Why Go To The Aran Islands?

Did you know there are over 80 inhabited islands off the coast of Ireland? And hundreds more of smaller islands sitting off our coast.


Have you ever heard of The Aran Islands? Jutting above the Atlantic Ocean with a combined population of over 1,300, this trio of islands is not just a stunning retreat from everyday life, but also a paradise for anyone who relishes Irish nature and stunning landscapes. We’d love to inspire you to consider visiting The Aran Islands this year, so we’ve put together this guide to answer your most popular questions about the islands.


Where are The Aran Islands?


Nestled at the mouth of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands are like stepping into a time capsule. There are three main islands: Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, and Inis Oírr. Each island boasts its own unique charm, with rolling green hills, ancient stone forts, and a rugged coastline that's a feast for the eyes. It's the perfect setting for those who love to immerse themselves in nature and history.


Can You Fly to The Aran Islands?


Absolutely! While many choose the scenic ferry ride from Rossaveal in Connemara or Doolin in Co. Clare, flying is an option too. Flights depart from Connemara Regional Airport to Inis Mór and trust us, the 10-minute flight will give you a bird’s-eye view of these rocky gems. Be sure to check the flight timetable when planning your visit.



Why Go to The Aran Islands?


Now, this is where it gets exciting for outdoor lovers like us. The Aran Islands aren't just about stunning scenery; they're a playground for adventure. Picture yourself cycling along narrow lanes, with nothing but the sound of the ocean and the occasional horse-drawn carriage. Hiking enthusiasts, you're in for a treat with trails that offer panoramic views of the Atlantic.


But there's more. You can camp and glamp on Inis Mór from €15 per person. The islands are steeped in Irish culture and heritage. The locals speak Irish Gaelic and are incredibly welcoming, offering a glimpse into a lifestyle that has retained its traditional charm. And let’s not forget the food - fresh seafood, locally produced cheese, and traditional Irish stews that will fuel all your exploring.


Who Owns The Aran Islands?


For centuries, the islands were under colonial control, with residents unable to own land and subjected to the whims of absentee landlords. One of the last landlords were the Digby family. However, 1921 marked a turning point when the Irish Government purchased the islands, enabling islanders to finally own their land and engage in public works like building roads and bridges. This change ushered in a new era of freedom and self-sufficiency for the islanders.  


Which of The Aran Islands is Best to Visit?


This is a bit like asking a parent to pick their favourite child! Each island has its own distinct character, making the "best" one to visit a matter of personal preference so here's a brief overview of each:


Inis Mór: This is the largest and most visited of The Aran Islands. It is famous for its ancient sites like Dún Aonghasa, a prehistoric fort build around 1100 BC perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic. And The Worm Hole, an infamous natural rectangular pool. The island also offers a range of amenities like restaurants, pubs, and accommodations, making it a popular choice for visitors seeking a mix of history, culture, and convenience.


Inis Meáin: The middle island is the least visited and offers a more authentic and tranquil experience. It's ideal for those looking to escape the tourist trail and experience a quieter, more traditional way of life. Literary enthusiasts may be interested in visiting the cottage of the playwright John Millington Synge, who spent time here.


And speaking of Inis Meain, this year will mark the 17th year for Inis Iron Meáin which takes place on Saturday, 4th of May. You have the options of 5km, 10km or 12km course.


Inis Oírr: The smallest island is known for its beautiful landscape, charming village, and ancient ruins, including O'Brien's Castle and the Plassey Shipwreck. It's a great destination for those interested in exploring a compact area rich in natural beauty and historical sites.


Ultimately, the best island to visit depends on what you're looking for:


  • For a more tourist-friendly experience with plenty of historical sites: Inis Mór.
  • For a quiet, authentic retreat: Inis Meáin.
  • For a picturesque landscape with a small village feel: Inis Oírr.


We hope we’ve encouraged you to visit The Aran Islands this year. Each island, with its distinct personality, invites you to explore and create your own memorable moments. Whether you choose the historical richness of Inis Mór, the serene authenticity of Inis Meáin, or the picturesque charm of Inis Oírr, your visit to The Aran Islands promises to be an unforgettable journey.

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