A trip to the Aran Islands is something everybody should do at least once. Here’s everything you need to know- where to eat, stay and see.
The Aran Islands are three rocky isles – Inis Mór (Inish-more), Inis Meáin (Inish-maan), and Inis Oírr (Inish-eer)-that guard the mouth of Galway Bay.
Inis Mór is the largest island and is the most popular spot for holidaymakers, but whichever island you decide to go to, you will be treated to rugged beauty, strong Irish heritage and golden beaches.
How to get to the Aran Islands
A picturesque, 40-minute crossing takes you from Rossaveal in Galway to Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, and Inis Oírr.
Aran Island Ferries offers an all-year-round service, or you also have the option to conveniently travel to the islands from Galway City.
There are also sailing boats from Doolin in County Clare which will bring you across to the islands.
Ferry timetables can change depending on weather conditions so always plan ahead. If you have time many of these boats have opt-in options to include a trip by the Cliffs of Moher on the way.
Aran Islands accommodation
The Aran Islands Hotel. With spectacular views over Kileaney Bay and Kilronan Harbour, it’s a great base to explore the island.
Aran Islands Camping & Glamping. Pitch your tent in the grass fields or choose the luxury of a self-catering glamping unit, complete with a shower, toilet and double bed. Cook and eat with fellow guests in the large communal kitchen
Aran Walkers Lodge is ideal for groups. Close to all the sights, this is the perfect place to base yourself for a weekend packed with wonderful walks and hiking adventures.
Indulge in the ultimate luxury experience on the quietest island with an overnight stay at Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites. With panoramic windows and your own private outdoor seating area, this is immersive island magic at its best.
If you plan on staying on the smallest of the islands, check out Óstán Inis Oírr. You can also choose to enjoy dinner and overnight stay in South Aran Restaurant and Rooms or book into Brú Radharc na Mara Hostel and get to know the locals who can tell you everything there is to know about the islands.
Things to see on the Aran Islands
Dún Aonghas- The most famous of the Aran Islands’ historical sites is an ancient stone fort that sits on a towering 100-meter cliff on the edge of Inishmore.
The Seven Churches – An important pilgrimage site on Inis Mór during the Middle Ages. Today, only two churches remain including Temple Brecan which was built around 1200
The Plassey Shipwreck- The Plassey was an Irish Merchant Service cargo vessel that ran into difficulty off the coast of Inis Oírr in 1960. Thanks to quick thinking from local islanders, the entire crew was brought safely to shore. It’s best known as the shipwreck viewed during the opening credits of the iconic TV show, Father Ted.
The Inis Mór Seal Colony- Take a cycle along the coastal road east of Kilmurvey Beach and with the tide in your favor, you’ll see the island’s seal colony bathing.
Things to do on the Aran Islands
Cycling is a fantastic way to explore the Aran Islands, and bike hire is available on all the islands. It’s a good idea to book ahead, particularly during the summer months.
Check out Kilmurvey Beach on the northern coast of Inis Mór, considered one of Galway’s most stunning beaches. The Blue Flag beach has a lifeguard on duty during high season, so it’s a safe and scenic spot to take a dip.
Discover scenic hikes and leisurely walks with incredible views of land and the ocean. On Inis Mór, Lúb Dún Eochla is a 10km looped walk that kicks off at Kilronan Pier. Follow the green arrows for a challenging, walk across rich green hills and stony roads. Over on Inis Oírr, Lúb Ceathrú a Locha begins and ends at the pier.
Try something different and check out the Dive Academy on Inis Mór and book in for a lesson with an experienced diver. With its vibrant underwater life, the Aran Islands have a reputation for being one of the best places to dive in Europe. Depending on when you visit, you might even spot friendly dolphins and seals!
Take a traditional pony and trap tour around Inis Mór. You can book in advance so that you’re ready to go once you arrive on the island. Along the historic route, you’ll see monastic sites, the island’s famous stone walls, and magnificent Dún Aonghasa.
H/T: Discover Ireland