Aran Islands are a group of three rocky islands located in Galway Bay. The islands include Inishmore (Inis Mór – the largest island), Inishmaan (Inis Meáin – the second largest), and Inisheer (Inis Oírr – the smallest). On the islands, you can explore ancient stone forts and churches, awesome cliffs, and flora and fauna. The islands are considered the soul of Gaelic culture and it’s considered one of the top island destinations by National Geographic.
If you are looking for Aran Islands tips, this article covers everything that you need to know about the Aran Islands tour.
Things you'll find in this article
- The Aran Islands
- Things To Do On Aran Islands
- How to get to Aran Islands
- Aran Islands Tours
- Recommended hours for the day trip to Aran Islands
- Tips for visiting Aran Islands
The Aran Islands
What does Inishmore mean?
Inishmore or Inis Mór means big island. It is because Inis Mór is the largest island among Aran Islands at 31 km2 in size.
What does Inishmaan mean?
Inishmaan or Inis Meáin means the middle island. It is the second largest island among Aran Islands with an area covering 9 km2.
What does Inisheer mean?
Inisheer or Inis Oírr means “the east island”. The island is the most eastern and smallest island of the three Aran islands.
Things To Do On Aran Islands
Dún Aonghasa or Dun Aengus is a pre-historic fort in Inishmore. It is located at the edge of a 100-meter cliff and it’s an important archeological site.
Located in a 14-acre site, Dún Aonghasa features three terraced walls and a series of four concentric walls. The ancient fort is famous to archaeologists and historians. It is unknown when Dún Aonghasa was built but based on the records from the excavations done on the site, the fort was built as far as 1100 BC.
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The Wormhole is a natural rectangular shaped pool located at the bottom of a limestone cliff. It can be found at the south of Dun Aonghasa and can be only be accessed by foot. This tourist destination in Inishmore is popular due to the amazing effect that sea waves do in the natural pool. The waves crashing in fills up the pool and then it starts to drain if it’s low tide and the process repeats again. The Wormhole is also a popular cliff diving destinations.
3. O’Brien’s Castle
Located at Inisheer, the smallest island in Aran is once an imposing castle of O’Brien’s. The castle used to be a tower house and a stronghold for the O’Brien’s clan. Surrounding the castle ruin is low stone walls. Although there’s not much left on the castle, the ruins offer one of the best panoramic views in the Aran islands.
4. Seal Colony
One of the most popular attractions in Inishmore is the seal colony. The seals in the island made the shores of this Aran island their home for years. If you are looking for things to do in Aran islands for kids, this is the best activity that you can do on the island.
The seal colony is just around 10 minutes away from Kilmurvey beach.
5. Dun Eoghanachta
Dun Eoghanachta is an ancient fort in the town of Eoghanacht and is named after the Eoghanacht tribe of Munster. It is unknown when the fort was built but according to some evidence, it might have been built during Iron Age.
The fort features a circular fort with remains of clochan or beehive huts that were common during the ancient south-western Irish seaboard.
6. Kilronan village
Kilronan village is the main village on the island of Inis Mor. It is a charming fishing village that is also the center of commercial establishments on the island. Aside from colorful homes, you can also check out world-class seafood restaurants and traditional bars in the area.
Most of the ferry companies dock to Kilronan village so you won’t miss it.
7. The Cliffs of Aran
The 8-kilometer stretch of Cliffs of Aran is one of the most spectacular sights in the western side of Inishmore. The dramatic landscape is also blessed with a view of the Cliffs of Moher. If you want to escape the crowd of Cliffs of Moher, the Cliffs of Aran is a good alternative.
Dun Aonghasa, the Wormhole, and some ancient forts can be found in this area.
8. Kilmurvey Beach
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One of the best beaches in Ireland, Kilmurvey Beach is a Blue Flag Status beach situated in a cove in Inishmore. This beautiful white sand beach is located between Kilronan and Dun Aengus. It’s also one of the most popular attractions in the Aran Islands, especially during summer.
9. Teampall Chiaráin
Teampall Chiaráin is a monastery ruin located in the island of Inishmore and was founded by St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise during the 12th century. There are several crosses dotted around the area and an ancient graveyard nearby. The place is popular for traditional locals who believe that putting a scarf or handkerchief in the hole on the east side of the old church can bring luck and fertility.
10. Inishmore Blowholes
Because of the dramatic sea cliffs in Inishmore, the waves crashing at the bottom of these cliffs cause to blow water like rockets to the air – creating a spectacular view and experience for the visitors.
These are the famous Inishmore Blowholes and it’s one of the fun things to do on the Aran Islands.
How to get to Aran Islands
How to get to Aran Islands from Galway
Take a bus (#524) from Galway Bus Station in Eyre Square to Rossaveal Port. The journey is about an hour and it costs between €8-11 one way or €16-22 for a round-trip fare. Then take a ferry from the port to Inis Mór. The ferry journey is about half an hour but make sure to check in half an hour before sailing time. Return ferry fare is €25. For sailing schedule, click here.
Or you can also take a bus to Doolin and take a ferry from there. Although the ferry in Doolin is just season compare to Rossaveal where they have ferries all throughout the year. To get to Doolin, take a bus (#350) from Galway Bus Station to Doolin. The bus ride takes about 2 hours and it costs €15-18 one way or €30-36 for a round-trip fare. From Doolin port, take a ferry to any of the islands. Return ferry fare is €30-40. For sailing schedule, click here.
Or you can also take this day tour from Galway which is cheaper by a lot.
How to get to Aran Islands from Cork
Take a Citilink bus (#251, #251-X) from St. Patricks Quay in Cork City to Galway Coach Station. The journey is almost 3 hours and it costs between €12-20 one way or €24-40 for a round-trip fare and bus leaves every 4 hours. Then walk to Eyre Square, Galway Bus Station to take Bus Eireann bus (#424) to Rossaveal. The journey is about an hour and it costs between €8-11 one way or €16-22 for a round-trip fare. Then take a ferry from the port to Inis Mór. The ferry journey is about half an hour but make sure to check in half an hour before sailing time. Return ferry fare is €25.
How to get to Aran Islands from Limerick
Take a Citilink bus (#251) from Henry St in Limerick City to Galway Coach Station. The journey is almost 3 hours and it costs between €8-15 one way or €16-30 for a round-trip fare and bus leaves 5 times a day so plan accordingly. Then walk to Eyre Square, Galway Bus Station to take Bus Eireann bus (#424) to Rossaveal. The journey is about an hour and it costs between €8-11 one way or €16-22 for a round-trip fare. Then take a ferry from the port to Inis Mór. The ferry journey is about half an hour but make sure to check in half an hour before sailing time. Return ferry fare is €25.
How to get to Aran Islands from Dublin
Take a Citilink bus (#761, #763, #660) from Temple Bar, Crampton Quay in Dublin to Galway Coach Station. The journey is almost 2.5 hours and it costs between €12-21 one way or €24-42 for a round-trip fare and bus leaves every hour. Then walk to Eyre Square, Galway Bus Station to take Bus Eireann bus (#424) to Rossaveal. The journey is about an hour and it costs between €8-11 one way or €16-22 for a round-trip fare. Then take a ferry from the port to Inis Mór. The ferry journey is about half an hour but make sure to check in half an hour before sailing time. Return ferry fare is €25.
How to get to Aran Islands from Doolin
From Doolin port, take a ferry to any of the islands. Return ferry fare is €30-40. Please note that the ferry leaving from Doolin is just seasonal so always double check before booking any trip.
Aran Islands Tours
Aran Islands Tour from Galway
This Aran Islands tour from Galway includes a round-trip ferry trip to Aran Islands and an entrance fee to Cliffs of Moher and Atlantic Edge. The tour includes a dramatic cruise below the cliffs as well and for €60, it is a steal. To book, click here.
This Aran Islands tour day from Galway includes a round-trip ferry trip to Inis Oirr and a dramatic cruise below the cliffs for just €50. To book, click here.
Aran Islands Tours from Doolin
This Aran Islands day tour from Doolin includes a round-trip ferry trip to Inis Oírr. The tour includes a dramatic cruise below the cliffs as well and for €20, it is a steal. To book, click here.
This Aran Islands day tour from Doolin includes a round-trip ferry trip to Inis Meáin Island. It also includes a Cliffs of Moher cruise for €35. To book, click here.
Recommended hours for the day trip to Aran Islands
Allocate at least 10 hours to enjoy one of the islands.
Tips for visiting Aran Islands
1. Aran Islands are known for its wild landscapes so if you take the bike tour, make sure to be extra careful as some trails can be really rough.
2. The blowholes are fun to look at but exercise extreme caution. The water occasionally hit people and it can cause an accident like falling off the rocks.
3. The cliffs don’t have a barrier so avoid walking on the edge of the cliffs and exercise extreme caution when walking towards the edge.
4. The weather can play a big part in enjoying the Aran Islands. Make sure to check the schedule of the ferry first before booking any trip to the island. And always layer up as it can very windy on the islands. Here are our packing list tips for all seasons to guide you on what to wear in Ireland.
5. Some of the attractions can be really remote and isolated and although Ireland is safe generally, accidents do happen. Make sure to always have a fully charged phone with you just in case of emergency.
6. As mentioned, some areas are really remote and if you decide to explore the Aran islands on your own, make sure to pack water, sunblock, and snacks just in case you get lost or lost track of time.
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Hi, I’m Christine – a full-time traveler and career woman. Although I’m from the Philippines, my location independent career took me to over 40 countries for the past 8 years. I also lived in 3 continents – from the Caribbean, South East Asia to Africa. But despite living in several countries, my love for Ireland remains the same. A country that had been a part of my life since I was 14 because of my love for Irish music and bands. Ireland Travel Guides was born because of this passion and hopefully, in some little ways, this website will be able to help you on your next trip to Ireland.