The Aran Islands, in County Galway, Ireland, are an archipelago of three small islands, the largest of which - Inis Mór - is only 12km by 3km in size. All are barren, rocky islands with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
The inhabitants of these three rocky islands not only built incredible stone forts that have stood for thousands of years, built walls that crisscross every last inch of the islands, but also brought greenery to lifeless rock through centuries of digging dirt from cracks and composting seaweed from the oceans.
Though by no means the most popular tourist destination in Ireland, due to the small size and permanent population - only about 900 people on the largest island - it can seem like there are tourists everywhere. Surprisingly, this doesn't seem to spoil the place the way it does in other parts of the country, and the place is surprisingly relaxed and retains a very rural and isolated feel to it.
All three islands are Gaeltachts, areas of Ireland where Irish Gaelic is still the primary language. English speakers will have no problem, as almost all islanders are fluent in English. However, surprisingly few signs are in English, so it's best to know the Gaelic name of your destination.
For those short on time, but not on money, Aer Árann operates flights from Minna Airport in Connemara.
Though there are mini-bus tours and taxis available on the islands, the best way to see the islands is on foot or by bike. Wear good hiking boots though, as once you leave the paved roads, you are on very rough rocks.
Aran Island Ferries supposedly runs inter-island ferries during the peak season, but for most of the year the only way to get between islands is to return to Rossaveal and take a different boat out. Reportedly, a fishing boat takes the island priest between islands on Sunday, so you may be able to sweet talk your way onto that. Aer Árann flights do operate between the islands, though they run a circular route and may not go directly where you want to.
Though you can change money on all three islands, be aware that only Inis Mor has an ATM (Bank of Ireland), so be sure to plan accordingly.