For a true Irish experience, visit the Aran Islands. The three islands are some of the last settlements of Gaelic civilization, and Irish Gaelic is still the main spoken language. You'll feel pleasantly isolated from the bustling major Irish cities in this small getaway of unspoiled countryside.
The eastern island
The biggest of the three islands is Inishmore, where you'll find many cultural and historic sites to keep you busy. There are over 50 historical monuments of Christian, pre-Christian, and Celtic significance. Check out the large fort from the Bronze and Iron Ages called Dun Aengus. This picturesque fort is located on the edge of a 100-meter cliff with pretty views and even has a small museum about its history. The Black Fort, or Dún Dúchathair, is also on the biggest island. The impressive stone wall ruins are fascinating to explore.
You can also see Teampull Bheanáin, which is considered the smallest church in the world, or Teampall an Ceathrar Álainn ("The Church of the Four Beauties"), where legend says "four beauties" were buried on the church land under the stone flags which are believed to have healing powers. For a truly intriguing structure, visit Clochán na Carraige, a stone "beehive hut" that is uniquely rectangular inside but round outside. Adventure seekers can try surfing or cliff diving on this island.
The middle island
Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) is the second biggest island, and often the least visited, so you'll get first dibs on spectacular views and breathtaking nature. Visit Teampall na Seacht Mac Ri, a tiny church with impressive stained-glass windows, or try out some great local restaurants. Crystal clear waters and exceptional marine life make Inishmaan an ideal destination for divers. Make sure to visit Inis Meáin Knitting Company to hear about the famous Aran sweater. The Aran Islands started a now well-known style of sweater known as an Aran jumper which is usually off-white and contains cable patterns all over.
The western island
The smallest island of the three is Inisheer (Inis Oírr). Here you'll find the ruins of the 14th-century O'Brien's Castle. Enjoy the gorgeous white-sand beach or escape to Loch Mór, the island's freshwater lake. Take a walk to the lighthouse where you can see views of the Cliffs of Moher or try local delicacies at a café.
Take a leisurely journey via ferry or a quick 10-minute flight from the mainland to explore the historic Aran Islands. Rent a bike to see the islands with the most popular mode of transportation. You'll find mini-bus tours and taxis readily available. The popular sites are also easily accessible by foot, or even via pony cart rides. You won't run out of ancient sites, rugged landscapes, varied wildlife, relaxing cafés, or shops to explore on these popular islands. Each island offers a unique and memorable experience.