The Best Things to do over Christmas in Galway
It is no secret that Galway is Ireland’s friendliest city. People flock here to take in its charm all year round. At Christmas, the atmosphere only grows as the city transforms itself into a Winter Wonderland. The over-the-top decorations and the famous Christmas markets reappear. If you’re looking to indulge in the Christmas spirit for a day, look no further than the countries most western city!
Christmas In Galway
Breakfast – Where to go for Breakfast in Galway
56 Central Galway
For breakfast, head to 56 Central. Have a delightful breakfast with a massive range of options from Belgian waffles, to healthy options, all while basking in the Christmas ambiance
I absolutely love going for breakfast here. They have an “add on” section on the menu which I always take advantage of and the best part. . . an entire Hot Chocolate menu just to get you in the Christmas spirit.
McCambridge’s of Galway
Alternatively, go right across the road to McCambridge’s. This family-owned restaurant has been open for almost 100 years and they sources their ingredients locally. Grab a seat by the window to people-watch those doing their Christmas shopping in Galway while you fuel up for your Christmas-filled day.
Shopping – Where to shop in Galway at Christmas
There are so many lovely shops around Galway perfect for picking up some thoughtful gifts. I don’t like to recommend throwing away money at Christmas – buying gifts for the sake of it is just wasteful. However, there are certain shops over the city where I know you will see something and instantly know someone who would love it, and in that case I think it’s okay! Here’s some good places to try:
Kilkenny – Irish Crafts and Gifts in Galway
I blooooody love this place. You will find the finest Irish designs, stationary and funny books “101 things to do with a retired man” was one of my personal favourites (and picked it up as a Christmas gift for someone).
They have the most beautiful paintings and artwork as well as jewelry and men’s gifts. To be honest I just love popping in for a look. But I always see things and think “such and such” would love that! Better still THERE’S A CHRISTMAS SHOP AT THE BACK.
Location: Continue up Shop street coming from the Eyre Square side. After you keep left onto Quay Street, Kilkenny will be on your right.
The Old Sea Dog – Pop up Christmas Shop in Galway
Galwegians were shocked with the closing of “Deacy’s Fish shop” earlier this year. However, in its place, “The Old Sea Dog” dropped anchor for the next 6 weeks over the Christmas period.
I had to go in and have a peek. It’s the quirkiest little shop with handmade nautical souvenirs, decorations, art, and pottery. There was also a dog in there!! – If you’re lucky you’ll get to give some petz. It is really fun for a browse and is every magpie’s dream.
Location: Continue up Shop street coming from the Eyre Square side. After you keep left onto Quay street, The Old Sea Dog will be on your right.
The Treasure Chest – Unique Irish Gifts and Souvenirs in Galway
The Treasure Chest, which as the name suggests, is full of little trinkets and gifts. You’ll find everything from crystal, to crafts and fashion. Once again, there’s a Christmas shop on the top floor! It’s like walking into the movie Elf.
Location: At the start of shop street (Eyre Square side) on the left
Wooden Heart- High-Quality Wooden Toys In Galway
OOohh this is one of the cutest shops in the city. This is a family-run toy shop that has been in the Latin Quarter for over 30 years. You will find high-quality kids’ toys here, a lot of which are supplied by other family-run businesses.
I don’t even know any kids but I love going in for a little look around. Make your way up the spindly stairs and on the top floor, you will find the most amazing vintage-looking pedal cars! If unlike me, you do know some kids, you’re bound to find a really special Christmas gift in The Wooden Heart.
Location: In the Latin Quarter, on Quay Street.
Walk the Christmassy City Streets – Enjoy the Christmas Lights in Galway
Enjoy The Decorations and Christmas Lights in Galway City
You need to walk around the city to really take in the Christmas feeling. Galway is always great for a walk around, but especially at Christmas time. Shop Street is decorated to the nines and some shops and pubs have joined in too. Lights will be beaming from every direction and what’s better than wrapping up and going for a Christmassy stroll.
The main street you’ll need to check out is obviously Shop street, all the way down to the end of Quay Street. Any smaller lanes or streets running off this main route will be lit up for the holidays too. Kirwan’s lane, Cross Street, Abbeygate Street, and Eglington street. All around Eyre Square is also going to be over-the-top with decorations, and Foster street. Love it!
Christmas Train Galway
If you get tired of walking, no problem! Hop on the “Santa’s Express” – a sparkling vintage-looking train in which “Jolly John” will bring you around all the best spots in town for €5/10 per person.
Enjoy the music and commentary while you journey through town.
The Santa Express runs the rest of the year too, only under the name of Galway Tourist Train. Tourists can enjoy a 45-minute historical tour of the city, with full music and commentary on board. So, if you’ll be visiting Galway at another time of year, definitely consider taking a trip on the Tourist Train!
For more information, click for The Galway Tourist Train.
Lunch – Where to go for Lunch in Galway at Christmas
Ohh it’s food time again, my faaaavourite! There are countless amazing places to go for Christmas lunch in the city. However for this time of the year, why not do something special, like Festive Afternoon Tea!?
The Hardiman Hotel Galway – Festive Afternoon Tea
Go for THEE most festive afternoon tea in The Hardiman Hotel. You will get to eat in the lavishly decorated ballroom for just €22 per person. Orrr €29 to make it sparkly (sure why not!). Sit there sipping your tea (or bubbly) and sampling the sandwiches and treats while surrounded by 15ft Christmas trees.
It seriously looks so festive in there! I am definitely going to be convincing my family to come visit so I can drag them there for afternoon tea.
Ice Skating – Things to do in Galway at Christmas
Sure it wouldn’t be Christmas without trying, and failing to ice skate! “Galway Skates” is located out in Salthill Leisureland. It’s open from now until January 5th. Apparently, it is the best real-ice rink not only in Galway but all of Connaught, so get yer skates on!
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 1.30 – 9. Weekends and holidays 10.30 – 9.
For more information click here.
Christmas Markets – The Best Attraction for Christmas in Galway
The famous Christmas markets open for Christmas each year in Galway. If you want to feel the festive spirit, there’s no better way than to head to the markets as it starts to get dark. The lights and music will transport you back to your childhood, where the magic of Christmas is still alive.
You will find little wooden huts with gift ideas such as jigsaws and wooden toys, jewelry, and ceramics. Last year there was a Lego figure stall where me and Eoghan spent ages looking at all the random characters you could buy. They had Lego Power Puff girls!! So if you know someone who likes Lego, definitely check that out.
All-around Eyre Square is lit up beautifully and with the Ferris wheel in the background, it looks just like a Christmas card. Take a walk around the perimeter of the square to make sure you don’t miss any stalls!
Dinner in Galway at Christmas
The Christmas Markets are also the perfect place to go for light dinner before a night on the town. Be warned, you will be spoiled for choice, and will be tempted to have all the sweet treats instead.
At the markets, you’ll be able to sample international cuisines from Hungarian street foods to German bratwurst. You will easily find desert there too. The smells of fresh doughnuts and cinnamon will have your mouth watering. So many food options to choose from, sure why not have it all?!
How to Spend your Evening in Galway at Christmas
The Christmas beer tent
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A trip to Galway at Christmas would not be complete without a stein in the beer tent while the Christmas music blares. It will definitely be packed though, so go early. But it will be worth it! The novelty of drinking from a stein while wearing a Christmas jumper is just too good. If that’s not for you, there is also apple cider and mulled wine to choose from. But one thing is sure, get ready for some Christmas craic!
O’Connell’s Bar Galway – Popular pub in Galway City
Once the markets close up, I’d recommend heading to O’Connell’s which is just across the road. Not too far to go in the cold. You can easily stagger over the road if you’ve had one to many steins! Head out back to follow on the Christmas vibes as this beer garden is so lit up it looks like a Christmas version of Diagon alley!
If you’re going to be spending some time over Christmas in Galway, I hope this has given you some ideas of things to do to really feel that Christmas Magic come back to life. Comment below your favourite city to visit at Christmas, as well as the most Christmassy thing you did there.
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