Visit the Aran Islands
Aran Islands: Taking a Ferry to Inis Mor, Inish Meain, or Inisheer
Planning a trip to Ireland this year or next? A favorite Ireland destination is the Wild Atlantic Way. The picturesque rocky west coast of Ireland invites hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.
Be on the lookout for lower fares to Ireland by flying the National Airlines, Aer Lingus. For the best travel value look for packages that may include airfare, car rental, and some hotel stays.
If you plan on traveling to the West Coast in Ireland consider adding a day trip to one or all of the Aran Islands. The Aran Islands are a small group of rocky islands off the west coast of Ireland located in beautiful Galway Bay. The three islands are Inis Mor (Inishmore), Inish Meain (Inishmaan), and the smallest of the three islands, Inisheer. These beautiful rugged islands are known for breathtaking vistas, a temperate climate, and limestone walls that surround small farms.
Visitors come to the islands to visit the Iron Age fort, Dun Aengus, buy Aran sweaters, bike the islands or stay in a bed and breakfast, hotel, or hostel on the islands. Other popular destinations are Temple Benen, an 11th-century oratory, on Inishmore. If you're lucky enough to travel through Ireland on a clear day you'll have many beautiful photos of this unique historical landscape.
In 2008 I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland and tour the Aran Islands with my family members. It was a beautiful sunny day that started with us choosing one of the Irish ferries to take us out to Inis Mor. There are quite a few Irish ferries to choose from, you can take one of the luxury Irish ferries or just choose one that fits your schedule.
Our day on Inish Mor was filled with wonderful memories starting with a visit to an Irish pub where we listened to traditional music and ended with us taking a tour of the island by car. You can also tour Inis Mor by pony and trap, hike the island, or the most popular way to tour the island is by renting a bike.
Aran Island Cottage
Now's the time to visit Ireland!
Immerse yourself in Irish culture, study Ireland travel guides ( I recommend Lonely Planet and Rick Steves), listen to the melodious sound of Irish music, visit an Irish pub, hear the Irish language spoken and fall in love with the history, beauty and unique rugged landscapes you'll encounter.
Winner of the Irish Book Awards for Non-fiction 2007
Read More about the West Coast of Ireland
Tim Robinson studied the landscape of the West of Ireland and wrote this award winning book.
What do you need to get to the Aran Islands?
- A plane ticket to Ireland
- Ground transportation to the ferry
- Information on the ferries available online
- Good weather
- Patience, lines to the ferry can be long
- Desire to see the beautiful, scenic Aran Islands and experience more of Ireland
Pony and Trap Aran Islands
Did you know?
The Irish language is spoken on the islands but most locals also speak English. Be aware that most signs are in written in the Irish language.
If hiking the Aran Islands be prepared with good walking shoes, water and time. Don't try to rush through a visit, part of the charm of island life is taking your time.
Although there is a fully stocked supermarket on Inis Mor and plenty of restaurants you might want to bring food from the mainland to save money.
Don't forget your camera and rain gear! Ireland is famous for unexpected rain showers.
Tips on Travel to the Aran Islands
Travel to Ireland in the off season to take advantage of off season airline rates, hotel or hostel specials or tour packages.
Plan ahead and pre-book your ferry trip to the islands. There are many ferries that travel to the Aran Islands but the conditions vary, check the internet for options and prices beforehand. You can also fly into the Aran Islands but this can be an expensive option. Be prepared that bad weather could mean canceled trips. Give yourself a window of time or a weekend.
Consider taking motion sickness pills; the crossing can be choppy and you don't want motion sickness to interfere with your travels.
Bikes are available for hire to tour the islands or you can take a mini-bus tour, a pony and trap tour or a taxi. The tours will not be cheap but you can negotiate during slow times. The history and local stories you will learn on the tour are well worth the expense.
Plan ahead if you want to stay overnight on the Aran Islands as high season might be booked weeks or months ahead. Rooms may include breakfast but don't expect luxury. Clean and cozy rooms reflect the simple island life. Be respectful of the locals and do your research. Hostels, small hotels, and bed and breakfasts offer a tourist a longer stay to explore the beauty and rugged simplicity of the islands.
How to get to the Aran Islands
Aer Lingus is Ireland's National Airport. It's best to fly into Shannon Airport and rent a car heading west towards the coast of Ireland.
© 2011 Patricia Biro