County Clare, Galway, and the Aran Islands

We’ve compiled the best of the best in County Clare, Galway, and the Aran Islands - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. King's Head


    With the most eye-catching facade on High Street, if not Galway City, the King's Head is dripping with 800 years of history with its association to the execution of King Charles I. Staff are charming and a cúpla focal (a few words in the Irish language) will put you in good favor. There are trad music sessions nightly.

    15 High St., Galway City, Co. Galway, Ireland
  • 2. Nora Culligans Whiskey Bar

    Behind the subtle, light-yellow timber-front entrance, this whiskey and tequila bar is a long warren of Victorian-bar idiosyncrasies, with lofty ceilings, barrel tables, two-story-high whiskey cabinets that manifest like the love child of an old west saloon and a traditional Irish pub. The evening entertainment reflects the same hybrid, with jazz, blues, acoustic sessions, and the occasional bit of reggae offered back-to-back with trad-music sessions. It's the best place in town for a refreshing cocktail, and the antidote to an overindulgence in ballads and fiddles.

    26 Abbey St., Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 3. O'Connor's Pub


    Fans of musician Ed Sheeran will instantly recognize the interior of this landmark pub as the location of his "Galway Girl" music video with actress Saoirse Ronan. Trading since 1942, this generous-size tavern in Salthill is a firm favorite with visitors who browse through the pub's vast collection of paraphernalia, from farmyard tools and grandma’s garters (hanging over a hearth) to a life-size statue of the "Quiet Man," John Wayne. Its impressive collection of whiskey is showcased on an imposing shelf behind the bar counter.

    Upper Salthill Rd., Galway City, Co. Galway, Ireland
  • 4. Tigh Neachtain

    Spanish Arch

    This bright-blue, mural-scarred pub is in the hub of Galway's medieval center and the core of its beating heart. For more than 120 years its mahogany snugs and alcoves have given patrons refuge from the city's infamous mist and rain while its stock of more than 130 brands of whiskey has fueled heat through their veins. Predictably, it's buzzing on the weekends.

    17 Cross St., Galway City, Co. Galway, Ireland
  • 5. Áras na nGael

    Cross O'Brien Bridge and take the first left to find this Irish-speaking social club–pub, which is a great place to hear traditional music, watch (or join) dancing and language classes, and hear the Irish language in use. Non–Irish speakers are very welcome. Open weekdays only.

    45 Dominick St., Galway City, Co. Galway, Ireland
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  • 6. Brogans Bar and Restaurant

    Enter through a side alley door to this large landmark pub that has served and entertained locals for decades, right in the town center. Musicians appear to crawl out of the handsome woodwork nightly and perform impromptu to an appreciative audience. Bar food is available.

    24 O'Connell St., Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 7. Cornerstone Bar

    On the corner of the main street, this sandstone cottage, with its low roof, is the place to cozy up for a post-surf pint. Traditional food is served until 9 pm---specials are on a chalkboard, and there's live Irish music on weekends.

    Main St., Lahinch, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 8. Durty Nelly's Pub

    Brimming with character, the low ceilings and stone flooring of this popular haunt next to Bunratty Castle draw back to earlier centuries. The pub was formerly known as "the Pike" (short for "turnpike") due to its role as the tollgate for the arched stone bridge that connects it to the other side of the Ratty River. Clients clamor at the small bar for service where bar food and heartier restaurant-style portions are available. Recent additions include a large canopied dining area on the local bridge. Durty Nelly's is bang in the middle of the well-beaten tourist trail, so expect as many visitors as locals.

    Bunratty Village, Bunratty, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 9. Gus O'Connor's

    Set in the village's main (and only) street, popular Gus O'Connor's has tables outside near a stream and live music every night after 9:30 in the summertime.

    Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 10. Hyde Bar and Gin Parlour


    Gin is having a moment in Ireland right now and nowhere is that more evident or celebrated than Hyde Bar and Gin Parlour, where you will find more than 500 brands of gin, featuring flavors from potato to rhubarb to "Unicorn Tears." The bold interior, with electric-blue and shocking-pink furnishings and larger-than-life wall murals, comes as a surprise after entering the classic ivy-clad doorway. There's also a good selection of craft beer and the old reliable beverages. By day, this is a hugely popular brunch spot.

    Forster St., Galway City, Co. Galway, Ireland
  • 11. Joe Mac's

    Located right off the pier, Joe Mac's is a good place for a fireside pint while waiting for the ferry home.

    Cill Ronáin [Kilronan], Co. Galway, Ireland
  • 12. Joe Watty's

    Located on the hill outside the village, Joe Watty's is the hub of Inis Mór's entertainment, with regular music sessions and reliable food.

    Cill Ronáin [Kilronan], Co. Galway, Ireland
  • 13. Knappogue Castle Medieval Banquet

    Knappogue Castle's banquet is a feast of quaint pageantry with an inoffensive menu that still has a broad appeal. However, the setting on hilly pastures in a medieval limestone tower house in County Clare is sublime. Entertainers strum harps and sing old favorite Irish melodies and generally earn the €63 price tag for a night of poetry, sentimentality and innocent fun. There's an elegant walled garden by the west side of the building and the castle has an intriguing backstory ever since it was constructed in the 15th century by the McNamara clan---and it's available to rent on Airbnb.  

    Quin Rd., Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 14. Knox's Pub & Storehouse Restaurant

    This Victorian-style bar, close to Ennis Friary, with a traditional plate-glass shop front with brick, timber, and bric-a-brac finishes, claims the title of the town's oldest pub. It serves bar food in its Storehouse Restaurant until 9 pm and offers live traditional music regularly from 9:30 pm.

    18 Abbey St., Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 15. McDermott's

    Popular with locals, McDermott's is a great spot for soul-warming live music and traditional fare. They have live music nightly early spring to late autumn, and weekends in winter. Note: it's sometimes closed during the day in low season.

    Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 16. McGann's Pub & Restaurant

    Across the road from McDermott's, McGann's is the smallest of Doolin's three famous pubs and has been run by the same family for 70 years. Breakfast is a highlight, so luckily, McGann's offers B&B, too (must book ahead).

    Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 17. McHugh's Bar

    Behind one of the most charming facades in Ennis is McHugh's Bar, the town's hub for craft beer. Order a pint of its own brand, Western Herd, and settle in for the occasional, impromptu music session. Tapas are available from Thursday to Sunday.

    78 Parnell St., Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 18. McSwiggan's


    A popular Galway City pub with a restaurant upstairs, McSwiggan's has everything from church pews to ancient carriage lamps contributing to its eclectic character.

    3 Eyre St., Galway City, Co. Galway, Ireland
  • 19. Monroe's


    A large and handsome street-corner pub, Monroe's has free music nightly from 9 pm and regularly hosts impressive rock acts. Quality bar food and a friendly service add to the appeal.

    20 Dominick St., Galway City, Co. Galway, Ireland
  • 20. Nova Bar


    Cocktails, beer, and wine are served in this tiny bar on a quiet street just beyond the city center. It has a DJ and live entertainment, plus student night on Wednesday---and a very loyal LGBTQ customer base.

    1 William St. W, Galway City, Co. Galway, Ireland

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