Inishmore, one of the three stunning islands that make up the Aran Islands, is located off Ireland’s west coast in Galway Bay, and makes for a great day trip from Galway.
Also written as Inis Mor, Inishmore meaning the big island, is the largest of the three Aran islands, followed by Inishmaan ( a.k.a. Inis Meain) and Inisheer (a.k.a Inis Oirr).
It’s also the largest island in Ireland that’s not connected to the mainland and the second largest overall, after Achill Island which is connected to the mainland (and incidentally, another great place to explore.)
So, What Is There To Do In Inishmore, Aran Islands?
Take A Minibus Tour Of The Island
As you can’t bring your own car onto the island, take a minibus tour around Inishmore and learn about the history and what life is like living on the Aran islands.
Admire the gorgeous landscape, the fantastic patchwork of fields with stone borders, the narrow country lanes, cute homes and sandy beaches.
Prices for a minibus tour start from around ten euros per person.
Pony And Trap Tour
I usually avoid doing these kinds of tours, but the horses looked very well cared for compared to those I have seen on many other trips and it’s a traditional method of transport around the island.
Rent A Bicycle
Consider renting a bike to explore the island at leisure. There were plenty of places with bicycles to rent close to the ferry terminal in Inishmore, Aran Islands.
Visit Dún Aonghasa
Be sure to visit Dún Aonghasa, a prehistoric hill fort that lies on the edge of a 100-metre-high (330 ft) cliff. There are no barriers, so don’t step too close to the cliff’s edge.
Originally built back in 1100 BC, Dún Aonghasa is over 3000 years old and the area is of huge archaeological significance. Although there are other prehistoric forts on Inishmore, Dún Aonghasa is the largest.
The incredible views from the fort are as worth seeing as the ancient stone walls themselves.
The walk up to the fort takes around 15 minutes. Most of the way is a proper path, but the last part gets very rocky and uneven underfoot, so watch where you step.
The route to the fort is very exposed, so if you visit in summer, take water and sunscreen and wear the right shoes. If you visit in winter, have a windproof and waterproof jacket.
Visit Na Seacht dTeampaill (The Seven Churches)
Na Seacht Tempaill, (the Seven Churches) built in the 7th or 8th century was for centuries one of the principal centres of pilgrimage in the west of Ireland.
But now, there are only two churches on the site, – Teampall Bhreacán’ and ‘Teampall an Phoill’.
The largest of the two ruins is Teampall Bhreacán’, known as St. Breacan’s Church and is named after a saint that lived in that area during the 5th century.
The other remaining church, The Church of the Hollow (‘Teampall an Phoill’), was built around the 15th century.
Surrounding the churches are ruins of what are believed to be monastic dwellings where the pilgrims would have stayed.
Take A Stroll Around Kilronan Village ( Cill Rónáin )
Kilronan Village ( Cill Rónáin ) is Inishmore’s principal port and village. Most of the island’s shops, pubs, restaurants, hotels, B&Bs, hostels, and services, such as bike rental, tourist information office, post office and bank, can be found here.
Lunch At Joe Watty’s Bar
For some Irish music and lunch, head to Joe Watty’s bar which is just a short walk from the ferry pier and at the crossroads that lead to the Seal Colony and Dún Aengus.
Stop at the Seal Colony Viewpoint
If you take the minibus tour, you will pass by here. If you opt to rent a bicycle while on the island, it’s about four kilometres from the pier.
And if you’re lucky, you may see some seals. When I visited, I did see some seals at a distance, but not quite the thousands that I came across at the incredible Cape Cross Seal Colony in Namibia.
Kilmurvey Beach is located on the island’s north coast. It’s a lovely white sandy beach with turquoise water but this is Ireland, and even in the summer, that water is going to be rather cold! |
With its abundant birdlife, It’s a popular place for birdwatchers. Keep an eye out for the cormorants.
This Blue Flag beach has a lifeguard on duty during high season, so it’s a safe and wonderfully scenic spot to take a dip.
Enjoy A Pint Of Guinness At A Local Pub
Well, you are in Ireland after all.
Treat Yourself To An Aran Sweater
Kilronan Village has a great shop selling Aran jumpers, blankets and all sorts of lovely goodies. The perfect souvenir from your day trip to Inishmore.
Can You Walk Around Inishmore?
If you are only visiting Inishmore for one day you should consider a mini bus, van, pony & trap tour or renting a bike. The island is around 14km long by 3.8km wide, so maybe too much to walk all in one day, so if that’s your plan, consider staying overnight or a few days.
Want To Stay Longer In Inishmore?
One day not enough for you? Why not stay an extra night? Check here for hotel accommodation on Inishmore Island.
Consider Visiting The Other Aran Islands?
If you’re only planning a day trip from Galway, visiting the other islands would be too much. But if you plan to linger longer, both Aran Ferries and Doolin Ferries operate an inter-island service between the three Aran islands during the summer.
How To Get To Inishmore In The Aran Islands From Galway
By Car + Ferry from Galway To Inishmore, Aran Islands
Note that you can not take your car over to the Aran islands, as the ferry services from Rossaveel Port do not allow for this. But the one-hour drive along the Wild Atlantic Way to the Rossaveel Ferry Terminal is lovely.
Parking is available at the pier and costs seven euros per 24 hours.
By Shuttle Bus + Ferry
Aran Island Ferries operate a shuttle bus from Queen Street in Galway to the ferry terminal. Check here for times of ferries and shuttle buses.
The ferry terminal at Rossaveel Port is 37 kilometres west of Galway City centre.
The boat crossing from mainland to Inishmore takes around 45 minutes. The sea crossing can be rather choppy.
If you suffer from seasickness, I recommend taking medication for the journey.
There are also ferries from Doolin to the Aran Islands but these ferries only operate from April to October, whereas ferries operate from Rossaveel all year round.
It’s also possible to fly to the Aran Islands with Aer Arann Islands. Flights depart from Connemara Airport. A bus shuttle runs from the Victoria Hotel in Galway to the airport.
For up to date information on flight schedules and ticket prices, please check their website.
On A Tour
A day trip from Galway to the Aran Islands was included on my recent Choice Tour with Globus Green With Envy : Ireland By Design. For more information about this fun trip, check out this post here.
Fallen in love with Ireland and want to move there. Check out this post from Irish friends on what it costs to live in Dublin.
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Oh man – I wish I could visit just to pick up one of those sweaters! They look so cozy, kind of a perfect gift.
They are. Lovely and soft – I’m all stocked up for winter now
Is it safe to bike around the island? I’d love to do that but worry about those narrow paths. Maybe I should just stick to the pony cart…
Very little traffic on the island, so you’d be fine on a bike unless you cycle like me, lol!
I love that cute house on Inishmore. And the rock formations are super cool. In Ireland, I’ve only been to Dublin, and went to bars (and of course the Guiness factory). This island looks amazing, and I would love to go there some day.
I can’t believe I’ve never been to the Aran Islands – we have passed nearby so many times. Inishmore looks absolutely beautiful. I have a friend who grew up on Achill Island, so that is another excuse to visit!
Such a lovely little island! Although I like having the freedom of having my own car, it’s great that they don’t allow them to lessen traffic and congestion. And at least their are reasonable options like the minivans or bicycles. I would rather not take a horse either, I feel sorry for them too!
I am adding this to my list for when I visit Ireland!
I really knew nothing about the Aran Islands. A part of Ireland we definitely need to plan to visit. Good to know we can visit Inishmore as a day trip from Galway. And if we stay long enough, check out the other islands goo. We would love to do the pony and trap tour and be taken back in time. But a bike rental might give us more flexibility to stop at spots like the seal colony viewpoint. David definitely won’t pass on a Guiness!
Thanks for this detailed blog post! I was in Ireland earlier this year, but only saw the Aran Islands from a distance.. if I go again, I’ll look at your post again 😃 Keep up the good work 👍
Looks beautifully unspoilt and tranquil. Those jumpers!
Such a lovely island. Definitely have to visit here someday