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From Rembrandt & Van Gogh to Delft, bicycles & beer, this art tour of Holland is a masterpiece.
The Aran Islands are three rocky sisters rising out of the Atlantic Ocean, visible from the Cliffs of Moher as well as Galway Harbor. Only a short ferry ride away, these outcroppings nevertheless offer peaceful retreat from the mainland.
Gaelic finds a stronghold in the three stony outcroppings. According to Frommer's, the 1,500 inhabitants between the three islands maintain a traditional, rural life comprised of small-boat fishing, stone cottages and pony-drawn wagons. The most recognizable trademark of the culture - Gaelic - still graces natives' tongues. While summer morphs the islands into a glorified tourist hub, wintertime restores the islands to an intimate windswept landscape more in keeping with the islands' true character, with cozy pubs and bed and breakfasts to call home after exploring the islands' treasures.
A tour of Ireland's most majestic islands may be done in three parts, traveling between Inis mor, Inis Meain and Inis Oirr - the big, middle and small islands, respectively.
As the biggest of the three islands, Inis Mor also plays host to some of the most impressive sites, not just among the islands, but in all of Ireland. Dun Aengus is a prehistoric stone fort shaped much like an amphitheater, with its innermost court opening out to the edge of dizzying cliff nearly 300 feet above Atlantic waters. A huge stone wall circumscribes the court, followed by successive fans of ramparts. Dun Eochla is a smaller fort on the island, but it boasts a memorably tight defensive wall around a small citadel, resembling a stone bull's-eye. Meanwhile, Clochan na Carraige is a well-preserved ancient dwelling, notable for its rounded exterior and rectangular interior.
At the end of the day, travelers can rest easy in Kilronan, the main village of the island and home to more than two-thirds of the Aran Islands' inhabitants.
This island is quieter than Inis Mor. Only 200 people call the island home, making them the minority population in a habitat that boasts over 300 flowering plants. Naturalists will find orchids, honeysuckle and Irish saxifrage, according to the island's website. Among the human sites on this island are two forts, a church with exquisite stained glass windows and the temporary residence of John Millington Synge, Irish playwright and poet.
While smaller than Meain, Inis Oirr is home to more islanders. Travelers can pay homage to a handful of 9th and 12th century church ruins, but like any of these islands, perhaps the most worthwhile site is the sea just beyond the rocky coast.
Premium private tour of Prague's best sights with an expert guide, and personal driver & vehicle.
Premium private tour featuring comfortable hotels with an expert guide & vehicle. Explore the best sights of Vienna and Salzburg.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
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