Although galaxies are made up of billions of stars, they are also several million light-years away and therefore very faint. Even large telescopes show only a weak, gray shimmer, which is often perceived only with averted vision. The famous, magnificent photographs are the result of long exposure times – the eye is limited to an exposure time of about 1/24 second. Nevertheless, many galaxies are perceptible even in binoculars. However, you will see, even with averted vision, not much more than a fuzzy star, and a washed out light spot or a short line, depending on the orientation of the galaxy. Only very few galaxies seem impressive at low magnification.
But there are exceptions where the binocular is clearly superior to the telescope. The Andromeda galaxy M 31 is our nearest big neighbor galaxy and only 3.2 million light-years away. In the sky it appears about 3° in size, which corresponds to six times the full Moon. Only with binoculars or a very short focal length telescope you have a chance to see it in full extent. Under dark skies it is quite good to see, and its two companion galaxies are also in the range of a pair of 10×50 binoculars. The Triangulum Galaxy M 33 in the constellation Triangulum with more than 1° diameter is a very difficult goal for a telescope, while quite feasible in binoculars – but again only if the sky background is dark enough. In general, galaxies need some observation experience – they aren‘t very striking visually.
Those galaxies where we look from the top down onto the spiral arms are called face-on galaxies. If we can only see the edge, they are called edge-on galaxies.
You need a very dark sky to be successful when hunting galaxies. You won‘t have any luck close to cities, or you will see nothing more than the nucleus as a dim star.