One of Ireland’s hidden gems, Inis Mor is the biggest of the three Aran Islands in Galway, located off the coast of Ireland. Despite its size, there are so many things to do on Inis Mor island and its small size makes it perfect for a day trip to Inis Mor from Doolin or Galway.
Inis Mor is the Irish spelling and pronunciation for the island, but you might also see it spelt ‘Inishmore’, both are referring to the same place.
If you’re planning a trip to Ireland or a Wild Atlantic Way road trip, I highly recommend adding one of the boat trips from Doolin to the Aran Islands to your itinerary.
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About Inis Mor
Inis Mor, or Inishmore, Ireland is an island located in the Atlantic Ocean in the Bay of Galway. Inis Mor is approximately 20 miles from the mainland and can be reached by ferry or by plane at certain times of the year.
Inis Mor is the largest of the three Aran Islands, followed by Inis Meain (also called Inishmaan) the second-largest, and the smallest is Inis Oirr (also called Inisheer).
The total population of the Aran Islands is around 1200 but Inis Mor is home to around 900 of those people.
The total size of Inis Mor is 31km2 and measures around 14km long by 3.8km wide.
Inis Mor is the largest Irish island which isn’t connected to the mainland and the second largest island overall, after Achill Island in Mayo, which is connected to the mainland.
How long to spend on the Aran Islands
I did a day trip from Doolin to Inis Mor and a day on the island is plenty of time to see the main sights.
If you wanted to do some of the longer hiking trails on Inishmore, I would suggest staying overnight on the island.
If you plan to visit more than one of the Aran Islands, you should definitely stay overnight and use the ferry to move between the islands. The Doolin ferry to Aran Islands makes stops at all three islands and you can get an island hopper ticket to easily ‘hop on and hop off’ at different islands. Use the inter island transfer option.
How to get to Inis Mor
Inis Mor is most easily reached by ferry. You can take the ferry from Doolin to Inishmore or from Galway depending on what works best for your itinerary.
Aran Island Ferries runs the service from Galway to all three Aran Islands. For more information about the ferry to Inishmore from Galway, click here.
I took the Inishmore ferry from Doolin because I was already in the area to see the Cliffs of Moher, so I’ll focus on that route for this guide.
Taking the ferry: Doolin to Inis Mor
NOTE: The ferries from Doolin to the Aran Islands only run for tourists between March and end of October or early November depending on the weather.
The Doolin to Inis Mor ferry is very straightforward and there are a couple of options to choose from depending on timings that suit you and whether you decide to stay overnight on the island.
From Doolin there are three companies you can use:
All three depart from Doolin Pier. Parking at Doolin Pier is free when you have a ferry ticket.
Because Inishmore is the further away of the Aran Islands, most of the ferry services stop at one or both of the other islands on the way out. So Doolin Pier is also the departure point for the ferry from Doolin to Inis Oirr and the ferry from Doolin to Inisheer.
How much does the Inishmore ferries cost?
A same-day ticket for a day trip to Inishmore from Doolin costs £35 (correct as of 2022). Ferries depart from Doolin at 10am and 11am and the return boat is at 4pm.
I would suggest taking the 10am to maximise your time on the island.
How long is the journey?
The journey takes around 1 hour 15 minutes each way, including stops at the other islands.
Aran Islands, Inishmore ferry tips:
There are basic toilet facilities onboard the Doolin2Aran Ferries.
Make sure when you board at Doolin and reboard at Inis Mor, you get on the correct ferry. Some of the ferry company logos look very similar and we saw several people miss their ferry because they were queuing for our ferry - thinking it was theirs!
If you want to visit more than one of the Aran Islands, use the inter-island transfers to buy tickets between the islands and the mainland.
The best things to do in Inis Mor
Here’s the exact Inis Mor itinerary that I followed on my day trip to Inishmore. This route follows an anti-clockwise route around the island which I think works best if you just have one day on Inishmore.
Rent a Bike
The ferry to Inishmore (and all the Aran Islands) is a foot passenger ferry only. That means the best way to get around the island and see all the stops on your day trip is by bike.
Hiring a bike is in itself one of the best things to do on Inis Mor, I don’t know about you but I LOVE sightseeing by bike, especially in a beautiful place like Inis Mor where there are almost no cars on the road, so it’s a very safe experience.
You’ll find two bike rental places right at the entrance to the pier when you get off the boat.
I rented from the bike hire at the end of the pier, they take cash only but if you don’t have cash on you, you can rent a bike, leave your ID (driver’s licence etc) and they’ll give you a ticket to collect it back at the end of the day when you return the bike. Take some cash out from the ATM at the Spar in town, just up the hill so you can pay on your return.
Tip: Because you’re cycling, make sure you wear clothes that are suitable for cycling, nothing that gets caught in the chain and breathable clothing, you’ll probably get very warm - especially cycling some of the hills during summer!
I recommend cycling around the island in an anti-clockwise direction - which is what this itinerary follows.
Stop at the Seal Colony Viewpoint
The first stop for things to see on Inis Mor is the seal colony which is around 4.5km from the pier and takes approximately 15 minutes of cycling. Make sure you’re following the coastal road, not the inland road - turn right at the Joe Watty pub to take the coast road.
You’ll see the signs for the viewpoint and if you’re lucky hopefully you’ll see some seals!
This is a nice, first quick stop to break up the cycling route as you head onwards to Kilmurvey Beach.
Go for a swim at Kilmurvey Beach
This was my favourite stop on the island and without a doubt one of the best things to do on Inishmore - you will not believe this stunning beach is an Irish beach - especially if you’re lucky enough to visit on a sunny day.
These photos I took speak for themselves!
Kilmurvey Beach is located on the north coast of the island and is an 8 minute cycle from the Seal Colony viewpoint.
Of course it’s Ireland so the weather can be unpredictable and the water isn’t warm, the warmest it will be is in August (when we visited) and it was still pretty fresh!
But the white sand beach and turquoise water is stunning, you won’t be able to resist a quick dip or a short break to sunbathe on the beach.
The beach is in a bay so the water is calm and safe (although caution should always be taken of course, especially for young children).
There is so much to see on Inishmore, things to do and places to visit, but this is an absolutely must-see!
Stop for lunch at Teach Nan Phaidi
Just 500m up the road from Kilmurvey Beach as you continue along the coast road in an anti-clockwise direction, you’ll find a small settlement.
Here you’ll find a quaint thatched cafe with a yellow door called Teach Nan Phaidi. The menu here is so yum and perfect for a lunch stop, especially after a swim!
Be prepared for a bit of a queue on weekends if you visit in peak season, it’s a popular food spot!
This is also your turning point and the furthest west point you’ll visit on this itinerary.
Purchase a sweater from the Aran Islands Knitwear Store
At the T-junction where Teach Nan Phaidi is located, you want to take the road inland (south) to head towards the opposite coast of the island.
Cycle on this road for 1 minute and you’ll see a huge bike park. This is the bike park for Dún Aonghasa fort (your next stop) but it’s also right outside the Aran Islands Knitwear Store.
Aran Islands knitwear is famous for its authenticity and quality, hand knitted and deeply rooted in the traditional craftsmanship of the islands, you’ll get an authenticity certificate for every purchase of Aran knitwear.
You’re likely to see Aran Islands Knitwear sold all over Ireland if you’re spending any amount of time there, so don’t worry if you don’t want to make a purchase that you need to carry on the bike with you, there are plenty of opportunities to purchase on the mainland (I got my Aran Islands sweater from Killarney!).
But if you do want to purchase some world-famous Aran knitwear from the Aran Islands, here is your place to do it!
Visit the prehistoric fort of Dún Aonghasa
Leave your bike at the knitwear store (there’s also public toilet facilities here), and walk up the trail to the ancient Dún Aonghasa fort - one of the most famous Inis Mor attractions.
The walk is uphill and takes around 10 minutes. It’s very exposed so if you visit in summer, take water and sunscreen. If you visit in winter, make sure you have a windproof and waterproof jacket!
Originally constructed in 1100 BC, Dún Aonghasa is over 3000 years old and the area (along with the rest of the island), is of huge archaeological significance. Although there are several prehistoric forts on Inishmore, Dún Aonghasa is the largest and sits in a fortified position on the edge of the Cliffs of Aran, 100 metres above the sea.
The dramatic views from the fort are as much worth seeing as the ancient stone walls themselves.
The cliff edges are unprotected so venture near the edge at your own risk!
Take in the views of the Cliffs of Aran
The best place to enjoy these views is from the Dún Aonghasa fort - as you can see from pictures.
But if you are spending longer on the island, there is a walking route from the fort, along the cliffs to reach the Poll na bPéist Wormhole.
See the famous Wormhole diving spot
The Poll na bPéist Wormhole was made famous as the location for the Red Bull Cliff Diving Championships.
This natural swimming hole is a perfect rectangle and has been created completely naturally due to the nature of the rock formations on the island. It is tricky to reach and I only recommend visiting here if you’re planning to actually swim in it or you’re staying overnight and have the time to navigate the rocky route to it.
Unfortunately we did not have time to visit this spot because we spent too long at Kilmurvey Beach in the sunshine! But if you don’t spend long at Kilmurvey or Dún Aonghasa then you could visit here.
However it is tricky to get here, you’ll need to cycle back to Kilmurvey Beach then turn right and head inland to Gort Na gCapall. From this village, leave your bike at the end of the track labelled Poll na bPéist and you’ll need to walk across the jagged rocks to reach the Wormhole.
This is an uneven and unpaved walk so I wouldn’t recommend it if you have young children, mobility issues or are short on time.
I’d recommend visiting here if you are planning on swimming here as that’s the only thing it’s really set up for!
Visit the Black Fort
Now is the time to start heading back east, towards the pier.
The Black Fort, also known as Dún Dúchathair, is another prehistoric fort located on the Inishmore coast.
From Dún Aonghasa to the Black Fort, it’s your longest cycle - 10km and takes around 35 minutes. You can either take the inland route for a different scenic route or go back the way you came.
Although believed to be about the same age as Dún Aonghasa, it has never been excavated so exact times are not known.
I liked this stop because it was in a similar dramatic coastal location but much less busy than Dún Aonghasa!
You’ll see the remains of the fort, as well as an ancient settlement, believed to be the early dwellings on the island.
Stop for a drink at the popular Joe Watty's Pub & Seafood Bar
After all that cycling and adventuring, you’ll be ready for a refreshing drink and food before your ferry ride home.
Joe Watty’s has such a fun vibe, especially in good weather when the outside area is open. But don't worry, the roaring open fire is just as appealing in the colder months too.
In fact, the Irish Road Trip names it as one of the best pubs to visit in Ireland.
Take the ferry home
Make sure you’re keeping an eye on the time throughout the day, if you spend longer in some places, you might need to cut other things from your itinerary like we did with visiting the Wormhole.
The ferry will not wait for you and if you miss the 4pm ferry, you will need to arrange accommodation on Inishmore overnight, before booking a new ferry ticket the following day.
Summary: Inis Mor Things to do
Inis Mor was probably one of my top 3 experiences during the 2 months I spent travelling in Ireland. It completely blew me away with its beauty, the joy of getting around by bike and combined with it being such an underrated destination, it really is a hidden gem you need to experience if you have the time!
There are things to do on Inis Mor Island for families, couples and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Hopefully you can use this one day Inishmore guide to adapt and make it your own, to make the most of all the things to do in Inishmore, Aran Islands.
Pin this for later to help you plan your future trip!