Galway is a large county, divided by the expanse of Lough Corrib. To the west is Connemara - a picturesque region, dominated by the Twelve Bens (rocky mountain range). East of Lough Corrib, there is a fertile limestone plain which extends to the Galway - Roscommon border and the river Shannon.
Connemara is the largest well-known Gaeltacht area in the county, which means that the ancient Gaelic culture is well-preserved here and the Irish language is spoken by the majority of the inhabitants. It is a region of superb scenic grandeur, that has inspired many famous paintings, not a tourist area in the usual meaning of the word, but rather an area that offers solitude and a sheer interaction with nature at its most elemental.
The Aran Islands may be as well considered a lost bastion of living Celtic and Gaelic Ireland, where the old traditions have survived and are still practiced. Inis Méain, Inis Oirr and Inis Mór offer unspoilt natural scenery and a flora that has long disappeared from mainland. On Inis Mór, the largest of the three, a spectacular semi-circular fort rises on the top of the sheer cliffs - Dún Aenghusa, the fort of Aengus. Ferries are available to the islands from Salthill (Galway city) Rossaveal and Roadford (county Clare).
Galway, "the city of the tribes", is a city with a multicultural air, renowned for its artistic activity. It is a university town, with a compact centre full of galleries and shops, famous for the beauty of the Galway bay, but mostly for the Galway Arts Festival that takes place in July. The Arts Festival is held in over 20 venues all over the city, as well as in the street, and comprises theatre events (theatre groups visit from all 5 continents), as well as indoor and outdoor music events. The Galway Film Fleadth, held in mid-July, previews the main Irish film releases, together with other European and world cinema recent productions.
The Galway Races, regarded as Ireland's most enjoyable racing festival, closely follow the Arts Festival and attract both racing fans and people who go there just for the fun.
Salthill, seaside suburb to Galway, is famous for its nightclubs and gaming arcades, but also for Leisureland, a perfect place for children, and the Atlantaquarium nearby.
Coming back to festivals, let us not forget the Clarinbridge Oyster Festival in September. Clarinbridge oysters make the delight of every seafood connoisseur, due to their particular flavour.
Clarinbridge town, as well as Loughrea and Athenry, constitute a fine base for touring the area and visiting all its ruined castles and historic churches.
East of Lough Corrib, there are two other historical towns, Tuam and Claregalways, where the round towers, abbeys, high crosses and ruins attest to the major role played by the area in the national events.
Kilmacduagh Monastic site, 3 miles from the town of Gort, includes Ireland's highest Round Tower, which is also Ireland's only leaning tower, along with a 10th century church, the remains of a 7th century church, and other century-old ruins.
As expected, Co. Galway is not short in outdoor activities and sports. The beaches along the coast (Spiddal - Carna - Cleggan) offer a great variety of watersports, as well as sea angling. The World Championship of Surfing was held along the coast of Ireland a few years ago. River fishing, golf, horse riding, cliff walks and heritage tours are among the attractions.