A day trip to the Aran Islands from Doolin – Top sights to explore this summer

The Aran Islands, located off the west coast of Ireland, are known for their rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and unique way of life.

The Aran Islands consist of three main islands: Inishmore (the largest), Inishmaan, and Inisheer (closest to Doolin). Each island has its own charm and character and is worth visiting. In this article we look at what to explore and why Doolin is the perfect location to start your Aran Island adventure.

How do I get to the Aran Islands from Doolin?

You can reach the islands easily by Doolin Ferry Co. from Doolin Port. The ferry operates several times a day (5 summer departures, and 3 winter departures). See the timetable here.

Why is it best to visit the Aran Islands from Doolin?

It is the shortest ferry ride to get to the Aran Islands. Inis Oirr (Inisheer) is the closest Island to Doolin and only 8 km (approx.. 5 miles) from Doolin Pier, Doolin, Co. Clare. Depending on which Island you visit it takes about 15 minutes to 35 minutes to get from Doolin to the Aran Islands by ferry. 

Doolin Pier is within walking distance from the village and most accommodations including our Lodges, are another benefit of travelling to the Aran Islands from Doolin. Those travelling from Galway face a ferry ride of approx. 48 km (30 miles) plus a shuttle bus ride from Galway City Center to Rossaveel Port of approx.. 37 km (23 miles).

An easy decision to make ☺

Which is the best island to go when visiting the Aran Islands?

There are three islands to choose from when planning your trip. 

Our favourite island to visit is Inis Oirr (Inisheer), not only is it the closest to us, but also the least busy island to visit and a fantastic destination for a day trip. Rent a bike when you get the chance and cycle around the island for a day, we promise you won’t regret it.

The middle island is Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), it is the least visited of the three islands.

Inis Mor (Inishmore) is the largest and most popular island of the three Aran Islands and since being featured in movies such as The Banshees of Inisherin, likely also the busiest island. 

It is not an easy choice to make and which island to visit on a day trip will depend on your personal preference, to help you out, we have put together additional information about the islands.

Top things to do in Inis Oirr (Inisheer) 

As mentioned above, Inis Oirr is our favourite island when visiting the Aran Islands. Not only is it closest to Doolin, but it also allows you to explore the entire island in a single day. 

There is much to explore on this beautiful Island which measures approx—3 km in diameter.

A short 15-minute ferry ride away, you are welcomed on Inis Oírr and have the option to explore the Island by foot, bike or in a carriage. All options can be arranged by arrival or booked in advance.

Clear blue waters, a white sanded beach, the Plassey Shipwreck, O’Brien’s Castle, plenty of ruins, traditional dry-stone walls and much more – Inisheer has it all!

And when you think it can’t get much better you hop back on the boat and take a slight detour to the magnificent Cliffs of Moher.

While the Cliffs are impressive from the top, the cruise will give you a fantastic view from the water including a close-up of the sea stack and the rock cave featured in Harry Potter.

Inishman, Aran Islands

Top things to do in Inis Meáin (Inishmaan)

Visiting Inis Meáin will give you the best chance to acquaint yourself in the precious sanctuary of Irish Cultural tradition.

This island has a hilly landscape. It also features crystal clear views of the Cliffs of Moher (on a clear day) and some interesting Celtic & Christian sites such as Dún Crocbhur (Conor’s Fort), Dún Fearbhaí (Ferboy’s Fort), Leaba Chinnderig – Saint Kenderrig’s grave and many more. This island was a retreat for J.M. Synge, one of the most famous playwrights to emerge from Ireland.

Doolin Ferry Co will bring you to Inishmaan within 35 minutes via Inisheer from Doolin Pier.

Top things to do in Inis Mor (Inishmore)

Inishmore is the largest of the Aran Islands. The island has not only the biggest landmass but also the largest population with around 800 permanent residents who speak Irish as their first language. 

There are plenty of things to do on Inishmore, depending on your arrival time visitors have anywhere from 4-7hrs to cycle and explore the island’s famous sights, including

  • Dun Aonghasa –  an Iron Age fort perched precariously atop a 100-meter-high cliff face.
  • Cliffs up to 300ft high 
  • Poll na bPeist (The Wormhole), where the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series was held in 2014 and 2017
  • The Seven Churches
  • St. Benan’s Church
  • The Inishmore Seal Colony
  • The Banshees of Inisherin filming locations
  • And much more.

For those seeking an adventure off the beaten path – Check out the local Dive Academy who provides a variety of tours from family and wildlife snorkelling to Advanced Open Water PADI certification courses.

Our very own Niall himself is an experienced diver and is happy to share his experience and advice with you when staying with us. 

It now takes only 20 minutes to get from Doolin to Inis Meain with a new direct route in the summer months.

What makes the Aran Islands so special?

Irish language (Gaelic):

The Aran Islands are Irish-speaking (Gaelic-speaking) communities, and the Irish language is actively used in daily life, making it a stronghold for the preservation of the language. Only in the twenty-first century, all native-born islanders become bilingual in both Irish and English.

Dun Aengus:

Inishmore is home to Dun Aengus, a prehistoric stone fort perched on the edge of a 100-meter-high cliff. It is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Ireland.

Traditional Clothing:

The locals on the Aran Islands are known for their traditional clothing, including the famous Aran sweaters. These hand-knit sweaters are not only warm but also have unique patterns that often represent different families.

Fishing and Farming:

Historically, the economy of the Aran Islands has been centred around fishing and farming. Islanders have developed unique agricultural practices, including the use of seaweed as fertilizer which is now a widely spread natural fertilizer.

These and other facts and others contribute to the unique charm and cultural significance of the Aran Islands, making them a fascinating destination for travellers.

Is it worth visiting the Aran Islands?

Absolutely, the Aran Islands are a must-see for everyone travelling to Ireland’s West coast or along the Wild Atlantic Way. No matter which island you choose, each one is well worth a visit and will not disappoint.

Ready to go?

We are happy to assist you when planning your trip and provide tips and insights into the most beautiful spots in and around Doolin.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.