Is This the Quaintest Place in Ireland?

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This secluded destination is steeped in history and offers unparalleled scenic views.

From the rolling hills in the south to the rocky west coast, Ireland is a country known for its unparalleled beauty. Among the hundreds of quaint towns and hidden villages, there's one place that stands out from the rest.

Less than 10 miles from the coast of County Galway sits the trio of isles that make up the Aran Islands. Guarding the mouth of Galway Bay, these three rocky islands are a patchwork of stone walls and lush green pastures, offering stunning scenery from coast to coast. 

Less than 1,200 people live on the islands, but the destination is one of the most popular for tourists coming to the Emerald Isle. And there's a good reason why. With 38 national monuments dotting the islands, there's plenty of history to soak in. Among the national monuments are the ancient forts of Dún Aonghasa on the coast of Inishmóre, and Dún Chonchúir in the heart of Inishmaan. These two ancient sites are some of the oldest archaeological remains in the whole of Ireland.

Totaling a mere 18-square-miles between the three islands, you'd think it would be easy to take in the sights in just a day, but there's too much to see and do in such a short amount of time. Travelers should plan for at least one overnight, so as not to rush through the trip. After all, it's a great destination if you're looking to unwind among nature.

There are over a dozen quaint bed and breakfasts to choose from, with most on Inishmóre. And it's not as difficult as you might imagine getting to the secluded islands. From Rossaveel—about an hour's drive west of Galway City—there's a ferry that operates year round, and from March to October, there's another ferry that leaves from Doolin—a short drive from the Cliffs of Moher.

So while planning your next trip to Ireland, add a few days to your itinerary to give yourself time to check out these ancient islands. Once you set foot on the islands and take in the beauty around you, you'll quickly start planning your next trip back.