The Cliffs of Moher, labelled as one of the top natural wonders in Ireland by Lonely Planet, are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, and for good reason.
With their dramatic cliffs towering over the Atlantic Ocean, they offer some of the best views in the country.
I’ve visited the Cliffs of Moher many a time, both as a child and as an adult, and I can tell you it never gets boring!
Whether you’re visiting for the views, the fresh air, or to spot some of the resident wildlife, you’ll be in awe of these spectacular cliffs.
Here is the complete guide to visiting the Cliffs Of Moher in Ireland.
In This Post:
About The Cliffs Of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher, known as Aillte an Mhóthair in Irish, are located on the western coast of Ireland, in the Burren region of County Clare. A few Cliffs of Moher facts are:
- They were formed over 320 million years ago, as waves crashing against the soft limestone rocks slowly eroded them into their current shape.
- The Cliffs stretch for eight kilometers, (5 miles), and reach a height of 214 meters, (702 feet), at their highest point.
- The Burren and Cliffs of Moher are a UNESCO Global Geopark.
- The cliffs are home to a variety of plant and animal life, including seabirds like guillemots and razorbills, as well as rare wildflowers.
- Over 1 million tourists visit the Cliffs of Moher each year.
- The Cliffs of Moher have been featured in many films, such as The Princess Bride, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and Snow White & The Huntsman.
- Dogs on leash are welcome at the cliffs, and they even have a ‘doggy pit stop water station’ to keep them hydrated along the way.
Although the cliffs are known for their natural beauty, they are also the subject of many dark folktales.
One popular legend tells the story of a woman named Mal who was obsessed with an Irish warrior, Cúchullainn. She followed him all the way around Ireland as far as the Cliffs of Moher, much to his dismay. By this point she had him cornered.
He tried to get away from her by leaping to a nearby ocean stack, and when she tried to follow, she lost her footing and perished in the sea below. This area is now known as ‘Hags Head’ in memory of poor Mal.
How To Visit The Cliffs Of Moher
There are several ways to get to the Cliffs of Moher, depending on where you’re coming from, what your budget is, and how long you have to stay in the area.
1. By Car To The Visitor Centre
This is the most popular way to get to the Cliffs of Moher as it gives you the most flexibility in terms of timing, and stops along the way.
Approximate driving times from other counties are:
- From Dublin: 3 hours
- From Galway: 1.5 hours
- From Kilkenny: 2.5 hours
- From Limerick: 1 hour
Those arriving by car will most likely park in the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre car park.
The cost ranges between €7 and €10, depending on the time of day – book online for best prices. This includes entry to the Visitor Centre, O’ Brien’s Tower, and the use of the facilities. Children under 12 go free.
2. Hiking / Walking
One of my favourite ways to experience the wild beauty of the Cliffs of Moher is by hiking or walking along them.
It’s a great way to avoid the crowds that congregate around the main lookout points, and to really get a feel for the scale of the cliffs.
There are a few different walking trails in the area, ranging from easy to difficult. The Doolin Cliff Walk is the most popular, followed by the Coastal Walk.
More details on these trails can be found further down in this post.
3. By Bike
Cycling to the Cliffs of Moher is another great way to avoid the crowds and really take in the scenery. The area is quite hilly with bendy roads; it’s not for the fainthearted!
Depending on your fitness level and where you’re coming from, there are several different routes you can take. The shortest route is from Doolin, which takes around an hour.
The longest route, if you’re feeling up for it, is a 6.5 hour loop from Ballyvaughan.
Find the best cycling route for you here.
4. By Boat
For a completely different view of the cliffs, and by far the most unique way to see the Cliffs of Moher, a boat tour is a must.
You’ll get up close and personal with the cliffs, as well as see some of the seabirds that make their home there.
There are many companies who offer boat tours from the nearby village of Doolin, and longer day tours from Galway City. These range from 1 hour coastal cruises, to longer excursions that include stops on Inis Oírr, or some of the other Aran Islands.
More on these boat tours later.
5. By Day Tour
For those short on time, or who don’t want to deal with the hassle of driving and organising, a day tour from nearby counties is a great option.
I’ll share my favourite Cliffs of Moher tours a little later in this article.
Cliffs Of Moher Walking Trails
Walking or hiking around the Cliffs of Moher offers a completely different experience than just visiting the lookout points. You get to explore the area at your own pace, avoid the crowds, and really take in the scenery.
Here are the most popular walking trails in the area:
1. Doolin Cliff Walk
Distance: 8km – Difficulty: Easy
This is by far the most popular walking trail in the area, taking you along the coast from Doolin Village to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre.
The walk is about 8km, and takes between 2 and 3 hours to complete. It’s a relatively easy hike with some slight uphill sections, but the terrain is largely even, and along a gravel pathway.
Along the way, you can appreciate stunning views of the cliffs, as well as the nearby Aran Islands. On a clear day, Loop Head and the Dingle Peninsula can even be seen in the distance.
If you prefer, you can opt to join a guided walk, where you’ll hear stories passed on from generation to generation, as well as learn the inside scope on all the most scenic and picturesque spots along the way.
The trail ends at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, where you can either choose to grab a taxi or shuttle bus back to Doolin if you don’t wish to walk the trail back.
2. Hags Head Walk
Distance: 6km – Difficulty: Moderate
You can begin this trail either at the Visitor Centre, or at Hags Head – the southernmost point of the Cliffs of Moher. I recommend the latter as you can find private parking for just €3 at Hags Head.
Whilst it’s a shorter route than the Doolin Cliff Walk at only 6km, it can be slightly more challenging in places as it includes some steeper uphill sections.
Again, if you don’t fancy walking back the same way, you can take a taxi or public transport back to your car.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling adventurous, keep walking as far as Doolin Village. From Hags Head, it’s a 14km walk along the coast, which will take you around 4 hours.
You’ll certainly be ready for some lunch at McDermott’s Pub by the time you arrive in Doolin!
3. Cliffs of Moher Coastal Trail
Distance: 20km – Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
If you’re looking for the hikes of all hikes to see the Cliffs of Moher, the 20km Coastal Trail, linking the villages of Liscannor and Doolin, is the one for you.
Completing the entire trail one way will take approximately 6 hours, so make sure to start out early in the morning.
The route takes you along some of the most breath-taking and unspoilt coastline that Ireland has to offer, where you can indulge in views of Galway Bay, Doolin, and the Aran Islands.
There are a few different sections to the trail, each with their own unique scenery and challenges. This route is best suited to seasoned walkers who won’t mind narrow pathways, farm lanes, flagstone steps, and steep inclines and declines.
4. O’Brien’s Tower Walk
Distance: 700m – Difficulty: Very easy
Short on time, or just looking for a quick stroll around the area once you arrive at the Visitor Centre? Wander over to O’Brien’s Tower, just a few minutes’ leisurely walk away.
The round trip from the Visitor Centre takes approximately 30 minutes at a slow pace.
The highlight of this route is of course O’Brien’s Tower itself. Built in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien who wanted to develop tourism in the area, it’s now a spectacular viewing point for visitors to the cliffs.
Climb to the top of the tower and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Day Trips to The Cliffs Of Moher
There are a number of day excursions available from Dublin, Galway, Cork, and Limerick that will take you to the Cliffs of Moher.
If you’re not keen on arranging your own transport, or don’t have a lot of time to spare, opting for a day trip is a great option. Some companies even offer combined tours that include a visit to the Cliffs of Moher as well as other popular attractions in the area.
Here are a few of the best day trips to the Cliffs of Moher:
1. Cliffs Of Moher from Dublin
- Cliffs of Moher tour including Wild Atlantic Way and Galway City
- Cliffs of Moher, Kilmacduagh Abbey, Wild Atlantic Way and Galway
- Cliffs of Moher and Doolin day trip
2. Cliffs Of Moher from Galway
- Cliffs of Moher day trip
- Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher including Cliffs of Moher Cruise
- Cliffs of Moher and Burren day trip including Dunguaire Castle, Aillwee Cave and Doolin
3. Cliffs of Moher from Limerick
- Cliffs of Moher day tour including the Wild Atlantic Way
- Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher including Cliffs of Moher Cruise
- Cliffs of Moher full day tour
4. Cliffs of Moher from Cork
5. Cliffs of Moher from Nearby Villages
- Cliffs of Moher hike from Doolin
- Private Cliffs of Moher hike with all hiking gear issued
- The Cliffs of Moher driving excursion from end to end
Cliffs Of Moher Boat Tours
There’s no view of the Cliffs of Moher quite like the view from the water.
You can take in the sheer size and scale of the cliffs, as well as enjoy views of the coastline, islands and wildlife from a whole new perspective.
Most of the boat tours will begin from either Doolin Pier or Galway City Docks.
1. Inis Oírr Island and Cliffs of Moher Ferry
This tour leaves from Doolin Pier and takes you on a 5 hour magical cruise to Inis Oírr, the smallest of the three Aran Islands.
After exploring the islands, you’ll enjoy a cruise along the Cliffs of Moher.
2. Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher Day Tour
This boat tour starts from Galway City Docks for a full day trip around the Aran islands and onwards for a cruise around the base of the Cliffs of Moher.
You’ll cruise past Connemara and the Clare coastline before spending 4 hours on Inis Mór – the largest of the Aran Islands.
Where To Stay to Visit The Cliffs Of Moher?
The towns of Doolin, Liscannor, and Lahinch are all located within close proximity to the Cliffs of Moher and make for great places to stay if you’re planning on spending a few days in the area.
Doolin is a particularly popular choice for visitors as it’s well known for its traditional Irish music pubs and restaurants. There are also a number of things to do in Doolin for all types of travellers.
My top pick of places to stay in Doolin is Elfin Cottage, a beautifully modern eco-cottage.
Lahinch is another great choice for those looking to stay near the Cliffs of Moher. The town is located on the coast, and has a number of surfing beaches making it the best place to stay if you’re looking to catch some waves.
I recommend this spectacular sea view bungalow for your stay in Lahinch.
Liscannor Village is located just a few minutes’ drive from the Cliffs of Moher and has a number of fantastic self-catering cottages available to rent.
I love this beautifully restored boat house, (yes it was originally a boat house!), just steps from the lively village.
Tips For Visiting Ireland’s Cliffs Of Moher
There are a few things you should know before heading to the Cliffs of Moher.
1. Don’t Ignore The Safety Notices
At particular points there are railings and safety notices. This is for a reason – stay behind them! The cliffs are very high, and the drop is sheer. Many have been blown off the edge by strong gusts of wind in the past. It’s an absolutely stunning view, but respect the signs for your safety, and the safety of others.
2. Visit During Sunrise or Sunset
The best time during the day to see the cliffs is early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is low in the sky and casts a beautiful golden light on the rocks.
3. Be Prepared
Ireland’s weather isn’t all that reliable at the best of times and the weather at the Cliffs of Moher can change in a heartbeat. Be sure to bring warm clothes and rain gear, even if it’s a sunny day when you leave your accommodation.
4. Avoid The Crowds
The further away from the Visitor Centre you walk, the less people you’ll encounter. If you’re looking for a quiet spot to take in the view, head to the southern end of the cliffs.
5. Do Some Birdwatching
Bring binoculars if you’re into birdwatching. The Cliffs of Moher are home to a large number of seabirds, including puffins, fulmars, kittiwakes and razorbills.
FAQs About The Cliffs Of Moher
Some frequently asked questions that come up about visiting the Cliffs of Moher are:
When is the best time to see the Cliffs in Ireland?
The best time to visit the Cliffs of Moher is between April and September as these months offer the most stable weather conditions. However, between June and August it gets fairly crowded during the day so I recommend visiting early morning or evening during this time of year.
What does it cost to visit the Cliffs Of Moher?
Technically, it doesn’t cost to anything to see the Cliffs of Moher. However, there is a charge for the car park and Visitor Centre. The charge ranges between €7 and €10 per person, depending on the time of day. Children under 12 are free.
Why are the Cliffs Of Moher so famous?
The Cliffs of Moher are famous for their stunning views which span the Atlantic coast all the way to Galway Bay. They’ve appeared in many TV shows and movies over the years, including Harry Potter, Leap Year, and The Princess Bride.
How long does it take to visit the Cliffs of Moher?
How long you spend at the Cliffs of Moher will depend on how long you want to stay and explore. I would allow at least 2 hours if you’re just wanting to see the main highlights. However, if you want to do a longer walk or hike, then allow for more time.
What should I wear to visit the Cliffs Of Moher?
As the cliffs are located on the coast, the weather can be quite changeable. Pack a rain jacket, even if the forecast is good. It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes as there are some uneven surfaces on some of the trails.
Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher are some of the most beautiful and majestic natural sights in the country. And whilst they may be a bit crowded during peak season, they’re absolutely worth the visit.
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide on how to visit the Cliffs of Moher. And if you’re headed there soon, have a great trip!