Aran Islands Daytrip from Doolin with Kids

Day trip to the Aran Islands 

I’d wanted to go to the Aran Islands for years, but never quite managed it. When we stayed in Clifden a few years ago we had intended to visit but between one thing and another we didn’t get around to it. It’s too far from Wexford for a datrip but this year, with a three night break in Galway after our Donegal holidays I was determined to make it happen. My children were less enthused “What is it with you and islands this year?” they asked. To be fair, they had been brought(dragged) to both Spike Island and the Saltees in the month of June alone so I guess they had a point.

We were staying in Oranmore in Galway (read about our gifted hotel stay here)  but decided to take the ferry from Doolin to Inishmore, rather than go from Rossaveal in Co. Galway. The journey wasn’t much longer to get to Doolin than Rossaveal and we didn’t have to cross the city (I’ve been caught in Galway traffic too many times!) and the boat trip was slightly shorter.

We chose Inishmore as I’ve always wanted to see Dún Aonghasa, start big and all that. I’ll admit other than buying our ferry tickets (we booked online on Doolin Ferry Co website, cost was €105 for 2 adults and 3 children day return) we did little to no other research about our trip. Not like us at all, and lesson learned!

What’s to do when you get there?

We decided to hire bikes on the island, there are other options available too like tour minibuses that you can pick up at the harbour, pony and traps and pre-booked organised tours and even diving trips.

When we disembarked the ferry it was slightly overwhelming. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t what we got, which was queues. We queued at the first bike hire place off the pier along with 70% of our ferry. It was pretty much self service, and we were told that cards were not accepted and that a deposit had to be paid for the bikes. (There’s an ATM in Spar if you need to get cash). We were given no help with sizing etc and just left to choose our  bikes and leave.  There was a huge selection of bikes including tandems, electric bikes, kids’ bikes, trailers, and some bikes had baskets. We were all happy with the bikes that we chose in the end.

After the bike hire we queued for the toilet. Then we queued to get into Spar. You get the picture. Our first hour on the island was spent queuing.


The Bike Ride to Dun Aonghosa

We set off on the High Road past the gift shops and off up the hill. We did not take the road at Joe Watty’s signposted Dun Aonghosa via Seal Colony and this was our downfall. Instead, we took the High Road, at noon, on a very hot day with one very tired small girl and two tired parents trying to coax her to keep going. It was  tough cycle with many stops and water breaks. The road was much busier than I expected and the small buses that passed left little room between them and the cyclists.

We eventually reached the beach and went slightly beyond it to the café at the visitor centre, enjoying our rolls bought in Spar and a well deserved ice-cream. All ice-creams are the same price so do the clever thing and get a Magnum, if you have to spend a fortune make it count.

Dun Aonghosa

An uneven uphill path brings you from the visitor centre to the fort, perched on the edge of a cliff. We had the excitement of meeting Kathryn Thomas and her film crew as we walked up and we hope to not stand out too much if we are in the background of some of their shots.

The climb is well worth it. The views down the coast are truly magnificent. You’ll need to keep younger kids close.

On the return journey we stuck to the coast at the beach and this made for a much more harmonious cycle home. There’s a coffee pitstop just after the beach and refreshments also at the seal colony viewing point.

We arrived back to Kilronan and had about 40 minutes before the return ferry so we got a well deserved drink and ice-cream from Spar before boarding the boat. We queued as we wanted to ensure we had outside seats on the way back. On the return journey we watched dolphins swim alongside the boat.

It was a great day out, I’d highly recommend it and would love to go again.

Other things to do on Inismore

  • Visit Poll na bPéist Wormhole
  • Instead of hiring bikes hire a pony and trap with driver
  • There’s a playground in Kilronan, it’s signposted
  • Swim at the beach

Tips for your Day Trip to the Aran Islands 

  • Bring suncream, just in case
  • Bring raingear, just in case
  • There’s an ATM on the island but it may be empty by the return ferry so if you need money get it early on
  • Book your ferry in advance
  • Bring your swimsuit, the beach is gorgeous
  • TAKE THE LOW ROAD if cycling with children or in extreme heat
  • Choose the fanciest ice-cream as they all cost the same
  • Pick a bike with a basket



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