It’s not hard to see why the Cliffs of Moher are regarded as one of Ireland’s most famous natural attractions. There are a lot of first-time visitors who come to see these cliffs every year because of how beautiful they are. In 2015, I finally got the chance to visit the Cliffs of Moher in person, and it was an unforgettable experience.
These are one of the most famous tourist attractions in Ireland, if not the most famous, so you’ll want to plan ahead to avoid any hiccups during your visit. You’ll want to be well-prepared for your trip to these famous Irish cliffs, whether that means researching the best time to travel, how to get there, or anything else.
The storied past and fascinating legends of this must-see Irish bucket list item have always fascinated me. The geological history of the Cliffs of Moher is fascinating, and there are also many interesting folklore and folktales surrounding them. These are some of my best recommendations and insider knowledge for making the most of your time at the Cliffs of Moher.
This post was first written in 2021 and last updated in early 2023.
Cliffs of Moher Facts to Know
Here are some fun facts about the Cliffs of Moher to check out.
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 5 miles (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 got their name from an old fort called Mothar or Moher. The fort once stood on Hag’s Head, the southernmost point of the cliffs. Mothar or Moher translates to “ruined fort” in the Irish language.
Over time, the name evolved, and the entire cliff area became known as the Cliffs of Moher. Although the original fort no longer exists, there is a watchtower called O’Brien’s Tower, built in the 19th century at the highest point of the cliffs, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
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
While Northern Ireland gets all the glory for its Game of Thrones filming locations, the Cliffs of Moher have plenty to brag about as well.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009): The Cliffs of Moher appear in this sixth installment of the Harry Potter series as the location for the cave where Harry and Dumbledore search for one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes.
- The Princess Bride (1987): This beloved romantic adventure film features the Cliffs of Moher as the “Cliffs of Insanity,” where the characters Westley, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik engage in their memorable battle of wits and strength.
- Leap Year (2010): This romantic comedy, set in Ireland, features the Cliffs of Moher as a picturesque backdrop during a scene where the main characters, Anna and Declan, get to know each other better.
- Into the West (1992): This Irish film about two young brothers and their mystical horse features the Cliffs of Moher during a pivotal scene, showcasing the stunning natural beauty of the Irish coastline.
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.
How to Get to the Cliffs of Moher
Ireland is a relatively small country, being about 302 miles long from north to south and 171 miles 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 travel even more convenient. Additionally, many tours will take you from major cities to smaller villages. Let’s dive into how to visit the Cliffs of Moher and the different transportation offered.
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.
There are also some beautiful drives in Ireland around this part that you’ll love going on.
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 8.6-mile hike is relatively easy, some areas have uneven terrain, and the exposed cliff paths have no safety barriers. So be sure to keep your wits about you.
Cliffs of Moher Tours
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.
- Cliffs of Moher Day Trip from Dublin: This full-day tour typically included transportation from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher, with stops at other popular destinations such as the Burren, Doolin, and Galway City. A knowledgeable guide will be with your group, providing insights into the region’s history and culture.
- Cliffs of Moher, Wild Atlantic Way, and Galway Tour from Dublin: This guided tour offered a visit to the Cliffs of Moher along with a scenic drive through the Wild Atlantic Way. Additional highlights often included Galway City, Doolin Village, and the lunar-like landscape of the Burren.
- Cliffs of Moher and Burren Day Trip, Including Doolin Village and Galway Bay Coastal Drive from Dublin: This tour combined a visit to the Cliffs of Moher with a drive along the scenic Galway Bay coastline. Other stops on this excursion typically included the Burren, Doolin Village, and a chance to experience traditional Irish music and culture.
Tips for Visiting the Cliffs of Moher
Here are a few Cliffs of Moher tips to help you plan your visit.
Cliffs of Moher Admission Price
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 visitor’s center, the pathways, O’Brien’s Tower, and more.
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 is 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 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.
What to Wear to the Cliffs of Moher
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.
It’s best to layer up and be prepared for all types of weather.
Make sure you have the following:
- Warm fleece jacket to stay warm against the wind
- Waterproof jacket to be prepared for any potential rain
- Beanie to keep your head warm (and keep down your hair from flying)
- Walking shoes that are comfortable for exploring the cliffs
Best Time to Visit the Cliffs of Moher
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, that the best time of day to visit the Cliffs of Moher is 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 visitor’s center, as this is where tourists tend to linger. Luckily, there are 5 miles 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.
Best Things 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 (and a list of things not to do in Ireland as a tourist).
Explore the Visitors Center
The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, also known as the Cliffs of Moher Experience, is an award-winning facility designed to enhance visitors’ experiences at the famous Irish cliffs. Built into the hillside, the center blends seamlessly with the natural landscape.
The visitor center features a variety of fun exhibits (perfect for things to do in Ireland with kids) providing insights into the history, geology, and ecology of the cliffs, including information on local flora and fauna, seabird species, and the unique geological features that make the Cliffs of Moher extraordinary. The multimedia Atlantic Edge Exhibition explores the four elements that shape the cliffs: ocean, rock, nature, and man.
You can also watch a short film titled “The Clare Journey” in the Cliffs Theatre, which offers a bird’s-eye view of the cliffs and surrounding County Clare. You’ll also have access to O’Brien’s Tower, a 19th-century viewing tower with breathtaking 360-degree views, through the visitor center.
The center also features restrooms, a first aid room, baby changing facilities, and a large car park. You can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a hot or cold beverage at the on-site Cliffs View Café (and try out plenty of traditional Irish food and drinks in Ireland), which offers stunning views of the cliffs.
You can also pick up an Irish souvenir at the gift shop, which sells locally crafted items, books, and memorabilia related to the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre is open year-round, with varying opening hours depending on the season.
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 visitor’s 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 face 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 Cliffs of Moher one of the five largest clusters for various species of seabirds. These include the Atlantic Puffin, Common Gull, Choughs, and Razorbills.
Where to Stay Near 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 visitor’s 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 on 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.
Other Cliffs of Moher Tips to Keep in Mind
Here are a few other tips for the Cliffs of Moher you might find helpful.
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.
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.
Have further questions about visiting the Cliffs of Moher? Leave me a comment below!