Ireland’s Island Day-Trips

Ireland's Island Day-Trips

Scattered throughout Ireland’s west coast are a myriad of islands. Home to creatures, big and small, and boasting spectacular scenery and lush green landscapes, they’re the perfect day trip for anyone craving an island adventure.

We’ve featured islands, which offer visitors everything they could want from a day-trip – amazing scenery, history and picturesque walks. And to help you get the most out of your trip, we’ve highlighted our favourite walking routes on each island.

Achill Island

Dramatic cliffs, a rugged coastline and a history steeped in Celtic folklore and Irish history, Achill Island is one of Ireland’s most enchanting islands. Situated off the coast of Mayo, it is the largest island off Irish shores and boasts the third-highest sea cliffs in Europe.

With a long and varied history, the island was famously home to Grainne O’Malley (Granuaile), Ireland’s renowned pirate queen, who fiercely ruled the region and surrounding seas for over 60 years.

Today, Achill’s colourful flora and fauna, secluded beaches, friendly locals and meandering trails, make it a popular destination for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Walking Routes on Achill

One of the most popular walking routes on Achill is the Dooagh Loop Walk. The circular route boasts spectacular views over Dooagh Beach and surrounding landscapes. The trail starts at the beach car park, before going north towards the lake and Corrymore House. The full loop offers spectacular views of the Island and is well worth the trip.

OSi Discovery Series, Map 30 is the perfect partner for a trip to Achill.

Dooagh Loop

Great Blasket Island

Over the years, the Great Blasket Island has become synonymous with Irish-language literature. The home of notable Irish writers like, Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Peig Sayers and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, the island’s sights, sounds and smells were the inspiration for many of their famous works.

A steadily-declining population and ongoing emigration resulted in the island becoming uninhabited in 1953. Each summer, tourists flock to the island to visit the now deserted village – a reflection of years gone by.

Great Blasket Walking Routes

A well-trodden walking path is found around the circumference of the island. The short walking loop is about 8 km long and takes about three hours to complete. The scenic track offers spectacular views of the Dingle peninsula and smaller Blasket Islands.

Skellig Michael

An idyllic and magical island, it’s no wonder Lucasfilm chose Skellig Michael as the location for Luke Skywalker’s hideaway. The island’s otherworldly appearance, and awe-inspiring scenery made it the perfect choice for Star Wars.

Before being featured in a galaxy far far away, Skellig Michael was a monastic site, which was first inhabited around 500 AD. The stone staircase and famous beehive huts, which are found on the island, were built by the monks between the 6th and 8th centuries.

From May to October, ferry tours operate to the island. Care is needed when climbing the steps as they are notoriously steep and rocky.

Skellig Michael

Walking Routes on Skellig Michael

Due to the island’s size and geography, there are no set walking routes. However, it will take 600 steps to reach the top of the island, making it a great workout.

For trips to Kerry and its islands, bring OSi Discovery Series, Map 83.

Inishmore

The largest of the Arann Islands, Inishmore (Inis Mór), is a great option for anyone looking for an active weekend away. The island has a wealth of attractions and sites and is easily accessible via the ferry or air service.

Visitors to the island can enjoy a wealth of historical and geographical landmarks. First on the list should be Dún Aonghasa – a pre-Christian stone fort, built on the edge of a high cliff. The impressive structure is one of the most popular sites on the island and boasts awe-inspiring views across the Atlantic Ocean.

One of the most unique geographical features on Inishmore, is Poll na bPeist aka The Wormhole. Although it may look like man-made, the rectangular cut in the island’s limestone is in fact a natural rock formation. Since 2012, the natural pool has played host to Red Bull’s Cliff Diving World Series.

Walking Routes on Inishmore

The Cill Einne Loop is one of the most popular routes on the island and takes in many of the area’s main tourist attractions. The full loop takes 5 hours to complete and is 13 km in length.

Starting at Kilronan village, walkers will take the scenic route along the coast through Cill Einne and Iaráirne before passing the Black Fort and finishing back at Kilronan.

Cill Einne Loop

Inishbofin

Inishbofin offers visitors everything they could want from an island break. Peaceful surroundings, top-notch restaurants, stunning scenery and lots of outdoor pursuits. The island also boasts its own marine spa, where visitors can indulge in a range of treatments and therapies – the ideal way to unwind after a long walk.

Walking Routes on Inishbofin

Casual walkers or experienced hikers will be able to find a route to suit their experience and fitness levels. More confident hikers should attempt the Middlequarter Loop, which, on a clear day, offers panoramic views of Achill Island, Inishturk and Clare Island. The full loop takes about 2 hours to complete and covers Inishbofin’s second-highest point.

Make sure to pack OSI Discovery Series Map 45, when visiting the Arann Islands or Inishbofin

Clare Island Clare Island lies off the coast of Mayo and guards the entrance to Clew Bay. The island was first immortalised in a Saw Doctors’ love song but is now known for its annual music festivals, diverse nature and adventure activities.

Adrenaline junkies can partake in Coasteering, a physical and vertigo-inducing activity which combines rock climbing and cliff jumping. The cliffs to the north of the island are to home to a large number of nesting sea-birds, making the island a paradise for any keen bird-watchers.

Middlequarter Loop

Make sure to pack OSI Discovery Series Map 45, when visiting the Arann Islands or Inishbofin

Clare Island

Clare Island lies off the coast of Mayo and guards the entrance to Clew Bay. The island was first immortalised in a Saw Doctors’ love song but is now known for its annual music festivals, diverse nature and adventure activities.

Adrenaline junkies can partake in Coasteering, a physical and vertigo-inducing activity which combines rock climbing and cliff jumping. The cliffs to the north of the island are to home to a large number of nesting sea-birds, making the island a paradise for any keen bird-watchers.

Walking Routes on Clare Island

The island’s picturesque scenery makes it an extremely popular destination for walkers. The Clare Island Loop Walk is the perfect option for anyone, no matter the fitness level. Starting at the quay, follow the coastal road west until the road diverges to the right. Follow the road north, where it’ll bring you on a loop back towards the quays.

Clare Island Loop Walk

Click here to find the Maps you need to find the islands in this blog

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