If you’re debating a visit to Inis Meáin Island (Inishmaan), you’ve landed in the right place.
Small, remote islands are amazing places to escape to every now and then. For me, the Aran Islands balance solitude and tranquility, with plenty of culture and craic.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do on Inis Meáin Island (Inishmaan) and how to get there, to where to stay and where to grab a fine pint!
Inishmaan / Inis Meáin Island: Some quick need-to-knows
So, a visit to Inis Meáin Island (Inishmaan) is pretty straightforward, however, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your trip that bit more enjoyable.
Inis Meáin is situated slap bang in the middle of the other 2 Aran Islands, and together they sit in the mouth of Galway Bay. Facing west, the awesome Atlantic Ocean spreads out across the horizon. Turn around though, and you can still see the mainland and the Cliffs of Moher in the distance.
2. Getting to Inis Meáin
You have two options to get to Inis Meáin Isalnd. This is pretty straightforward (you take the Inis Meáin ferry or you can fly – yes, fly!). More info on both below.
3. Part of the Burren
The Burren is an amazing corner of Galway and Clare. It stretches out for more than 250 km, extending beneath the sea, before rising again to form the 3 Aran Islands. The landscape is characterized by awe-inspiring limestone pavements, crossed with deep cracks and fissures.
4. Size and population
With a population of just under 200, Inis Meáin is the least populated of the Aran Islands. However, with a total area of 9 km2 (3.5 sq miles) it’s physically larger than Inis Oírr but smaller than Inis Mor. You can explore all three islands on this Aran Islands tour.
Inis Meáin is blessed with an unusually temperate climate, with average temperatures ranging from 15°C (59 °F) in July to 6 °C (43 °F) in January. It’s unusual for temperatures to drop much lower than 6 °C, ensuring Inis Meáin has one of the longest growing seasons in Ireland.
How to get to Inis Meáin Island
For an island flung out in the mouth of Galway Bay, getting to Inis Meáin is easier (and faster!) than you may think.
You can choose to grab a ferry (they leave from Doolin in Clare and Rossaveal in Galway) or you can fly… yes, fly!
The Inis Meáin Ferry
Arguably the most popular way for getting to Inis Meáin is to take one of the Inis Meáin Island Ferries. Several companies offer return trips to the island.
Where it leaves from
If you’re taking the ferry to Inis Meáin from Rossaveal, the departure point is conveniently located just 40/45 minutes from Galway.
In fact, there’s a handy double-decker bus service from Galway City Center direct to Rossaveal port. Bear in mind that this is just a passenger ferry, so you can’t take a car to the island (buy your ticket here).
Alternatively, you can sail from Doolin pier. The departure point is a short spin from the mighty Cliffs of Moher.
How long it takes
The crossing from Rossaveal takes around 55 minutes and they sail twice daily throughout most of the year, and an adult return costs €30.00, while a standard single fare will be €17.
The ferry from Doolin to Inis Meáin takes around 20 to 40 minutes, and operates daily from April until October. Once again, it’s best to book your tickets before you travel (buy your ticket here).
How to get to Inis Meáin by Plane
If you haven’t found your sea legs yet, you can also fly to Inis Meáin from Connemara Airport. Flights are operated by Aer Arann Islands, with their fleet of awesome light aircraft. They’re based in the village of Inverin, just 30km from Galway.
If you get the chance, it’s well worth flying with these guys. You’ll experience the buzz of flying in something much more exciting than a typical Boeing, and the views are simply stunning!
They fly several times a day throughout the year as long as the weather conditions are good. Flights typically cost €55 return or €30 one way. Be aware that you’ll need to book your flights in advance.
Things To Do On Inis Meáin
There’s heaps of brilliant things to do on Meáin, from forts and long walks to beaches, fine pubs, great places to eat and more.
Below, you’ll find a mix of things to do on Meáin – just keep in mind that not all of them will be possible if you visit when the weather has taken a turn for the worst!
1. Explore By Bike
If you’re in search of active things to do on Meáin, this should tickle your fancy! Inis Meáin isn’t a huge island, and you can explore it to your heart’s content on a bicycle.
You should be able to hire bikes at the ferry pier in Caherard, and from there you’ll find plenty of roads to follow, each offering amazing views and plenty of attractions.
Update: Please note that this isn’t available year round. Although it’s not yet confirmed, there’s hope that this’ll be available during the summer.
2. Or stretch your legs on the Lúb Dún Fearbhaí Looped Walk
if cycling isn’t your thing, Inis Meáin is a great place for a little rambling. This looped walk takes in around 13 km of fairly easy paths, passing most of the top sites on the island. It’s well signed from the pier, and takes 40 minutes to walk from the new pier and 10 minutes walk from the old pier.
3. Step back in time at Dún Fearbhaí
A short walk away from the pier, this historic stone ring fort doesn’t get a huge amount of attention, making it a peaceful place to soak up the past. It sits on a steep hill, and offers fantastic views over the bay. Not a lot is known for sure about Dún Fearbhaí, but it’s said to pre-date Christianity.
4. Soak up some folklore at Leaba Dhiarmada agus Ghrainne/The Bed of Diarmuid and Grainne
This is an amazing example of an ancient wedge tomb, steeped in history and folklore. It’s linked to the epic legend of Diarmuid and Grainne, and it’s said that the lovers slept at the site during their mad escape from an enraged uncle — seriously, check out the story!
5. Visit Teach Synge (John Millington Synge’s Cottage and Museum)
John Millington Synge was a famous Irish playwright and poet, who became enamoured with Inis Meáin. This is his old cottage, a beautiful 300-year-old building, lovingly restored and transformed into a fascinating museum that documents his life and works.
6. The Conor’s Fort (Dun Chonchuir)
The largest fort on the Aran Islands: an amazing stone fort standing proud at the island’s highest point. It’s impressively intact for a structure that was built around 2,000 years ago! The hefty stone walls stand 7 metres tall, forming an oval 70 metres by 35.
7. Grab a mighty view at Synge’s Chair
One of the most popular things to do on Inis Meáin is to nip out to Synge’s Chair and gaze out at the Atlantic (perfect for those of you after some peace and quiet!).
This beautiful little look out point on the edge of a rugged cliff is sure to spark the fires of your imagination. Named after the island’s favourite poet, it’s a stunning place to rest and reflect, and draw inspiration from the moody surroundings.
Inis Meáin Hotels and Accommodation
It is possible to squeeze all the top sights and attractions on Inis Meáin into a half day trip, but to really take it all in, it’s best to stay a day or two.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of amazing places to catch forty winks, which you’ll discover if you hop into our Inis Meain accommodation guide.
Guesthouses and B&Bs in Inis Meáin
There are plenty of guesthouses and b&bs on Inis Meáin, offering private rooms and an amazing hearty breakfast to start the day right. These range from the historic to the modern, but all guarantee a warm Irish welcome.
In an era of working from home, you’ll also find a number that offer free Wi-Fi, making them ideal for a working holiday.
Inis Meáin Pubs
Teach Ósta is the only pub on the island, this is the hangout of locals and visitors alike. You’ll find a great selection of beers and whiskey to enjoy by the roaring fireplace on a cold day.
When the weather is fine, a spacious outdoor seating area is an ideal place to sip a pint or enjoy a light lunch. They also have regular live music, and a full food-menu throughout summer.
Inis Meáin restaurants and cafes
Good food can be found in several restaurants and cafes on Inis Meáin. As the island is small, there isn’t a huge amount of choice.
However, what is there packs a mighty punch, to say the very least. Below, you’ll find out favourite places to eat on Inis Meáin.
1. An Dun Guest House & Restaurant
This friendly, family run B&B doubles up as a fantastic restaurant, offering a variety of stunning dishes. The homemade dishes are cooked to order, and range from freshly caught seafood, to Irish classics.
The seasonal desserts make the most of fresh local ingredients, with their berry crumbles a real summer treat. Open throughout the summer, but be advised you might have to call ahead during the low season.
2. Tig Congaile
Another family run guest house with a popular restaurant, Tig Congaile offers a range of fresh fish dishes, made with ingredients that are freshly caught by the owner, Padraic, himself.
His wife, Vilma, cooks up a storm, adding a fresh twist to some classic dishes. Everything from the bread to the fish pies are homemade, so you can be sure of some mouthwatering treats.
3. Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites
Offering a more contemporary dining experience that’s well worth seeking out, the restaurant itself is housed within a stunning, drywall building that offers a panoramic view of the stunning surroundings.
Each summer night, the restaurant cooks up a 4-course dinner, using the freshest ingredients available that day, often sumptuous seafood and locally grown veg.
Some FAQs about visiting Inis Meáin
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from things to do on Inis Meáin to how to get there.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What’s the best way to get to Inis Meáin Island?
It depends. The Inis Meáin Ferry is nice and handy but, if you’re stuck for time, you can always fly from Galway. Info on both above.
Is there much to do on the island?
Yes! There’s plenty of things to do on Inis Meáin. You can rent a bike and head for a cycle around the island. You can head on a number of walks. You can visit Synge’s Chair an Conor’s Fort and you can drop by John Millington Synge’s Cottage.
Is it worth staying on Inis Meáin?
In my opinion, yes – it is! Although you can 100% take a day trip to the island and enjoy every second of it, staying over night will 1, let you explore at a more relaxed pace and 2, give you the opportunity to whittle away in Teach Ósta.
Andy was once on a glorious worldwide trip on his equally glorious motorcycle. After 4 years, he’d still only made it as far as Eastern Europe, before falling in love with his surroundings and deciding to settle down a while. Nowadays, he spends his time writing about traveling through the places he once explored, normally while sipping a pint.