Cliffs of Moher – Ireland’s Most Famous Cliffs
Posted on Jan 05, 2019 by Dawn Rainbolt
There are few places that surpass the breath-taking beauty of the Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Use the links below to help you navigate.
– What are the Cliffs of Moher?
– Where are the Cliffs of Moher?
– Hiking the Cliffs of Moher?
– History of the Cliffs of Moher
– Cliffs of Moher Geology
– Top Ten Cliffs of Moher Facts
– Tips for your visit to the Cliffs of Moher
– Best places to visit nearby the Cliffs of Moher
– Cliffs of Moher safety
– How to visit? Cliffs of Moher tours
What are the Cliffs of Moher?
The Cliffs of Moher are located on the west coast of Ireland in County Clare. One of Ireland’s most beloved landmarks, the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most amazing points along the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,500km route that follows Ireland’s west coast.
The Cliffs of Moher are 702 feet/214 meters at their highest point, near O’Brien’s Tower. 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.
Cliffs of Moher location: Where are the Cliffs of Moher & How to get there
The best way to visit the Cliffs of Moher – as well as travel around rural and coastal Ireland in general – is by car, as this 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.
However, for those keen to avoid the crowds, 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 (read more below)!
By Public Transport
If you want to go green, the closest rail station would be 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 other side of the country, it’s easy enough to reach the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin. Most of the drive is on 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 that must be paid within 48 hours of passing it.
The Cliffs of Moher are located about 2 hours from Galway. 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 along the way.
From Limerick / Shannon Airport
The Cliffs of Moher are located about 1 hour from Limerick city and Shannon International Airport. Drive north on the N85 to Lahinch, where you’ll turn off to the coastal route (R478). From Limerick, keep your eyes out – or even stop to visit – the spectacular medieval fortress, Bunratty Castle & Folk Park.
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How to hike the Cliffs of Moher
Despite the fact that the Cliffs of Moher are over 8 miles long, most people only walk a short distance along the cliffs from either side of the Visitor Centre. However, to really experience the stunning beauty of the Cliffs of Moher, you have to hike along the cliff’s edge.
The ‘secret’ (and best!) way to visit the Cliffs of Moher is by hiking the cliffs via the quaint village of Doolin at the northern end of the cliffs. A town recognised for its traditional Irish music, Doolin is the perfect jumping off point. Walking south along the Cliffs of Moher, you’ll get the full force of the dramatic coastal scenery without the crowds near the visitor centre. You can walk part of the way, or you can choose to walk the entirety of the Doolin Cliff Walk trail to Liscannor and organise a taxi back. Learn more here.
The cliffs 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.
Ireland is full of intriguing geology – the Burren, the Giant’s Causeway, Slieve League Cliffs – as well as the Cliffs of Moher. A combination of Namurian shale and sandstone layered on top of each other, the cliffs have been shaped by wind and weather for millions of years. With the oldest rocks found at the bottom, there is also a 300 million year old river channel buried within the cliffs.
Top Ten Cliffs of Moher Facts
Tips to make the most of your visit to the Cliffs of Moher
- Don’t drive there – hike it! There are two options to hike the Cliffs of Moher: the shorter version is 4.5 miles/7 km while the longer option is 11 miles/18km. This means you’ll avoid most of the crowds, though we do still recommend that you visit the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre to learn about this amazing place.
- The Cliffs of Moher are a popular place to visit – to avoid the crowds, visit early in the day or during the off-peak season to avoid crowds.
- Consider a boat trip to see the Cliffs of Moher from a new – and more private – perspective.
- Irish weather is changeable, so be ready for anything, even all four seasons in one day! The trick is smart layering. See more about what to wear here.
- The Cliffs of Moher are open year round – see the opening hours here.
- Please keep in mind that if you do decide to park at the Visitor Centre, you’ll have to pay to use the car park if you choose to drive. Prices can be found here.
- Public transport is few and far between in Ireland, especially in rural areas, so don’t rely on public transport to get you there. If you don’t want to drive in Ireland, it’s best to book a tour lead by a driver/guide.
- Fun fact: the Cliffs of Moher have appeared in several films – but their most famous cameo was in the 1987 cult classic The Princess Bride, where the Cliffs of Moher appear as the Cliffs of Insanity! If you’ve seen the film (and who hasn’t!), you’re just about to have an “ohhh right!” moment!
Best places to visit nearby the Cliffs of Moher
The closest village to the Cliffs of Moher, this is the best place to start your clifftop walk. Doolin is also recognised as one of the best places to listen to traditional Irish music. Doolin is the best place to catch the ferry to the Aran Islands (see below). It is also home to Doonagore Castle as well as the fascinating Doolin Cave.
The Burren National Park
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 array of wildflowers each spring that carpet the rocks! Learn about the Burren from a local farmer, visit the Burren Perfumery, where local creams and soaps are made, or head to the Burren Smokehouse to sink your teeth into smoked salmon and other fish!
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
Bunratty Castle is a medieval pile that dates back to the 15th century. Now a museum about medieval life in Ireland, 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.
You might not have heard of Loop Head, but if you’ve seen the 2017 Star Wars film (or even just the trailer!), you’ve certainly seen Loop Head! A lovely place for a walk, Loop Head is still a relatively quiet and undisturbed place.
Kilkee and the Pollock Holes
The little-visited Kilkee is a lovely town visited mostly by domestic visitors. A unique feature of the town is the nearby Pollock holes. 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!
Inisheer of the Aran Islands
Inisheer is the closest of the three Aran Islands. A final outpost of Ireland’s traditional way of life, the Aran Islands are a great way to learn more about Irish heritage – from music to wool to cuisine to language! Hop on the ferry to Inisheer from Doolin for any easy day trip.
Off the south coast of Clare is the small Scattery Island, home to a 6th century monastic settlement. On the island with ruins of 6 churches, one of Ireland’s tallest and best preserved round towers and a holy well. Like many island monasteries, Scattery Island was raided by Vikings – in fact, the name may come from the Norse word ‘scatty’ meaning ‘treasure.’ So, anyone up for a visit to Treasure Island?! To get there, ferries depart from Kilrush (the island is a mile off shore) most days May through September (check the schedule for up to date times). The ruins are best explored with a local guide.
Safety at the Cliffs of Moher
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 plenty of 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 few inches of feet thick, as erosion tends to carve out pieces in the cliff’s edges, and these pieces do occasionally break off. 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 breaks away underfoot. There are documented cases nearly every year.
How can I visit them myself?
While visiting the Cliffs of Moher yourself will give you the 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, and geology for you. 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.
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If this sounds of interest to you, check out a few of our guided tours to the Cliffs of Moher below. Or if you prefer, see our new Self Drive trip – Connemara, Dingle & the Cliffs of Moher.
|27th Jul - 2nd Aug 2019||Hiking - Connemara to the Cliffs of Moher||€1,795||6 place(s) left||Book Now|
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