Inis Mór Island: A Day Trip to the Aran Islands from Galway

Inis Mór Island: A Day Trip to the Aran Islands from Galway

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Inis Mór, or Inishmore, is the largest of the Aran Islands, a group of Islands off the Galway Coast in Ireland.  Famous for their woolly Aran sweaters, I hadn’t realised just how beautiful Inishmore Island would be.  I visited Inishmore on a day trip from Galway as part of my Shamrocker Adventures 5-day tour around Ireland, and Inishmore is well worth exploring, either by spending the night or by taking a day trip to the Aran Islands from Galway.  Here is everything you need to arrange a fabulous trip to the Aran Islands.

What & Where are the Aran Islands?

The Aran Islands are a group of three Islands which lie off the west coast of Ireland, at the mouth of Galway Bay.  The largest of the Islands is Inishmore, and the two smaller islands are Inishmaan and Inisheer.  The islands’ inhabitants primarily speak Irish as well as English, so it is a great place to come and practise your Gaelic.  In Gaelic, the Islands have different names: Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, and Inis Oírr, and the anglicized spellings are more or less phonetic pronunciations of the Irish names.

A Thatched Cottage and Fairy House on Inishmore
A Thatched Cottage and Fairy House on Inishmore

How to Get to the Aran Islands

Galway is a great base to use for visiting Inis Mór and the Aran Islands.  Spend a couple of nights in the town and enjoy Irish hospitality at one or several of the many pubs in Galway.

Ferries to the Aran Islands from Galway

The ferry is the most popular way to get to the Aran Islands, and there are ferries to the Aran Islands from Galway running regularly throughout the year.  Aran Island Ferries have offices in Galway and arrange transport to the ferry terminal in Ros a’ Mhíl (Rossaveel), or you can drive to the terminal yourself.  Ferries to Inis Mór cost €25 return for an adult, with discounted rates for children, students, OAPs and large groups. If you want to take the shuttle bus transfer from Galway to the ferry terminal, it is an additional €9 per adult.  Check the prices and timetable for Aran Island Ferries here.

For our Inis Mór tour, we all took the shuttle bus from Galway which arrived in good time for the 10.30 am ferry to Inis Mór.  They recommend buying your ferry and transport tickets in advance, which you can do at their office in Galway, or online.  The ferries are comfortable, but the crossing can get choppy if its windy, so if you suffer from motion sickness come prepared!

The Port at Inis Mor on the Aran Islands - Visiting the Aran Islands from Galway
The Port at Inis Mor on the Aran Islands – Visiting the Aran Islands from Galway

Ferries to the Aran Islands from Doolin

Further south, Doolin also has a ferry port and Doolin 2 Aran Ferries run regular ferries to each of the Aran Islands, as well as a Cliffs of Moher cruise.  Check their website here.

Flights to the Aran Islands

Aer Arran have some flights to the Aran Islands from Connemara Airport.  They use small Check the timetable and prices here.

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Inis Mór Transport

When we boarded the ferry at Ros a’ Mhíl, there were a couple of people handing out an Inis Mór map with the key things to see in Inis Mór so you can plan your day.  When you arrive at the port in Inis Mór, there are four options for exploring the island, on foot, by bike, with a horse and cart, or in a mini-bus.

If you are taking a day tour to Inis Mór you probably won’t have time to see as much of the island if you decide to go on foot, so I would recommend one of the other options.

Incredible views of Inis Mor from Dun Aonghasa Fort - Visiting the Aran Islands from Galway
Incredible views of Inis Mor from Dun Aonghasa Fort – Visiting the Aran Islands from Galway

Aran Islands Bike Hire

At the port, you can’t miss the Aran Islands Bike Hire building, where you can hire bikes for the day from €10.  They will also give you a map if you didn’t get one on the ferry.  Aran Islands bike rental also have electric bikes, tandems and child seats and buggies too.  This can be a great way to explore Inis Mór independently, but bear in mind it is often very windy (and sometimes wet!) so you’ll need to be quite fit to pedal your way around the island.

Horse and Cart

Walking up from the port you will see several horses and carts waiting to take people on a tour of Inis Mór.  The driver doubles as a guide and will take you to the key sites around the island, explaining more about the history and culture on the island.  The horse and cart costs around €20 per person.

A Horse and Cart on Inis Mor, the Aran Islands
A Horse and Cart on Inis Mor, the Aran Islands

Inis Mór Bus Tour

If you prefer to be inside and see a lot of the island then the bus tour is the way to go.  There are minibuses waiting for the visitors to get off the ferry, and they will whisk you around the island explaining the sites as you go.  I chose this option for my Inis Mór tour, and was really happy with my choice – there was a small group of us from Shamrockers who decided to do this, most people took bikes and a few opted for the horse, and it seems everyone was happy with their choice!  We had a red minibus with a guide called Patrick who was fab.  We drove up to Dun Aonghasa where we had time to walk up to the ruins and have lunch at the café as well as doing a spot of shopping.  We then hopped back in the minivan to visit some of the other stops on the island.  Our guide Patrick was fab, and we had plenty of time to stop for photographs along the way.

Stone Walls and a Beautiful Sea View on Inishmore - Visiting the Aran Islands from Galway
Stone Walls and a Beautiful Sea View on Inishmore – Visiting the Aran Islands from Galway

Exploring Inis Mór

Whichever way you choose to explore the island, you won’t be disappointed.  Thatched cottages, golden beaches, dramatic cliffs and miles of stone walls create an absolutely gorgeous island.  It is even more impressive considering that the fields that now make up large parts of the island had to be created by the hardy inhabitants of the island.  They built stone walls to make small sections of ‘fields’ which were then covered with layers of seaweed brought up from the coast which gradually decomposed and eventually formed soil.

A Ruined Cottage on Inis Mor, Left for the Next Generation to Return to the Aran Islands
A Ruined Cottage on Inis Mor, Left for the Next Generation to Return to the Aran Islands

As you travel around the island, you’re bound to meet some of the friendly locals – of the two and four-legged variety like donkeys and Connemara ponies.  Everywhere you look there are beautiful views, and what looks like ruins of old cottages, which are left here to make sure future generations can re-build without requiring new planning permission on the plot.  I was also fascinated by the memorials to islanders who left Inis Mór and never returned, either lost at sea or moved to the mainland.

A Monument to those who left Inishmore and never returned to the Aran Islands - Visiting the Aran Islands from Galway
A Monument to those who left Inishmore and never returned to the Aran Islands

Things to do on Inis Mór

Dun Aonghasa

Dun Aonghasa is the oldest stone fort in Europe and is perched on top of some of the highest cliffs on Inis Mór.  There is a healthy 20-minute walk from the entrance at Kilmurvey Craft Village to the fort, and it can be slippery in the rain so watch your footing.  It costs €2 per adult and is definitely worth it!  The views of the island are stunning, and the cliffs are incredible.  Be careful on the cliffs as there are no fences!

Dun Aonghasa Fort on Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands
Dun Aonghasa Fort on Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands

The Worm Hole

There is another walk down to the wormhole from the road, unfortunately, we didn’t get chance to visit here on our tour but it looks very cool!  The Worm Hole is a natural swimming pool which Red Bull uses as a cliff diving venue.  To get here you can walk east along the cliffs from Dun Aonghasa from the road which runs between here and Gort Na gCapall.

The Seven Churches

The ruins of two small churches and their churchyard are a beautiful and thought-provoking stop.

The Aran Seal Colony

From the beach you can find Inis Mór’s seal colony, but only during low tide.  On high tides the seals are in deeper water feeding so are harder to spot.

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Dun Duchathair (The Black Fort)

Another cliffside ruin on the southern side of the island, in an equally stunning location as Dun Aonghasa.

The Ruins of the Seven Churches on Inishmore - Visiting the Aran Islands from Galway
The Ruins of the Seven Churches on Inishmore – Visiting the Aran Islands from Galway

The Church of Saint Benan

The church here is said to be the smallest in the world, measuring a mere 3.7m by 1.8m.

Kilmurvey Craft Village

Close to the entrance of Dun Aonghasa, this cluster of pretty cottages has craft shops where you can buy Aran sweaters, jewellery and tasty handmade fudge.  We ate lunch here at the fabulous café Teach Nan Phaidi, which serves hot and cold meals and a tasty selection of cakes.

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Aran Sweater Market

In the main village of Kilronan, the huge Aran Sweater Market is your last chance to buy the famous sweaters on the islands where they’re made.  Check the labels though as not all of the sweaters are knitted on the islands.

The Famous Aran Sweaters for sale on Inishmore
The Famous Aran Sweaters for sale on Inishmore

Inis Mór Accommodation

If all this has tempted you to spend more time exploring Inis Mór, there are several options for accommodation here on the Aran Islands.

Aran Islands Glamping & Camping

Recently opened 5 minutes’ walk from the port at Frenchman’s Beach, Aran Islands Camping and Glamping have pods and camping huts which have everything you might need to enjoy a night or two on the beautiful Inis Mór coast.  There is also space for pitching your own tent.  Check the details here.

Kilmurvey Beach on Inishmore - Visiting the Aran Islands from Galway
Kilmurvey Beach on Inishmore – Visiting the Aran Islands from Galway

Inis Mór Hotels on the Aran Islands

There are a surprising number of hotels and bed and breakfasts on Inis Mór, check out all the options with prices and availability here.

Hostels on the Aran Islands

I could only find one hostel on Inis Mór, Kilronan Hostel, which gets excellent ratings.  They have dorms and private rooms, and special winter 3 for 2 deals bookable on Hostelworld.

BOOK YOUR HOSTEL NOW

Or check the options on Airbnb.   If you have never used Airbnb before, use this link to sign up & get up to $40 credit to use on your first trip!  Read more about the Airbnb first time discount code or click below for your Airbnb coupon.

GET $40 AIRBNB CREDIT

How beautiful is Inishmore??  Which would be your top thing to do in Inis Mor?  Leave your comments below.

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Inis Mór, or Inishmore, is the largest of the Aran Islands, a group of Islands off the Galway Coast in Ireland.  Famous for their woolly Aran sweaters, I hadn’t realised just how beautiful Inishmore Island would be.  I visited Inishmore on a day trip from Galway as part of my Shamrocker Adventures 5-day tour around Ireland, and Inishmore is well worth exploring, either by spending the night or by taking a day trip to the Aran Islands from Galway.  Here is everything you need to arrange a fabulous trip to the Aran Islands. #Ireland #Europe #Backpacking #AranIslands #Inishmore  Inis Mór, or Inishmore, is the largest of the Aran Islands, a group of Islands off the Galway Coast in Ireland.  Famous for their woolly Aran sweaters, I hadn’t realised just how beautiful Inishmore Island would be.  I visited Inishmore on a day trip from Galway as part of my Shamrocker Adventures 5-day tour around Ireland, and Inishmore is well worth exploring, either by spending the night or by taking a day trip to the Aran Islands from Galway.  Here is everything you need to arrange a fabulous trip to the Aran Islands. #Ireland #Europe #Backpacking #AranIslands #Inishmore #InisMor #Shamrocker

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Last updated: November 1, 2018
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11 thoughts on “Inis Mór Island: A Day Trip to the Aran Islands from Galway

  1. I missed the Aran Islands when I was in Galway! I didn’t even know they existed. I’d love to rent a bike on a nice day and explore. And those horses are massive! Wow!

  2. I wish I could include Inis Mor Island on my trip next year to Ireland. I don’t think our schedule will allow it, but I’m so glad you shared your explorations (and photos!) with us. It looks like you even had nice weather!

  3. INIS MÓR ISLAND looks like an interesting place to visit. I quite like the idea of being driven around in a horse cart 🙂 but I guess, a day trip like this means travelling by bus would be the best use of time available.

  4. Such a fascinating place! Interesting to know that Redbull has the cliff diving championships there each year. LOL I love that you can rent e-bikes there, too. I’m addicted to them. I’m betting the sweaters are ridiculously expensive but worth every cent. 😉

  5. Inishmore looks gorgeous!! There’s definitely a lot to do, so hopefully I’d have more than a day there whenever I visit. I’d love to see Dun Aonghasa and the surrounding cliffs. The price to enter isn’t bad at all!

  6. I didn’t realize how easy it is to visit the Aran Islands. I would love to take a horse and buggy ride around Inis Mór and see the stone walls and thatched roof cottages, your images are gorgeous. Worm Hole looks incredible… but I’m wondering how you get out! It would be a lot of fun to browse the Aran Sweater Market too.

  7. How lush and green are the Aran Islands. And how gorgeously blue is the surrounding water?

    Bike and Bus are great ways to get around but give me a horse and cart please. Well worth the E20, I mean how often do you got to go by horse and cart!

    Sepent’s Lair looks amazing. I would have never thought to find something like this in Ireland.

  8. Ah, so many nice activities to do here on Aran island! I like the photo on ig where a guy was jumping off the nature pool! That’s really cool! And the Aran Sweater Market looks very cozy! Did you get any of them? I would love to get one for myself!

  9. I would probably try a bike ride when I visit Inishmore Island. Not only it would be a good exercise for me but I just love the freedom of just riding a bike while checking out the amazing sceneries in front of me. It feels like I am one of the locals. Also, I love the spectacular view of Inishmore from the Dun Aonghasa Fort! If ever one day wouldn’t be enough for me to explore this beautiful island, my adventurous side would definitely try Glamping or camping here.

  10. I’d love to try the Horse and Cart tour of Inis Mór, but the warmth and cosiness of the bus does sound appealing 😀 And I’d have to see the Worm Hole, how cool!!

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