What to do with an extra day in Galway: The Aran Islands
This is a pre-baby review but totally suitable for small children. Technically I was 10 weeks pregnant on this trip if that counts!
OK, so technically the Aran Islands are not in Galway but off of the coast! If you have an extra day to spend in the Galway area then you should consider taking the ferry out to the Aran Islands. Like the Blasket Islands, the Aran Islands offer an amazing peek into a very different way of life.
The Aran Islands have been populated since approximately 3,000 BC. Ancient forts like Dún Aengus and Dún Chonchúir on Inishmaan represent some of the oldest archaeological remains in Ireland.
We decided to visit the largest of the islands, Inis Mór, for our day trip to the Aran Islands. In a perfect world every time you go vacation it would be nothing but sunshine and rainbows. I’m not sure scientifically that is actually possible. If you are in Ireland it is probably definitely impossible. Our day on the Aran Islands was windy, drizzly, and very overcast. While it didn’t make for the most gorgeous photos there is something about these imposing islands that felt more authentic given the weather.
Did I mention it was windy? While the Aran Island Ferries’s website boast typically calm seas be aware that even with the larger boat if there are rough waters you will feel it. I was definitely at a disadvantage because I struggled with chronic morning sickness but I was not the only person on the boat that looked relatively miserable.
Would I do it again? Sure, I was pretty much sick everywhere we went so I figured it was just par for the course. But if you are a bit more phased by sea sicknesses try to plan your trip on a low wind day or bring some ginger chews with you!
Once we got on the island our group went two ways. My in-laws all jumped in a horse carriage and got a guided tour of the island. My husband and I rented bikes and got a little exercise in while enjoying the scenery. Everyone had a great time! Our in-laws ended up with great history and had a wonderful time with their horse, Molly. My husband and I love biking and took a similar path as the guided tours.
We all converged at Dún Aengus for a picnic lunch before heading back to Kilronan (the main town where the port is) for some shopping. Inis Mór is home to the famous Aran Island Sweater Market and after the ferry ride over darn it we all deserved a nice sweater souvenir!
Logistics: How to Get There
You can take the Aran Island Ferries from the mainland out to the islands. During peak season the ferry to Inis Mór departs from Ros a’Mlil three times a day with the same number of return ferries. Tickets can be purchase in advance and will run you 25 euros round trip for an adult and 13 euros for a child. During peak season it is recommended to make reservations in advance.
Where to Rent a Bike
We got our bikes from Aran Bike Rental. Aran Bike Rental is located right in Kilronan and a short walk from the ferry dock. The company has all kinds of bikes for rent, electric bikes, kids, tandem bikes, etc. They also have helmets (be safe people!).
There are two routes to get to Dún Aengus. Depending on your fitness level, the coastal route is nice and flat and leisurely! We went in a full loop so we had a steady incline until Dún Aengus and then fit the flat coastal route.