Getty Images

Aran Islands

Easily visible from the coast of Counties Galway and Clare, the rocky, wind-buffeted Aran Islands have a desolate beauty that draws countless day trippers. Visitors who stay longer experience the sensation that they're far further removed from the Irish mainland than the 40-minute ferry ride or 10-minute flight would suggest.

An extension of the limestone escarpment that forms The Burren in Clare, the islands have shallow topsoil scattered with wild flowers, grass where livestock grazes and jagged cliffs pounded by surf. Ancient forts here are some of the oldest archaeological remains in Ireland.

Inishmore (Irish: Inis Mór) is the largest island and home to the only town, Kilronan. Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) preserves its age-old traditions and evokes a sense of timelessness. Inisheer (Inis Oírr), the smallest island, has a strong trad culture.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Aran Islands.