If you’re looking for a cheap break away with your friends during the summer and can’t afford a week pool-side somewhere exotic, the Aran Islands will provide a craic-filled adventure that won’t break the bank. Nikki went to visit the largest of the Islands, Inis Mhór, last week and despite a nauseous run-in with the Atlantic Ocean, it was a plain-sailing Oirish adventure, perfect for students on a budget.
The trip to Inis Mhór worked out extremely cheap, and student-friendly. The ferry to the island, including a shuttle bus from Galway town, costs only 20 euro for students, (25 euro without a valid student card). An experience in itself, the journey was not an enjoyable one for yours truly. If you’re not a good traveller, prone to sea-sickness, I would, in hindsight, recommend that you travel on the top of the boat, basking in the fresh air. I, unfortunately, had not been given this sound advice before my trip and had to glamorously acquaint myself with an “in case of emergency” plastic bag for the duration of the jaunt.
Once we hit the more reliable land, we ventured a mere four minutes to the Kilronan Hostel. At only 20 euro a night, the hostel was a steal, and as long as you don’t mind being awoken at 10am by a fog horn (no joke), it is the perfect spot for a group of students. The place even has a television room with internet (yes, the island does have internet – shocker), and a kitchen for those of you who can cook.
Now on to the local pubs where I imagine you’ll want to spend most of your time. There are three on the island, all of which are complete with the mandatory old men perched at the bar. As the majority of the locals speak as Gaeilge, you can break out those Leaving Cert. phrases and practise your cúpla focal with the friendly residents.
Whether it is for warmth or street cred from hipsters, an Aran jumper may be on your shopping list while there. Be warned however, they are rather expensive so don’t expect to bring one home as a souvenir for all the family.
For those interested in getting around and taking in the view on the coast, there are a few bike hire outlets on the island. Another more postcard-friendly way of seeing a bit of Inis Mhór however, is by horse and cart. The banter was mighty, and the profile pictures stereotypically Irish as we travelled around the island with a lovely local called Thomas and his piebald horse. (He even let us sneak a few cans on the trip to ensure it was a classy adventure!) The horse and cart trip only cost us 6 euro each and is well worth it.
Overall, despite the seasickness and the fog horns, it was a great trip with banter had with the friendly locals and my friends. I would recommend it for a short weekend away if you can’t afford a raucous holiday on a Spanish island.
Have you any other cheap destinations to recommend, for the budget-cautious student?