Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Wild Atlantic Way | Itineraries
Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way are impossible to sum up in just one or two paragraphs. To really explore this gorgeous part of the world might take more than one visit, but a sensible place to begin is by reading these Wild Atlantic Way Itineraries on Planet Patrick.
This Travel Guide details how to get the Doolin Ferry from Doolin Harbour to Kilronan on Inishmore in the Aran Islands.
The Wild Atlantic Way is a 2,500km (>1,550 mile) tourist route along Ireland’s Western coastline, from Malin Head in the North to Kinsale in the South. It connects significant historic, cultural and geographic features into a manageable road trip, comprising staggering clifftop vistas to golden strands and stunning lighthouses.
Doolin Ferry Guide | Inishmore Itinerary (One Day)
If you want to see how this fits in, click here for the overall Inishmore Itinerary.
Doolin Ferry runs regular services from Doolin, County Clare to Inisheer, Irishman and Inishmore (together, the Aran Islands). Not all services stop at every island, so check carefully that you’re getting on the right ferry (Doolin Ferry staff make things very clear before you get on board).
The Doolin Ferry office is bright red and is hard to miss. When I was there, there were lots of staff around, all wearing bright red jackets.
All tickets are return tickets. A lot of people visit one of the islands for a day trip or stay overnight. The cost is the same. For adults travelling to Inishmore (this is the largest island and the most popular to visit), the price is €39 return, for seniors or students it costs €36 and €20 for children. Check the Doolin Ferry website for special prices for families. [Prices are current for 2022].
Boarding with a Bike
I found the queue/line to be unexpectedly long. Cleary, some coach trip passengers had arrived ahead of time and, once you’ve used the facilities (there are toilets near the office), then there’s not much else to do at the harbour.
Bikes are permitted on board for NO EXTRA charge in quieter months. You should phone ahead during busier months (June, July, August) to check if there will be room (there may NOT be). To get your bike on board, dismount in the harbour area, and walk your bike to the ferry. There will be staff members in red jackets who will take it off you and secure the bike to the railing at the back of the boat.
I took the 10am ferry, which was the earliest time that I could book, so that I could get the most out of my day trip to Inishmore. The ferry departed pretty much bang on time and it really goes at quite a clip!
The seats upstairs were all taken as the weather was great as we departed. The journey to Inishmore takes between 35 and 40 minutes. By the way, Inishmore comes from the Irish, Inis Mór, which means ‘Big Island’.
Inisheer (Inis Oirr)
Inisheer is the smallest of the three islands that make up the Aran Islands, and the first that Ferry Passengers will pass on the way to Inishmore (which is the third and farthest). We didn’t pass very close, but I was intrigued and read that there was an interesting and deep archeological history on Inisheer that is worth pursuing on a different trip.
The facilities on board are relatively limited. There are two levels of seating. The top level offers great views, but you are very open to weather experiences (i.e., getting soaked in the rain!).
The bottom level has some outside seats and some inside seats. As we pulled into the harbour on Inishmaan (the middle island), where we were dropping off some passengers, the heavens opened and everyone had to cram into the covered portion of the lower deck.
There is a toilet on board. Please note that the door was quite hard to open and, as people were so crammed in the area right outside, it was hard to work out if anyone was already inside or not. Ask me how I know…!
The journey is short, but there are a LOT of photography opportunities. However, as the ferry does tip from side to side, you need to ensure your equipment is kept close to you and attached to you! I would urge you to be cautious.
Kilronan Harbour, Inishmore
The ferry arrives into Kilronan Harbour on Inishmore (you will see this written in Irish too, as Cill Rónáin). I was fascinated to see the local Garda (police officer) welcoming the boat or helping with its arrival.
The majority of organised trips will depart from Kilronan. I was cycling to Dún Aonghasa under my own steam, so all I needed was a map, which I got from the tourist office along the sea front.
However, you can get a horse and carriage/cart ride, or be picked up for a guided tour. I’d strongly recommend that you organise excursions as much as you can in advance as there is bound to be limited supply during the high season.
Boarding and de-boarding the ferry does involve using steps so potential passengers need to keep this in mind. If the weather is wet, you’ll want to be inside the boat and that involves walking down some steeper steps which may be slippy. Everyone should wear appropriate footwear.
For the majority of day-trippers, you will want to catch the 1600h (4pm) ferry back to Doolin. There are not a lot of alternatives to this last daily boat, so make sure you get there on time! Anyone left behind will have to find somewhere to stay. On the day I visited Inishmore, this last ferry was delayed by quite a bit, around 45 minutes and it was COLD (end May). Make sure you have some layers stowed in your handbag or rucksack.
Find the accompanying video for this article below:
Excursions in the Aran Islands
Discover new journeys, destinations and ways to travel with Planet Patrick