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Cliffs of Moher: The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Ireland's Top Attraction

Cliffs of Moher: The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Ireland’s Top Attraction

 

 

Visiting the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland tops many travel enthusiasts’ bucket lists, and rightly so—it’s an experience that lingers in memory long after the journey ends. Having had the privilege of visiting these cliffs twice and soaking in their grandeur for days on end, we’ve collated all the insights, tips, and nuggets of information to ensure your visit is as mesmerizing as ours.

There is no doubt in our mind that you will be blown away by the sheer size and wildness of the Cliffs of Moher. It’s a place where nature showcases its grandeur, where history whispers tales of yore, and where every sunset paints a masterpiece. They offer visitors an awe-inspiring vista of cliff and sea, channeling the feeling of being at the bow of a ship and looking out onto the unfurling horizon. 

Cliffs of Moher Travel Guide

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Where are The Cliffs of Moher?

The Cliffs of Moher are 270 km (167 miles) from Dublin and 75 km (46 miles) from Galway in County Clare. We drove to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin and it took a little over three hours. They are by far the most popular stop along the Wild Atlantic Way as you will see by the sheer number of people that are there.

Many people visit it on a day trip but spending more time in the area is highly recommended. These stunning cliffs will humble you, and make for the perfect bookend to any visit to the Emerald Isle.

What Are the Cliffs of Moher?

What are the cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are a series of sea cliffs located in County Clare, Ireland. They rise a staggering 702 feet out of the Atlantic Ocean at their highest point and stretch for about 14 kilometers along the coast. They offer sweeping views of the Maumturk Mountains, Twelve Pins, and the Aran Islands on a clear day. There is nothing like standing there, with the sea breeze in your hair and listening to the waves crash below.

The Cliffs of Moher have been a landmark for centuries. Their name derives from a ruined promontory fort called “Mothar,” which once stood on Hag’s Head, the southernmost point of the cliffs. Over time, the cliffs have served as a point of navigation for sailors, a source of inspiration for artists, and a nesting ground for a myriad of seabirds.

Planning Your Trip To The Cliffs of Moher Right Now?

Below are some of the top tours to The Cliffs of Moher. Don’t forget to plan ahead when visiting Ireland!

Top Activities and Tours to The Cliffs of Moher:

Essential Tips to Visit the Cliffs of Moher

Wild Atlantic Way Sign on the Way to the Cliffs of Moher

Ah, the sheer beauty of the Cliffs of Moher! Whether it’s your first visit or your fifth, there’s something magnetic about these rugged cliffs. From the way the sunlight dances on their rugged edges to the gentle lull of the waves below, every moment here feels like a scene straight out of a fairy tale. But to truly make the most of your visit, it’s essential to be prepared.

Visiting during the early hours or just before sunset not only offers ethereal views but also ensures you sidestep the midday rush. The coastal weather, notorious for its whims, can be quite unpredictable. So, even if the forecast promises a sunny day, make sure you have a rain jacket handy. The first time we visited it said it would be sunny and when we showed up the clouds rolled in, so be prepared for that Irish weather. And while the cliffs promise awe-inspiring views at every corner, it’s vital to stick to marked paths to ensure both your safety and the preservation of this natural wonder.

Fun Things to Do at the Cliffs of Moher

Fun things to do at the Cliffs of Moher The Burren Way

There’s more to the Cliffs of Moher than meets the eye. Sure, taking a scenic walk along their edge, with the wind in your hair and the vast Atlantic before you, is exhilarating. But have you considered admiring Ireland’s cliffs from below, aboard a boat? The view from the water gives you a unique perspective on their enormity.

Obrien’s Tower

Obrien's Tower at the Cliffs of Moher

Then there’s O’Brien’s Tower—a 19th-century structure that promises panoramic vistas of the cliffs and beyond. If you time your visit right, watching the sunset from the cliffs is an experience you won’t forget. The golden hues of the setting sun paint the cliffs in colors so beautiful, they seem almost otherworldly. Make sure to climb O’Brien’s Tower to the viewing platform for the best views.

The first person to formally recognize the Moher Cliffs as a tourist destination was a man named Cornelius O’Brien, a local landlord. He developed the site so that it catered to visitors by erecting stables, a viewing platform, the Moher Tower, and a wall made of flagstone. O’Brien’s Tower has been restored and is still standing today and is one of the most visible sites located at the highest point. It is just a 10-minute walk from the Moher Visitor Center.

Hag’s Head

Hag’s Head is the southernmost point from the visitor’s center that you can hike to. You can drive and park in the parking lot out at Hag’s Head and hike up from there. It is about a 4 km hike (2.4 miles).

This unusual rock formation resembles a woman’s head and later received the name of “Hag’s Head.” Shuttles can take you to and from the parking lot or to the trailhead from Doolin or nearby Licannor. Here you’ll see the stone ruins of a watchtower known as the Moher Tower, remnants of the old fort.

What Will You See At the Cliffs of Moher?

View of the Aran Islands from the Cliffs of Moher

From the cliff edge, you’ll have views of the Aran Islands, the Maumturks, and the Twelve Pins mountain ranges. For the astute onlooker, small river channels can be seen weaving through the cliffs which makes this site even more impressive—many of the channels date back almost 300 years old!

The coastline is home to over 20 different bird species. Bringing binoculars is always a good idea to view the 30,000 sea birds that call this home. The cliffs boast one of the best places to view nesting sea birds in all of Ireland. So much so that it was designated a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds. Birds you will see are puffins, guillemot kittiwakes, and razorbills.

The Cliffs of Moher also offer a range of sea life that can be spotted from various lookout points: seals, dolphins, whales, and even sharks aren’t difficult to catch a glimpse of. By land, visitors can often spot goats, badgers, puffins, falcons, and foxes, too.

What to Know Before Visiting the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

We spent time here during our road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way, the world’s longest coastal route that weaves its way up the west coast of Ireland for 2600km (1600 miles).

The Cliffs of Moher might feel timeless, but they change with every season, every tide, every ray of sunshine. And with such variability, it’s essential to be informed. While the visitor center offers a plethora of amenities, from restrooms to delightful cafes, such conveniences become sparse as you wander further along the cliffs. Given the occasional connectivity issues, it’s a good idea to inform someone about your plans before heading out.

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor’s Center

Cliffs of Moher Visitor's Center

Be sure to go inside to see the unique, underground visitor center. What makes the visitor center even better is the fact that it’s been built into the hillside, its rooftop mossy, not at all, unlike a hobbit house. It houses an exciting Atlantic Edge display exploring the different elements of the mighty cliffs, ocean, rock, nature, and man.

It is an extremely informative center that offers literature on the cliffs’ history, and there is always personnel available to answer any questions you might have. You can also grab a bite to eat and pick up something at the gift shop. And there is a movie about the cliffs that you can watch as well. It is an important part of the Cliffs of Moher visitor experience. The cliffs themselves are comprised of shale and sandstone; the layers are visible, and the oldest sections are located at the bottom just beside the sea.

Be sure to go for a walk along the cliffs to get away from the crowds. But be careful not to get too close. There have been 66 Cliffs of Moher deaths since 1993 from people walking too close to the edge and falling off. It is very windy up there, and the grounds are uneven and can break off, so be careful.

How Long to Spend at the Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher Hiking trails

We recommend spending at least half a day visiting the Cliffs of Moher. The site isn’t simply a pretty vista but also includes an impressive number of hiking trails that offer spectacular views of their own.

Arguably, walking the hiking trails is the best way to enjoy the scenery. You can avoid crowds without skimping on views. It’s a win-win situation. If you are dead set on setting eyes on the spot where The Princess Bride was filmed, visit first thing in the morning to beat the crowds. Or better yet, visit on a foggy day—something about this type of weather gives the cliffs a mystical, mysterious vibe and is sure to be very camera-friendly, too. We’ve seen them on a foggy day and the crowds are much smaller when the views aren’t clear.

Don’t leave the area without spending time in the surrounding villages of Pollboy and Lough North—both extremely quaint stopping points that look like hobbit havens.

Can You Take a Day Trip to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin?

Dublin, with its vibrant ambiance and historical charm, is often the starting point for many Irish adventures. And yes, a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher is entirely feasible. The journey from Dublin to the cliffs, filled with picturesque views and dotted with quaint Irish towns, is an experience in itself. Although it makes for a long day, such trips often incorporate stops at other attractions like the Burren National Park or even the musical town of Galway, ensuring your day is packed with diverse experiences. This is the Day Trip that we Recommend.

Where to Stay When Visiting the Cliffs of Moher

Hotel near the Cliffs of Moher

The region around the Cliffs of Moher is dotted with charming towns and delightful accommodations. Liscannor, with its quaint aura, offers cozy bed and breakfast options perfect for those looking to experience genuine Irish hospitality. Doolin, another nearby town, is famous for its traditional Irish music sessions, making it a perfect spot for those looking to immerse themselves in local culture. For travelers seeking a more bustling environment, Lahinch offers a plethora of accommodations and dining options, ensuring your stay is as memorable as your visit to the cliffs.

Here are our suggestions:

We recommend Pat Sweeney’s Doonagore Farm and it was great. Close to the cliffs, great breakfast, and fantastic hospitality. Hotel Doolin – Located downtown Doolin, great Irish Music. Ballinalakin Castle House – Views of the Cliffs of Moher Liscanner is another popular town to find good Cliffs of Moher accommodation. A recommended hotel is Tides Apartments.

What to Pack for the Cliffs of Moher

I can’t stress enough the importance of being prepared. The weather along the coast has a mind of its own, changing from sunny to cloudy within minutes. Packing layers and a waterproof jacket can make your visit comfortable. And don’t forget your camera—the beauty of the cliffs is something you’ll want to capture and revisit.

When to Visit the Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher in Summer

We visited the Cliffs of Moher in both April and September on different visits. Both times were good and crowds were less than during the high season.

With nearly 1.5 million visits per year, it can get quite crowded, but with a bit of careful planning, it is possible to witness the untouched side. If you don’t take Pat’s Cliff Walk, you can still enjoy the scenery independently. Visit at sunrise to beat the crowds, or try your luck during sunset to get the most out of the sky’s wow factor. We had most of it to ourselves during our visit in April.

The high season for visiting the cliffs is the end of June to early September. It can be very crowded. If you visit at sunrise or sunset, you will see fewer tourist buses. No matter what time of year you visit, the weather changes quickly. Wear good hiking boots, and pack layers and rain gear as you could be out on the trail and have the weather turn in an instant. Check out our packing list for Europe. Cost for visiting: €7 – You can book tickets in advance at the Cliffs of Moher Website. Located at the southwestern edge of County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher tower over the Atlantic coastline.

FAQ’s About The Cliffs of Moher

A view of the Cliffs of Moher From the Sea

Now, as promised, here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Why is the cliff of Moher so famous?

The Cliffs of Moher, with their breathtaking vistas and staggering heights, are among Ireland’s top natural attractions, drawing tourists from across the globe.

What is the myth of the Cliffs of Moher?

Local legends speak of Mal, a sea witch who, smitten by love and heartbreak, turned to stone, becoming a part of the very cliffs she once roamed.

What movie was filmed at the Cliffs of Moher?

The dramatic backdrop of the cliffs caught the eye of the makers of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” where they served as the locale for the Horcrux cave. The Princess Bride – One of the best scenes in the movie was also filmed here when Westly chases Buttercup and her kidnappers, Vizzini, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzig up the Cliffs of Insanity.

Are the Cliffs of Moher worth seeing?

Absolutely! The Cliffs of Moher aren’t just a sight; they’re an experience—a testament to nature’s grandeur and beauty.

Insider Tip!

If you really want to do something special, the best way to see the Cliffs of Moher is to take the Moher Coastal cliff walk from Doolin. We stayed at Sweeney’s Farm run by owner Pat who runs the Doolin Cliffs Walks. Pat Sweeney is a local historian, storyteller, and walking enthusiast who takes you on an easy 8km (4.9 miles) walk for three hours along the coast.

As you walk through local farmlands and along the coast he’ll regale you with his stories and observations. We could listen to Pat all day. He’s a passionate storyteller and an expert on local history and folklore if you want an authentic experience away from the tourist crowds, this is the tour to do. The walk ends at the Cliffs of Moher Visitors Centre.

If you want to hike the entire Cliffs of Moher Coastal Trail, it is a 13 km hike from Doolin to Hag’s Head. Doolin is also the perfect place to make a home base to explore the Aran Islands and the Burren.

It is just 9 km (5.5 miles) from the Moher visitor’s center and it’s a small and quirky village with famous pubs playing traditional Irish music each night. The locals are welcoming and passionate about their area and are happy to have you.

Getting to the Cliffs of Moher

No matter when you visit, the Cliffs of Moher are sure to leave you at least a little bit speechless.

In Conclusion

There’s an Irish saying that goes, “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t yet met.” The Cliffs of Moher stand testament to this spirit of warmth and welcoming. The cliffs invite you not as a guest, but as a friend waiting to share tales over a cup of tea.

So, what are you waiting for? The Cliffs of Moher, with their grandeur and mystique, are waiting to script a beautiful chapter in your travel diary, a chapter filled with awe, wonder, and the kind of magic that only Ireland can offer. It’s time to answer the call of the cliffs, step into a world of enchantment, and be a part of a story that’s as eternal as the cliffs themselves. It’s time to create your own Moher legend, one breathtaking view at a time.

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