You've already decided that Ireland will be your next English language destination, but you haven't chosen which town or village yet. If you want to explore something different from the more popular destinations, such as Dublin, then you might want to consider Galway on the west coast. This city has the same name as the county it belongs to, a region that has a lot to offer, especially for those who love nature and hiking.
To save you time and consider taking an English-speaking holiday to this county, we've rounded up some of the best attractions you'll have the opportunity to visit.
Galway is known as the capital of the Gaelic language. With a rich and intriguing history, it remains a popular destination for travelers and tourists, attracted by its vibrant cultural scene and historic center full of memories.
The history of the town begins with a settlement built around a fortress built in 1124 by Turlough O'Connor, the king of Connacht. After about a century, the Anglo-Normans reclaimed the fort, effectively gaining dominion. However, some local merchant families asked to have control and in a short time they got it, extending it to the whole settlement. These families were known as the 14 Tribes of Galway and their rule lasted throughout medieval times. It was a lively era, as the city became an important trading centre, having trade links with France and Spain. Beginning in 1600, a prolonged period of military conflict and siege eroded the power of the families and marked the beginning of a long decline. Despite this, the city always remained a point of reference for Irish commerce and culture, thanks also to the foundation of the "Queens University of Ireland" in 1845.
If your English holiday base is Galway city, there are plenty of attractions you can explore from right here. The county is characterized by two territories with a very distinct landscape. The innermost part, to the east, is flat and extends to meet the River Shannon. The western part is dominated by the rugged and unspoilt landscapes of Connemara, characterized by hills, lakes and streams that extend to the Atlantic.
We have selected some places for both city and nature lovers, to visit in your free time after the summer English courses or on weekends.
It is the heart of historic Galway, adjacent to the famous Latin Quarter. This open space was used for markets and, despite the recent transformation, it still retains the charm of the past. Here you can see the flags of the 14 Tribes of Galway and you can stop for shopping at Eyre Square Centre, the city's main shopping destination.
The Latin Quarter is an example of the city's medieval past, with various styled buildings where you can stop to shop or grab a bite to eat. The most representative street is perhaps Kirwan's Lane, a fine example of medieval architecture. Once abandoned and neglected, it has recently been restored to its former glory. Together with Eyre Square, this neighborhood is an ideal destination to learn about the culture of the city and enrich the experience of living in English.
Galway Cathedral is an imposing and prominent structure in the city. Originally the site of the city jail, construction began in 1958 and was completed in 1965. The only one of its kind in Ireland, it is the last large stone church in the country and boasts a soaring dome that stands out above the cityscape.
The building is located in the north of Connemara National Park, about an hour from Galway city, and is an example of 19th century style architecture.
It was built by Mitchell Henry, a successful businessman from Manchester who, captivated by the beauty of the area, gave this building to his wife. The construction was so massive that it made it necessary to recruit a lot of manpower from the area. After his wife's death, a Gothic chapel was erected in her honour.
Connemara is a region located in the north-west of County Galway, characterized by outstanding natural beauty and breathtaking scenery. These characteristics make it a favorite destination for visitors to Ireland.
Unsurprisingly, this area is special for outdoor activities. The most popular attraction is the Connemara National Park, full of grasslands and mountains with peaks over 700 meters in height.
These two beaches are among the most beautiful in Ireland and are located in the Connemara region. They overlook each other and are a spectacular example of the Irish coast.
The peculiarity of these beaches lies in the white sand formed by shells instead of limestone. They are an excellent visit to make as a break during the summer English courses, for a simple walk or windsurfing.
The Aran Islands are a rocky archipelago that formed between Galway Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. They can be reached by ferry and offer a unique opportunity for exploration. Their isolation has preserved a unique rural atmosphere, where Gaelic remains the main language. In addition to the timeless landscape, you can visit the prehistoric forts located on top of the cliffs. Here you can find several trekking routes that lead to rugged beaches washed by the ocean.
County Galway is full of wonderful places to explore. There is something for everyone, from shopaholics to hiking enthusiasts.
If you have already thought about Ireland as a destination for an English language stay, you can check with Hebe if there are any host families around Galway. Wherever it is, you can still organize a trip to visit the most beautiful attractions of this fantastic county.
With Hebe you will be able to find the family that best suits your needs, also verified by the authorities. Communicating before departure will allow you to break the ice and organize the trip with the utmost serenity. You will already be able to talk about the places to visit and plan trips, a unique opportunity both to plan new adventures and to get in touch with the host family.