Join me as I explore the Aran Islands with this Inishmore Itinerary.
Wild Atlantic Way | Itineraries
Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way are impossible to sum up in just one or two paragraphs. To really explore this gorgeous part of the world might take more than one visit, but a sensible place to begin is by reading these Wild Atlantic Way Itineraries on Planet Patrick.
This is a one day Itinerary from Doolin in County Clare to the Aran Islands using Doolin Ferry, focused on Inishmore, a cycling trip from Kilronan to Dún Aonghasa and back to Doolin, before a cruise along the Cliffs of Moher. If you missed my report on the Cliffs of Moher from the land side, you can find that here.
The Wild Atlantic Way is a 2,500km (>1,550 mile) tourist route along Ireland’s Western coastline, from Malin Head in the North to Kinsale in the South. It connects significant historic, cultural and geographic features into a manageable road trip, comprising staggering clifftop vistas to golden strands and stunning lighthouses.
Inishmore Itinerary (One Day)
Following a visit to the Cliffs of Moher and the town of Doolin, a big journey was in my sights. My itinerary the next day was to leave Doolin Harbour by ferry and visit Inishmore (in Irish, ‘Inis Mór, or the Big Island). Inishmore is one of the three islands that make up the Aran Islands. They are technically part of County Galway, and a focus for archaeology, the Irish language, culture and welcome.
The Ferry took me past the other two islands in the chain, Inisheer and Inishmaan. I have written a separate Travel Guide to using the Ferry – why not read that here?
Inishmore by Bike
I arrived at Kilronan Village (in Irish, Cil Ronain) at around 11.10am. I had brought my bike with me on the ferry (not guaranteed in high season). It would be possible to hike Inishmore, but I think you'd need to be staying longer than just a day to get the best out of exploring the island. There are also excursions available (see the end of this page for some ideas). The weather was good and I set off through Kilronan and uphill. I had spotted on the map a coast road that forks off to the right and towards Dún Aonghasa.
Ruined Protestant Church
Just along the coast road stands a disused Protestant church. It maintains its shape even if the roof is long since gone, but it does look like it has landed unexpectedly in the field in which it sits. I've not been able to locate much more information about the building.
A blog I read before travelling advised me that the Seal Colony on Inishmore is very popular. There is a great little area to pull in and enjoy a tea or coffee, although the Sweet Shop was closed at the end of May. I suspect the Seal Colony is a great site if the conditions are right for seals to sunbathe or be frolicking in the waves.
Sadly there was not a single seal to be seen on the day I visited! However, it struck me that this spot is good for bird watchers: there were quite a number of species visible from the look out point.
Just 10 minutes further along, the beauty of Kilmurvey Beach starts to stretch out. I stopped for a moment to enjoy a drink of water and put on a little suncream!
The colour of the ocean, with its brilliant aquamarine glow, reminds me of the gorgeous water at Keem Bay on Achill Island. However, here the air was still and warm and the sound of the waves were only broken by the sound of birds enjoying the early summer day.
My next stop was not far, but it is *slightly* uphill so it was time to get back on the bike!
Teach Peat Phaidi (Shops & Restaurant)
You cannot miss the group of shops and restaurant at the head of the road up from Kilmurvey Beach towards Dún Aonghasa. It was alive with people wandering around and seemed to be a place where tour operators parked up to enjoy a coffee. Worth a stop.
Inishmore Itinerary: Dún Aonghasa (Hilltop Fort)
The view of and from Dún Aonghasa are some of the most beautiful I've seen in Ireland (and I've seen a lot!).
I was so fascinated that I wrote a whole blog just about this incredibly maintained Bronze Age site. Click here to read all about it.
Even if you are not fascinated by archaeology, the views from this 100 metre high sea cliff across the edge of the island is simply majestic.
The incredible phenomenon in the picture below is entirely natural. It is not human-made in any way, shape or form!
Please watch the video that accompanies this blog for more information about this incredible place (and why it's so dangerous!).
Inishmore Itinerary Ends: the Boat Back
After my experience on Inishmore, I realised I could have stayed for days and days. The weather was sensational when I visited, but if you don't mind bad weather too much, anyone would have found beauty here even on the most sullen of days.
I was looking forward to my Cliffs of Moher cruise later that evening, so it was back to Doolin Ferries to head back to the mainland. The trip caught a little of what I think is Inishmaan (is this maybe Rathreagh) on the way back. Another island, another future visit, I hope, to these astonishing islands off the West Coast of Ireland.
Find the accompanying video for this article below: