The Aran Islands are nestled just off the coast of Ireland. This island chain has been inhabited for thousands of years. The Aran Islands have their own distinct culture unique from mainland Ireland. It is, therefore, somewhere every traveller interested in European history should visit.
One thing that deters a lot of tourists from visiting is the small size of the Aran Islands. However, just because they are small does not for a second mean that they do not have just as much to offer as anywhere else in Europe.
Things to see and do on the Aran Islands
Inis Mor is the largest island in the Aran Islands. It is also one of the most unforgettable. Inis Mor’s natural beauty cannot be understated. You can take a ferry to the island from Doolin, a quintessentially Irish village located on the mainland’s western coast. There are a variety of hotels, hostels, and bed and breakfasts for you to choose from on Inis Mor. Experts do recommend booking your accommodation as early as you can so that you can guarantee board. It is not uncommon for the island’s hotel rooms to completely sell out.
Dun Aonghasa is a prehistoric fort situated on Inis Mor. It is one of the only World Heritage sites in Ireland. As referenced in the introduction to this post the Aran Islands have been inhabited for thousands of years. In fact, they are actually some of the oldest continuous European settlements. There are many other prehistoric sites on Inis Mor and the other islands. You do not need tickets to get into many of them. If there is a specific site you want to visit then do your research before going so you can find out about opening times.
Na Seacht dTeampaill
Na Seacht dTeampaill, which translates to the Seven Churches, is another site of interest located on Inis Mor. In fact, the Seven Churches were at one time the largest monastic settlement on Ireland’s west coast. While they no longer hold this title they are still a fascinating place to visit. Pilgrims used to arrive from all over Ireland just to see them. Despite their name, however, there are only actually two churches and a series of domestic buildings located there. You can gain entry to the grounds for free and do not need a ticket.
The Wormhole can also be found on Inis Mor. It is a natural rectangular pool. People go swimming in there in the summer, however, it is strongly advised against. The main reason that people are not advised to swim in there is that there is no comfortable way to get in and out of the pool. Swimming was never really a thing there until a diving contest took place there. Even if you see people swimming in there you should not attempt to. Rescuing people from the pool would be almost impossible without a diving team.
Aran Sweater Market
Just because the Aran Islands are remote does not for a second mean that you cannot still take up some retail therapy there. Some of the finest jumpers in the world are made on the Aran Islands. The Aran knit jumper has been reproduced and made by fashion labels from all around the world. The design’s home is of course on the Aran Islands. The Aran Sweater Market is a fantastic place to go if you want to pick up an authentic Aran knit jumper, made from 100% wool. You can get very good deals on other types of woollen jumpers there too. It is common for tourists to try and haggle with the retailers in the market but it is not considered respectful or tasteful to do this.
Ireland is famous for its beautiful beaches. One of the best is Kilmurvey Beach, which is situated on Inis Mor, the largest island. The Aran Islands’ weather is rarely pleasant enough to justify going swimming but if you are daring then you can give it a go. It is essential that you wear thermal gear if it is particularly cold outside on the day that you go swimming. If swimming is not your thing then you can always take a gentle stroll on the beach. You can get fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean from the Aran Islands, don’t forget. Take somebody with you if you do plan on going swimming as there will not be a lifeguard on duty.
What to do on the Aran Islands: Wrapping up
A trip to the Aran Islands is something everybody should do at least once in their lives. There is nowhere else in Europe like them. Give Inis Mor priority as it is the largest of the islands and is home to the most popular points of interest.
Share this post
Featured image: Created using photo from Alessandra Barbieri/Pixabay