The Cliffs of Moher offer visitors an awe-inspiring vista of cliff and sea, channeling the feeling of being at the bow of a ship and looking out onto the unfurling horizon.
Look no further for Ireland’s most impressive, breathtaking scenery.
These cliffs stun you, humble you, and make for the perfect bookend to an Irish adventure.
Visit at sunrise to beat the crowds, or try your luck during sunset to get the most out of the cliffs’ wow factor.
But no matter when you visit, the Cliffs of Moher are sure to leave you at least a little bit speechless.
The Cliffs of Moher: What are they all about?
This dramatic sweep of sea cliffs located at the southwestern edge of County Clare, otherwise known as the Cliffs of Moher, is dreamy and awe-inspiring.
Whether visited as a day trip from Dublin or Galway, or as part of a longer rural excursion, the site should not be missed.
The cliffs, which run for about 14 kilometers, offer views of the Aran Islands, the Maumturks, and Twelve Pins mountain ranges.
Not surprisingly, the Cliffs of Moher have been the subject in a number of films, and are in fact considered one of the most visited sites in Ireland today.
They are actually a “signature point” on the Wild Atlantic Way tourist trail that runs through it, too (and for good reason).
With nearly 1.5 million visits per year, the Cliffs of Moher can get quite crowded, but with a bit of careful planning, it isn’t difficult to witness the cliffs’ untouched side.
For wildlife lovers, the Cliffs of Moher also offer a range of sea life that can be spotted from various lookout points: seals, dolphins, whales, and even sharks aren’t difficult to catch a glimpse of.
By land, visitors can often spot goats, badgers, puffins, falcons, and foxes, too.
A web of walking trails surrounds the cliffs, making the site not only pleasing to the eye but enjoyable for hiking lovers.
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History of the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher have long been the subject of books, films, and more.
Their name originated from an old fort named Mothar or Moher, which stood on the tip of a nearby cliff.
The fort, which was demolished in 1808, was eventually used as a material for a lookout tower during the Napoleonic wars. The cliffs are also the ancestral home to a number of folklore stories.
One of many tells the tale of an unusual rock formation that resembles a woman’s head and later received the name of “Hag’s Head.”
But there is more to the cliffs’ history than a little folklore.
The first person to formally recognize the cliffs as a tourist destination was a man named Cornelius O’Brien, a local landlord.
He developed the site so that it catered to visitors by erecting stables and even a picnic table—these visitor-friendly sentiments still ring true today thanks to an extensive visitor center and a number of public transportation options to and from the site.
What to expect at the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are no secret to the average visitor, which makes the site, while aesthetically impressive, also prone to overcrowding.
But if crowds don’t bother you too much, all the better, because you’re in for a treat; the cliffs are home to over 20 different bird species, so bringing binoculars is always a good idea.
The cliffs themselves are comprised of shale and sandstone; the layers are visible, and the oldest sections are located at the bottom of the cliffs, just beside the sea.
For the astute onlooker, small river channels can be seen weaving through the cliffs which makes this site even more impressive—many of the channels date at almost 300 years old!
As far as facilities are concerned, there is indeed a visitor center at the Cliffs of Moher—it is an extremely informative center that offers literature on the cliffs’ history, and there is always personnel available to answer any questions you might have.
And what makes the visitor center even better is the fact that it’s been built into the hillside, its rooftop mossy, not at all, unlike a hobbit house.
Tips for visiting the Cliffs of Moher
It’s recommended that you leave at least half a day for your visit to the Cliffs of Moher, as the site isn’t simply a pretty vista but also includes an impressive number of hiking trails that offer spectacular views of their own.
Arguably, walking the hiking trails is the best way to enjoy the cliffs—you can avoid the crowds without skimping on views. It’s a win-win situation.
But if you are dead-set on setting eyes on the spot where The Princess Bride was filmed, visit first thing in the morning to beat the crowds.
Or better yet, visit on a foggy day—something about this type of weather gives the cliffs a mystical, mysterious vibe and is sure to be very camera-friendly, too.
Don’t leave the area without spending time in the surrounding villages of Pollboy and Lough North—both extremely quaint stopping points that look like hobbit havens.
Renting a car is in many ways the top transport choice in this area of Ireland, but if you do happen to be traveling via public transportation,
Bus Éireann passes through the cliffs and offers an easy, hassle-free option. There is also a private shuttle bus to the cliffs that leaves daily from the nearby town of Doolin.
By KT Browne