One of the most well-known Irish landmarks is the Cliffs of Moher, and it’s no surprise why. These beautiful cliffs draw thousands of people visiting the Cliffs of Moher for the first time. The first time I saw them in 2015, they didn’t seem like they were real.
Since they are popular, you’ll want to know some tips for helping your Cliff of Moher visit go smoother. By knowing when to go, how to get there, and more, you’ll enjoy your trip to these famous Irish cliffs.
This Ireland Bucket List attraction is steeped in history and wonder. From its geological makeup to its legends and folktales, these facts will teach you something new about the Cliffs of Moher. Here are some of my best tips and tricks for visiting the Cliffs of Moher for first-timers.
Table of Contents
1. Cliffs of Moher Facts to Know
Where Are the Cliffs of Moher?
These mesmerizing cliffs are located on Ireland’s west coast in County Clare. They stretch along 5 miles (8 km) down the length of the famous Wild Atlantic Way.
How Tall Are These Famous Cliffs in Ireland?
At Hag’s Head, these rock faces rise 390 ft (120 m) above the ocean. About 8 km north at O’brien’s Tower, they stand at 702 ft (214 m) above sea level.
How Did the Irish Cliffs Get Their Name?
The Cliffs of Moher, or Aillte an Mhothair in Irish, was named after a promontory fort called ‘Mothar,’ which means ‘the ruin of a fort’ in Gaelic. This fort no longer stands today as it was torn down in the early 1800s during the Napoleonic wars.
How Did the Cliffs of Moher Form?
These Ireland cliffs are said to be over 300 million years old. Before these rocky cliffs formed, rivers flowed to this part of the ocean, depositing sediment of sandstone, siltstone, and shale onto the seafloor. Over several million years, the natural landform compacted to form solid rocks, which were then pushed upwards as the earth’s tectonic plates shifted.
Movies That Feature The Cliffs of Moher
These famous cliffs in Ireland have featured in several films, including The Princess Bride, Leap Year, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Folklores About These Cliffs in Ireland
Ireland is a country steeped in myths, traditions, and folklore, and there’s no exception for the Cliffs of Moher. Numerous tales incorporate this natural wonder, such as The Mermaid of Moher, The Corpse-Eating Eel, and The Legend of the Hag and Cú Chulainn.
The last folktale tells of a witch, Mal, who chased Cú Chulainn and found her end on the face of these cliffs. Legend says that Hag’s Head rock resembles the side profile of the witch’s face.
2. How Much is the Cliffs of Moher Admission?
The cost of seeing the Cliffs of Moher depends on various factors. Tickets booked online are always cheaper than those bought at the gate (generally 2-3 euros more). Booking tickets for admission during peak hours (11:00 – 16:00) are 10 euros, whereas morning tickets (8:00 – 10.59) are 7 euros, and afternoon (16:00 – close) tickets cost 8 euros.
If you’re a student or senior (over 65 years), you’ll qualify for a discounted price. Children under the age of 12 can accompany an adult for free.
These costs include access to all onsite attractions such as the visitors center, the pathways, O’Brien’s Tower, and more.
3. Where to Park When Visiting the Cliffs of Moher
If you drive yourself to this Irish attraction, you can park in the area across from the visitors center and the fee part of the admission ticket’s price. Just be aware that, during peak season, this parking lot can get very crowded. You’ll want to start your day early here if you’re on an Ireland road trip.
Alternatively, you can park just 0.6 miles (1km) away at Guerin’s Path, which costs about €5. Hag’s Head at the southern tip of the cliffs has another parking area. It’s just 10 minutes walking distance from the Cliffs of Moher, and you’ll have to pay €2 into an honesty box.
4. How to Get to the Cliffs of Moher
Ireland is a relatively small country, being about 302 miles (486 km) long from north to south and 171 miles (275 km) wide from east to west. That means you won’t often need to take more than a couple of hours to travel between destinations.
It also has various transportation options available, making traveling even more convenient. Additionally, many tours will take you from major cities to smaller villages.
Getting to the Cliffs of Moher by Car
Driving around Ireland on your own is often the easiest option, as you have the freedom to choose where you want to go and when. You can quickly drive from any Irish city or town to the Cliffs of Moher within half a day.
So, no matter where you are, you’ll be able to reach these famous cliffs quickly and easily.
Distance from Galway to Cliffs of Moher: 46 miles (1 hour and 35 minutes)
Distance from Dublin to Cliffs of Moher: 167 miles (3 hours and 15 minutes)
Distance from Cork to the Cliffs of Moher: 108 miles (2 hours and 35 minutes)
Distance from Limerick to the Cliffs of Moher: 49 miles (1 hour and 17 minutes)
Getting to the Cliffs of Moher by Train
If you happen to find yourself traveling in Ireland without a car, there’s no need to worry. You can easily travel between Ireland’s major cities by rail. To reach the Cliffs of Moher, you’ll need to take the train to Galway or Ennis and then catch a bus from your stop to the Cliffs of Moher visitors center.
Getting to the Cliffs of Moher by Bus
You can just as easily reach the Cliffs of Moher by bus from Ennis or Galway (check out these Galway B&Bs if you’re in town!). You’ll need to catch the Bus Éireann’s Route 350 to get to the cliffs. During summer (June, July, and August), you’ll have five opportunities each day to reach this Irish destination.
If you’re not in Galway or Ennis, you’ll have to catch a bus to either location before departing to the cliffs.
Walking to the Cliffs of Moher
If you really want to enjoy the views of this spectacular natural wonder, you should consider taking the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk. This trail links Doolin and Liscannor and goes past the visitor center.
While this 14km hike is relatively easy, there are some areas where the terrain is uneven, and the exposed cliff paths have no safety barriers. So be sure to keep your wits about you.
Tour to Cliffs of Moher
Several tours will take you to see the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. If you’re in Dublin for 3 days, you can easily take a day trip out to these rock faces along the Wild Atlantic Way.
5. What to Do at the Cliffs of Moher
When visiting the cliffs of Moher, the first thing you should do is take a stroll along the cliff paths and take in the magnificent sights. However, if you’re wondering if there’s anything else to do, then here are a couple of options.
Explore the Visitors Center
Inside this charming building, you’ll find an exhibition and interactive area for the kids. There are also restrooms, shops for Irish souvenirs, and a lovely cafe where you can grab a bite to eat or a refreshing Guinness.
Visit O’Brien’s Tower
Built-in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O’Brien, this tower has served as a viewing platform for visitors. Seeing as it’s located at the highest point along the cliffside (214 m), you can see for miles from the tower’s pinnacle.
On clear days, you’ll be able to spot the Loop Head Peninsula and Kerry Mountains to the south and the Twelve Pins of Connemara in the north. If you look to the west, you’ll be able to see Inisheer Lighthouse and the Aran Islands.
If you haven’t bought a pass for the visitors center, you’ll have to pay a small fee (2 euros) to climb the tower.
It can get very windy up here, so check out my Irish packing list to bring everything you may want such as a scarf and windproof jacket!
Walk to Hag’s Head and the Moher Tower
Hag’s Head is found at the very southern end of these famous Irish cliffs. It was given this name as the rock face resembles a woman gazing out over the Atlantic Ocean. As mentioned previously, the Moher Tower stood until the 19th century. It’s positioned facing out over the rugged Irish coastline, making it an incredible viewpoint.
Enjoy Bird Watching
The Cliffs of Moher and the clifftop grasslands and ocean waters in front of the rock faces form part of a protected area for birds.
You’ll find over 20 species of nesting birds and 30,000 seabird breeding pairs here. This gives the Moher cliff one of the five largest clusters for various species of seabirds. These include the Atlantic Puffin, Common gull, Choughs, and Razorbills.
6. Cliffs of Moher Weather and What to Wear
The weather in Ireland is continuously changing, which is even more apparent at the cliffs of Moher. Even during the summer months, you will likely find yourself needing a jacket to keep out the chilly wind. I always laugh at the Conan O’Brien skit when he visits the cliffs because while he is exaggerating the wind a bit, he’s not that off.
7. Best Time to Visit the Cliffs of Moher & Avoid the Crowds
With 1.5 million visitors each year, this Ireland attraction is often busy, especially during the summer months. The high season spans from May through to September, with peak visiting hours from 11:00 to 16:00.
If you are visiting during this time, it’ll be slightly more challenging to find a quiet day. You should consider staying in the area for a few days and then picking and choosing when you’d like to visit these majestic landforms. This way, you’ll also avoid being disappointed by poor weather conditions.
It’s also recommended, especially in peak summer months, to go to the Cliffs of Moher in the early mornings and early evenings. With summer comes extended hours of sun, so you’ll easily get spectacular Cliffs of Moher sunset views anywhere between 18:00 and 20:00 in the evenings.
If you’re only able to head to this attraction during peak hours, then you’ll want to steer away from the visitors center, as this is where tourists tend to linger. Luckily, there are 5 miles (8kms) worth of cliff paths for you to wander along. You’ll also want to know the things not to do in Ireland before going so you don’t stick out like a tourist.
8. Safety Tips for Visiting the Cliffs of Moher
These natural wonders are a fantastic sight to see, but it’s also important to remember the importance of safety, especially when you’re out on the cliff paths. Signs and fences have been erected all along the cliffs to prevent tourists from harming themselves.
However, many visitors simply ignore these safety precautions when they visit the Cliffs of Moher. They try to get as close to the edge for an epic shot, which is very reckless. Over the years, many tourists have lost their lives doing such things.
So, it’s important as a tourist that you follow the rules displayed on the signs, be aware of your surroundings and the weather conditions, and supervise your children at all times.
9. Where to Stay When Visiting the Cliffs of Moher
To see the best of the Cliffs of Moher, you should consider staying in the County Clare area for a few nights. This will guarantee you a trip with good weather and smaller crowds. You’ll also be able to experience and visit several other Irish attractions in the area, such as Loop Head, Scattery Island, Kilkee, and the Burren. Here are some towns and villages near the cliffs:
Doolin: This charming village is well-known for its traditional music and charm. It’s only 11 minutes from the visitors center, making it the closest town to the cliffs.
Liscannor: Just 10 minutes by car, this coastal village is situated in Liscannor Bay. You can join up onto the Cliffs of Moher walking path here.
Lahinch: This Irish town is known for its golf and surfing scene. During the summer months, you’ll enjoy festive spirits and only be 13 minutes away from the cliffs.
Lisdoonvarna: This town is only 14 minutes away from the famous Irish cliffs, and it is well-known for its annual singles match-making festival, held in September.
Ennistymon: This small town is the furthest from the cliffs, taking 20 minutes to reach the cliffs by car. Its shops, restaurants, and accommodation options certainly make up for the extra couple of minutes spent in the car, though.
10. Tips for Taking Photos at Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are a spectacular sight to capture, but they’re actually not as easy to photograph as you may think. The large crowds and ever-changing weather make this spot particularly difficult to shoot.
The sunsets on the west side of Ireland are awe-inspiring. Even with slightly cloudy conditions, you can still capture the dramatic scenery. You can also capture these cliffs from a different perspective.
Head further away from the visitors center to get a different angle and less crowded view, or take a ferry cruise and get a shot from these rock faces’ base.
No matter when you go, you’ll love visiting the Cliffs of Moher on your trip.