the city’s passionate people and beautiful produce which combine to make Galway one of Ireland’s gourmet jewels. To see the many different kinds of tours they have available please tap here.

Pint, Anyone?

During your time in the Latin Quarter you seriously need to pull up a stool at one of the local trad sessions! Tig Chóilí is a traditional Irish pub at its best, and there's plenty of room to get cosy in time for their twice daily live trad sessions so don’t be afraid to rub shoulders with the locals and join in the craic. We strongly believe that Taaffes Bar is the perfect place to finish off your day in Galway. Here the staff all speak Irish fluently and are happy to banter away and teach you some cúpla focal as you enjoy your pint and the live music.

above: photo courtesy of Taaffes Bar

Family-owned and operated since 1938, there’s a real warmth and character about Freeney’s Bar place and their Guinness is truly exceptional. They’re also known for their whiskey offerings, – so you’ll never go amiss with a quiet one at Freeney’s. When it comes to watching live sports on the big screen, rest assured that The Front Door will be at the heart of all the action. Spread across two floors with five bars it’s always a hive of activity and is also home to Sonny Molloy’s Whiskey Bar and Tigh Nora Gin Bar.

The award-winning live entertainment venue, Quays Bar welcomes performers all year long in their Music Hall and is home to a full bar complete with cocktails and whiskey flights. Additionally, this is the bar where right outside their front door the Instagram famous Galway Girl statue sits so be sure to get your own pic with her too. Another spot that makes it into many photo albums is Tigh Neachtains. If you visit Galway city and don’t call in here. What are you doing? This recognisable blue and yellow bar sits on the crossroads in the centre of the Latin Quarter and is THE place to get yourself a seat outdoors and partake in a bit of people-watching. Honestly, we can’t suggest it enough.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

After all that eating, drinking and shopping, you’ll be fit to drop. If you want to spend the night relaxing on the most luxurious of beds, the Residence Hotel will ensure you get a good rest in their well appointed rooms with Smart TVs and all you need for a relaxing evening. Romantic nights away are best spent in The House Hotel, where the rooms are all chic, intimate and ooze in comfort. If you’re travelling with a group or you're just in need of a clean and comfortable hostel for the night, The Snug Townhouse has got you covered.

above: photo courtesy of The House Hotel 

Take a Trip Around the Shops

Ideal for all your shopping needs, these streets are home to an iconic bookshop, beautiful antique and jewellery stores, souvenir shops and a whole lot more. Hours can be spent wandering from place to place, browsing through the stacked up shelves and rails of clothing just waiting for you to pick them up and bring them home. Whether you want to treat yourself or someone else, or you just want something to remember the place by – this is the spot to get it.

As we mentioned, the iconic Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop is always a wonderful place to visit. With new, secondhand, and rare books stacked up almost to the ceiling, you’ll be sure to find something (or a few things…) of interest at this shop! Home to eye-catching one-of-a-kind handpicked jewellery and antiques, Cobwebs’ owner Phyllis and Joe have become experts at helping people find the perfect piece for them. If you’ve fallen in love with Galway and want to carry a piece of it with you wherever you may go, you might want to pay a visit to claddagh ring specialists Heart in Hands. Their team designs and tweaks their own moulds before casting, in order to ensure the finest detailing in each design. If you would like something with a bit more of a contemporary style, Silverwood Jewellers offers a range of unique wearable work of arts and their skilled jewellers at Silverwood are literal geniuses when it comes to giving old treasured pieces a bit of a revamp.

above: photo courtesy of Silverwood Jewellery

If you are travelling with young children two spots that will definitely be of interest are Aunty Nellies Sweet Shop and Wooden Heart. Aunty Nellies is a small store that is filled to the brim with chocolates, jellies, hard candies, toffees and so much more. A treasure trove of sweet delights, it’s really a must-visit spot! Wooden Heart is a family run business that has been supplying ethical, safe and high quality wooden toys and unique gifts for decades. Their toys are truly unique and since they’re always adding new ones to their collection be sure to check them out. Wooden Heart’s sister business Coffeewerk + Press showcases an overlap between Irish and international design and art while exploring the world of speciality coffee.

When a new season begins, you can safely bet that Galway’s Kilkenny Design is going to be full with the latest ranges by Irish designers and creators. This store is split into different levels in order to best accommodate their fantastic variety of products; skincare, jewellery, homeware and clothes & accessories. If sustainability is a priority for you, Number Eight is a stylish boutique clothing store that stocks an eclectic mix of timeless wardrobe staples from designer to smaller, bespoke labels. They were the first store in the city to emphasise the importance of sustainability so it’s definitely a cool space to visit. Their neighbours Kindf_olk is a speciality café and lifestyle store that places an emphasis on promoting eco-friendly brands and products. It's the perfect pit stop for a coffee while also continuing your shopping spree. On the very edge of the Latin Quarter, Planet Retro Vintage is every thrifter’s dream store as its’ home to a large selection of unisex clothing. With something for everyone, call in the next time you’re in town and you’ll be sure to walk away with a bag full of gorgeous vintage pieces.

above: photo of Planet Retro, by Ciarán MacChoncarraige

Quality Activities + Sight-Seeing Awaits

For rainy days in Galway a trip to Pálás Cinema can really save the day! Alongside their amazing screenings that include latest film releases as well as series that bring back old classics to the big screen they are also home to a bar that serves movie themed cocktails and regularly hosts different events such as; Drink n Draw, Karaoke and their Book Club. To top it all off this spot is also both family and dog friendly!

For the artists among us, Outset Gallery is a cultural hub nestled in amongst Latin Quarter’s thriving community of shops, pubs, and restaurants – making it a perfect destination for locals and visitors alike. Comprising both a gallery space and design shop with botanicals, notebooks, cards and art prints, there is always something of interest happening at Outset. If you’re more interested in carrying around a permanent piece of artwork, be sure to visit the legends at Obsidian Arts. Resident artists Caz, Debbie and Anna are experts in their craft, and can create the perfect piece of body art for you, no matter whether that’s the piercing you’ve always wanted or a tattoo designed specifically for you.

above: photo courtesy of Outset Gallery

Absolutely dripping with culture, the Latin Quarter has got more than its fair share of fascinating sights. From its landmark Irish Language theatre An Taibhdhearc, Mick Lally Theatre at Druid Lane, medieval Hall of the Red Earl (which is almost as old as the city itself!) and the Galway City Museum, which exquisitely showcases Galway’s archaeology, history, and heritage, it’s no surprise that this area of the city never fails to attract people from all around the world. Featuring different plays, exhibitions and performances at all times throughout the year– you’re going to want to be among the crowds!

Perhaps one of the most attractive aspects of the Latin Quarter – and Galway in general – is the famous Spanish Arch and Long Walk. Once the sun pokes its head out from behind whichever cloud it’s hiding behind, the entire population of Galway descends on the Sparch. On these days we highly recommend that you join the ranks of Galwegians perched by the riverside, and enjoy an afternoon of drinking, chatting and soaking up this unrivalled atmosphere. Sláinte!

above: photo by Up in the Éire

Feature photo by Declan Colohan Photography

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