Set along the Wild Atlantic Way on Ireland’s west coast, Galway is a thriving, bohemian city that is often referred to as the country’s cultural heart. As well as having plenty of beaches and expansive promenades perfect for a seaside escape, the city’s network of cobbled streets, colourful shops and folky bars are a joy to explore for all ages. You can linger in pubs to enjoy traditional live music, keep warm during the winter months with cosy turf fires and try the area’s famous fresh oysters at the local restaurants, all before dancing the night away in the famous Latin Quarter.
After taking a crossing from Liverpool to Dublin, Galway is a quick road or rail trip away. This guide tells you all you need to know.
Driving from Dublin to Galway is relatively straightforward, and will take you 220km through the mid-section of the country from east coast to west. The roads around the docks operate on a one-way system, but once you’ve exited Terminal 3, you’ll be guided onto E Wall Road, where normal traffic resumes.
The most direct route is via the M50, which will take you around Dublin city and onto the N4. Bear in mind that when you cross counties into Kildare, this will change into the M4. Stay on the M4 until you see a turning for the M6 just before the border of County Westmeath. You’ll keep on the M6 all the way to Galway, which will eventually change into the N6 towards the end of your journey.
Expect to drive through a few toll roads along the way – Dublin port itself has a tolled tunnelway, which can cost as much €10 and is payable at manned and unmanned lanes at the entrance. If you can travel outside of peak times (weekdays 6am-10am), the cost is a lot more affordable at €3.
The M50 is the only toll road in Ireland to operate a barrier-free system. Instead of stopping at a booth, cameras will record your registration number, and you’ll have until 8pm the following day to pay. You can do this online, or at Payzone outlets across the country, and should expect to pay around €3.10. There are further tolls along the way – on the M6 and N6, with each one costing no more than €3.
If you’re travelling without a car, the train from Dublin to Galway takes just under two and a half hours. Start your journey from the port with a short five-minute stroll to The Point, a tram stop on Mayor Street Upper which is run by light rail company Luas. You’ll need to buy a ticket before you board, which you can do at the vending machine nearby – an adult ticket should cost around €2.40. Take the red line to Heuston, which will take you close to the Irish Rail station of the same name. From Heuston station, board the Galway Service direct to Galway (Ceannt), where you can expect to pay around €40 on the day for an adult fare. Prices can be cheaper if you book in advance, so it can help to plan ahead. Galway station is conveniently located in Eyre Square, close to shops, restaurants and other amenities.
Operating on an hourly basis, GoBus in Dublin’s Burgh Quay will get you to Galway for as little as €13.00 return. Just as you would if you were getting the train, start your journey from The Point tram stop, taking the red line to Abbey Street, for €2.40. From here, walk a couple of minutes along Marlborough Street and across the Rosie Hackett Bridge to Burgh Quay where you’ll find the GoBus station. You can buy your tickets on board, online or over the phone. The journey takes under three hours, and drops you off right beside Galway’s tourism office, a stone’s throw from Eyre Square and the city’s shops and restaurants.
Interested in hearing more about the Emerald Isle? Read our guide to Ireland.
Feature image by Robert Linsdell