How to Experience the Magic of Inis Mor


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!



  1. Loved the blog Lucy and really enjoyed meeting you and your Mum. Agree entirely with all you write about Britannia . Great ship, great food and great shows, not forgetting the great company. As someone who has cruised a few times I have to highly recommend “Freedom Dining” a new concept to us and a good way to meet lots of people (or not), depending whether or not you want to sit alone. We are cruising to Hawaii soon with Princess, can’t wait!!

  2. The scene in the church must have truly been an impressive event to witness.

    Recently did a short trip and I found myself taking much less photos than in the past. I thought to myself, why the heck always take photos all the time. Fumbling around with a camera can be a serious distraction when in the middle of experiencing a beautiful place or moment. Digicams really are both a curse and a blessing in this regard. 😉

  3. Impressed. I wish someone had crafted a holiday like this for me. Instead I worked, to avoid family arguments and drama. Only emerging from my self-imposed exile in my room with laptop, for the very end of Christmas day. We had dinner and dessert and managed to avoid the worst tension with heaps of presents and rampant consumerism. So, kind of a fail all around.

    NYE was my big deal this year. All alone in a foreign country to welcome 2012 was just the way I wanted it.

  4. Hi Earl,
    I’m on my first solo trip and am amazed at how much more interaction I have, with both locals and other travelers, than when I was traveling as a couple. It’s certainly a major benefit of going it alone and makes for a totally different experience! I was wondering if you have any go-to conversation starters or questions that you like to use when having random conversations with random people? I realise that a lot will depend on the situation but I for instance find myself having the same conversations over and over again. Where are you from? How long have you been in the country? How long is your trip? etc etc – everyone understandably wants to know the same things. This is all well and good, but I would love to have more meaningful conversations, even if they are only short. I want to learn more about the people I meet, about their lives and their perspectives and opinions, but I find it hard to get to anything more profound than the typical questions above. Any advice?


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