The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland 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.
Located at the southwestern edge of County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher tower over the Atlantic coastline.
The cliffs and its surrounding area of The Burren have been designated with UNESCO Global Geopark status in recognition of their importance.
Standing 702 feet (214 meters) high and spanning 14 km, (8 miles) Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction sees more than 1.5 million visitors per year.
Where are The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are 270 km (167 miles) from Dublin and 75 km (46 miles) from Galway. Many people visit it on a day trip but spending more time in the area is highly recommended.
They will stun you, humble you, and make for the perfect bookend to any Irish adventure.
We spent the night at Pat Sweeney’s Farm located on in the nearby close to the town of Doolin for an authentic Irish coastal experience.
Cliff’s of Moher Coastal Walk
Staying at Sweeney’s Farm gave us the chance to chat with Pat about his famous coastal cliff walk from Doolin.
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.
Doolin is the perfect place to make a home base to also explore the Aran Islands and the Burren.
It is just 9 km (5.5 miles) from the visitor’s centre 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.
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).
Visiting the Cliffs of Moher
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 first person to formally recognize the 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.
He built it in the 19th-century and these visitor-friendly sentiments still ring true today thanks to an extensive visitor centre and a number of public transportation options to and from the site.
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.
Things to See
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.
From the cliff edge, you’ll have views of the Aran Islands, the Maumturks, and 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 home to over 20 different bird species. Bringing binoculars is always a good idea to view the 30 thousand sea birds that call this home.
For wildlife lovers, 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.
Book your Tour Now
The Cliffs of Moher are at the top of everyone’s list for things to do in Ireland. Check out these tours to plan your trip.
History of the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher have long been the subject of books, films, and more.
Their name originated from an old fort named Mothar or Moher, which stood on the tip of a nearby cliff.
The fort, which was demolished in 1808, was eventually used as a material for a lookout tower during the Napoleonic wars.
One of many tells the tale of an unusual rock formation that resembles a woman’s head and later received the name of “Hag’s Head.”
Hag’s Head is the southernmost point from the visitor’s centre that you can hike to. It is about a 4 km hike (2.4 miles). You can drive and park in the parking lot out at Hag’s Head and hike up from there.
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.
Films featuring the Cliffs of Moher
Tips for Visiting
It’s recommended that you leave at least half a day for your visit to 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 the 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.
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.
Getting to the Cliffs of Moher
Renting a car is in many ways the top transport choice in this area of Ireland.
Day Tours from Cork, Galway, and Dublin are also popular ways to explore the cliffs.
If you do happen to be traveling via public transportation, Bus Éireann passes through and offers an easy, hassle-free option.
There is also a private shuttle bus that leaves daily from the nearby town of Doolin.
No matter when you visit, the Cliffs of Moher are sure to leave you at least a little bit speechless.
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