The Aran Islands—three rocky, windswept islands set of the west coast of Ireland—are 30 miles (47 km) from the city of Galway. The closest island is Inis Mór (Inishmore), which is also the largest of the three. Getting to the islands require either a passenger ferry—no cars are allowed on the ferry—or a short flight.
The fastest way to reach Inis Mór is by plane, which departs from Connemara Airport. Actual flying time is only about 10 minutes. Note that flights also reach the other two islands, Inis Meáin (Inis Maan) and Inis Oírr (Inisheer).
You can also reach all three islands by passenger ferry from the dock in Rossaveel. Shuttle buses take you from Galway’s city center to the ferry dock, then to Inis Mór in about two hours.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer (+ Ferry)
Duration: 2 hours
The most convenient way to reach the Aran Islands is by a combination of car (rental or private transfer) and passenger ferry. The ferry departs from the small town of Rossaveel, which is about 23 miles west of Galway.
The drive is simple and picturesque, following road R336 from the city and along scenic Galway Bay. On a clear day, you’ll see the rocky, limestone hills of the Burren in the distance.
It’s recommended to allow at least one hour driving time from Galway, and to arrive at the ferry 30 minutes prior to the sailing time. There’s a large, guarded parking lot to leave your car, whether for the day or overnight. Note that ferry tickets must first be reserved online and then collected at the dock.
The ferry itself will reach Inis Mór in about 40 minutes. If the weather is poor, you’ll want to snag a seat inside near the windows. But if the water is calm, the best way to enjoy the ride is on the deck enjoying the scenery. Snacks and hot drinks are available onboard, although you may also bring your own.
By Bus (+ Ferry)
Duration: 2 hours
The Rossaveel passenger ferry offers the option to book a bus shuttle service from Galway’s city center. It’s recommended to arrive at the pick-up location—which is on Queen Street near the train station—at least 90 minutes prior to the sailing time. Both the journey to Rossaveel and the ferry crossing are about 40 minutes each. Altogether, this option will take you a little over two hours.
Although the regional bus, Bus Éireann, also serves Rossaveel, the schedule doesn’t always line up with the sailing times. It’s best to just take the ferry bus service.
Duration: 1 hour
If you’d like to fly to the Aran Islands, you can do so with the company Aer Arann Islands. Flights leave throughout the day and depart from Connemara Airport, which is located about 19 miles from Galway. The airport is 30 minutes away by car, either private transfer or taxi.
Actual flight time to Inis Mór is only 10 minutes in total, but you’ll be able to see a very scenic bird’s-eye view of all three islands. Note that weather can delay flights, so it’s best to check your flight status before heading to the airport.