The Aran Islands belong to Ireland’s most popular travel destinations, but this place doesn’t seem to be overcrowded with tourists. Only 900 people inhabit the biggest island which makes this rural place perfectly relaxed and adds notes of seclusion to your trip. Car-parts.ie explains some peculiarities of visiting the Aran Islands by car and gives a piece of advice on what to see there.
How to get to the Aran Islands
Unless you have your private boat, you can only get to the Aran Islands by ferry. You can board one either in Rossaveal (County Galway) or in Doolin (County Clare). The trip from Doolin will be shorter and less expensive but opt for Rossaveal if you need more comfort.
These ferries aren’t drive-on/drive-off ones, so you won’t be able to take your car to any of the islands. But you can leave it on a pay secure car parking lot in the Rossaveal port or near the pier in Doolin. Don’t forget to take all valuable things from your car before leaving it. Better safe than sorry.
Once you get off the ferry, you’ll see a group of locals offering their transportation services (usually, you can buy a mini-van tour or rent a bicycle or a pony cart). Taxis are available as well. Mini-bus tours are pretty affordable and informative as you can easily get to all significant sites on the island and take an exciting history lesson from a guide with deep roots on the island.
To travel between islands (Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer), you can also use ferries. For example, 4 Doolin’s ferry companies service all three islands during the summer season. You can find the detailed information on the Aran Islands’ official website www.aranislands.ie.
What to see on the Aran Islands
The Iron Age fort Dun Aengus located on the biggest island (Inishmore) is the first must-see attraction. The mysterious prehistoric ruins rise on the edge of the cliff confronting the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll be amazed by its unusual thick semi-circular walls that concentrate around a small ‘yard’ and have chambers, wall walks and flights of stairs in them.
O’Brien’s Castle located on Inisheer is another must-see attraction. Also, take a look at the Dún Dúchathair (aka the Black Fort) – lonely ruins of an ancient fortress encircled by cliffs. Clochan na Carraige is another weird experience. This circular beehive hut is rectangular inside.
It’s hard to comprehend all attractions of the Aran Island during a day trip, so if you are limited in time, it’s better to catch a minibus tour to Dun Aengus, have a lunch, go shopping (don’t forget to grab a famous Aran sweater at the Aran Sweater Market), and finish everything with a pint of Guinness.