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- 24 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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The Aran Islands, 48km off the west coast of mainland Ireland, have a remote and rugged beauty. Just off Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, the three Aran Islands are windswept, rocky isles with dramatic landscapes that draw day-trippers and have inspired artists for hundreds of years. The islands have a strong sense of traditional culture, with authentic thatched cottages and islanders who speak Irish, as well as English. Also boasting some of Ireland’s oldest archaeological remains, these intriguing islands are well worth exploring.
In the Aran Islands, you can find hostels on Inis Mór (Inishmore), the largest of the islands, with stunning views of the harbour and the Atlantic Ocean. You can expect cosy TV rooms for cold evenings and outdoor barbecue areas for when the sun is shining. Within easy reach of local pubs and restaurants, Aran Island hostels are also close to supermarkets, allowing you to cook meals in well-equipped kitchens. It’s also common to find en-suite dorms and free breakfasts in an Aran Island hostel.
Although Inishmore is the largest island, it's only 14km long. Kilronan, the main settlement, has a pier you can stroll along while admiring traditional currach fishing boats in the harbour. Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), the middle island, has a rocky landscape decorated with flowers and a coast sculpted by the Atlantic Ocean. The least visited of the islands, you’ll find beaches without people and country lanes without cars. Inis Oírr (Inisheer) is the smallest island (4km long) and the closest to the mainland.
On Inishmore, Dún Aonghasa is a large prehistoric stone fort overlooking the ocean. A short way down the coast, you’ll find a rectangular-shaped pool known as The Worm Hole. Just 27 metres below the jagged cliffs, you can easily hike east to find it. Most visitors to Inisheer travel for the white sandy beach on the east coast and the warm local welcome. Spectacular scenery makes walking and bike rides appealing on all of the islands.
All three islands have landing strips, with flights arriving from Connemara Regional Airport, 27km west of Galway city on the mainland. A shuttle bus connects Galway and the airport, and regular flights to the islands take about 10 minutes. Ferry crossings take between 40 and 55 minutes, depending on which island you’re visiting. Boats leave from Rossaveal Ferry Terminal, 37km from Galway. The islands are small enough to walk around and cycling is also an option.