The Aran Islands sit at the mouth of Galway Bay on Ireland’s scenic west coast. The three islands—named by size and location as Inis Mór (Inishmore), Inis Meáin (Inis Maan), and Inis Oírr (Inisheer)—are reachable only by passenger ferry or flight. The ferries depart from two docks: one in Rossaveel (in Connemara near the city of Galway) and the other in Doolin (in County Clare). Keep in mind that ferries from Doolin are seasonal and don’t operate in the winter. Flights leave from Galway’s small, regional Aer Arann Connemara Airport.
Despite its rural setting, the Aran Islands are near two major cities in Ireland: Galway and Limerick. Limerick is the hub for Ireland’s western international airport, Shannon Airport. And although Dublin is across the country, the capital city is well-connected to the west coast via major highways, buses, and trains.
If you’re interested in seeing more of this scenic region, this 8-day itinerary combines the Aran Islands with the Burren—a limestone rock landscape known for its walking trails—and the world-famous Cliffs of Moher.
Duration: 2 - 3 hours
Galway is the closest city to the Aran Islands, set conveniently near both ferry docks as well as the airport. It’s most convenient to book a ferry from Rossaveel, which offers a shuttle service to the dock from Galway City. In total, it’ll take about two hours to reach Inis Mór. If you prefer to leave from Doolin, it’s best to drive via the picturesque Wild Atlantic Way and grab the ferry. In total, this option takes longer at three hours.
Buses are also available from Galway to Doolin, offering a 2-hour direct route. Some routes require a stop in Ennis, however, which increases the travel time to 2.5 hours. The bus drops you off right to the ferry dock.
If you’d like to fly, flights from Aer Arann Connemara Airport take only 10 minutes to reach Inis Mór. From Galway, it’s best to drive or take a private transfer to the small airport in about 40 minutes.
From Limerick (Shannon Airport)
Duration: 2.5 - 7 hours
Although a bit farther from the Rossaveel ferry, Limerick and Shannon Airport are only a 1-hour drive from Doolin. A trip to Inis Mór from Limerick takes about 2.5 hours in total. Traveling by car, either rental or private transfer, is the best option, although buses do connect Limerick and Doolin in about two hours.
If you prefer to use the ferry at Rossaveel, or to go by plane, both buses and trains connect Limerick to Galway. Travel times vary depending on route, but buses take around 1.5-2.5 hours and trains 2-4 hours.
For travel between Galway and the Aran Islands, see the previous option.
Duration: 4 - 4.5
If traveling from Dublin, it’s best to use either the ferry dock in Rossaveel or an Aer Arann Islands flight. Driving from Dublin to Galway is fairly straightforward, following major highways through the Midlands Region. The drive is just over two hours.
Direct buses and trains also make the journey between Dublin and Galway, with a travel time of about 2.5 hours. It’s best to use the private bus company Citylink, as it’s much faster than regional buses.
For better details of the journey, check out How to Get from Dublin to Galway. For travel between Galway and the Aran Islands, see the first option.