Inis Mór (Inishmore) For Beginners

Isolated, iconic, incredible…Inis Mór is a world apart!

Looking for a fun, family-friendly day trip on the west coast of Ireland? Maybe you’re a thrill seeker with the urge to explore new lands, to go biking, hiking, or swimming in crystal clear waters. Or perhaps you’d like a change of pace from the hectic day-to-day of modern city life. A scenic stroll through ancient lands, past stone walls, and colourful bog might be just the ticket!

From panoramic views of the wild Atlantic Ocean from a sixth-century cliffside fort to exploring the famous wormhole, Inis Mór has it all! Want to know more about this unique destination island?

Read on!

Where is Inis Mór (Inishmore)?

Inis Mór is a small island located off the coast of County Galway along the west coast of Ireland. Most famous for its rugged landscape, intricate stone walls, ancient forts, and monuments, the iconic island is also a cultural stronghold of the Irish language and tradition. A trip to Inis Mór is a must-see for any visitor to the west coast.

Inis Mór, along with sister islands, Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr, make up the Aran Islands. Fun fact: Inis Mór literally means ‘big island’! With a current combined population of around 1,300, the isolated community of the rural Aran Islands has weathered many storms since its first inhabitants crossed the sea from Galway Bay.

Map of Inis Mór (Inishmore)

How To Get to Inis Mór?

Getting to Inis Mór is easy with the Aran Islands Ferry Company. In the summer season, a ferry ride from Galway City port will have you on the island in around 90 minutes. From busy, bustling capital of culture to calm and tranquil island community in no time.

Alternatively, you can begin your journey at the quieter Connemara port of Rossaveel (Ros a'Mhíl) and disembark in scenic Kilonan around 40 minutes later. Either way, your crossing will be safe, swift, and scenic.

Ferry from Galway to the Aran Islands

What language is spoken on Inis Mór?

Inis Mór is a Gaeltacht region, which means the Irish language is the primary language spoken. The island is home to an estimated 1,000 people who work, attend school, and socialise in the Irish language.

Gaeltacht regions like Inis Mór are popular with tourists who like a glimpse into what life was like for these communities isolated at the edge of Europe. Students of the language, trainee teachers, tourists, and interested foreigners flock to the islands every year to sightsee and practice their cúpla focal.

No Irish? No problem! Road signs, information boards, and business advertising are bilingual in the Irish and English languages. Restaurant and cafe menus are too. You won’t go hungry! But if you want to practice your Irish ahead of your trip, check out our page of Irish phrases and get ready to say a cúpla focal with the locals as Gaeilge!

What is there to do on Inis Mór?

Whether you visit for the day or stay for the weekend, there are plenty of activities and things to do to keep you busy from sunrise to sunset:

Rent a bike from Aran Islands Bike Hire:

They have options to suit the whole family, with adults, children, tandem bikes, a selection of child seats, and even electric models to help with the hills! Bicycle is by far the most popular way to travel around Inis Mór, allowing you the freedom to see the island at your own pace. Check out their website at aranislandsbikehire.com

Visit Ancient Monuments:

Inis Mór is famous for its high concentration of ancient monuments. By far the most impressive is Dún Aengus, the impressive 14-acre cliffside fort. The magnificent stone fort comprises three thick stone walls that overhang the cliff and a drop of 85 meters into the raging ocean below. Outside the walls, rows of sharp stones and rocks stick upright out of the ground, a magnificent sight and a cruel defense against intruders. A hike to the top of the fort will surely blow the cobwebs away! The fort is over 3,000 years old. See heritageireland.ie/places-to-visit/dun-aonghasa/ for more information.

Dún Aonghasa | Heritage Ireland

In addition to Dún Aonghasa, the island is home to historical monuments:

  •                The Seven Churches – monastic ruins said to be founded in the 7th century
  •                Dún Dúchathair – also known as The Black Fort, ruins of a cliffside defense lookout
  •                Dún Eochla – a stog fort ring at the highest point of the island
Walk, Hike, Jog:

The island is perfect for walking, hiking, and jogging due to the quiet, scenic roads and relatively flat terrain. With few cars on the island, you’ll mostly share the roads with bicycles and other walkers. Pick up a map aboard the ferry, follow the waymarked routes, or cut your own path past stacked stone walls and ruins to the furthest westerly point of Inis Mór, the viewpoint at Eeragh Lighthouse.

Swim, Kayak, Canoe:

Inis Mór is famous for its clear turquoise waters and long silver strands, and the beaches on the island do not disappoint! Check out our favourites:

Kilronan Bay: The ferry docks right by the scenic Kilronan Beach. You don’t have to go far to experience the Aran Islands beaches!

Eararna: At the southeast of the island lies Eararna Bay, a beautiful sandy spot

Kilmurvey Beach: Perhaps the most famous of Inis Mór's beaches, the sheltered Kilmurvey is located near Kilmurvey village and is the only blue flag beach on the island!

The Wormhole (Poll na bPéist): Made famous on Instagram and the Red Bull Cliff Diving Event, the Wormhole, or Póll na Péist, is a rectangular diving pool cut into the rock at the bottom of the cliffs near Dún Aonghasa. The sea feeds the pool through an underground cave or from above at high tide.

Scuba Dive:

Whether you are a seasoned scuba diver or want to learn a new skill, The Dive Academy is here to help. Located near the pier in Kilronan, during the summer season, qualified dive experts will escort you to the best scuba spots on the coast. Expect equipment rental expert advice, and they can even book your accommodation! Check them out at diveacademy.info

Enjoy the Scenery:

Inis Mór is home to some 1600km of stone walls. Island-wide, you’ll find piles of limestone stones carefully stacked to form walls between the fields. The skill of such intricate, lacelike stone wall building was passed down from generation to generation by master craftsmen and masons.

Why so many walls? As locals cleared the harsh limestone landscape to grow food, the stones were stacked to create individual fields for cultivating crops and to keep cattle and livestock in. Why are there holes left in these walls? To allow the fierce Atlantic wind to pass through without causing too much damage to the structure. A trick that works.

Nature Watch:

About a mile past Kilmurvey Beach, you’ll find Inis Mór seal colony, home to the grey seal. While hundreds of these aquatic mammals call the island their home, you may spot up to 25 at a time here. For best results seal watching on Inis Mór, stake out the colony at low tide. You’re sure to see them slippery, slick mammals sunning themselves on the rocks. The viewpoint is kitted out with convenient picnic benches too.

Look out for seals on the approach to the island. From the ferry, you can see the uninhabited Straw Island, another favourite hangout for the grey seals.

Large flocks of birds and waders are common on the island. Seabirds, gannets, lapwings, curlews, and plubbers are among the regular avifauna visitors. Inis Mór is a nature lovers paradise!

What Facilities are on Inis Mór?

There is a selection of pubs, restaurants, and cafes on the island. Below are some of our favourites. Don’t forget to practice your Irish with every order!

  • SPAR - Full supermarket, catering for all kinds of ready meals, ingredients, beer, and dry goods, and a full deli counter selling hot and cold food.
  • Teach Nan Phaidi Kilmurvey, Inis Mór: Quaint cottage style café with traditional homecooked meals, snacks, hot drinks and an open turf fire to warm your bones. Try the delicious local goat's cheese, made right here in Inis Mór.

Teach nan Phaidis Inishmore

  • Tí Joe Wattys Bar & Seafood Restaurant: Lively bar and restaurant a short hop from the ferry dock, Joe Wattys boasts an extensive bar menu, fresh seafood, and regular live music. A popular haunt for regulars and visitors alike.

Joe Wattys Pub

  • The Bar: One of the oldest bars on the island, located in the village of Kilronan and one of the best to enjoy a pint of plain or some freshly caught seafood. There's always a great atmosphere at The Bar.
  • Tigh Joe Mac - a wonderful place to enjoy a drink and a toastie.

How much time do you need on Inis Mór?

Visitors need at least three to four hours to explore the island. Many visitors enjoy the peace and tranquilty that can be experienced in the evening and stay overnight.

Where to Stay on Inis Mór?

There are a range of accommodation options on Inis Mór and something to suit every budget.

Aran Islands Hotel - The bedrooms and Chalets in the Aran Islands Hotel offer the perfect refuge to relax and restore after a busy day exploring and enjoying the delights of Inis Mór.

Kilronan Hostel - a bright, welcoming, and affordable hostel in the centre of Kilronan. With continental breakfast included in your stay and shared facilities like a large kitchen and TV room, hostelling is a great way to meet new people! Kilronan Hostel Aran Islands

Aran Walkers Lodge, 6km from Kilronan, the lodge is the perfect place to recharge during your stay. With accommodation for 20, the lodge can be booked by walking parties or any group out to enjoy a relaxing stay!

Your adventure doesn’t have to end when the night falls. A night with Aran Islands Camping and Glamping continues the experience. Whether you choose to sleep under canvas or in one of their bespoke glamping units, you are guaranteed all the facilities and beautiful views to boot. Located within walking distance from Kilronan Pier! Aran Islands Camping & Glamping.

BnBs: There are a number of beautiful BnBs on the island that offer an authentic island stay.

The Aran Islands are simply waiting for you to explore the rugged shores. Inis Mór can be a fun, accessible day trip for all the family or an exciting weekend away. So, what are you waiting for? Check out our Ultimate Packing List here, book your tickets from Rossaveel Ferry Terminal, Connemara, Galway or Galway City, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!