Enjoy a short break on the Aran Islands

If you are planning a weekend away or a short break and looking for the perfect destination, the answer might be closer than you think. Inis Mór, the largest island, offers spectacular landscapes, a fascinating history, and a level of tranquillity that is hard to match, all just a short boat journey away.

Inis Mór is a great place to explore, learn about the past, or just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.

There is plenty to do and see for walking enthusiasts, and some of the most spectacular sights in Inis Mór are only accessible on foot. However, there is also no shortage of ways to get around — hire a bicycle, enjoy a bus ride around the island, or hop on a jaunting car for the ultimate touring experience.

A trip to the world renowned prehistoric fort of Dún Aonghasa, in the village of Cill Muirbhigh, is a must. While you are there it is well worth making your way to nearby Eoghanacht to explore the ancient pilgrimage site of the Seven Churches, and enjoy a swim in the pristine waters of Cill Muirbhigh beach. Cill Muirbhigh beach is a beautiful white sand sheltered beach, with Blue Flag status, located just off the road between Kilronan and Dún Aonghasa. The beach is situated in a cove and on a sunny day the water is crystal clear, inviting and invigorating! Pollna bPéist, often called the Worm Hole or the Serpents Lair, is well worth a visit, tides permitting. This spectacular natural blowhole cut into the cliffs near Dún Aonghasa will already be a familiar sight to many, as it has featured in the Red Bull Cliff Diving Championships. In the middle of Inis Mór, Dún Eochla dominates the island’s highest point, and offers spectacular views over the island and across the bay to the Cliffs of Moher. Nearby stands a mid-18th century lighthouse which is also well worth a visit. Nearby is Eire 50, one of dozens of signs etched into the rock around the Irish coast which served as both navigational signs and lookout posts during World War II.

The west of the island, which is considerably quieter than the east road towards Dún Aonghasa, also offers much to see. The Black Fort, Dún Dúcathair, is yet another of the island’s spectacular forts, and while most of it has been lost to the sea it offers spectacular views of this wild landscape.

The road through Cill Éinne and Iaráirne features many stone monuments, some dating back centuries, erected to those lost at sea, and Arkin Castle, a remnant of the Cromwellian invasion, is also worth a look. The Puffing Holes, located on the eastern coast of Árainn, run down to the sea below the cliffs and are an impressive sight.

Take a visit to the island’s heritage centre where you can learn more about the fascinating culture and history of the Aran people over the past 2,000 years.

With a wealth of dining options and lively bars, there is also plenty to do in the evenings. Inis Mór offers a wide range of accommodation options for all budgets, with friendly B&Bs, camping, glamping, and an excellent hotel.

There are, of course, three islands and one of the best ways to enjoy all three is to visit the smaller islands as well.

Inis Meáin, with its twin forts of Dún Conchúir and Dún Fearbhaí, offers a quieter alternative to the often bustling Inis Mór, while a visit to Inis Oírr is a must for Fr Ted fans; the wreck of the MV Plassey, located on the island’s eastern shore, features in the opening credits of the popular comedy series. Other attractions on Inis Oírr include the town house of Caislean Uí Bhriain and nearby Dún Fhormna.

Aran Island Ferries, Ireland’s largest domestic ferry company, sails year-round to all three of the Aran Islands. This family run business operates a fleet of four state-of-the-art vessels, providing maximum comfort and excellent amenities, including a bar service on board. Daily sailings depart from Ros a’ Mhíl, with an average sailing time of 40 minutes. A shuttle bus service is available from Galway city, or you can drive and park at the pier. Book a return journey online at http://www.aranislandferries.com to avail of a 10 percent discount.