Travel News

Ireland’s best islands to visit

Landscape with mountains and ocean at Keem beach. Achill, Ireland

On sunny days, there are few places in the world that can match the beauty of Ireland’s islands.

And even on wet and misty days, the islands are as compelling. Their rugged features become more dramatic. They inspire stories – and adventures. Hundreds of islands dot the coastline of Ireland, each one offering something unique. From the wild tales of pirate queens and one-eyed warrior kings to surprising appearances of wild wallabies or a tropical lagoon in Irish waters, these nine islands can give you an otherworldly experience.  

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 Achill Island was one of the filming locations for the Banshees of Inisherin © Rihardzz/Shutterstock

Achill Island, County Mayo

Best for cinematic landscapes, outdoor adventures and basking sharks

Along with the Aran island of Inis Mór, Achill was the location for the fictional island of Inisherin in the Oscar-nominated The Banshees of Inisherin. Director Martin McDonagh has stated on occasion that he wanted to capture the beauty of Ireland’s western islands on screen – and it’s easy to see why the island became another protagonist in the film. Home to towering sea cliffs, soaring mountains, sheltered bays and secret beaches, it has striking scenery indeed.

But the island isn’t just getting by on its looks. There are plenty of activities to get into here like hiking, cycling, rock climbing and canoeing. It’s also a great spot for surfing, particularly along the wind-bashed Dooagh Strand, and swimming in any one of the island’s many Blue Flag beaches. Start your day with a morning swim in Keem Bay, a white-sand beach that occasionally attracts basking sharks, before stopping in the Beehive for lunch. Hike the Cliffs of Croaghaun for or learn more about the island through guided tours that walk and talk you through its history like the Colony Tour or the Deserted Village Tour.

Get there: The island is connected to the mainland by bridge and makes an easy day trip from mainland Mayo. You can also approach it by bike on the Great Western Greenway, a 26-mile trail that starts in Westport. Westport Bike Hire organizes twice-daily shuttles between Westport and Achill if you don’t have your own wheels.

A person stands on the top of high, narrow piece of rock jutting directly up from the sea.
Tory Island © Iain Miller

Tory Island, County Donegal

Best for sea dives, mythology and kings

Tory Island is the most remote of all the islands of Ireland. Since it has a population of roughly…

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