The Cliffs of Moher are an absolute must-see while in Ireland and, as the most visited natural attraction in the country, they are pretty accessible. It’s easy to find a day tour from Dublin or Galway to get to the cliffs, but if you are planning on renting a vehicle for your Ireland vacation, then I recommend doing your own tour. With an expansive visitor centre, tons of walking trails, and beautiful views steeped in myth and legend, you can easily make a day out of this beautiful area. Here are my top tips for visiting the Cliffs of Moher on your own.
Keep an Eye on the Weather
While the cliffs are beautiful in the sun and the cloud, you do want to be able to actually see them which isn’t always possible in the fog. The first time I was in Ireland we actually drove past the parking lot because we were unable to see it due to extremely foggy conditions. Those taking a day trip don’t have much choice in the matter, but if you have your own vehicle it’s easier to keep your eye on the weather and plan around the conditions.
Sure, you can drive in from Galway or Limerick, but to really make the most of your Cliffs of Moher experience, it’s best to stay nearby in one of the smaller towns. It’s closer, making it easier to visit away from the crowds, there’s lots more to see and do in the area such as explore the Burren or go surfing. Plus, the smaller towns are charming and often more budget friendly. My favourite town to spend a night or two in is Doolin; just a ten-minute drive from the Cliffs of Moher or, if you are active and love the outdoors, you can take the Doolin Cliff Walk.
Time Your Visit Wisely
Since the Cliffs of Moher are the most visited natural attraction, you can bet that it gets extremely busy. So much so that during the summer months, they sometimes need to close the area off because it’s too full. Unsurprisingly, the busiest times at the Cliffs of Moher are 11am-4pm since so many travellers arrive with day tours from Dublin and Galway. Take advantage of having your own vehicle by going first thing in the morning, or later in the afternoon to escape the crowds. Since the cliffs are located on the west coast, sunset is a beautiful time to visit if you get a sunny day.
Skip the Crowded Areas
The Cliffs of Moher stretch for about 8km (5 miles), but few visitors actually walk along the entire length of them. The most crowded areas are in front of the visitor centre; up around the walled section to the left (if facing the ocean) and to O’Briens tower to the right. These are some of the highest areas of the cliffs and do make for beautiful photos, but it’s definitely the busiest. Since many of the day tours have a limited time here, the travellers tend to spend all of the allotted time in this area. Since you don’t have to be back to a bus at a certain time, you can continue further along the cliffs where you will find more stunning views with very few fellow visitors. Depending on when you visit, you may even have the outlying areas to yourself.
What to Look For
Obviously you’ve come to see the Cliffs of Moher, but as you walk along the edge there are some cool things to look out for.
Harry Potter fans may recognize the large cave at the base of the cliffs in the photo above from the scene in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince where Harry and Professor Dumbledore go looking for Voldemort’s horcrux.
Bird and wildlife enthusiasts will delight at the variety of birds in the area including Atlantic puffins, razorbills, common gulls, and choughs.
O’Briens Tower, built in 1835 is one of the busiest sites at the Cliffs of Moher, but its definitely worth a visit. There’s a great viewing platform from the top (though there is a fee to access it).
The Cliffs of Moher are steeped in local folklore which you can learn more about here. As you walk it’s length keep a look out for the gleaming rooftops of the fabled lost city of Kilstiffen, and be sure to stop by Hag’s Head where a local witch lost her life chasing after a handsome warrior.
- Drivers will need to pay 6 euro to park at the Cliffs of Moher. This includes your ticket to the visitor’s center. If you walk, you do not need to pay to enjoy the paths. However, if you would like to access the visitor’s centre, it’s 6 euro for adults and 4 euro for a student. Children are free. If you plan on climbing O’Brien’s Tower, there is an additional fee.
- There are toilets, a restaurant, and an ATM located in the visitor’s centre.
- Opening hours are as follows:
November- February: 9am-5pm
March-April and September- October: 8am-7pm
May- August: 8am- 9pm.
- Do visit the Cliffs of Moher Experience Center: You don’t need to spend long, but it’s pretty cool. Especially the video (only 10 min) offering birds-eye perspectives of the cliffs.
- The cliffs face west, so if your main intent is photographing them, the afternoon and evening offers the best lighting.
- It’s very windy; even if the sun is out, it can be cool along the cliffs. It’s a good idea to bring a sweater or coat with you. The weather can also change pretty quickly so a waterproof coat (not an umbrella-it will blow away) and sunglasses are always good to have on hand.
- Good walking shoes are a must; the ground is uneven and can be slippery when wet.
- Safety is key at the cliffs, and there are waist-high walls and gravel pathways for a reason. The cliff edges are not safe so please be careful and do not stand right at the edge.