Inis Mor, located in Ireland’s Aran Islands, is a small, eight-square-mile island filled with kerry-green fields, beautiful, aloof horses, hard-to-reach cliffs and ancient, abandoned forts. You can see all this eight-mile island has to offer by bike — whether your map got soaked by the rain or not. Here’s how our adventure went down…
What could be better than a bike ride through the Irish countryside? A bike ride around the Aran Islands’ Inis Mor, an island off the coast of Galway with (almost) zero cars, zillions of grazing horses and eight miles of coastal adventures.
The ferry pickup spot is about a one-hour bus ride from the Galway City Center (details on the shuttle bus here), and the ferry ride is a little less than an hour. There’s also the option of taking a small plane to get to the island in eight minutes, but small planes give me a lot of anxiety, so I avoid them at all costs.
But I digress. Anxiety is not really The Wanderlost Way (although sometimes we can’t help our fears, can we?). Here’s what I enjoyed most while getting Wanderlost on Inis Mor.
Inis Mor Must-Dos
Step off the ferry (or plane, you brave soul!) and you’ll be greeted by half a dozen “bike hire” shops where you can rent your day’s ride. Since Inis Moir allows no cars, this is one of your only ways to see the full island. Inis Mor has an eight-mile route that takes you through the island — along the coast, up the cliffside, and through old Irish ruins.
The ride is also perfect for Wanderlost adventurers, because, well, it’s so easy to get lost. Sure you get a map at the bike shop, but once that map gets soaked in rain (nine times out of 10 it will, because Ireland), you’re on your own. For us that meant dodging the rain in between ancient Irish forts, petting horses when we needed a break and talking with local farmers who solely spoke Gaelic, which led to my favorite type of directions ever: the point and guess game.
We asked a few more people for directions and were able to stumble upon the cliffs we had read about, but to this day I remember our crazy experience getting there more than the destination itself. We took detours, side streets, got lost, and enjoyed Inis Mor the true Wanderlost Way — and it’s something I’d suggest you do, too!
Dún Aonghasa and Inis Mor Cliffs
Follow the southern side of the Inis Mor island, and you’ll stumble upon stairs leading you to yet another beautiful ancient fort, Dún Aonghasa. Set atop a 100-meter-high cliff, Dún Aonghasa is out of the way for most tourists (you have to work hard to get up there, stair after stair after stair!), making it a nice spot for peaceful meditation or edge-of-the-cliff views.
When my study abroad friends and I visited Inis Mor, we missed the whole direct route to Dún Aonghasa thing (surprise, surprise) and took every detour the island has to offer. That left us with a few short minutes to run up the stairs, walk through the old fort and scope out those classic Irish cliffs. Fortunately, as is the case with most cliffs in Ireland, this natural landmark did not disappoint.
Ride along the northern coast of Inis Mor and you’ll run into Cill Mhuirbhigh, a small beach that’s safe for swimming and perfect for exploring. Now, when we visited in the middle of the summer, I was dressed in long pants, a jacket, and still had full-on shivers. Therefore, my Inis Mor beach expedition was more jumping rock to rock and picking up interesting seaweed formations than stripping down on the sand. To each his own, right?
If you’re lucky enough to visit on an unseasonably hot day, please enjoy that sunshine and sand, and let me know how it was! If your forecast is all rain, all the time (because again, Ireland), then rest assured: You may not get bronzer, but you’ll still have a blast!
Know before you go
If seeing Inis Mor The Wanderlost Way, you must build in extra time for your trip. From riding through side streets to talking through point-and-guess Gaelic with locals, you’re bound to love it here. And, given the last ferry back to Galway leaves around 5 or 6 (depending on time of year), you’ll want to be well on your way back to the bike hire by 4 so you can wander through Inis Mor’s cute little city streets before heading back to Galway.
Now, if you happen to get left behind by the ferry (you Wanderlost explorer, you!), fear not: Inis Mor has several lodging options that will help you make the most of your misadventures.
Have you visited Inis Mor? What was your favorite experience?