Ferry from Doolin
The ferry service from Doolin in Co. Clare has improved considerably in recent years and is a convenient way to reach the islands for visitors who have been travelling around the south west of Ireland – The Burren and Cliffs of Moher are very close to Doolin. People travelling to the islands from the Munster province will find the Doolin service more accessible than Galway.
Aran Doolin Ferries, O’Brien Line Ferries and Doolin 2 Aran Ferries all provide services to the islands throughout the year although frequency is greatly reduced during the winter season and is subject to weather condition. For timetables check the following websites or contact them directly through the phone numbers below.
Aran Doolin Ferries – www.doolinferries.com ( +353 (0)65 7074 455 )
O’Brien Line – www.obrienline.com (+353 (0)65 707 5555 )
Doolin 2 Aran Ferries - www.aran-island-ferry.com ( +353 (0)65 7075949 )
All companies offer web booking and it is considerably cheaper to do this rather than buying direct from the company kiosks in Doolin. Prices can very considerably and it is good to shop around on line for the best deal. The different companies also offer different packages some including trips by boat to the Cliffs of Moher. We used O’Brien Lined who offer a Multi-Trip ticket which allows unlimited travel between the three islands and back to Doolin. The ticket remains valid until you return to Doolin and so is a great option for people who want to hop between the islands over several days (or even weeks!) The ticket is great value at €28.
The down side to the ferry travel is the erratic time keeping of the vessels and ports of call. Sometimes they may not stop at Inis Meain if the boat is too full for a pick up so make sure you have the company number to ring if you want to be sure that your boat is coming to pick you up or if you will have to wait for another. Not a problem if you have lots of time but can scupper your plans if you tight on time.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
Ferry from Rossaveal
Rossaveal has been the traditional departure point of ferries to the Aran Islands and people visiting the Connaught province (Galway/Connamara, Mayo, Sligo) will use the services from Rossaveal. Aran Island Ferries and Aran Direct offer ferry services to the Aran Islands from Rossaveal. For times, prices and general info check the following websites.
Aran Direct - www.arandirect.com ( +353 091 506 786 – Rossaveal Office)
Aran Direct also have offices and booking services in Galway City and can be contacted on +35391 566 535 or +35391 564 684 and transfers from Galway to Rossaveal can be arranged easily.
Aran Island Ferries - www.aranislandferries.com ( +353 91 568903 )
All companies offer easy web booking which is cheaper than buying from the kiosks and offices in Galway and Rossaveal.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
You can also reach any of the three Aran Islands by air using the Aer Arann service from Inverin in Galway. (There are no flights from any other airport) Note that the island service uses a different website and booking service than the international and other national routes offered by Aer Arann. The web link is posted below.
All three islands have small landing strips and aer arann use several small prop planes for their air service. The prices are quite reasonable at around €45 for a return flight. Aer Arann also offer scenic flights over the three islands for €385
Getting around the island
Traditionally the Aran Islands were car free but in recent years, cars have popped up on all three islands. However, driving is not recommended to visitors due mainly to the unavailability of car rent and to be honest you won’t need one on these small islands. Car insurance is also a bit of a grey area on the islands so you don’t want to get involved with that! There are a few taxis on the islands and on Inis Mor there are a variety of minibuses offering tours of the island. Small horse drawn carriages and pony traps rides around the islands are a favourite with foreigners.
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Hire a Bike
Better than any of the above suggestions is renting a bike. Cycling around the narrow roads and tracks of the islands is the best way of seeing the beautiful landscape and historic sights and renting them is easy. The island’s small number of cars make them a cyclist’s paradise and Inis Mor is a close to Amsterdam as you get in Ireland for the number of Bicycles on the roads! There are bike hire places near the piers on all three islands and rental is usually €10 per day. We rented overnight on Inis Mor for €13 and for a day on Inis Oirr for €10.
Generally the bikes are in good nick although the bikes on Inis Oirr had really hard saddles!
Please remember to cycle on the left hand side of the road. Despite the small number of cars, it is still important to obey good cycling practice on the islands. The otherwise friendly locals do give cyclists a stern glare if they have to stop or slow down to allow cyclists to pull in from the middle or right hand side of the road. It is also very annoying for other cyclists you have to cycle between other cyclists or swerve away from cyclists incorrectly using the right hand side coming against you. Also cycle in single file and not abreast as this can prevent cars and locals from passing you and also impedes other cyclists wishing to overtake.Related to:
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If you have more time on the Islands, walking around the maze of narrow roads and tracks on the islands is one of the true pleasures of a trip to the islands. Nearly all the roads are lined with the famous stone walls of Aran away from the pier and villages you can have the place to yourself. For example walking over the ruggedly beautiful karst limestone landscape in the far west or east of Inis Mór is a delight in itself and offers the chance to inspect the areas in detail. Walking is the only real option in many quieter and isolated parts of the islands as no tracks or roads traverse these areas.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Walking or Biking Paths
There are two major roads on the island, but lots of paths that go between the stone walls. Some paths are pretty easy to walk on, others have tall grasses that you have to walk through. Some paths have cars every once in a while, others don’t. The majority of the paths have no markings, so if you’re planning on walking for a long time, it is worth getting a map from the tourist shop.
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