Are the Cliffs of Moher on your Ireland bucket list? No? Well, they most definitely should be. They’re Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction with over 1 million visitors braving the wind to witness 8 km of rugged coastline on the Wild Atlantic Way. Spending a day at the Cliffs of Moher is well worth your time with a Visitor’s Center that melds perfectly into the cliffside, miles of sheer cliffs to wander, and sweeping views of the Atlantic. These are my top tips to help you make the most of visiting the Cliffs of Moher.
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Be Prepared for Any Weather
I can bet that those 1 million visitors will tell you that their visit to the Cliffs of Moher was a highlight on their Ireland itinerary, of course, that’s if they had good weather. The weather in Ireland changes rapidly. You may have a sunny Dublin morning but by the time your day tour arrives at the Cliffs of Moher fog makes them invisible, and dangerous.
No matter what the sky looks like, sunny or cloudy, expect strong winds. On my first trip to the Cliffs, I had a sunny day, but the wind almost knocked me over. However, on my second trip to the Cliffs, when I walked to them from Doolin, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and only a gentle breeze. I’ve been blessed with the luck of the Irish on both of my trips. I hope the same goes for you!
Stay in Doolin
Staying in a nearby town not only lets you visit the Cliffs of Moher when the weather is favorable, but it also provides the opportunity to see them in a different way. Staying in Doolin you have immediate access to ferries that will sail you underneath the Cliffs in the morning and in the afternoon you can walk the stunning 8 km coastal walk from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher. This way you can see what those busloads of day tours can’t while avoiding the crowds the majority of your day.
Plus, there are plenty of fun things to do in Doolin besides the Cliffs of Moher to keep you busy!
Skip the Crowds
Since the majority of people visit the Cliffs of Moher with a day tour from Dublin or from Galway the busiest times of day at the Cliffs are between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. You can avoid the crowds by timing your trip towards the end of this time frame. Plus if it’s a clear sunny day you must witness sunset at the Cliffs, when they take on an even more magical essence when colored in pink and orange.
If the only time frame that works for your itinerary is during peak tourist hours, don’t worry. I’ve got a tip for that too. Tours usually only allow for about two hours at the Cliffs of Moher and they congregate at the Visitor’s Center and O’Brien’s tower. But since you’re on your own you can spend as much time as you’d like wandering the walking trails to the North towards Doolin and South towards Hags Head. When you’re done with your walk you can return to enjoy the Visitor’s Center and O’Brien’s Tower with fewer crowds.
As stated above, the weather at the Cliffs of Moher is quite chilly. It’s likely going to be incredibly windy and there’s always a chance of rain in Ireland. So wear layers, a raincoat, and maybe even waterproof pants if it’s exceptionally wet.
If you’re planning to do any walking, make sure you have on sturdy waterproof hiking boots with a good grip. The paths away from the center of the Cliffs are not paved and can be quite slippery and most definitely muddy.
Stay Behind the Barriers
Yes, the Cliffs are absolutely stunning and incredibly photogenic. But we are also talking about a 700-foot drop into the Atlantic Ocean. The main section of the Cliffs of Moher has waist-high barriers as a reminder to stay back from the edge of the cliff. But if you wander away from this central point the barriers disappear.
Just because there aren’t any barriers does not mean that it is safe to stand by the edge for your Instagram photo. It may seem like there is earth below you all the way to the sea but, there may not be. The sea erodes the Cliffs from the bottom up, so you there’s potentially only a few feet of earth below your toes that could give way at any moment.
Don’t be like the people in the photo below, who before I had a chance to snap it were sitting on the edge! Later I passed a girl dancing on the edge while her boyfriend took a video.
Don’t be reckless! Stay on the path, away from the edge.
Key Points of Interest at the Cliffs of Moher
One of the main attractions at the Cliffs of Moher, besides the actual Cliffs themselves, is O’Brien’s tower located near the highest point of the Cliffs. O’Brien’s tower was built by Cornelius O’Brien (shocking right) who was the local landlord in the 19th century. He saw it as a way to create jobs and to bring visitors to witness the majestic beauty of the Cliffs of Moher.
Was he wrong?
You can pay €4 to climb to the top of the tower.
Hags Head to the South of O’Brien’s tower gets its name for two reasons. The first is that the rock formation resembles a head facing the sea. See if you can make out its nose! The second comes with a lovely Irish legend behind it.
Supposedly, Mal fell in love with a great Irish hero who did not return her feelings. She chased him all over Ireland and they eventually ended up at the Cliffs where the hero jumped and Mal followed. While the hero survived poor Mal did not and her likeness is forever enshrined at Hags Head.
The Cliffs in Cinema
Did you ever watch Princess Bride as a child? The Cliffs of Moher were referred to as the Cliffs of Insanity as the main characters climbed from the bottom to the top.
In more recent cinema, Harry Potter takes a trip with Dumbledore to a cave in the middle of a raging sea. That cave is in the Cliffs of Moher.
Thousands of bird species call the Cliffs of Moher home. The most popular among these birds is the Atlantic Puffin. The best time of year to see them is during their breeding season which is from April to July.
Logistics of Visiting the Cliffs of Moher
Visitor Center Hours vary depending on the time of year so please consult the Cliffs of Moher visitor website for the most up to date information. At this time, tickets cost €4, but check the website for updated pricing.
If you’re driving, your parking is included in the cost of your ticket to the Visitor’s Center.
If you’re without a car, you can get to the Visitor’s Center via Bus Eireann 350 route to or from Doolin, Galway, and Ennis.
If you’re staying locally and not up for a walk to the Cliffs, consider the shuttle service that runs from May 30th – August 31st. More information on the shuttle service can be found here.
With these tips, you’re almost guaranteed to have an excellent time visiting the world-famous Cliffs of Moher. The biggest thing you can do to have an enjoyable time is to expect rain and wind then be pleasantly surprised when you’re struck with the luck of the Irish and get a sunny day. No matter what, your visit to the Cliffs of Moher will be a highlight of your Irish adventure.
I’d love to hear about your experience visiting the Cliffs of Moher! Let me know how it went either in the comments below or slide into my Instagram DMs. And as always, if you found this post useful please share it to Pinterest so others can have a memorable trip to the Cliffs of Moher.
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