Article By Juliana Hansen. Thank you very much for helping us make this blog the most informative, friendly and helpful blog for Dublin Newbies!

I moved to Ireland two years ago but have seen a lot less from the country than I actually want to, and on the top of the top of my bucket list are the stunning Irish islands. Yes, you read it right! Ireland has beautiful islands around its coast and you can visit them for a long trip or just a one day adventure. Here’s a list of Islands to visit and what to do while you there: 

1. Aran Islands, Co. Galway

The Aran Islands are three islands in the west coast of Ireland: Inishmore – the largest one, with 12km in length -, Inishmaan and Inisheer. No cars are allowed in the islands so the best option is to take a ferry into there and rent a bike to cycle around. In Inis Mór (or Inishmore), you can find over 50 different monuments of Celtic and pre-christian times, as well as some of the most spectacular cliff walks in Europe. The largest island also has a good variety of shops, pubs, hotels and restaurants, which makes it perfect for a longer staycation.  

Inishmaan remains the quietest and most traditional of the three islands, with the inhabitants settled mainly on the high sheltered land at the centre of the island. It’s famous for the amazing landscape, where wildflowers bloom everywhere and uncrowned  sandy beaches can be found on the north shore. It’s definitely the best choice for who chases a real break from the big cities and busy life. And last but not least, Inisheer is the most eastern of the Aran Islands and the smaller one, with only three square kilometres in size. It’s said to have the atmosphere of a small fishing village, with an unspoiled white sandy beach overlooking the ruin of a castle and fort, as well as a spectacular flora that is unique to the region. Despite your small size, the island has bars, restaurants, tea rooms and a vivid nightlife.  

How to get there? If you are leaving from Dublin there are plenty of options to choose from when visiting the Aran Islands. You can take a day tour, going to the cliffs of Moher, Galway and the Aran Islands in one day, returning to the capital by the evening. Another option is to take a train or bus from Dublin to Galway, and from there a bus to Roossaveel, where the ferries to the tree islands parts from. The timetable can vary depending on the season so always check the official website before planning your trip.  

2. Achill Island, Co. Mayo 

Achill Island is on the top of my bucket list of places to visit in Ireland, I have been looking to pictures of this amazing place on instagram for months now! Located on the west coast of the country this gorgeous spot can be easily accessed by a bridge and has 40km of dramatic coastline ready to be explored. 

There’s a lot do see and do:  The Desert Village, at the foot of the Slievemore mountain, is a site with almost 100 abandoned cottages that have been inhabited at different stages throughout history and gives the landscape of the island a ludic vibe; Keem Bay, on the western end of the island, is one of the most incredible bays in Ireland, with an amazing sandy beach, crystal water and tropical vibes; Slí Grainne Mhaol is the favourite spots of the tourists for hiking, the trails has 6.7km and it will take around 2 hours to complete it. At the top, you will have a panoramic view of Clew Bay and Achill Sound. 

How to get there? Achill can be easily accessed by car all year around, but if you are planning to use public transports, the best option is taking a train to Westport or Castlebar, and then a Bus Eireann to Achill. 

3. Cape Clear Island, Co. Cork 

The most southerly inhabited island in Ireland has many historical attractions such as the Standing Stones, the Lighthouse on top of Fastnet Rock, a 12th century church ruins and more. Cape is an Irish-speaking island and has a population of 130 in the winter that can tripled in the summer, cars are allowed there but are not encouraged, thus cycling is the best way to go around. While there, you can also visit one of the local farms and taste some of their homemade delicious, such as ice cream, or do a walk through the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic.  

How to get there? The ferry Cailín Óir sails from Baltimore – just an one hour drive from Cork City – every morning and evening, 

4. Great Blasket Island, Co. Kerry

The Great Blasket Island is located at the most western point in Ireland and Europe, at the Dingle peninsula. The place was abandoned in 1953, when the last twenty-two people living there were moved to the mainland. Currently there are only 3 cottages on the whole island where visitors can stay overnight, which has no electricity, Wi-Fi, electronic devices, and certainly no TV, so most people only go to the island for a one day visit. When there, you can spend the day chilling at An Trá Bán,  take a dip in the Atlantic sea, visit Seal Cove and watch the  Grey Seals, hike around the back of the island and enjoy the amazing views, and visit the island’s highest point, ‘Cró’, at 292m. 

How to get there? Ferries operate leaving from the mainland to the Great Blasket Island during the Spring, Summer and Autumn. You can get the morning departure (10:00 am – 15:00 pm) or the afternoon one ( 12:30 pm – 17:30 pm), and Ferries may be boarded at Dún Chaoin Pier opposite the island (20 minutes crossing), at the Marina in Dingle Town (a 40-minute trip), or at Ventry Pie – check the website before purchasing your ticket. . 

5. Garnish Island, Co Cork

The main attraction at Garnish Island is the series of gardens showcasing, with an enormous richness of plants and colours, as well as Italian villa vibes. Around 100 years ago, the owner of the land joined forces with the garden designer Harold Peto to cultivate ornamental plants from all over the world and create amazing gardens on the island. Until this day,  Garnish Island continues to be one of the most incredible places in Ireland, and visitors can spend the day exploring the gardens that bloom all year long and get a new visual in each season, thanks to the big variety of species cultivated there. In addition to the ferry trip price, there is a small fee admission to the gardens that can be paid on arrival at Garnish Islands, this is a help to cover the costs of the island’s upkeep.

How to get there? The ferry departs from Glengarriff Pier with different time tables around the seasons:

  1. April, May, June: Daily 10am – 5.30pm (including Sundays).
  2. July, August: Mon – Fri & Sun 09.30am – 5.30pm. Sat 9.30am – 6pm.
  3. Sept – Oct: Daily 10am – 5.30pm (including Sundays).
By Juliana Hansen

Again, thank you very much Juliana for helping us make this blog the most informative, friendly and helpful blog for Dublin Newbies! This is Juliana’s Instagram.

If you also want to contribute to the blog, please do not hesitate to contact me directly on Instagram or on the Contact Form of this website. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Leave a Reply