How to Experience the Magic of Inis Mor

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When it comes to tourism in Ireland, you're probably familiar with a few of the country's top tourist attractions – like the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Ring of Kerry.

But what do you know about Inis Mór?

Cliffs at Dún Aonghasa, Ireland

Stone walls on Inishmore

Inis Mór – pronounced Inishmore – is the largest of the Aran Islands located off the west coast of Ireland not far from Galway. Despite having a population of less than 1000 people, the island is another of Ireland's top tourist attractions due to its unique history and culture.

If you're planning to spend any amount of time in and around Galway, I highly suggest dedicating at least one full day to exploring Inis Mór. You'll be transported back in time to a place where horse-drawn carriages are a normal form of transport, where most people still speak Irish Gaelic, and where you'll find miles upon miles of ancient stone walls.

Inishmore is a magical place, and here's how to experience the best of it in one day:

5 Things to Do on the Island of Inis Mór in Ireland

Visit Dún Aonghasa

Dún Aonghasa in the Aran Islands

The most popular spot to visit on Inis Mór is by far Dún Aonghasa/Dún Aengus, a prehistoric hill fort built high up on a cliff. The semicircular stone structures and walls here date back to the Bronze and Iron Ages, with the first constructions dating all the way back to 1100 BC.

To get to the fort, you have to pay a small fee at a visitor center (currently 5 Euro) and then walk about 10-15 minutes uphill to the fort. Once there, you can walk inside the ancient stone walls and see fantastic views in all directions over the island and the Atlantic.

Glacial groves on Inis Mor

Amanda at Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mor

The Cliffs of Moher get all of the cliff love in Ireland, but the cliffs on Inis Mór are amazing, too!

Sea cliffs of Inis Mor
Sea cliffs of Inis Mor

Cliffs of Inishmore

With the blustery winds, it might be difficult to imagine anyone living up here permanently, but they did for thousands of years!

See the Seven Churches of Aran

Seven Churches of Aran

The name of this site is a bit misleading, as there aren't seven churches here. Instead, you'll find a complex of church ruins and old graveyards at Na Seacht dTeampaill. The site is dedicated to Saint Brecan, and was at one time one of the biggest monastic foundations and destinations for pilgrims along the west coast of Ireland.

Cemetery at the Seven Churches, Inis Mor

There are actually only two churches here, with the largest being Teampall Bhreacáin (St. Brecan’s Church).

You'll find this site near the village of Eoghanacht.

Check out the Worm Hole

The Worm Hole is a pretty unique site in Ireland – it's a natural square-shaped cut-out in the rock at the bottom of a cliff, and has become a popular spot for cliff diving into the ocean. So popular, in fact, that it's become a venue for the Red Bull Cliff Diving series.

Shop for wool

Aran Islands shop

The Aran Islands are renowned for their wool products, so you'll want to allow some time to shop on Inishmore. Check out the Aran Sweater Market for everything from sweaters to scarves for mittens. And pay attention to the patterns, too – on the Aran Islands (and throughout Ireland), the unique patterns/stitches you see on sweaters often identifies an Irish family/clan.

Go for a hike

Stone walls on Inishmore

Have some more time on Inis Mór? Consider going for a hike (or, walk, really, since the island is relatively flat). Some marked trails exist, but you can also head off along the coast by yourself.

One popular hike is from Kilronan Village to the Black Fort, which is similar to Dún Aengus, but much less-visited. The hike is only about 30 minutes one-way, so you could easily tack this on to your visit if you have an extra couple of hours (or maybe a second day!).

Grooves on Inishemore
If you make your own hiking trail, just watch out for uneven ground like this!

How to get around on Inis Mór

There are roughly 3 different ways to get around on Inishmore that don't involve simply walking.

Ferries to Inis Mór are strictly passenger ferries, so you won't be able to bring a vehicle with you. The best ways to get around, then, are:

  • Rent a bike
  • Hire a horse and carriage
  • Take a mini bus

Biking around Inis Mór is the most popular way to explore the island due to the fact that it's not that big – 14km at its longest, and 3.2km at its widest. Having a bike also gives you the freedom to spend as long as you'd like at the sights you decide to visit. The downside, of course, is that the weather on Inishmore is extremely changeable, so there's a good chance you might run into wind and rain at some point during the day. (Wear layers accordingly!)

On my most recent visit (a windy day with threat of rain), I opted to pay 15 Euro for a spot on a hop-on, hop-off mini bus in order to visit Dún Aengus and the Seven Churches, and think this is a great option for those who don't feel comfortable on a bike.

(As soon as you arrive at the ferry port in Inis Mór, you'll likely be met by people selling bus tours and carriage rides – no need to book ahead. If you want to rent a bike, a couple different companies operate nearby.)

How to get to Inis Mór

Inishmore ferry port

While you can technically fly to the little island, the usual way of arriving to Inis Mór is via ferry. Ferries to the Aran Islands sail daily from from Ros a' Mhíl/Rossaveal (near Galway city) all year, and from Doolin (near the Cliffs of Moher) from April to October.

Travel time is roughly 40 minutes from Rossaveal to Inishmore, or 90 minutes from Doolin. From Rossaveal, a return ferry ticket is 25 Euro for adults, and a round-trip shuttle ticket from Galway is another 9 Euro.

You can check out ferry schedules from Aran Island Ferries here; there are multiple sailings per day. And if you don't have a car of your own to get to the ferry port, there's a shuttle bus that leaves from Galway about 1.5 hours before sailing.

WARNING: This ferry crossing can be ROUGH. And I don't mean just a little uncomfortable – I mean rocking and rolling enough to make a lot of people seasick. If you're prone to motion sickness (or aren't sure if you are), I highly recommend taking seasickness tablets before you go! I was armed with Bonine, but you can pop into any pharmacy in Ireland and pick up something similar.

Can I stay on Inishmore?

Multiple daily ferry sailings to/from Inis Mór mean you can easily visit as a day trip from Galway. But if you'd like the true Aran Islands experience, you absolutely can stay overnight at one of the many B&Bs on Inishmore.

Check out bed and breakfasts on Inishmore here.

Who's ready to book a trip to Inis Mór?


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Things to do on the island of Inis Mór in Ireland


*Note: I visited Inis Mór as part of a complementary tour of Ireland and Northern Ireland with Shamrocker Adventures (read the whole review here). As always, though, opinions are 100% my own!


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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16 Comments on “How to Experience the Magic of Inis Mor

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  1. Three friends & I did this trip 10 years ago & loved it. We booked our tickets on the ferry in Galway & although the weather wasn’t kind to us we had a fantastic time. We took the bus tour around Inishmore & still had plenty of time to walk around the little village. I was particularly interested as my paternal grandmother was born on the island in 1894, so I also visited the parish priest in search of baptism records. It’s still very primitive but also very charming!

      Wow, what an interesting connection you have to the island! Even when the weather is bad, it’s still such a fascinating place to visit.

    Visiting Ireland this May. Help! Traveling with a 68 y/o, a 76 y/o and I am 72. We will visit Inis Mor for certain! Can you help me plan a day trip from Galway please? We are not hikers but want to explore some. Want to end up at that famous Pub there. I am planning this leg. Help?

      Hi Patricia! I don’t offer any travel planning services, I’m afraid – I only offer the free advice you can find on this website. If you want to do the trip independently, I would recommend booking your ferry tickets in advance, and then going on one of the mini-bus tours of the island once you get there; I mentioned in this post that you can join one of these tours when you arrive on the island, so the only thing you really need to book in advance are the ferry tickets!

    My paternal grandmother was born on Inishmore and I visited there in 2010. I found it totally charming and very primitive and felt like I was in another world! I only went over for a day visit and the weather wasn’t good but I wish I had’ve had more time to do a bit of family research!

      It’s definitely one of those places that’s sort of been frozen in time!

    ‘Love your piece!

    I’ve been to Inis Mór and actually spent a night there!

    The locals were lovely as we couldn’t find our B & B and ended up taking the long country road walk instead of through-the-gate-and-across-the-field, but we found it in the end after knocking on the door of a random local!

    We hired a horse and carriage, and as our son was about 5 years old then and needed a nap, they waited until he woke up, and didn’t charge us extra for it!

    The best part – being awoke by a cow who pointed her head through the window!

    p.s. Our son also forgot his teddy bear on the ferry to the Aran Islands and was distraught without it. The staff remembered him, found it, and kept it for us in Galway!

      Irish hospitality is the best, and the Irish are some of the friendliest people anywhere! Glad to hear you had such a good experience on Inis Mor.

    Great, Amanda! This sounds like a magical place – I love knowing that there are some places that still preserve traditional cultures and languages. More people need to explore Ireland – its an incredible country, with great surf spots too.

      I don’t know much about surfing in Ireland, but it definitely is a great country to travel in! I plan to be back again next year.

    I adore the Gaelic culture. It keeps pulling me back to Scotland, because I haven’t really experienced it much in Ireland but I see that Inis Mor would be much more to my taste than the places I visited in Ireland before

      I totally understand! I think I’ve spent more time in Scotland than Ireland, too, but Ireland is uniquely awesome in its own way!

    You’re right, I knew nothing about Inis More! I don’t think I even knew it existed lol. It sounds like an awesome place to visit, and I would love to hear people speaking Irish Gaelic! I’ve never heard that language aloud. Also those cliffs are just as impressive as the Cliffs of Moher, I wouldn’t even be bothered skipping the latter in favor of the former

      The cliffs on Inis Mor have far fewer tourists, too. 😉

    What a gorgeous, gorgeous place! It just looks like magic, with all the green hills and the old stone. I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland, and now I know I need to add this spot to my list!

      It’s such a cool part of Ireland – I love that everyone still speaks Irish; even though it’s become a bit touristy, it still feels like a pretty authentic Irish place!

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