A Guide To Inis Mór Island (Inishmore): Things To Do, The Ferry, Accommodation + More

things to do on inishmore
Photo left: MNStudio. Photo right: STLJB (Shutterstock)

If you’re debating a visit to Inis Mór Island (Inishmore), you’ve landed in the right place.

As a kid, I always imagined the Aran Islands to be a bit like Father Ted’s Craggy Island, but a weekend on Inis Mór many years ago proved me wrong! Very wrong!

A land of ancient stone forts, breathtaking rugged landscapes, and strong Irish culture, a visit to Inis Mór island is arguably one of the best things to do in Galway.

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do on Inis Mór and how to get there, to where to stay and where to grab a fine pint!

Inishmore / Inis Mór Island: Some quick need-to-knows

inishmore things to do
Photo by Timaldo on Shutterstock

So, a visit to Inis Mór Island is pretty straightforward, however, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your trip that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

Inis Mór is the largest of the 3 Aran Islands, located just off the west coast of Ireland in Galway Bay. It sits northwest of the other 2 Aran Islands, Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr.

2. Getting to Inis Mór

You have two options to get to Inis Mór Isalnd – you can fly there (yes, fly!) or you can take the Inis Mór ferry. More info on both below.

3. Inis Mór and the Burren

Yep, Inis Mór is part of the Burren region. Sprawling across more than 250 km, the Burren, a good chunk of which is in County Clare, extends under the sea, rising again to form the Aran Islands.

4. Size and population

With a population of around 900 people, Inis Mór is by far the largest of the 3 Aran Islands. It’s also the largest Irish island that isn’t connected to the mainland by a bridge or causeway. It has a total area of around 31 km2 (12 sq miles) and measures 14 km long by 3.8 km wide. 

Inis Mór / Inishmore: A brief history

inis mor guide
Photo by Bob Hilscher on Shutterstock

You don’t have to be a history buff to get excited about Inis Mór’s ancient roots, and knowing the basics can really enrich your trip. The island is full of prehistoric sites and structures, including some of the oldest in Europe.

The first people to settle

The first people to populate Inis Mór / Inishmore date back to around 3,000 BC. These megalithic-stone age settlers most likely arrived from the mainland, but why or how is unknown.

You can still find several stone-age monuments on Inis Mór, including the huge wedge tomb at Corrúch, which dates back to around 2,500 BC.

The bronze age and beyond

Since those first settlers, the island has been continuously populated, with artifacts dating back to the Bronze Age, as well as the Iron Age and the Celts.

It’s from these ages that some of the most impressive sites originate, including the many ancient stone forts and churches that are found throughout the island. One of the best examples is the epic Dún Aonghasa.

How to get to Inishmore / Inis Mór Island

getting to inishmore
Photo by The Drone Guys on Shutterstock

For an island flung out in the mouth of Galway Bay, getting to Inis Mór is easier (and faster!) than you might 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 Mór Ferry

Arguably the most popular way for getting to Inis Mór is to take one of the Inis Mór Island Ferries. Several companies offer return trips to the island.

Where it leaves from

If you’re in Galway, you can take this ferry to Inis Mór from Rossaveal, which is just 20 minutes from Galway City.  In fact, there’s a handy bus service from Galway City direct to Rossaveal port.

Alternatively, you can sail from Doolin Pier. There’s two providers here: the Doolin Ferry Co. and Doolin2Aran Ferries.

How long it takes

The ferry to Inis Mór / Inishmore from Rossaveal takes around 40 minutes and conditions are typically calm. It’s just a passenger service though, so no vehicles.

The ferry sails daily throughout the year, with 2 crossings a day from October to March, and 3 crossings from April to September.

An adult return costs €30.00, while a standard single fare will be €17. Be sure to book your tickets in advance if you can.

This ferry from Doolin can take around 90 minutes to reach Inis Mór / Inishmore, and operates daily from April until October. Once again, it’s best to book your tickets before travel.

Doolin2Aran Ferries are set to launch a new express ferry in April which, all going to plan, will reduce the journey time to Inis Mór / Inishmore to 40 minutes.

Flying to Inis Mór

If you haven’t found your sea legs yet, you can also fly to Inis Mór. 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 €49 return or €25 one way. Be aware that you’ll need to book your flights in advance.

Things To Do On Inishmore / Inis Mór

aran islands dun aonghasa
Photo by Timaldo (shutterstock)

There’s heaps of brilliant things to do on Inis Mór, from forts and long walks to seals, fine pubs, great places to eat and more.

Below, you’ll find a mix of things to do on Inis Mór / Inishmore – 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

the inis mor ferry
Photo by attilio pregnolato on Shutterstock

Hiring a bike and cycling around is one of the best ways to explore Inis Mór. The Inis Mór Cycle Loop takes in all the top sites and makes getting around on 2 wheels a piece of cake.

You can rent a bike right on the island and you’ll be given handy info on the best route to take. Mountain bikes cost €15 for a day while electric bikes cost €40.

2. Visit Seal Colony Viewpoint

flying to inis mor
Photo by Sviluppo on Shutetrstock

If you’re in search of unique things to do on Inis Mór, this should tickle your fancy! Several seals call the shores of Inis Mór home, and they’re a beautiful sight to behold.

The official viewpoint near the beach of Portmurvy is a top attraction and a great spot for a picnic. Of course, it’s also one of the best places to see these majestic creatures sunning themselves on the rocks.

3. Saunter along Kilmurvey Beach

Kilmurvey beach
Photo by Maria_Janus on Shutterstock

Soft white sand and brilliantly blue seas make Kilmurvey Beach one of the best beaches in Galway – especially if the weather’s good!

On a sunny day, it’s a top spot for swimming — if you fancy braving the icy waters — picnics, or simply relaxing in the sun. Its blue flag status guarantees cleanliness and safety.

4. Step back in time at Dún Aonghasa

dun aonghasa inis mor
Photo by Timaldo on Shutterstock

Perched atop a 100-metre-high cliff, this ancient fort known as Dún Aonghasa is believed to be more than 3,000 years old.

It’s the largest prehistoric stone fort on the island, and according to many, the most magnificent in Europe. You’ll be amazed at the stunning location and the immense structure alike.

5. See the incredible Wormhole 

Poll na bPéist wormhole
Photo left: Stefano_Valeri. Photo right: Timaldo (Shutterstock)

If you’ve seen photos of Poll na bPéist, aka the Wormhole, or the Serpent’s Lair, as it’s sometimes referred to, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was man-made.

But, this perfectly rectangular hole in the limestone is all-natural. It fills with sea-water, with underwater tunnels that lead out to the ocean. 

6. Soak up more history at the Black Fort

black fort aran islands
Photo by Timaldo on Shutterstock

Dún Dúchathair, or the Black Fort, is another impressive stone fort on Inis Mór. Its exact age is currently unknown, and while it’s not as big as Dún Aonghasa, it’s equally awe-inspiring.

Tranquil in its solitude, it balances precariously on the edge of a rugged cliff, where some say Ireland truly ends. You’ll be treated to stunning ocean views from here.

Inis Mór / Inishmore Hotels and accommodation

inishmore hotels
Photos via Airbnb

Inis Mór is a great place to spend at least a couple of days exploring. Luckily, there are some fantastic places to lay your head at night.

Airbnbs on Inis Mór

Despite being a fairly remote island, there’s a vibrant Airbnb network on Inis Mór. You’ll find a broad selection of unique and traditional places to rent across the island.

From cosy thatched cottages that are great for a romantic getaway, to huge, old-fashioned houses for all the family, there’s something for everyone.

As well as entire self-catered homes or cottages, you can also rent private rooms in shared country houses, with breakfast included.

We’ve highlighted some of our top choices in our Inis Mor accommodation guide, check it out!

Guesthouses and B&Bs in Inis Mór

There’s no better way to start your day on Inis Mór with a home-cooked Irish breakfast and a big cup of tea. Like Airbnb, there are loads of brilliant traditional guesthouses in Inis Mor. 

They’re packed full of character and history, and often run by your classic Irish hostess with the mostess (maybe not quite Mrs. Doyle level but getting there!). If it’s an authentic Inis Mór experience you’re after, a B&B is a top choice.

Hostels in Inis Mór

There’s just the one hostel on Inis Mór / Inishmore the Kilronan Hostel. It boasts a beachfront location, with views out to the ocean, and just a stone’s throw from where the ferry will drop you off. There’s also a TV room, BBQ area and a decent kitchen for all you budding chefs.

Best of all? Owner Dave and his team go out their way to make you feel at home and create a buzzing atmosphere.

Inis Mór Pubs

inis mor pubs
Photos via Joe Wattys Bar & Restaurant on Facebook

After a day spent out and about exploring all the island has to offer, a few pints are the ideal way to wind down. These are our favourite pubs in Inis Mór.

Joe Watty’s Bar and Restaurant

Joe Watty’s is widely considered one of the best pubs in Ireland. With live music every day throughout summer, a cosy atmosphere, and a brilliant beer garden, it’s no surprise! 

That’s not to mention the fresh seafood, an incredible variety of whiskey, and sumptuous craft beers — I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it! It boasts an array of accolades, such as one of the ‘top 21 cosiest pubs in Ireland for a pint by the fire’.

The Bar

The Bar is another top pub where a warm Irish welcome awaits the weary traveler! Dating back to around 1920, it’s one of the oldest pubs on the Aran Islands, although the building goes back much further.

With fresh seafood, daily live music and a cracking drinks selection, it truly is the place to ‘meet, eat, and be merry when you get off the ferry’! The outside patio overlooks the harbour and is the ideal spot for lunch or a few pints as the sun sinks into the ocean.

Tigh Joe Mac’s

Tigh Joe Mac’s seems to have more of a local feel to it than the other pubs on the island. That’s not to say that visitors aren’t welcome with open arms, there’s always space at the bar for one more, and it’s actually part of the Kilronan Hostel.

Just spitting distance from the ferry port, it’s a great place to spend your last hour or so on the island. The outdoor seating is a must on a sunny day, or join the locals as they perch atop the old stone wall, pint of Guinness in hand.

Inishmore / Inis Mór Restaurants and Cafes

inishmore restaurants
Photos via Bayview Restaurant on Facebook

With fresh seafood daily, you can be sure of some great places to grab a bite to eat in Inis Móre. Here are our favourites.

Teach Nan Phaidi

You’ll love this little restaurant as soon as you catch sight of it. Housed in an old thatched cottage, adorned with flowers and trailing plants, it’s worth dropping by just for the photo op!

But be sure to stick around and try the deliciously wholesome homemade meals. They serve traditional Irish dishes, with a few modern twists, as well as coffee, tea, and light snacks. Inside is cosy and the outdoor seating is fantastic in sunny weather.

Bayview Restaurant

Offering a more modern take on the local cuisine, the Bayview Restaurant is a great place to tantalize your taste buds. Guatemalan head chef Byron breathes new life into the dishes he prepares, and focuses on amazing flavours and presentation alike.

You’ll find a mix of traditional staples like steak and Guinness stew, as well as vibrant seafood, all given a subtle tweak.

Some FAQs about visiting the largest Aran Island

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from things to do on Inis Mór 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 Mór Island?

It depends. The Inis Mór 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 Mór. You can grab something tasty at Man of Aran Cottage, step back in time at Dún Aonghasa, visit the wormhole, soak up more history at the Black Fort and explore on bike or by foot.

Is it worth staying on Inis Mór?

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 the mighty Joe Watty’s.

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.

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