The Aran Islands are a trio of islands located on the west coast of Ireland. The islands are, in decreasing size, Inis Mor, Inis Meain and Inis Oirr. Most islanders are fluent in English however the language most used by all is Irish. For those of you visiting from mainland Ireland, I highly recommend you brush up on your ‘cupla focal’ before you visit any of the islands, if you have any Irish at all you will be expected to use it!!!!
The Aran Islands are one of Ireland’s many gems. Whatever type of break you are looking for, the Aran islands will not disappoint. Whether you are looking for a quiet break away from the hustle and bustle or a few days of mad craic, or something in between the Aran Islands has something for everyone.
Mike and I recently spent a long weekend on Inis Mor. The fact that we were lucky enough to enjoy an ‘Irish heatwave’ that weekend was an added bonus. However, I’m sure a great time is guaranteed on Inis Mor no matter what the weather is like.
Here are my 5 top things to do if you visit the Aran Islands
EXPLORE THE ISLAND BY BIKE
There are just a few modes of transport available to explore inis Mor – tour bus, bike and horse and carriage.How you explore the island will possibly depend on how much time you have on the island. As we had lots on time to explore, Mike and I chose bikes as our preferred way of getting around the island.
At the end of the pier where the Aran island ferry comes in you will find tour buses, horse and carriages and Aran Bike Hire. Aran Bike Hire will be on your right hand side at the end of the pier. They offer bikes of every kind imaginable from electric bikes, 2 seater bikes and numerous types of bikes for children. The cost to hire the bikes is €20 with a €20 refundable deposit on return of the bike. This is very reasonable and includes a free map of the island, excellent advice and free roadside assistance which thankfully we didn’t need.
Everywhere on inis Mor is within cycling distance, it’s a great way to appreciate the raw and unique beauty of the island and of course a great way to work up a hunger and thirst for the next best thing to do on the island.
OL, BIA AGUS CRAIC (DRINK, EAT AND HAVE FUN)
Visiting any of the 3 pubs on Inis Mor is in itself an experience. The pubs are a mixture of Irish speaking locals and tourists speaking many other languages.
We found an excellent pub to eat, drink and listen to music in.
Joe Watty’s is a must visit – their food is delicous, their staff are courteous, friendly, highly professional and the music plays all day and late into the night ensuring a great night for tourists and locals alike.
No visit to the Aran Islands is complete without having a meal, drink and a late night at Joe Wattys.
Photo Credit: Mike Downes
Photo Credit: Unknown
SPEND TIME ON KILMURVEY BEACH
There is nothing more fabulous than a relaxing day at the beach and there is nowhere more beautiful than the beaches on Inis Mor. Kilmurvey beach is located about 20 minutes cycle outside of Kilronan village on the road to Dun Aonghasa. It’s a beautiful blue flag beach that would rival any of those on the mediterranean coast.
Good advice given to us by Cait O’ Flaherty whom we stayed with on Inis Mor, was to get to Kilmurvey beach early in the morning before the first ferry arrives in at 11am. This was advice we took and was so glad we did. When we arrived at Kilmurvey beach early in the morning we were able to enjoy the peace and solitude of the beach and surrounding areas and capture it’s beauty before the visitors of the day arrived.
TREK TO DUN AONGHASA
Dun Aonghasa is a must see if you visit Inis Mor. There are several prehistoric forts on the Aran Islands, Dun Aonghasa being the most famous of them. It’s about a 20 minute trek up to Dun Aonghasa, mostly on stone and so good shoes/trainers are a must if visiting here. There are spectacular views at the top of Dun Aonghasa as it overlooks a 100 metre high cliff. There are no rails or protection from this 100 metre drop and so if visiting with small children take extra care.
There is a lovely little cafe just across from the visitor centre with great food to build up your energy levels after the trek down from Dun Aonghasa or to fuel up before you trek up!
VISIT TEAMPULL BHEANAIN (SMALL CHAPEL)
To say the landscape on Inis Mor is rugged is an understatement. It is rugged, rural and immensely beautiful.
One of the most beautiful views we saw on Inis Mor was from Teampull Bheanain (Small Chapel).
Teampull Bheanain is thought to be the smallest church in the world. Dating back to the 11th or 12th C, there is now just 4 walls left of the once active Christian church. It is a most beautiful place to visit with exquisite views in all directions.
The steep path up to Teampull Bheanain is overgrown and full of rocks and stones however this only adds to the adventure and the views are well worth the effort.
Whatever you decide to do on the Aran Islands, I’m sure you will thoroughly enjoy it,
Until the next time,
x x x
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