Touring the Wild Atlantic Way –
Cliffs of Moher & Burren
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. Driving to see the Cliffs and Burren from Dublin will take you around 3 hours. I would highly recommend that you take a few days to visit all the sites along the Wild Atlantic Way and stay in the area.
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 cliff side to 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.
Touring the Cliffs of Moher & Burren
The Wild Atlantic Way route itself is free with many sites along the 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 of around €6.
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 centre. 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 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 in to 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 inn 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.
The Cliffs of Moher are almost vertical, with a sheer drop into the heaving Atlantic ocean and if you are not careful you can been blown of 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.
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, 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 offers 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 site.
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 wild life and nature overs 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
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