Impressive. That’s what I had heard about this place before going there, but on the inside, I really had no idea of what to expect when I left Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher. A true wonder of nature. These cliffs are amongst Ireland’s most famous attractions. They stretch for about 8km (5mi) on the west coast of the country, and it’s a breathtaking but also a dangerous place (stay away from the edges). Just so you can understand why, the Cliffs reach 214 meters (702 ft) at its highest point, near the O’Brien’s Tower. Pretty high, don’t you think?
The Cliffs attract more than 1.5 million people every year! An impressive number which also raises a yellow flag if you want to visit this place when it’s not super crowded with tourists. To help you with that, I will explain when is the best time to visit and what you can expect in terms of weather.
Also, since this place isn’t close to the Irish capital I’ve described how to get from Dublin to Cliffs of Moher as well as from Galway and Doolin.
But first things first. Let’s start with the history of the cliffs and which animals you can find there.
I remember walking towards the cliffs, smelling the sea, listening to the waves breaking on the cliffs, and feeling the wind (and water) in my face. When I finally reached the walking path and looked at the ocean, I stopped. I stopped walking, thinking, and breathing. I was in complete awe.
History & Geology
The area where the cliffs are today was the mouth of a large river years ago. 320 million years ago to be more specific. As a result of floods, sand and mud were washed here to become the compressed rocks as we know today. To become the Cliffs of Moher.
Take a look at the photos in this post and you’ll see that the rocks on the cliffs are layering all along it. This rock formation not only proves the point I made above, but it also makes it possible for diverse species of birds, that arrive at the end of the winter and in the following months, to make their nest here.
There are over 20 species that come to shore in the cliffs every year, like the peregrine falcons, razorbills, black gulls, and the super cute puffins. My favorite ones. Besides, the rich diversity of birds, the marine life in this region is also very impressive! If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot seals, dolphins, basking sharks, and whales.
- If possible, bring binoculars to watch the animals.
- If you have doubts about which lens you should bring, my advice is to take a lens with a good range in focal length with you, like a 70mm-300mm. Avoid changing lenses here, it winds way too much.
On the photo below, you can see the O’Brien Tower and a sea stack, which was once part of the cliffs, but due to erosion, it got detached. It looks small from above the cliffs, right? It does, but I can assure you it is not! This stack, called Branaunmore, is around 67 meters high (220 ft)! Huge!
In the 19th century, Cornelius O’Brien, a landowner in Liscannor, built a wall along the cliffs, to offer more safety to its visitors, and the O’Brien tower mentioned above, to serve as a viewing point for tourists. Like if this was even necessary. I mean, look around you. The view is spectacular already.
Not a coincidence, the O’Brien tower is the highest part of the cliffs and from there you can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, the Twelve Pins and the Maam Turk mountains on the other side of the Galway Bay, the Loop Head Lighthouse, and the Blasket Islands.
Cliffs of Moher Weather
I mean, you can see all of those places if the weather in the cliffs is good enough. It’s no secret that the weather in Ireland is usually rainy and unpredictable.
You can literally have the four seasons in one day. I left a rainy and cold Paris to arrive in a sunny and relatively warm Dublin in the winter. Yes, the freezing European winter.
So before heading to the cliffs, check out the weather and wind speed to know what to pack as well as to make sure you don’t get yourself into a dangerous situation.
Also, they place warning signs regarding the wind at the entrance to the parking lot and coach park.
Yellow means dangerous, but possible to visit as long as you use extra caution when walking along the cliffs. Orange means the wind is too strong and a visit to the cliffs would be too dangerous. Red means no visits to the cliffs, nor to the visitor center are allowed. It’s too dangerous to stay in the area.
Best Time to Visit the Cliffs of Moher
Before I give you some facts regarding the best time to visit them, remember that the weather in the cliffs is very unpredictable, as well as in the whole country.
The cliff’s season begins in April and it goes until September, having July and August as most crowded months.
So the best time to visit is in September rather than April because it’s probably warmer and it’s after the school vacation. Try to visit it on weekdays and before 11 am and after 4 pm. Arriving after 4 pm also has its benefits. You will be able to see the sunset from cliffs. If you do, tag me on your picture. It must be a fantastic view!
Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience
The visitor center was designed to be an environment-friendly facility, which recycles water and uses renewable energy, among other things. There, visitors can pay a visit to the interactive exhibition, Atlantic Edge, which is about the history, geology, flora, and fauna of the cliffs. Very interesting!
This exhibition even won an award in the Interpret Britain & Ireland Awards 2007 and the judges were impressed by the facilities here.
Also, there are two cafes and a few shops in the visitor center.
Dublin to Cliffs of Moher
Well, one of the most important questions is how to get from Dublin to Cliffs of Moher and I’ll list the possible options below.
Option one is to take a train to Ennis with a connection in Limerick (it takes around 3h) then catch a bus to the cliffs (1 hour). Crazy, right? Well, if you want to go by train option 2 is much better, in my opinion.
This round trip to the cliffs costs around 27 euros for the train tickets and 18 euros for the bus tickets.
Check the Irish Railways to buy your tickets.
Option two is to take a direct train to Galway which takes around 2h30 (34 euros a round trip), enjoy the city, maybe spend a night there, and then head to Doolin or to the Cliffs of Moher by bus, which I describe in the “Galway” paragraph.
Option three is for those who don’t have much time but would love to see the cliffs anyway. That’s how I went there, actually. I chose to take the day tour to the west coast of Ireland with a shuttle bus from Dublin. It was just hassle-free and since I was short on time, this was the perfect alternative!
Besides, if you want to spend more time in Galway, but don’t want to take care of how to get there, the tour operator offers an overnight option in the city.
Hot tip: If you do take the above tour, sit on the right side of the bus when you head to the cliffs. The view is much prettier on this side as you have the ocean in front of you.
Galway to Cliffs of Moher
There is a bus that runs from Galway to the cliffs 5 times a day during summer, and 3/day in the rest of the year. The ride takes around 2h20 and it costs around 22 euros a return ticket.
Which bus? Bus Eireann line 350 to Ennis Bus Station.
Where to take the bus? At Galway Bus Station.
Where to get off the bus? At Cliffs of Moher Coach Park.
Ps: They do not operate during Christmas and St. Stephen’s Day.
If you need help finding accommodation in Galway, check out Booking.com, I highly recommend them!
Doolin to Cliffs of Moher
If you’re staying in Doolin, the trip to the cliffs is much shorter and cheaper. It takes around 15 minutes to reach the cliffs and you basically have to take the same bus as if you were departing from Galway. The fare for a return ticket costs around 6 euros.
Which bus? Bus Eireann line 350 to Ennis Bus Station.
Where to take the bus? There are a few stops in Doolin: Rainbow Hostel, Hotel Doolin, Doolin Hostel, Camp Site, and Opp Doolin Hostel.
Where to get off the bus? At Cliffs of Moher Coach Park.
Where to stay near the Cliffs of Moher?
There are no hotels or any sort of accommodation at the cliffs, but the closest village, Doolin, offers enough options. I researched the best accommodation nearby and the Doolin Hostel heads the list. They have great staff according to reviews, and all rooms (private or not) have premium bunk beds with individual LED lights, electrical sockets, lockers, private bathrooms, and free WiFi. Continental breakfast and parking are also included. Definitely the best option to stay near the Cliffs of Moher.
Highlight: the great location. The bus to the cliffs stops at the door of the hostel.
Ps: Looking for cold beer and delicious food in Doolin? The Gus O’Connor’s Pub is your next stop then. If you want to experience the Irish culture in the region, you have to go to a pub! Also, the O’Connor’s Pub is a walking distance to Doolin Hostel.
Cliffs of Moher Boat Tour
You have seen the cliffs from above, took a nice hike, and it was a lifetime experience. But can you imagine how fantastic is to see them from below? Yes, from the sea level.
At Doolin, they offer a pleasant 1-hour boat cruise to the cliffs.
I didn’t do it and now I deeply regret this stupid decision, but before taking this tour check the weather to make sure it won’t ruin everything. Also, I don’t believe the tour operators would conduct it in dangerous situations, so no need to worry.
If you’re going to the cliffs by car, the parking lot is on the opposite side of the road from the visitor center. You pay 8 euros to park and it includes the visit to the Cliffs of Moher Experience (the exhibition I mentioned above).
The cliffs are free of charge, but if you want to go up in the O’Brien tower you pay a small fee of 2 euros per adult and 1 euro per children under 16 years.
Fun fact: Have you ever watched “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”? The cave scene was shot here.
There are 5 disabled parking places on the same side of the road and 6 on the parking lot across the street, but you can only park here if you have a disabled permit on your car. If you don’t have it, park your car in the main parking lot, on the other side of the road, but the closest to the pedestrian crossing as possible, so the distance to the entrance is shorter.
The visitor center is fully accessible by wheelchair as well as the main parts of the cliffs, but prepare yourself (or ask for someone’s help) because a few paths are very steep and some parts of it may be damaged by the weather becoming uneven.
I have said this above, but I’ll reinforce this idea because it’s important: if it’s too windy, don’t put yourself at risk! It can be very dangerous!
Honestly, I wasn’t surprised the forecast was horrible for that winter day I went there. Rainy and super gray. But I went anyway and it was the best decision ever!
The sun was shining (wonderful surprise, huh?) and it wasn’t as cold as I expected when I arrived at the coach park. Then I walked to the cliffs…and wow! I was so impressed by that view! The cliffs were definitely a breathtaking experience.
I mean, literally!
The wind was blowing so hard I couldn’t even walk at some moments. Also, because it was so windy I could feel the water in my face from the huge waves breaking on the cliffs. And again, take care with the edges! Needless to say that some paths were wet and I didn’t dare to explore them. They didn’t seem very safe as those were among the many unofficial paths there, which I don’t recommend. They can be dangerous and are not really necessary. You can have an amazing view from the O’Brien Tower as well as from all secured paths, no need to take unnecessary risks. Don’t be reckless because of a selfie.
So take care of your camera, make sure to use the strap, and hold it steady. I’m not sure if you can use your drone there, but I’ve seen videos of the cliffs made with a drone. Just be careful because it is windy.
Nearby the cliffs:
Baby Cliffs: Burren National Park
Not as glamorous as the Cliffs of Moher, but still remarkable, the Burren National Park is a unique place where you can appreciate the landscape and nature at its best. The flat gray slabs give you a prehistoric feeling, but watch out for the edges, there are no fences here.
Together with the cliffs, the Burren form a UNESCO Global Geopark.
Highlights: Burren Center, Ailwee Caves, Caherconnell Stone Fort, Lemenagh Castle, and Poulnabrone Dolmen.
The Cliffs of Moher are a must-see experience in Ireland and I’m sure you won’t regret visiting them!
So, what’s your favorite photo in this post? When are you heading to the cliffs? Which cities in Ireland will you visit? Tell me in the comments, I’m curious about it!
Hey, looking for more posts about Ireland? Check out my 2-day itinerary for Dublin.
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