The Aran Islands, they say it’s a place lost in time. The birthplace of saints and scholars. If you’re looking for an authentic Irish travel experience, The Aran Islands is not to be missed. Consisting of three rocky isles just off Galway Bay and Doolin, these accessible island destinations will make you feel a million miles away from the modern world.
The islands of Inishmore Island, Inishmaan and Inisheer each boast their own unique charm. From prehistoric forts and mysterious stone structures to endless medieval ruins, this island trio makes the perfect day out for history lovers. From the minute you set sail to the moment you find yourself standing at a cliff’s edge over the sea, the scenery will be utterly spellbinding.
Inishmore Island is the largest of the three islands, famed for its rugged landscapes and its narrow roads offering the most dramatic drives.
Dún Aenghus is a historic stone fort on Inishmore. It is set atop a cliff with a 100 metre drop into the ocean and is one of the Aran Islands’ most popular attractions. Do you dare brave the edge?
Photo: Keith Ewing
The Wormhole (Poll na bPéist) is another famous landmark on Inishmore Island, a remarkable natural feature that is a rectangular shaped pool carved out by the sea. Get there on foot from Dún Aonghasa or from the village of Gort na gCapall.
Photo: Lynn Gallagher
The Seven Churches on the main island was one of the earliest pilgrimage sites in Ireland. Ancient ruins date back to the 7th or 8th Century, with remains of churches and the monastic dwellings of that time.
Inishmaan is the middle of the three islands and has the smallest population. It will feel totally off the beaten track. Landmarks include Doonconor, Dún Fearbhaí and Cathaoir Synge.
A tour of the Aran Islands is fun for all ages. The main event is really the spectacular views, with much of its natural landscape untouched and many of the old Irish traditions intact. If you’re after a true and authentic experience of Ireland, this is the destination to add to your bucket list.
Of course for the history buff, there are countless historic sites and World Heritage sites to explore. Dún Aengus and Dún Aonghasa are the mains ones, but you’ll also find many walled fields across the islands, standing stones (like at Teampall Chiaráin), and stone forts (such as The Black Fort).
You might also be interested in some of the natural attractions, such as the beautiful beaches which are flawless and safe from the effects of tourism. If you’ve got time on Inishmore, you should also visit the Puffing Holes, natural holes in the cliffs that spray out water when the waves are rampant (famously replicating the puffing of a whale).
Inishmore is also a great place to rent a bike and cycle around. On your route along the coast, make sure you stop off to see The Seal Colony near Kilmurvey Beach. If it’s a nice day, you’ll spot plenty of seals bathing on the rocks. Just a little further on from there, you’ll find a small lake bursting with wildlife such as wild swans and ducks as well as many rare birds, attracting bird watchers from all around.
On Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer, you will find a great choice of looped walks and hikes. For a little culture, walk to John Millington Synge’s Cottage & Museum on Inishmaan Island. The property has been restored to its former glory and pays homage to the life and work of the playwright.
There are also some good cafes and restaurants on all three islands, so you’ll never go hungry. Looking for the perfect souvenir? Don’t forget to bring some cash to buy yourself a warm and cosy Aran knit, the world-famous Irish jumper style that is loved for its unique water-resistant properties.
The best time to enjoy a tour of the Aran Islands is in the summer, when the weather is most reliable. You’ll have more hours of daylight, a better chance of sunshine, and less chance of rain. In June, July and August, temperature highs can be 17°C or higher, rarely ever dropping below 10°C.
It will be busier during the summertime too, which is great for atmosphere whilst never feeling too overcrowded. If you prefer less people, it could be worth visiting in the colder months. Don’t let the lower temperatures and drizzle put you off, as the islands can be wonderfully serene and atmospheric around this time of year. The shoulder season is another option if you want to avoid the cold. In May, expect highs of 14°C and lows of 8°C. And in April or October, expect highs of 13°C and lows of 5-8°C.
It’s also important to check ferry times in the off-season, as they won’t be as frequent as the peak summer months. But if you’re booking a tour with us, ferries and transport will be included in the price so you won’t have to worry about a thing!
A number of our tours include a day or half-day at the Aran Islands, taking you to the rugged island of Inishmore. Our excursion route will take in the stone fort of Dún Aenghus before heading back to the mainland, and can also include top destinations along Ireland’s Wild West Coastline. Other stops to combine with your Aran Islands tour are the bustling bohemian Galway City, Connemara National Park, and the popular Westport in County Mayo.
Trips to Inishmaan and Inisheer can also be arranged, along with any other destination in Ireland. All you need to do is get in touch with our team to design your dream holiday.
Join us as we visit many of Ireland’s best loved landmarks and off the beaten track hidden gems.
Overland Jewel is a relaxed style tour that focuses on authentic experiences that capture the real Ireland.
Think castles, picture perfect villages, epic scenery and allow us to introduce you to our friends and partners throughout the country.
Enjoy very light activity including walking tours and kayaking (which is optional). Jewel Tours are perfect for going at a smoother pace.
This is Ireland unfiltered!
Welcome to Ireland’s wilder side!
Put a bit of zing into your Ireland adventure with Overland Zest.
This is for those who want the perfect mix of a relaxed style tour with some activities included to bring up the thrill factor.
Our activities range from hiking, kayaking, surfing, biking and much more.
In fact, if there is something that we have not listed but you would love to do just let us know and we can organise from there.
Relax… we’ve got the adventure covered.
We don’t think a holiday to Ireland is complete without a trip to the Aran Islands. Locals speak Irish as well as English, so you might even pick up a few Irish words by the end of the tour. Many of our tours include a half or full day on the islands, but you can create your own bespoke journey if you wish to stay longer. There are hotels, B&B stays and even glamping for those who wish to be at one with nature.
Our thrilling tours ensure that you will get enough time on your own, to walk or cycle around. Whilst also organising all activities, sightseeing trips, excursions and transport, making life so much easier on your travels.
To book one of our popular tours, or to create your own tailor made experience to the Aran Islands, get in touch with our team.
We loved this tour. Jimmy, our tour guide, really educated us about Ireland, the famine, the history, the people, the beauty. He is a great guy that really looked out for us. He had wonderful suggestions on where to eat, shop and drink. Every spot became our favorite until the next town. I loved that we saw various coastal towns, meet so many people. It was great that we had a set schedule but we also had some free time to browse different cities. Kayaking in Dingle was a highlight for us. Perfect weather and the guides were awesome. We were very fortunate that we have perfect weather the entire trip. The only time we saw rain was on the drive back to Dublin. Also thanks to Rainer for being our walking guide at the Cliffs of Moher. Wanted to give a special shout out to Jimmy and Overland Ireland. My son left souvenirs at one of the hotels on our trip. We contacted Overland Ireland and they were able to locate the items and they mailed them to us in the States. Never asked for shipping costs or anything. Can’t say enough about their customer service.
Tina – Google Review
The Best Tour in Ireland – Unforgetable and Superb
I did the Grand Tour of Ireland in July 2018 with Overland Ireland. From the initial booking stage I had received a welcome pack and some useful tips on my tour. This gave me a great insight on what to expect over the 7 days. It was simply superb. The tour size included 14 people and the epic tour guide Marie. We had a meet and greet on day one, and I felt blessed to share in this adventure with a bus load of new friends.
The ‘craic’ was to be had on every step of this awesome journey! Kayaking in Dingle and going on a magnificent hidden hike on the cliffs of Moher were my favorite parts. The scenery on our drives on the small and bendy roads were breathtaking and Marie (the guide) would stop at many secret locations that allowed us time to truly immerse ourselves in the rawness and beauty of this fabulous country. The pace was comfortable and not rushed. Everything synced and this made it special.
The accommodation in all locations was so welcoming and I won’t forget the beautiful breakfasts especially in Blindgate House in Kinsale. The omelettes by Maeve are mouth watering. I still dream about them!
There was the perfect amount of activities and down time which I always enjoy. The group got on really well and it was great to share the experience with one another throughout the day. And a few Guinness to top the evening off!
I really love Ireland and each county offers its uniqueness. I felt the tour highlighted all the best places, and Overland Ireland had taken special handpicked areas to show case the very best of what Ireland has to offer. Galway was an amazing city and the culture and atmosphere around the streets is infectious. Alot of street performers capture the attention of crowds as one passes through the City. An electric City!
I wish I had a few more days on tour but it is quality not quantity and I am already planning next years vacation with a few friends. I would rate this tour 11/10. I will treasure the journey, the experience and the lifelong friends. Alot can happen in a day, and magic happened over my 7 days. Everlasting memories.
Thank You Overland Ireland for your professional and solid work. You guys rock! See ye next year 🙂
Renee – TripAdvisor Review