Looking to get to the Aran Islands from Galway? You’re in the right place.
The Aran Islands are three islands located in the Galway Bay. They’re known for their rocky oceanside cliffs, and buildings that date back to the medieval and prehistoric times, and the fact that most people still speak Gaelic there. The scenery on the Aran Islands is otherworldly; something that makes you feel like you’re in a novel.
The best part is that getting to the Aran Islands is pretty easy, and only takes 40-90 minutes of sailing across the Galway Bay, depending on which boat you take.
Galway was one of my favourite places to visit in Ireland, and I believe that carving out the extra time to see the Aran Islands while you’re there is very worth it.
So, let’s figure out how you’re going to get from Galway to the Aran Islands!
The Three Aran Islands
There are three different islands: Inis Mór (Inishmore), Inis Meain (Inishmaan ), and Inis Oirr (Inisheer).
The ferry you take to the Aran Islands might depend which island on you’d rather travel to and the time of year you’re going at.
Inis Mór (Inishmore) is the largest and most accessible of the islands, so there are more options of airplanes and ferries that go there from Galway year-round.
Fun Fact: Inis means “island” in Celtic.
Ferries to Aran Islands
There are two different ferries that can take you from Galway to the Aran Islands.
1. Ferry from Galway City docks
The ferry from Galway City takes you to Inis Mór, the largest and the main Aran Island.
If you take the ferry from Galway city, it will take 90 minutes to reach Inis Mór. If you’re staying in Galway, this is probably the most convenient option because the ferry docks is pretty close to the city centre.
The ferry docks in Galway City is only a 10-20 minute walk from the town centre depending on where you are.
For that reason, you could walk there from downtown Galway and shouldn’t need to drive (the Aran islands are car-free so you can’t bring a car with you.) But if you do drive to the Galway ferry docks, you should know that parking there is very limited. Parking spots can be booked here.
Its important to note that the ferries from Galway City to Aran Islands only leave seasonally. In 2024, the ferries from Galway to Inis Mór will run from March 29th until September 22nd, 2024.
If you’re travelling outside of that time, then you should take the ferry from Rossaveel, about 45 minutes from Galway, which runs year-round.
The cost for a 1-day ferry ticket from Galway City to Inis Mór
Children 5-18: €15.00
Children 0-5: Free
2. Ferry from Rossaveel
Rossaveel is the main ferry port to get to Aran Islands. Rossaveel is apart of Galway County, but is 37 kms (23 miles) from Galway City. To take the ferry from Rossaveel, you’ll need to drive or take a shuttle from Galway City.
The benefit of taking the ferry from Rossaveel is that it runs year round, and it travels to all three of the Aran Islands. So, you simply choose the island you want to go to, and purchase a ticket for that island.
Its also a shorter ferry ride – only 40 minutes to Inis Mór (versus 90 minutes from Galway), so this is the ideal option if you’re not a big fan of boats.
The cost for a roundtrip ferry ticket from Rossaveel to Inis Mór
Children 5-18: €15.00
Children 0-5: Free
Through Viator, there’s a deal to get 2 adult tickets for $44 USD, which saves roughly $20 USD or so, plus you can cancel up to 24 hours before. If you want to go to Inis Mór, then I would grab this deal here.
Grab your ferry ticket from Rossaveel to Inis Mor here
Additionally, there are ferries that leave from the village of Doolin, which is 67 kms (42 miles) south of Galway – just over an hour’s drive. From Doolin, you can get a ferry to any of the three islands.
The Best Way to Get the Ferry the Aran Islands
So far, we’ve gone over your two different ferry options to get to the Aran Islands.
Of those two, I personally find the ferry from Rossaveel to be a bit more convenient, and is the option that I’d recommend.
The reason is because Rossaveel is the main ferry port and it offers round trip ferry tickets. From Galway City, you can only get one-way tickets. And these tickets are the same price, so not only do you save money sailing from Rossaveel, but its also less complicated; because you have your trip back included.
In addition, you have the option of visiting any of the three of the Aran islands from Rossaveel, whereas from Galway you can only get to the main island.
Rossaveel is just a 45-minute drive from Galway City, and you can get a shuttle from Galway City. Shuttles can be booked here.
Guided Tour to Aran Islands
Taking a tour allows all the nitty gritty details to be taken care of for you, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning natural beauty views and marvel at the old buildings
Tour of Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher
From Galway you’ll be taken to Doolin (an hour and 15 minutes south) and get a chance to see the majestic Cliffs of Moher.
From there, you’ll take a ferry to Inis Mór, the smallest and most touristy of the three islands, and you’ll have two hours to explore freely before being brought back to main land.
Book your tour of Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher here
Airplane from Galway to Aran Islands
Boats aren’t the only option for getting from Galway to Aran Islands – you can also fly!
Flights from Galway County to Aran Islands leave from Connemarra Airport, which is west of Galway City.
From the Connemarra Airport to Inis Mór, the flight time is less than 10 minutes! Flights from Connemarra to Aran Islands can be booked here.
Flights from Connemarra, Galway Co. to Aran Islands
Children 2-18: €30
Under 2: Free
*Discounts for Irish students and seniors
Which of the Aran Island(s) Should You Visit?
Here’s what you need to know about each of the islands in order to decide which one to sail to, and how to get there.
Inis Mór (pronounced ” in-ish more”) is the biggest and most popular of the Aran Islands. You can probably see most of the island just a few hours, so it could be done in just a single daytrip. 1-2 days is more than enough time to see everything if you want to stay overnight.
On Inis Mór, there are more historical and archeological things to see than on the other two islands. There’s a 3000-year old fort called Dun Aengus. You should also check out Na Seacht dTeampaill (The Seven Churches) , Poll na bPéist – The Wormhole, Dún Dúchathair (Black Fort) – and bring your camera or phone, because you won’t be able to stop taking photos!
I’d recommend renting a bike on Inis Mór to make the most of the island.
✅You can get to Inis Mòr via ferry from Doolin or Rossaveel, or via a flight from Connemarra.
Inis Oírr (pronounced “in-ish ear”) is pretty small, and you can walk around it in just a few hours. There are some small villages with nice pubs where you can eat lunch, and some beaches with turquoise-coloured water (Ballybunion beach and Kilkee beach.)
Also be sure to check out the Plassey Shipwreck, which is a rusting old ship stranded on the bay, and the 15th century O’Brien’s Castle (not to be confused with the one at Cliffs of Moher.)
✅ You can get to Inis Oírr via ferry from Doolin or Rossaveel, or via flight from Connemarra.
Inis Meáin (pronunced “in-ish m-awn”) is larger than Inis Oirr, but its less tourist-focused than the other two islands, and also the least visited. However, I believe it is still worth visiting!
There’s an old prehistoric fort called Dún Conor which is believed to date back to the first millennium AD! You should also check out the limestone lookout over the sea called Synge’s Chair.
✅ You can get to Inis Oírr from Doolin or Rossaveel via ferry, or via flight from Connemarra.
3 Tips on Getting from Galway to Aran Islands
✅ If you’re taking the ferry to Aran Islands, be aware that the sea can be a bit rough and choppy on some days. If you’re prone to motion sickness, have an anti-seasickness medication handy
✅ If you decide to take the ferry from Galway City to Inis Mór, there is no return. So you’ll have to return via Cliffs of Moher, or take a one-way flight back to Rossaveel.
✅ Be sure to bring a windbreaker, and warm clothes as it can get very windy on all three of the Aran Islands!
Getting to Aran Islands: FAQs
Here are the most commonly asked questions about getting to Aran Islands from mainland Ireland
Is there a direct ferry from Galway to Aran Islands?
Yes, there is a direct ferry from Galway to Aran Islands operated by Aran Ferries. There is a ferry that leaves from the docks in Galway City, and takes 90 minutes to reach Inis Mór, the main Aran Island. The main ferry port in Galway Co. is in Rossaveel and travels to all three islands.
How long is the ferry from Galway City to Aran Islands?
The length of the ferry ride depends which of the Aran Islands you’re sailing to. Inis Mór, the most popular island, is a 90 minute journey from Galway City, but only 40 minutes from Rossaveel in Galway Co.
How do I get from Galway City to Aran Islands?
From Galway City, you can take a ferry to the Aran Islands, however the ferry from Galway only leaves during high season (late March through to mid-September.) It sails to Inis Mor, the most touristy of the Aran Islands. If you want to go to a different island, or if you want to sail outside high season, then you’ll need to take the ferry from Rossaveel in Galway Co.
Aran Islands Conclusion
Regardless of which of the Aran island you go to, you’re in for a unique Irish experience that is different from anywhere else you could visit in Ireland.
Being on car-free islands that have such a unique culture, vibe and landscape is a treat that most tourists miss when travelling to Ireland, and I believe they’re well worth some time on your Irish itinerary.
The Aran Islands are car-free, and family-friendly (similarly to the rest of Ireland) and full of such surreal, otherworldly beauty that you’ll never forget! Being 228 kms (141 miles) from Dublin, they’re further away than most tourists and even Irish people venture.
I hope that you found this guide on how to get to the Aran Islands from Galway helpful!