5 things to see and do on Arranmore Island, Co. Donegal

Just off the west coast of Donegal, Arranmore Island is a picturesque landmass well worth exploring.

Just a twenty-minute car-ferry across the ocean you’ll find the island.

It’s packed full of things to see and do so you’ll need an entire day to explore everything it has to offer.

Arranmore is known for its idyllic villages, friendly locals, stunning sights, delicious food, and is home to the Féile Róise Rua (Rose of Arranmore) music festival, a must-visit festival celebrating Irish music, dance, and craic that runs May 17 – 19.

The island has everything you could want for a day of playing tourist. So what’re you waiting for? Grab your camera and your travel buddies and hit the shores.

Getaway on the island and live life like it’s easy with these top five things to see and do on Arranmore Island.

5. Hire a bike – to explore the island

First off, and maybe most important, is hiring a bike once you touchdown.

If you’re thinking of spending the entire day on the island, then a bike is essential.

Not only is Arranmore known for its stretches of roads running alongside beaches and coves, but it’s also known for its historical landmarks.

Sure you could drive around the island in your car, but the best way to experience it is to cycle and stop wherever catches your eye.

Arranmore is a large island, and it’ll take you a large portion of the day navigating its landmass. The island offers electric bike rentals to help those who may struggle with the journey so everybody can go adventuring.

4. Pay a visit to the Arranmore Lighthouse – to travel back in time

Set at the most northern point of the island, this quaint white lighthouse looks out over the vast North Atlantic Ocean stretching endlessly into the horizon.

The lighthouse itself is a historical landmark and has been around since 1978.

The lighthouse has saved many a life, not least of all, Wayne Dickson (an American) who, in 1982, was lost at sea during his trip from Boston to Arranmore. Wayne Dickson was found washed up by a storm seeking refuge in the lighthouse after 142 days.

It’s a spectacular building and, just like everywhere you step on the island, you can’t help but feel history alive around you.

AddressLighthouse Lot, Co. Donegal, Ireland

3. Stop for a pint and grub at Early’s Bar – for a touch of tradition

Home to turf burning and traditional music, Early’s Bar, along with the other six pubs on the island, is the best spot for Irish traditions. The bar is easily accessible from the main port and is open almost 24 hours for those who don’t want to leave.

Early’s is also home to some of the best grub the island has to offer, they even have a pizza-oven fully equipped and home to one of the best pizzas in all of Donegal. You have to try one of Pat’s pizzas or their fish and chips!

Early’s has its own slice of history. The O’Donnell Pearls, an invaluable treasure given to the original owners’ of the pub by a Spanish sailor, were held on the island for years and mysteriously vanished once removed and taken to Dublin. Is that a treasure hunt I hear?

AddressLeabgarrow, Arranmore Island, Co. Donegal, Ireland

2. Chat with a local in their native tongue – to feel cultured

Arranmore is home to many friendly locals, many of which are native Irish speakers.

It’s a Gaeltacht (a primarily Irish speaking region), and the locals are more than happy to chat with visitors and inform them of sights and to teach them some of their mother tongue.

As you pass through the villages you’ll hear locals chatter in Gaelic but don’t be afraid to approach them as they’ll share their knowledge of the language, and the island, with you.

1. – Go on a sea-safari with Dive Arranmore Charters – for a unique experience!

WILDSEA Europe

Dive Arranmore Charters offers boat rides and sea-diving experiences just off the coast of the island. They are completely equipped with everything you need to explore the waters.

This experience is unique and offers different dives depending on your skill level and experience as well as sea-safari to spot seals, dolphins and basking sharks.

On the way to dive sites, the tour guides will relay historic information of the sights you pass.

The tour guides have a wealth of knowledge of the local area and are more than willing to share it with you. Hopping onboard one of their outings is too good an opportunity to miss and the best way to end your visit to Arranmore.

AddressPlughoge, Aran Island, Co. Donegal, Ireland

So there you have it, these five things to see and do on Arranmore Island are just a taste of everything it offers.

So what’re you waiting for? Book your ferry and join us, once you get to Arranmore you won’t ever want to leave.

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Note: our travel articles should be used only to plan future trips. Please stay at home until the government has advised otherwise.

Colin is a writer from Newry, County Down, who loves exploring every edge of Ireland. Having lived half his life in Belfast and half in Dublin, he knows both capital cities like the back of his hand. Though he's widely travelled across every continent, he still finds something special about his home island and wants to share that special something with others. When not writing travel articles, finishing up coursework in TCD's library or adventuring near and far, Colin can be found working on his debut science-fiction novel and planning his next big adventure.