During our trip to Ireland last May, we decided to head straight to the Cliffs of Moher after our time in Dublin. My companions and I picked up our rental car and went on our way.
Driving to the Cliffs wasn’t the most interesting; it’s pretty much straight freeway driving. It’s about a 3.5 hour drive if you can quickly navigate the small and winding roads at the end.
If you loved the Cliffs of Moher, I urge you to click away right now. I’m about to drop some truth bombs about Ireland’s arguably most famous site.
The Cliffs were beautiful. They are without a doubt, a natural wonder. I was told before visiting Ireland that I absolutely needed to squeeze time into my itinerary – that my trip would not be complete without it. Even after I had perfectly planned our six night road trip around Ireland and Northern Ireland, I began to feel major FOMO (fear of missing out). Besides, I didn’t want my travel companions to miss out on anything either.
Where are the Cliffs of Moher?
Located on the far west coast of Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way, the Cliffs of Moher are actually pretty far from most things. (Despite what most tour operators from Dublin offering day trips will have you believe). If you’re heading to the city of Galway, absolutely include the Cliffs on your itinerary. BUT realize they’re still 1.5 hours away from each other.
After doing my research, I decided to add it to the itinerary. We would get up early, stay up late, and it would be fine. We would see the Cliffs of Moher before heading to our AirBnB near Dingle. Unfortunately, we had some issues picking up our rental car and arrived later than intended.
While the weather wasn’t ideal (it was pretty windy), I counted ourselves as lucky. We could see the Cliffs and the view was breathtaking. But that brought up another potential issue for me with visiting the Cliffs. What if that was your one day, and you arrive and you can’t see them at all? That happens frequently. It would be pretty disappointing.
I’m definitely not one to complain about the weather, and often encourage others to get outside no matter what (check out my snowy day recommendations), but I just want others to be aware that this is a real possibility.
What to see at the Cliffs:
On site at the Cliffs of Moher, there is an Exhibition that showcases the Cliffs on screen and gives you plenty of geological information. It’s pretty interactive and modern, as it was opened in 2007.
The Cliffs themselves have many walking trails and points of lookout. I wouldn’t worry too much about crowds, as there’s plenty of space for everyone.
O’Brien’s Tower lookout is definitely the busiest spot in all the Cliffs, and it’s not hard to see why. The views from the tower are unparalleled. It was built in 1835 because Cornelius O’Brien believed tourism to the site would help bring the locals out of poverty. Little did he know that most people would hardly spend three hours in the area.
Why you SHOULD visit the Cliffs of Moher:
If you really want to visit the Cliffs of Moher, go. I couldn’t say anything bad about the Cliffs themselves. There’s a reason they are rated one of Ireland’s Top Visitor Attractions of 2019, and have been given a five star rating by Lonely Planet. But if you go, plan to spend time there. Walk the trails, spend an hour inside the visitor centre. Don’t rush your time. Hang out long enough to catch the sunset and golden hour, the best time of day to spend here at this westward site. Do your research on nearby attractions and spend the night in the area.
But don’t come here thinking you have to. There are plenty of other, equally (if not more so) amazing natural sites in Ireland (and Northern Ireland too!). Cliffs are in abundance along this wildly beautiful island. I had my heart set on the Dingle Peninsula, and really missed out prime time spent there because I decided to do what everyone else told me to do. The Dingle Peninsula is a lesser know coastline – a combination of the Ring of Kerry and the Cliffs of Moher. I’ll be saving my time there for another post.
I don’t regret my time at the Cliffs of Moher, but I do wish I had made better time for it. I hope I was able to clear up some questions surrounding one of Ireland’s most famous sites, and give an alternative view to the overwhelmingly popular one.
If you’d like to check out some of my other Ireland posts, click here.