How To Visit the Cliffs of Moher & My Experience With the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk
What are the Cliffs of Moher
The name of the Cliffs of Moher (pronounced “Morr”) precedes them for most first time travelers to Ireland. Overlooking the ocean, the cliffs are massive, secluded, and slightly eerie in the fog and rain. 8 km in length and located in County Clare you can see the Aran Islands while overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from the edge. The view is quite dramatic especially on a stormy day. It’s safe to say that nearly every new visitor to Ireland has “Cliffs of Moher” on their list of places to see.
How to get there
There are several options to aid in deciding when and how you want to experience the Cliffs of Moher.
Rent a car: Renting a vehicle gives you complete freedom to arrive and leave whenever you want. You’ll also be able to explore any nearby villages or The Burren (but don’t walk in the Burren at night). This is what I did the first time I went to the cliffs.
Take a bus to the Visitor Center: Bus Éireann makes regular trips from Galway city center. Usually, you can buy your tickets on the bus. However, for a trip out to a remote area like the cliffs, I personally would buy ahead of time online.
Take a tour: There is a plethora of tours from Dublin or Galway that will take you to the cliffs for the day.
Walk: If you’re up for something different and a taste of adventure, this is the route I recommend. The second time I visited the Cliffs of Moher, I decided to walk there. From Galway city center, Bus Éireann will take you to the seaside village of Doolin. The coastal walk is a completely unique experience and not for the light of heart.
Further Reading: 7 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit County Galway Ireland
My experience with the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk
My alarm goes off and I wake early to make the bus from downtown Galway to the tiny village of Doolin. Bus Éireann takes a daily route there. The ride is bumpy enough to give me a head ache and two hours long. We get off at the Doolin Hostel bus stop, enjoy a sandwich indoors, and look outside at the gloomy sky. Based on my research it’s at least an hour’s walk, possibly two, from here to the Cliffs of Moher. The Irish are no strangers to grey skies, so it doesn’t seem to surprise anyone that we are out walking in this weather.
The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk stretches 20 km from Doolin to Liscannor and is meant to take 4-5 hours. The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center, where the car park is and where most tourists go to view the cliffs is about halfway between the two villages.
We begin the walk. The path is easy and flat with the well-known, intricately made Irish rock walls on either side. The grass seems greener here than anywhere else. In Ireland that’s a difficult accomplishment. The stony, dirt path begins to diverge onto a little well trodden trail in the grass leading to the edge.
Suddenly we find ourselves next to the ocean with water spraying up high over our heads. The only noise around us is the sea. No one else is walking along this trail. I love being able to take my time here. There is absolutely no rush to reach the Visitor Center because we gave ourselves four hours to walk 8 km. Then the rain starts to come down. And the wind.
Our relaxed mood quickly transitions to a race to the finish line as we use our hands and feet to go uphill steadily. The violent wind threatens to knock me off the path and over the edge at any point in time. The Atlantic eerily meshes into one distant color of grey with the horizon. I just want to finish alive and get dry. After what feels like endless winding corners only to see more green grass and jagged rocks, I see O’Brien’s Tower in the distance. We are home free.
No visit to the cliffs would be complete without a cup of tea and scone at the Visitor Center. At this time, the rain comes down like a hammer and not a single body can be seen outside. Everyone is inside in rainboots and jackets dripping with fresh rainwater. But I swear no one is a soaked to the bone as we are.
Now I am under no false pretenses that we just hiked Mount Kilimanjaro. But the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk is an adventure of its own. Though steepness is barely a factor, the weather is. I consider myself a lover of hiking and when you love something, you don’t assume longest or highest level of difficulty is best. I love it for the experience it brings me. Every walk or hike in the world is different to every person who travels it. It depends on who you go with, what time of day, the weather, whether you wore the right shoes, or have enough water, and which internal questions you’re grappling with that day. The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk is a beautiful, wonderful walk.
Something about Ireland has always struck me as magical. I have rarely been able to translate this feeling to people who have not been there before. The country is raw and beautiful with a long, sad, gorgeous history. When I’m there I can feel it in the music on Thursday nights at the pub, in the scenery with the brightest shades of green clashing with the greyest stone and sky, and when I speak to the friendliest people on Earth. And I, like every other American who boasts an Irish heritage, love this country. Whenever I am here I feel like I’ve come home.