A Day Trip To Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher
The Best Way to See These Iconic Cliffs
One of Ireland’s most iconic Wild Atlantic Way coastal walks is along the Cliffs of Moher, which are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region. John and I knew that while visiting Ireland this was a place we absolutely had to see. We dedicated one full day from our epic 7-day road trip to head out to the Cliffs of Moher, and I’m so glad that we did!
Getting To The Cliffs of Moher
The beautiful Cliffs of Moher are in County Clare, along the Wild Atlantic Way on the western coast of Ireland. They can be reached by car in about three and a half hours from Dublin. Or, you may find it best to base yourself in nearby Galway, or perhaps the smaller towns of Doolin and Liscannor, for a quieter stay near the Cliffs of Moher.
When John and I visited in June 2018, the parking/entrance fee for the cliffs was €8.00 for each adult. This fee gets you a place to park as well as access to the visitor center and museum.
Ireland’s Most Popular Attraction
Rising dramatically over 700 feet high out of the Atlantic Ocean, it is easy to see why the Cliffs of Moher are by far Ireland’s most popular attraction. With the strikingly beautiful headlands rolling for miles off into the distance and white-crested waves crashing against the cliffs and spraying high up into the air, it’s not difficult to see why visitors flock to take in the sights here.
There are two ways to visit the cliffs: a safe, sensible one behind the barrier wall that not only keeps you clear of the edge, and the other, a reckless yet irresistible and thrilling way, which beckons you to disregard common sense and climb over the safety barrier for an adrenalin-fueled walk along the cliff edge. John and I did both!
Climb over the barrier at your own risk, however; strong blasts of winds blowing people off the cliffs to their death is not unheard of. Don’t be that person!
The tower was built in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien as a viewing point for tourists who flocked to the cliffs. Climb the spiral staircase and enjoy the magnificent view! There is an admission fee for the tower in addition to the entrance fee at the parking gate. When we visited, there was an additional €2.00 for adults and €1.00 for children to go up the tower.
It’s said that the rooftop of O’Brien’s Tower offers the best photo opportunities, so it may be worth it to pay the entrance fee. John and I did not, so our photos are from along the walkways.
Wildlife at Cliffs of Moher
From the cliff edge, catch a glimpse of a host of seabirds including guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, and even a pair of peregrine falcon, which nest below the tower. If you visit between April and July you may get a chance to see the adorable puffins, which are known as the clown of the sea.
If you are lucky, you may even see the herd of wild goats that roam the length of the cliffs are occasionally seen near the visitor areas.
Dolphin and seals are commonly seen out to sea, and if you are very lucky, you may spy a humpback or minke whale.
Visitor Center Building
The eco-friendly visitor center operates using environmental best practices focusing on efficient water and waste management. It’s built into the hillside so it’s a unique cave-like structure which minimizes the visual impact.
The gift shop offers a huge selection of souvenirs specific to the area. I found the perfect items to purchase here so I can fondly remember my week-long road trip around Ireland.
The Cliffs of Moher in Film
When I was teaching 11th grade Literature a couple of years ago, we had a unit based around the cult-classic movie The Princess Bride. Now I know why the Cliffs seemed so familiar to me when I saw then in person!
The Cliffs have also been featured in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Ryan’s Daughter, Mackintosh Man, Into the West, Hear My Song, and Father Ted.
You can walk along the paths on both sides of O’Brien’s Tower. I found the views from the south side to be absolutely breathtaking! Make sure to allow for plenty of time to explore the area as I feel you could spend an entire day here admiring the Cliffs of Moher.
Stay The Night In Doolin
Do not visit the Cliffs of Moher without visiting or staying at least one night in Doolin, one of County Clare’s best little villages. We spent one night at Ballinalacken Castle House and wish we had more time for at least one more night there.
The town of Doolin is a small and charming coastal village with great pubs known for playing local Irish music in the evenings. The area is also known for still having a population of Gaelic speaking citizens, the original Irish language before British colonization and not very common today. If you wish, you can hop on a boat and catch a glimpse of the Cliffs of Moher from the water. Boat tours last about one hour with departure and return to Doolin Pier.
Have you visited the Cliffs of Moher? Tell me about your experience in a comment below!