How to Get Doolin Ferry to Inishmore (Inis Mór) on the Aran Islands

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Doolin in County Clare is famous as the principal port for ferries coming from the Aran Islands to the mainland of Ireland. It’s the starting point for organised tours to the islands as well as Cliffs of Moher cruises. This post is about how to self-organise a ferry trip if you’d like to design your own itinerary for the Aran Islands.

The most popular way to visit the Aran Islands is by boat (seasonally, there is also a small plane service). I’ve organised my own trip when staying at a nearby campsite, and come through Doolin as part of an organised tour. Doolin is a small port or quay that’s very well organised by local ferry and trip providers.

What is it?

Doolin Ferry runs regular services from Doolin, County Clare to Inisheer, Irishmaan and Inishmore (together, the Aran Islands). Not all services stop at every island, so check carefully that you’re getting on the right ferry (Doolin Ferry staff make things very clear before you get on board).

The Doolin Ferry office is bright red and is hard to miss. When I was there, there were lots of staff around, all wearing bright red jackets.

Tours that visit the Aran Islands

Scroll further down for more details on Doolin Ferry. I want to take a second to mention local tours. Personally, I’ve organised the ferry for my own trip, and visited again as part of an organised tour. I just wanted to mention for readers interested in organised tours that the following are the most popular to visit the Aran Islands.

Galway to Inishmore by Ferry (get the details here): Ferry departing direct from Galway to Aran Islands, 4.5 hours on Inishmore, cruise past the Cliffs of Moher on return.

Galway to Inisheer Day Trip (get the details here): Pickup from Galway, drive to Doolin, ferry to Aran Islands (Inisheer), cruise past the Cliffs of Moher on return, all entrance fees including access to the Cliffs of Moher.

Dublin to Cliffs of Moher with cruise (not Aran Islands) (get the details here): Pickup from Dublin, drive to Doolin, access fees to Cliffs of Moher included, cruise to experience the Cliffs from the sea, stop at Caherconnell Stone Fort en route

Is there parking at Doolin?

There is a parking lot on approach to Doolin Pier. The fees are set by Clare County Council using Pay and Display (a meter). You can use cash (have smaller bills and coins on hand) and you may be able to use a debit or credit card if you are stuck. Expect to pay €1 for up to 2 hours, €5 for up to 30 hours and €15 for stays of up to one week. Doolin Pier and the car park are well signposted as you pass through Doolin Village.

Doolin Ferry Cost – 2024 Prices

All tickets shown here are return ticket prices in Euro €. Most people visit one of the islands and stay just for a day trip, while some stay overnight. The price for a return trip to the Aran Islands is the same.

AdultStudent / SeniorChild 5-15Child 0-4
Return to Inishmore4442220
Return to Inisheer3432170
Return to Inishmaan4442220
Cliffs of Moher Cruise2826150

Boarding Process

I found the queue/line to be unexpectedly long. Clearly, some day trip visitors arrived early and, once you’ve used the facilities (there are toilets near the office), then there’s not much else to do at the harbour. There is a small snack bar which is open seasonally. So everyone lines up.

Boarding with a Bike

As of 2024, bikes are not permitted on board “for health and safety reasons”. That is unless it is prearranged, and then by people travelling one-way only or staying on the islands for longer. In 2023, I contacted Doolin Ferries to see if I could take a bike during a quieter time of year, and it WAS possible at that point. They are now encouraging people to hire a bike on the islands (which is, to be fair, super convenient). I mention all of this in my Bike Itinerary of Inishmore post. To get your bike on board, dismount in the harbour area, and walk your bike to the ferry. There will be staff members in red jackets who will take it off you and secure the bike to the railing at the back of the boat.


Departure

I took the 10am ferry, which was the earliest time that I could book, so that I could get the most out of my day trip to Inishmore. The ferry departed pretty much bang on time and it really goes at quite a clip!

The seats upstairs were all taken as the weather was great as we departed. The journey to Inishmore takes between 35 and 40 minutes. By the way, Inishmore comes from the Irish, Inis Mór, which means ‘Big Island’.

Inisheer (Inis Oirr)

Inisheer is the smallest of the three islands that make up the Aran Islands, and the first that Ferry Passengers will pass on the way to Inishmore (which is the third and farthest). We didn’t pass very close, but I was intrigued and read that there was an interesting and deep archeological history on Inisheer that is worth pursuing on a different trip.

Facilities on Board

The facilities on board are relatively limited. There are two levels of seating. The top level offers great views, but you are very open to weather experiences (i.e., getting soaked in the rain!).

The bottom level has some outside seats and some inside seats. As we pulled into the harbour on Inishmaan (the middle island), where we were dropping off some passengers, the heavens opened and everyone had to cram into the covered portion of the lower deck.

There is a toilet on board. Please note that the door was quite hard to open and, as people were so crammed in the area right outside, it was hard to work out if anyone was already inside or not. Ask me how I know…!

The journey is short, but there are a LOT of photography opportunities. However, as the ferry does tip from side to side, you need to ensure your equipment is kept close to you and attached to you! I would urge you to be cautious.

Kilronan Harbour, Inishmore

The ferry arrives into Kilronan Harbour on Inishmore (you will see this written in Irish too, as Cill Rónáin). I was fascinated to see the local Garda (police officer) welcoming the boat or helping with its arrival.

The majority of organised trips on Inishmore will depart from Kilronan. I was cycling to Dún Aonghasa under my own steam, so all I needed was a map, which I got from the tourist office along the sea front.

However, you can get a horse and carriage/cart ride, or be picked up for a guided tour. I’d strongly recommend that you organise excursions as much as you can in advance as there is bound to be limited supply during the high season.

Mobility

Boarding and de-boarding the ferry does involve using steps so potential passengers need to keep this in mind. If the weather is wet, you’ll want to be inside the boat and that involves walking down some steeper steps which may be slippy. Everyone should wear appropriate footwear.

Return Trip

For the majority of day-trippers, you will want to catch the 1600h (4pm) ferry back to Doolin. There are not a lot of alternatives to this last daily boat, so make sure you get there on time! Anyone left behind will have to find somewhere to stay. On the day I visited Inishmore, this last ferry was delayed by quite a bit, around 45 minutes and it was COLD (end May). Make sure you have some layers stowed in your handbag or rucksack.

Insider Tips

  • Take the first available ferry to whichever island you want to visit to make the best of your trip.
  • Never be late, if you miss the ferry back at 4pm, you’re staying overnight.
  • Bring layers. In fact, why not read my Packing List for Ireland for some ideas.

Where to Stay on Inishmore

If you’re tempted to stay overnight on Inishmore in the Aran Islands, the options are quite limited as it is, of course, a small island off the Irish coast.

Video Link

Find the accompanying video for this article below:

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Conclusion

A trip to the Aran Islands is one of the highlights of anyone’s visit to Ireland, particularly if you’re already hoping to visit the Cliffs of Moher. If you’re self-organising, using Doolin Ferries is the most sensible approach. If you don’t like the idea of planning everything yourself, the tours which visit the Aran Islands are of very high quality. Either way have fun in one of my favourite places on Earth!

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Cliffs of Moher Area

High-End, full of character

Ballinalacken Castle Hotel, Co. Galway

Better Value, Local Charm

O’Leary’s Lodge B&B


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I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.

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