The Cliffs of Moher are located on the west coast of Ireland in County Clare. The cliffs run for 14 km from Liscannor in the south to Doolin in the north. One of Ireland’s most beloved landmarks, the Cliffs of Moher is one of the most famous points along the Wild Atlantic Way, the 2,500 km route that winds along Ireland’s west coast.
At their highest point near O’Brien’s Tower, the Cliffs of Moher are 702 feet/214 meters. Though not the highest cliffs in Ireland – that honour goes to Co Donegal’s Slieve League Cliffs and Achill Island’s Croaghaun Cliffs – they are by far the most popular. These dramatic and sheer cliffs are 14 km (8.6 miles) in length, with a narrow clifftop path hugging the edge.
Travelling By Car
The best way to visit the Cliffs of Moher and travel around rural and coastal Ireland is by car. Having access to your own vehicle gives you the freedom to travel when and where you want, make last-minute changes, and shift your travel plans to match the weather. The most convenient and popular place to park your car is the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre car park, located roughly in the middle of the cliffs, though there are car parks at either end of the cliffs in Liscannor and Doolin.
For those keen to avoid the crowds and appreciate the clifftop coastline, a great option is to start from Doolin village on the north side of the cliffs – and then hike along the cliffs from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher, or alternatively, from Liscannor in the south.
By Public Transport
Want to be environmentally friendly? The closest rail station to the Cliffs of Moher is Ennis, with Bus Eirean Bus 350 running from both Ennis and Doolin to the cliffs. Ennis can be reached by train from Galway or Limerick, with both journeys roughly taking 1h30. We do not recommend relying too heavily on public transport in rural Ireland as services are few and unreliable. If you do not want to drive, it’s recommended to book a tour with a driver/guide.
The Cliffs of Moher are located about 3.5 hours from Dublin. Though on the opposite side of the country, it is easy to reach the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin. Follow the motorways: M50 to the M4 to M6 to Athenry, just outside of Galway. From there, hop on Ireland’s new motorway, the M18 southbound to Gort, where you’ll turn off to small regional road, R460. Please keep in mind that the M50 (as you exit Dublin) has an “invisible” electronic toll (pay within 48 hours of passing).
The Cliffs of Moher are located about 1.5 hours from Galway (bearing in mind Galway city often has traffic). Head south on the N67 to Lisdoonvarna before turning off to the coastal road, R478. You’ll wrap around Galway Bay passing villages and ruined churches, abbeys and more scenic sites along the way. Local sites of interest include Dunguaire Castle and the Flaggy Shore. The Burren National Park is also nearby.
From Limerick & Shannon Airport
The Cliffs of Moher are located about one hour from Limerick city and Shannon International Airport. Drive north on the N85 to the surf town of Lahinch, where you’ll turn off to the coastal route (R478). From Limerick, keep your eyes out for – or even stop to visit – the spectacular medieval fortress, Bunratty Castle & Folk Park.
Despite the fact that the Cliffs of Moher are over 8 miles (12 km) long, most people only walk a short distance along the cliffs from either side of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre. Though perhaps worth a peek for first-time visitors to provide historical and geological context, the best way to experience the cliffs is to hike along the cliff’s edge. Please be mindful to stay behind the barriers while hiking along the cliffs.
The lesser-known way to visit the Cliffs of Moher is by hiking the cliffs from one end or the other. The cliffside trail is called the Doolin Cliff Walk. You can walk part of the way, or you can choose to walk the entirety of the trail to Liscannor and organise a taxi or shuttle back. Learn more here.
The lesser-known but stunning way to hike the Cliffs of Moher is to start your hike at Liscannor at the cliff’s southern end. Though possible to start at the village, it’s best to start from the car park below the cliffs near the tower.
From the coastal trailhead beside the tower at Hag’s Head (named for the mythical Cailleach of Beara), it’s between 5-6 km (about 3 miles) along the cliffs to the visitor centre, though you are welcome to keep going. Or you may prefer to turn back, depending on how far you wish to hike. Out and back to the visitor centre and the nearby O’Brien’s Tower is roughly 9 km (5.5 miles), and should take you 2-3 hours depending on your pace and time spent admiring the views.
Some people may wish to walk to the visitor centre and taxi back to the car.
Hiking to the cliffs from Doolin village, to the north of the Cliffs of Moher, used to be the preferred method, though increased visitors and bad erosion have made this route less popular.
Regardless, hiking the Doolin Cliff Walk path starting in Doolin is a beautiful way to experience the cliffs. The trail is just under 6 km (3.5 miles) each way and is similar in difficulty to the hike from Liscannor.
As is the case from Liscannor, you can do an out-and-back walk, or you may walk to the visitor centre and arrange a taxi to pick you up. In the evening, be sure to enjoy some of Doolin’s wonderful pubs known for their Irish trad music!
The Cliffs of Moher are millions of years old. Humans have inhabited this region for thousands of years, as Neolithic sites have been found throughout County Clare.
But modern tourism to the Cliffs of Moher didn’t start until the 18th century when benevolent landlord Sir Cornelius O’Brien, a descendant of the legendary ancient High King Brian Boru, wanted to showcase his amazing cliffs to visitors and tenants alike. The Victorian O’Brien’s Tower was built by Cornelius O’Brien in 1835 in order to crown the Cliffs of Moher and bring tourists to his lands.
A lot has changed, especially the number of visitors to the Cliffs of Moher, as well as the completion of a shiny new Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre nestled quietly into the hills of the landscape. But a visit today to O’Brien’s Tower affords views as amazing in Victorian times as they are today.
Located on the Cliffs of Moher’s southern side near the village of Liscannor, the Moher Tower is a Napoleanic-era watchtower.
It was built in 1808 on top of an older fortification, with the intention to protect Ireland (at that time, still under British rule) from a potential French invasion. Hag’s Head is named for the cailleach or hag who is associated with the weather and winter.
Learn more about the Hag of Beara who inspired the tower’s name in our folklore blog here.
This iconic tower was built in 1835 by a local landlord Cornellius O’Brien. The tower was designed to work as an observation tower and tea house for the civilised Victorian English visitors who flocked to this “wild” site.
From this site, you can see from south Clare all the way to Connemara and out to the Aran Islands. O’Brien’s Tower is located close to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre and is generally a very popular place to visit.
This spectacular building is a 16th-century fortified tower house. Not sitting on the Cliffs of Moher, Doonagore Castle is a short distance outside of Doolin village.
Built atop older fortifications, Doonagore Castle changed hands several times from the O’Connors to the O’Briens to the MacClancys, later to a Cromwellian soldier, and finally to the powerful Gore family, and finally to an Irish-American named Gorman. It has a dark history. Doonagore is reputed to be the site where all 170 shipwreck survivors of a sunken Spanish Armada ship were executed.
There is no public access to the castle’s interior, and it sits on private land. There is also no on-site parking, and instead, it is recommended to use the small laybys and walk along the road to view the castle.
The Cliffs of Moher have been shaped by wind and weather for millions of years. They are a combination of Namurian shale and sandstone layered on top of each other. With the oldest rocks found at the bottom, there is also a 300 million-year-old river channel buried within the cliffs.
Be mindful of the delicate geology – erosion from high footfall has worn down the top of the paths in many places. Underneath, wind and water have worn the cliff faces and edges. Not only is this problematic for the region’s ecosystem, but it can be dangerous too, with sections that can fall into the sea. For this reason, it’s important to stay on the trail behind the safety barriers.
Want to know more about Ireland’s weird geology? Read our guide below.
The Cliffs of Moher are wildly beautiful but there is more to County Clare than just the cliffs. In fact, there are many absolutely stunning places to visit near the Cliffs of Moher. See below for a list of some of our recommendations, as compiled by locals.
The closest village to the Cliffs of Moher, this is the best place to start your clifftop walk from the northern side (Liscannor is the start point from the south). Doolin is also recognised as one of the best places to listen to traditional Irish music. The wee village is the best place to catch the ferry to the Aran Islands (see below). It is also home to Doonagore Castle (above) as well as the fascinating Doolin Cave (the area is riddled with caves).
Learn more about Irish music here.
Rugged and rocky, the landscapes of the Burren National Park are as alien as they are beautiful. These exposed limestone hills come alive with a vast carpet of wildflowers each spring season. Learn about the Burren from a local farmer, a renowned archeologist or perhaps a wildflower expert – take your pick! You may also like to visit the Burren Perfumery, where local creams and soaps are made, or the Burren Smokehouse to sink your teeth into smoked salmon.
Read our travel guide to the Burren region here.
Bunratty Castle is a medieval fortress that dates back to the 15th century. Now a museum about medieval life in Ireland from peasant to royalty, Bunratty Castle is the centrepiece of Bunratty Village Folk Park, a model village that shows what rural Ireland would have been like at various stages of history. The castle is also famed for its medieval banquets held on-site. Recent renovations have brought even more of this famous castle to life.
You might not have heard of Loop Head, but if you’ve watched the 2017 Star Wars film, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (or even just the trailer!), you’ve certainly seen Loop Head. A lovely place for a walk, the clifftop landscape of Loop Head is still a relatively quiet and undisturbed place. It also features a WWII-era EIRE sign, a pretty lighthouse, wild sea-stacks, and stunning cliffs. Keep an eye out for birds and marine wildlife.
The little-visited Kilkee is a lovely town visited mostly by domestic visitors. A unique feature of the town is the nearby Pollock holes, visible at low tide on the foreshore. These are clear tidal pools protected from the crashing Atlantic waves and are the perfect place for a swim or snorkel.
This adorable bustling market town is full of colourful shop fronts, restaurants and cheery pubs. Ennis is just right for enjoying a relaxing afternoon shopping or chatting with the locals at one of its pubs after exploring the Cliffs of Moher!
A surfing mecca, Lahinch is one of the best places in Ireland to go surfing. This colourful village just south of the Cliffs of Moher clings to the Atlantic along the Wild Atlantic Way, and is the perfect place to try your hand at surfing!
Off the south coast of Clare is the small Scattery Island, home to a 6th century monastic settlement, including the ruins of 6 churches, one of Ireland’s tallest and best preserved round towers and a holy well. It was once raided by Vikings – in fact, the name may come from the Norse word ‘scatty’ meaning ‘treasure.’ Ferries depart Kilrush most days May-September (check the schedule for up-to-date times).
At the heart of the Burren National Park lies the magnificent beautiful monument, the Poulnabrone Dolman. These standing portal stones date back to 4200-2900 BC to the Neolithic era, and is the most photographed of Ireland’s 172 dolmans. It was likely built as a tomb, or perhaps marking a boundary.
Safety is no joke at the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are just what the name implies: sheer precipices that fall hundreds of feet. Please do not stand too close to the edge. Even if you see other people standing just on the cliff edge, we recommend that you stay behind the stone fences for maximum security.
What most people don’t realise is that what looks like solid ground might actually only be a thin ledge jutting out over the Atlantic just a few inches of feet thick, and as erosion wears on the cliff’s edges, these pieces occasionally break off. Not only is this dangerous for humans nearby, but it is also bad for the cliffs. Staying back behind the fence is both for your own safety as well as the preservation of the Cliffs of Moher for generations to come.
While rare, injury or even death from falling off the cliffs is a real possibility, augmented by approaching the edge too closely and losing your footing, or the soil breaking away underfoot. There are documented cases nearly every year.
While visiting the Cliffs of Moher yourself will give you amazing views, choosing to hike the Cliffs of Moher with a guide will make your experience even more meaningful, as they will interpret the landscape, culture, history, fauna and geology for you. Local guides will bring to life the stories and mythologies surrounding the place, show you the hidden gems of County Clare, and perhaps even connect you with local characters.
A guided tour to the Cliffs of Moher and beyond will take you off the beaten path and allow you to avoid most of the crowds, making your experience worth so much more. See below for trips to the Cliffs of Moher and other Irish gems.
Apr 13, 2024
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