How to visit the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher and Burren are an easy journey in a day if you are staying along the coastline or touring the Wild Atlantic Way. The biggest tourist attraction in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher are a breathtaking sight. There is a tourist centre at the Cliffs with a huge parking lot on the other side of the road where you can leave your car if you drive.
Driving to see the Cliffs and Burren from Dublin will take you around 3 hours. I would recommend that you take a few days to visit all the sites along the Wild Atlantic Way and stay in the area.
There are also many companies who do day trips to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin and other parts of Ireland. Generally speaking, they are combined with other locations to make a full day of site seeing.
I recently spent 8 weeks re-discovering the Wild Atlantic Way including the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. The best way to see this part of Ireland is to rent a car, take your time and visit all the places you have read about over the years.
In June of 2014 Fáilte Ireland launched a new campaign to encourage everyone planning a trip to Ireland or living there to discover the wonders of the Wild Atlantic Way. The route stretches from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal in the Northwest to Kinsale in Cork on the Southwest coast. There is so much to see on the WAW and the coastal tour is simply breathtaking. Surfers of the Burren or on the beaches of Donegal swear these are some of the best waves in the world.
“The 2,500 km (1,553 mile) route passes through nine counties and three provinces encompassing 157 discovery points, 1,000 attractions and more than 2,500 activities.”
Touring the Wild Atlantic Way is a must-do when in Ireland. From start to finish the beauty and magnificence of this drive is jaw-dropping. From cliffside to the seaside the scenery is stunning and the views unlike anywhere else in the world. The power of the ocean with its crashing, unrestrained tides and storms has been changing the face of the coast of Ireland for centuries. From towering cliffs to immense bays and beaches the terrain is always shifting
Getting to the Cliffs of Moher
It’s a pretty easy journey to the Cliffs of Moher from Shannon Airport – the drive is only around an hour or so. From Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher the drive is around 3 hours or so.
There is no actual train or bus from Dublin to get to the Cliffs of Moher but there are plenty of guided tours that you can take and there are bus connections from Galway.
Cliffs of Moher by Bus
You can get direct public bus connections from Galway Bus station to the Cliffs of Moher and on to Ennis along the Wild Atlantic Way on the Bus Eireann 350 route. Bus connections are available to and from Shannon, Dublin Cork and Knock Airports but you may have to change bus.
Bus Eireann operates up to 5 services a day in the summer each way every day between Ennis and Galway and 3 on a year-round basis.
Cliffs of Moher by Rail
You can get a rail connection to Ennis, via Limerick, and then catch the bus. All the main cities in Ireland are connected by train including Dublin, Galway, Cork and Belfast. You can also take the train to Galway and get a bus from there. Visit Irish Rail for more information.
Hiking to the Cliffs of Moher
Walk from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher
There’s Guerin’s Path, which is about 1km away from the visitor centre at the Cliffs of Moher and it costs €5 per person. This is a family-owned farm and business and will give you a spectacular walk along the Cliffs.
If you fancy a good hike you can leave the car in the nearby villages of Liscannor and Doolin and follow the marked trails to the Cliffs. If you can find Nag’s Head which is the most southerly point of the Cliffs there is a little car park there where you can drop €2 into the honesty box, and it’s just a 15-20 minute walk to the Cliffs.
Walk the Coastal Trail
Stretching 18km from Doolin to Liscannor, the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Trail opened in 2013 and is the most comprehensive way to visit the Cliffs of Moher–but if you decide to walk, be prepared for quite a long day!
How to visit the Cliffs of Moher
The Wild Atlantic Way route itself is free with many sites along the way that also have no entry cost, but there are places where to get the best views, such as the Cliffs of Moher you will pay a parking and entry fee. Cost to see the Cliffs of Moher is €8.00. If you want to climb O’Brien’s Tower at the Cliffs there is an extra charge of €4.00. There is a large car park at the Cliffs and all-day parking here is included in the price of a visitor centre ticket.
Parking at the Cliffs of Moher
On your arrival to the Cliffs of Moher, you park in the main car park on the opposite side of the road from the visitor center. You can purchase your admission ticket at the entry cabins which includes unlimited car parking.
If you are a disabled driver or passenger, you need to make your way to the public car park and the attendant at the entry cabin will advise and direct you to the available spaces in the area designated for disabled parking.
If you have a disabled permit on your car you can park in one of the disabled parking spaces. There are 5 disabled parking spaces in front of the visitor centre on the same side of the road as the Cliffs. These are the closest car spaces to the visitor centre and Cliffs. After parking please go into the visitor centre to buy your tickets. There are only 5 spaces here so we are sorry if they are already full. There are an extra 6 disabled parking spaces in the main car park on the opposite side of the road at the point closest to the pedestrian crossing.
The Cliffs of Moher have been a stunning backdrop in several movies that you should watch before you go. From the cult favourite The Princess Bride (1987) (as the filming location for “The Cliffs of Insanity”), and of course one of my all-time favourites – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), and the romantic comedy Leap Year (2010).
The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most outstanding spots of natural beauty in Ireland. Beautiful hilltop walks, wheeling birds, cows in the field next to the walkways, nature at its most temperamental. On some days you may not be able to see too much with the fogs that roll in quickly of the Atlantic coasts and beware the winds can whip up suddenly leaving you breathless and wet with the mist and rain. It may be an idea to book your visit online before you go, as the Cliffs can get very overcrowded and you may not get in.
You will be treated to some absolutely phenomenal views at the Cliffs of Moher and if you are taking a day trip during summer months you will often be entertained with some traditional Irish music from local buskers.
The Cliffs of Moher are almost vertical, with a sheer drop into the heaving Atlantic ocean and if you are not careful you can be blown off the Cliffs. The area is a haven for sea birds.
You can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, as well as The Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk Mountains to the north in Connemara and Loop Head to the South, the view just never gets old. You will encounter many a stupid tourist daring themselves to get a selfie on the edge of the Cliffs but it is very dangerous so try to avoid this potentially fatal error.
The cliffs reach their highest point near O’Brien’s Tower. A walk along the paved pathways near the cliffs edge cliffs is not to be missed.
O’Brien’s Tower marks the highest spot at the Cliffs of Moher. O’Brien built O’Brien’s Tower near the highest point of the Cliffs, as a viewing area for 19th-century visitors. He also built a wall along the Cliffs, made from Liscannor flagstone –the remnants of which have been restored within the visitor centre grounds. It costs an extra €2 to visit the tower.
An Branán Mor
This is probably one of the most iconic of the Cliffs of Moher views. The sea stack which is simply a piece of the land that broke off thousands of years ago and now stands on its own in the water. It stands at 60 metres high and there are great views from O’Brien’s Tower.
Take a Cliffs of Moher cruise
One of the best ways to see the Cliffs of Moher is from the water. Not only that but depending on when you visit you may catch sight of the Atlantic Puffins who nest in the Cliffs.
Unlike many other areas where Puffin’s breed the Cliffs of Moher puffins are experiencing an increase in numbers. At the Cliffs of Moher, it is possible to spot breeding puffins. Over 60,000 birds come to nest at the Cliffs and these can be spotted from the Visitors Centre or a speciality sea cruise.
This really is the best way to see puffins and it is much more environmentally friendly and doesn’t disturb the puffin colonies.
Doolin 2 Aran Ferries does a range of tours that include puffin watching from the Cliffs of Moher to Loop Head. The cost of a boat tour is usually around €25 but can be booked online for a great discount.
Stroll to Hag’s Head.
Hag’s Head is around an hour’s slow walk from the visitors’ centre at the Cliffs. Legend tells us that the old Hag Mal of Malby fell in love with that great Irish hero Cú Chulainn and chased him across Ireland. Cú Chulainn escaped by hopping across the sea stacks but the Hag wasn’t so sure-footed lost her footing and was dashed to death on the rocks.
There is an old ruined tower at Hags head and it was a watch fort known in Irish as Mothar so you can see how the name Moher came about.
You should be very aware of the dangers at the Cliffs of Moher, over 66 people have died at the Cliffs falling to their deaths. A huge percentage of these deaths were of people who crossed the guard rails and attempted to take “selfies” at the Cliff edge. I’ve seen it myself, youngsters sitting on the very unstable Cliff edges taking selfies and it scared me to witness that.
Sites like the Burren on the Wild Atlantic Way encourage the imagination to wander. The Burren appears to be a desolate, moonscape but it holds a curious beauty. It intertwines with the Cliffs of Moher which stand proud against the ravages of the sea. Birds whirling overhead clash with the crows that seek out tourists to scavenge for food in some of these heavily visited areas. Some of the best bird watching in the world can be found in this region hard up against the Atlantic waters.
How to get to the Burren from Dublin or Shannon
Irish Rail operates a train from Dublin to The Burren every 4 hours. Tickets cost £28 – £40 and the journey takes 1 h 54 min. Alternatively, the Dublin Coach operates a bus from Dublin to The Burren every 30 minutes. Tickets cost £10 – £14 and the journey takes 3 h 30 min.
There is also a free shuttle bus if you can get to Corofin. The free bus service will operate from the Information Point in Corofin through the National Park. The bus will run from 1st May – 31st August and will provide access to various sections of the National Park. The service will run for 7 days a week
Surfing is very popular all along the Wild Atlantic coastline, surfers swear that Ireland has some of the best surfing beaches in the world.
In 2011 the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark gained Global Geopark status. Making up over 530 square kilometres the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark offer a diversity that is second to none. There is the natural beauty of the 200 metre high Cliffs with its eight kilometres of rugged coastline, and there is beauty in the vast array of flora, including Arctic and Alpine flowers that grow surprisingly alongside Mediterranean species. There is also the staggering amount of history in the Burren region with over 2,700 recorded monuments, some dating back over 6,000 years. This has led to the Burren being described as “one vast memorial to bygone cultures”.
If you are seeking a less touristy route than the Cliffs of Moher you should give the drive around Loop Head Peninsula a try. Isolated, raw and as beautiful as Moher the Loop Head cliffs are just as stunning, the views are free and the outlook can be photographed in all its stunning glory with nary a tourist in sight.
Loop Head is at the most westerly tip of County Clare, from the lighthouse (which you can climb to the top of) you will see the word EIRE in white on the land. This is from WWII and it was a sign to pilots that they were flying over neutral territory. You will be entranced by the antics of the bottle-nosed dolphins that make their home in the Shannon estuary.
For wildlife and nature lovers Loop Head offers plenty of bird-watching and nature hikes. Not forgetting you foodies there is so much offered in the way of local seafood, produce and you can dine on some incredible gourmet meals here.
When touring this area we stayed at the fabulous Armada Hotel at Spanish Point – it is the perfect location for all the site on this part of the WAW. Fantastic food, very comfortable rooms and the view? Priceless.
Make sure you stop in Donegal Town for a day or two at least, check our Jim and Corinne’s blog ReflectionsonRoute they have a really great piece on the Top 5 things to do in Donegal that is a must-read for anyone touring this part of the Wild Atlantic Way.
If you love Ireland as much as I do you will find loads more to read about on my blog, check out the posts on some more locations on the Wild Atlantic Way and the rest of Ireland.
Visit Ireland’s Ancient East and take a journey around Tipperary