The Cliffs of Moher are certainly Ireland’s most famous cliffs. We are talking about the best-known cliffs, since the highest Irish cliffs are the Slieve Leagues, which I told you about in the article on best places and things to do in Donegal.
The Cliffs of Moher are a place that is as evocative, as fascinating, as it is funereal. Have you ever heard of the cliffs of ruin? No? Well, know that they are just that. In Gaelic, a language commonly spoken in this part of Ireland, they are called Aillte an Mhothair meaning, precisely, cliffs of ruin.
This unique place is famous for better or worse. Both in the past and in more recent times, there have been many victims on the Cliffs of Moher. Whether through distraction, or by going overboard, or for other reasons…either way, I suggest right now that you really pay attention to how you behave on the cliffs. Prudence!
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Visiting the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland
I have long wanted to visit Ireland and especially the Cliffs of Moher. They are part of those places so vaunted and so special that they almost represent chimeras. Such a feeling had also happened to me in France when I visited Mont Saint Michel. Yet, they are places that exist and when you visit them you are left speechless.
In this post I want to give you all the useful tips for visiting the Cliffs of Moher. Here is the table of contents of this article that will help you find the information you are looking for right away!
Cliffs of Moher: how did they form?
First, let’s talk data: 8 kilometers long and a whopping 214 meters high (some claim 217, we’re there) the Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited tourist attraction. They were formed a good 320 million years ago during the Upper Carboniferous.
Trivially, they were formed by a sedimentation process of sand, mud and debris. In fact, at that time the area of the cliffs was right near the mouth of a river that gradually transported and deposited the various “materials.” Over time they were transformed into sedimentary rock. If you look closely at the rocks of the cliffs, you will notice the various layers and different colorations between each layer, formed over millions of years of history.
Where are the cliffs located?
In County Claire, the same as the charming town of Galway, a few miles south of the pleasant little town of Doolin (a destination where I recommend you sleep at the end of this post). The Cliffs of Moher overlook the Atlantic Ocean in the far west of Ireland. If there is good weather and little haze, you may catch a glimpse of the equally famous Aran Islands on the horizon.
The Cliffs of Moher are located along the Wild Atlantic Way, that coastal road traces the entire west coast of Ireland from north to south.
Cliffs of Moher: when to go
The summer months are definitely the best weather-wise for traveling in Ireland. So: late spring and summer. But, yes there is a but. Like all peak season months, the cliffs will be especially crowded and the consequence will be a general loss of pathos. Normal.
That is why I was lucky to be able to visit them in the off-season. As you may have read from my articles on Ireland (if you haven’t already -> see my articles on Ireland), I was in Gaelic land in early March. I confide to you that even today I still feel the chills of the cold of that late afternoon at sunset. The lashing wind made it even more icy, but I must admit that the excitement was completely different.
The people who were on the cliffs could be counted on the fingers of one hand, including us. And the choice of sunset time was perfect, the sunset + cliffs of moher “combo” is really a winner.
I mentioned late afternoon, but morning is also recommended. If you go during peak season, it may be a winning choice to visit the cliffs of moher early in the morning or after 4-5 p.m., when several tourists will have already left.
How to get to the Cliffs of Moher?
The best way to reach the Cliffs is definitely by car. As a lover of the road trips I can only support the classic road trip with opportunities to stop anywhere and photograph whatever attracts my attention. I arrived at the Cliffs in this way. I left my car at the parking lot directly in front of the visitor center entrance.
Please note: there is a fee for parking, costing 8 euros. Great alternatives there are none, but what you are going to see is worth the price of the ticket.
If you are now in Ireland, click HERE and the navigator will open with the destination set on the parking lot, valid for wherever you are, whether you are coming from Dublin or Galway.
Arriving from Dublin by car or tour
If you will be driving, follow the previous point. It is “unnecessary” for me to tell you which roads to take because I assume you have a smartphone and google maps, and thanks to the clearance of internet rates, just set the destination and it will take you there. From Dubino to the Cliffs of Moher is about 270 km and just over 3 hours of travel time (toll highways planned). So the best way is rent a car (read also: how to rent a car). If you have never driven on the left, I come to your aid with this article 10 tips for driving on the left and not getting anxious.
From Dublin with day tours If you will not be visiting the cliffs by car, but would like to visit them on a day tour departing from Dublin, then I recommend two solutions. They will allow you to optimize time, travel and cost, without even having to worry about the organizational side and driving the other way.
- CLICK HERE for an ENGLISH tour that includes not only the Cliffs, but also beautiful Galway and the fantastic Burren scenery.
- CLICK HERE or ALSO HERE for a tour completely in ITALI AN that starts in Dublin and allows you to see Galway as well.
From Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher by bus or train: I do not recommend this, too many hours lost in travel.
Getting from Galway by bus or tour
To get from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher simply drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, or better yet click HERE and let the navigator take you there. You will cross the Burren moher through moonscapes. In this case there will be no toll to pay.
I recommend you take the coastal section. Keep Black Head Lighthouse as a landmark and take that road by the sea: stunning. Beware that the lighthouse has no parking and is not much. If you want to take pictures, a few miles further south there are clearings where you can stop and take pictures like these.
If you would like to visit the Cliffs of Moher on a 7-hour total day tour from Galway, then CLICK HERE.
By bus from Galway: you can use the 350 bus and in about 2 hours it will take you to the Cliffs of Moher.
Arriving on foot from Doolin or Liscannor
You got it right! You can get to the Cliffs of Moher directly by foot from the villages of Liscannor (5 km south) in 1 hour 10 minutes and Doolin (6 km north) in 1 hour 20 minutes.
These trails are part of the Cliffs Coastal Trail, a 20-km trail that if you have time I recommend doing. On the -> official website -> you will find the map and other very useful information.
How to visit the Cliffs of Moher?
The main part of the cliffs is in the section between the visitor center and Liscannor. It is on this route that the cliffs overhang the sea. But, mind you, the word “overhang” should give you pause: do not approach them for any reason, you can safely take any appropriate photographs without having to risk hurting yourself.
The wind is always quite intense, the ground may be wet and slippery, and the rocks tend to crumble, so much so that landslides often occur. There will be just a reason why a path has been created further inland than the main one, separated from the latter by stone slabs. I advise you not to climb over the slabs. I assure you that you will be able to enjoy the spectacle even while staying in what we might call a “comfort zone.” Here, this time stay in your comfort zone.
The trails to discover the Cliffs
From the visitor center, continue south and into the Hag’s Head, which is the southernmost area of the Cliffs of Moher. You will be right above the cliffs at perhaps the most photographed spot in Ireland. The best perspective, however, you will find north of the visitor center, as you approach the O’Brien’s Tower (dating back to 1835, admission €2). From this spot you’ll take some memorable photographs and can sweep with the view as far as the Connemara, to the aran Islands and southward to Loop Head.
Cliffs of Moher: recommended clothing
On the cliffs you will be nature’s guest. Period. So it could be rain, wind, full sun as wet and slippery terrain. It is essential to choose the shoes to use while traveling that are suitable for what you want to do, in which case better choose hiking shoes. For cold and rain assess according to the season you will be visiting them. Basically a windbreaker and a k-way are a good solution.
Opening hours, prices and parking tickets
The Cliffs are always open and you can walk them for free. You do not pay to see the Cliffs of Moher. What you do pay is parking, admission to the visitor center and related services such as a restaurant, bar and restroom. If you want to pay 50 percent less, you can buy tickets directly on the official website. Parking and visitor center are open during these hours:
- November through February -> 9 a.m. to 5 p.m
- March, April, September and October -> 8-19
- May through August -> 8-21
Doolin: sleeping in the vicinity of the Cliffs of Moher
Even before the trip I had inquired about which village to stop in while visiting the Cliffs of Moher. Everyone spoke highly of this small ocean view village that gives you a sense of disarming tranquility. I must say it was a great choice. Featuring a couple of “old-fashioned” pubs, it is the perfect place to sleep nearby. My accommodation was a very nice B&B named Glasha Measows B&B (click for hotel) Ample parking, located outside the village, I couldn’t have asked for better.
Alternatively, if you want to find out about all the hotels/B&Bs in Doolin you can CLICK HERE and choose the one you prefer. For dinner I absolutely recommend McGann’s Pub!