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A view of a castle in Port Galway Ireland

Galway, Ireland

Set on the Corrib River, with the scenic sweep of Galway Bay beyond, Galway is one of Ireland’s most charming cities, small yet vibrant, with a decidedly bohemian feel. It is also known as the City of Tribes, as its public and commercial life during the Middle Ages was dominated by a group of 14 influential merchant families, whose surnames—including Morris, Joyce, Kirwan, French and D'Arcy—are still in evidence today.

Galway’s spiritual heart is Eyre Square, but the real attraction is its medieval quarter, a jumble of narrow streets and landmarks like the Spanish Arch, which perches on the quayside where river and sea meet. Take a stroll along Galway’s seaside promenade at Salthill, just west of the city center, to take in stunning Atlantic panoramas.

Galway has a thriving cultural scene and has been designated a UNESCO City of Film. Its rich artistic heritage is epitomized by the annual International Arts Festival held each July, but you can find traditional music in its bars and pubs any day of the week, year round. Venture beyond the city to immerse yourself in the haunting landscape of Connemara, and get lost among its pewter lakes, lonely bogs and silver sand beaches.