There are so many fantastic things to see in Galway, Ireland. Want to know my favorite? The National University of Ireland in Galway (aka NUIG). In my opinion, NUIG is one of the very best things about Galway. NUI Galway is the oldest and largest university in the West of Ireland.
I had the opportunity to visit NUI Galway on a business trip for Synapse: A Tech Carnival. As usual, I managed to squeeze in a bit of time for fun even though I was traveling for work. NUIG is definitely one of the most photogenic campuses I've been to and ranks up there among the most Instagrammable spots in Ireland. Read on to discover more about why NUIG is one of my favorite Galway landmarks and why you should make time for a trip to campus.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Galway is certainly one of the best places in Ireland to visit by train. The train takes about two hours from Dublin's Heuston Station. Other great places to visit in Ireland by train from Dublin include:
Accessible NUI Galway
The first thing I noticed about NUIG was a series of blue dots on the footpath. I did a double-take when I looked at the directions on my phone. Could Google be projecting directions in real-life too when you do a search on Maps? ;-) Turns out it was just a coincidence and this path was meant to show a wheelchair accessible route around the NUIG campus. This path actually took us past some of the pretty parts of campus and was a good tour guide. Accessibility is just one of many reasons that I recommend NUIG as one of the best things to do in Galway.
The Raging River Corrib
The NUI Galway campus (and associated blue dots) start on a path over a bridge where you can watch the raging waters of the River Corrib surge over a series of locks. The raw power of the river at this point is simply mesmerizing.
The Oxidized Copper Spires of NUI Galway
Entering the NUIG campus, we were greeted by oxidized copper spires. Keep an eye out for pretty photo opportunities of the green roofs shining in the sun.
Creative Sculptures Around NUI GalwayNUIG also features creative sculptures dotted around campus. Just follow the trail of blue breadcrumbs and you'll pass works of art like this invisible student donning a graduation cap.
Photograph the Historic Quadrangle at NUI Galway
I visited in late September which was perfect timing to catch the ivy creeping up the old stone buildings turning to a fiery red. The color really pops against the cold gray stone of the quad. The historical quadrangle is Galway at its most Instagrammable. This amazing autumn foliage against the classic facades is simply one of the best things about Galway in my opinion.
Walk Along the River CorribThe NUI Galway campus is actually quite extensive. En route to the Engineering side of campus, I spied the ruins of a crumbling church across the river. If the weather cooperates, you can take a walk or a run along the Corrib River.
NUI Galway's Modern Engineering CampusThings got decidedly more modern as I walked on, following the blue accessibility dots around campus. The engineering building and Kingfisher Club were state of the art.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Interested in going a little further afield from Galway? Galway to Connemara is a fantastic weekend road trip.
NUI Galway Zoology and Marine Biology Museum
On one visit to campus, I got caught in a downpour and ducked into the Martin Ryan Institute to wait out the storm. I had a peek around the ground floor and stumbled upon NUIG's Zoology and Marine Biology Museum. My advice for travel in general? Follow where curiosity leads.
Galway's Zoology and Marine Biology Museum is housed in a small unassuming room in a quiet corner just off the lobby. According to the visitors book, I was the only visitor for more than two days. The museum features over 500 taxidermy specimens. I was flipping through a laminated visitor guide by the door when I saw it: this museum has four specimens from Darwin's voyage on the Beagle. I was nerding out big time! I spent some time with the guide trying to spot the Darwin specimens among the crowded cases. I eventually found them: a grison, cavy and Azara’s fox (all mammals) plus a guira cuckoo (bird pictured below).
Other highlights of this small natural history museum on the NUIG campus included a stuffed platypus and a scary looking puffer fish. The NUI Galway Zoology and Marine Biology Museum also featured a whole bunch of glass blown animal replicas. This museum is definitely one of the reasons I consider NUIG to be one of the best things about Galway.
The NUIG Blue Dots Come Full Circle.
All in all, I experienced a great visit to a beautiful campus in the West of Ireland. It pays to follow the blue-dotted road and follow your curiosity. You never know what you'll find in Galway!