Julie Ireland 21 Comments

The Cliffs of Moher…this is wild, rugged, beautiful Irish coastline. For many visitors to Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most anticipated destinations. We felt the same way, and we couldn’t wait to see the views, hike along the cliff tops, and enjoy one of Ireland’s most famous landmarks.

So, you can imagine our disappointment when we learned that rain was in the forecast. Not just showers, but a lot of steady, unrelenting rain.

We walked the Cliffs of Moher, breaking up our visit over two days, to see as much as we could while staying as dry as possible. We learned a lot in the process, and in this post, we will share with you how to get the most out of your visit to the Cliffs of Moher. 

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are located on the west coast of Ireland, in the County Clare. Towering over the Atlantic Ocean, these cliffs reach a maximum height of 214 meters.

The Cliffs of Moher stretch 14 km from north to south, starting at Doolin in the north and ending at Hags Head in the south. There is a well-marked hiking trail along the entire stretch of coastline.

The Visitor Center, located at the midpoint, is also at the highest point of the Cliffs. Over one million people every year visit the Cliffs of Moher, making this one of Ireland’s most popular attractions.

Not only are the Cliffs famous for their beauty but they have also been featured in several very popular movies, including The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Ireland in August

How To Visit the Cliffs of Moher

The Visitor Center. This is the easiest and fastest way to see some of the best views. The Visitor Center is located near the highest point of the Cliffs so you do not have to walk far for stunning views. From the Visitor Center, you can take as much time as you like to walk part (or all) of the trail to either Doolin or Hags Head. You can also climb O’Brien’s Tower while you are here.

It costs €8 per person to enter the Visitor Center (€4 – €8 if you book your tickets online in advance).

Pro Travel Tip:  You do not have to visit the Visitor Center to see the Cliffs of Moher. If you walk the coastal trail from Doolin or Hags Head, you will still get the same stunning views as you do from the visitor center, without paying the fee. 

Walking the Cliffs of Moher. There are numerous ways to walk part or all of the trail along the Cliffs. Many people start in Doolin, walk the 8 km to the Visitor Center, and then take the shuttle back to Doolin. Another option is to start in Hags Head, walk the 6 km to the Visitor Center, and take the shuttle back to your car. Or, you could walk the entire 14 km along the cliffs.

Pro Travel Tip:  We recommend walking at least a small portion of the Cliffs. Most people congregate at the area around the Visitor Center. From the Visitor Center, walk north or south on the trail, leave most of these people behind, and get a feel for wild, rugged Ireland.

So, how do you choose which portion of the trail to walk? Keep reading!

Our Experience

We arrived in Doolin late in the afternoon on a rainy day in August. For one night we stayed in town, using this as our home base to walk the Cliffs of Moher. Rain was in the forecast for the next 24 hours. It was a huge disappointment. And we only had today and tomorrow, since our travel plans had us arriving in Limerick tomorrow night.

Pro Travel Tip: If you want to increase your odds of seeing the Cliffs of Moher on a sunny day, consider spending two nights in the area. If you get lucky and have two days of clear weather, visit the Cliffs of Moher on the first day and day trip out to the Aran Islands on the second day. 

After checking into our hotel, the rain stopped. It was 7:30 pm. Could we take this opportunity to go see the Cliffs of Moher, at least while it was not raining?

Tyler and Kara, exhausted from days of driving and sightseeing, decided to stay in the hostel. Tim and I figured we would just run out and take some pictures of the Cliffs, not planning to be gone for very long.

Cliffs of Moher from Doolin

Since it was late in the day and very wet, Tim and I had the trail all to ourselves. Even though it was not the most pleasant weather, it still turned out to be an awesome experience. The Cliffs of Moher are gorgeous, peaceful, and feel remote, even within walking distance of Doolin.

We felt like two kids again, on an adventure, off exploring. Around every bend was a new view. We kept going and going, even though big, thick, gray rain clouds were slowly moving in. It was going to be a very wet walk back to Doolin, but Tim and I wanted to enjoy this as long as possible.

We walked most of the way to the Visitor Center, but didn’t quite make it. Not only did it start raining but the sun was setting. Tim and I hurried back to Doolin, surprised by how much distance we had covered during our explorations. By the time we got back to Tyler and Kara, it was dark and we were soaked. But it was a magical experience.

Here is Our Journey from Doolin in Photos

Doolin

Doolin

 

At the start of the trail

Cliffs of Moher Danger

 

First view of the Cliffs of Moher

Doolin Cliff Walk

Ireland

 

The trail from Doolin

Cliffs of Moher from Doolin

Walking the Cliffs of Moher from Doolin

 

Looking back towards Doolin

Looking back to Doolin

Doolin Cliff Walk Ireland

 

Off in the distance, the cliffs are getting higher (and it’s now raining!)

Cliffs of Moher in the rain

 

From here, the trail climbs up the cliffs

Walking Doolin to Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher from Hags Head

Our original plan was to walk the entire trail in one day. Now that Tim and I walked the northern portion, we were halfway finished.

The next morning we awoke to fog and rain. Terrible, depressing weather in which to visit the Cliffs of Moher. Conditions were not expected to change much during the day. Yikes!

Well, things only got worse as we drove to the Visitor Center. It was 9 am. Visibility was literally less than 5 feet. Even though it was daytime, we needed headlights because it was so dark from the rainclouds and fog. The lady at the ticket booth advised us to come back tomorrow. Currently, there was nothing to see from the Visitor Center except a thick blanket of fog.

Hoping for the best, we drove south towards Liscannor. Maybe conditions would be a little better here

As we arrived in Mullaghroe North, the weather conditions improved. It stopped raining and the fog lifted, at least here, since we were now at a lower elevation.

It can be a little tricky to find parking to access the southern portion of the Cliff walk. Most roads are unnamed here. From the Visitor Center, drive south on R478 to St Bridget’s Well, and then follow signs to the Cliffs of Moher parking. If you continue up the road, there is a family that runs a car park from their yard. For a few euros, park here for the closest access to the Cliff trail. But get here early, spots are limited.

With brighter weather conditions, our moods improved. Our first views of the coastline from here were amazing. Immediately, it was much more impressive than the walk from Doolin. The Cliffs at Hags Head are higher and much more dramatic than the northern portion of the Cliffs of Moher.

We shared this walk with just a few other people. This is one of the few advantages of a rainy day: hiking trails are almost completely deserted.

The walk from Hags Head towards the Visitor Center was fabulous!! We were so thankful for our good fortune that the weather was cooperating, at least for a little bit.

As we approached the Visitor Center, the trail became more crowded. Once the fog and rain moved in again, we turned around and walked back to our car.

So, we did not walk the mid-portion of the Cliffs trail or visit the Visitor Center, due to the weather conditions. Even so, it was an awesome experience.

Here is Our Journey from Hags Head in Photos

Make sure you park only in designated parking areas. The trail from Hags Head starts in a residential area.

Cliffs of Moher parking

 

Hags Head

Hags Head

Hags Head Ireland

 

Our first (of many) stunning views

Cliffs of Moher Walk

Burren Way

Cliffs of Moher Trail

Earth Trekkers Ireland

Cliffs of Moher family travel

Earth Trekkers Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk

Moher Walk

 

This is what it looks like when the rain and fog move in

Cliffs of Moher Rain

Tips for Visiting the Cliffs of Moher

This is how we recommend hiking the entire Cliff Trail: Stay in Doolin. In the morning, take the shuttle from Doolin to the Liscannor Walk Car Park. Walk the entire trail, from Hags Head to Doolin. Allow five hours for the entire walk. At the Visitor Center, you can stop for food or to use the bathrooms.

If you only have time to walk a portion of the trail, we recommend the southern portion. The scenery was more dramatic than on the walk from Doolin to the Visitor Center. Park in Liscannor, walk north towards the Visitor Center, and turn around when you are ready.

With limited time, start at the Visitor Center and walk a small portion of the trail.

Cliffs of Moher Shuttle Bus. There is a shuttle service connecting Doolin, Hags Head, and the Visitor Center. For those who want to walk point-to-point on the trail, definitely use this service. For information on the schedule and fees, visit the Cliffs of Moher Shuttle Bus Service website.

Cliffs of Moher with Kids

There is an element of danger when visiting the Cliffs of Moher. The trails follow the edge of the cliff. As long as you stay on the trail, there are no safety concerns. But in some sections, the trail is within a few feet of the edge of the cliff, making this a dangerous place for young kids that may wander off of the trail. For this reason, the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center recommends that only children over the age of 12 walk the Cliff Trail.

During our visit, Tyler was 13 and Kara was 11. They have lots of experience hiking and are well aware of the dangers of approaching the edge of the cliffs. For kids with hiking experience, 10 years old is a reasonable age to hike the Cliff Trail.

If you are visiting the Cliffs and have young children, start at the Visitors Center for the best views and consider walking a small portion of the trail.

Cliffs of Moher with Kids

Where to Stay

These properties are located in Doolin, within walking distance of the trail to the Cliffs of Moher. 

Moloney House Bed & Breakfast. Moloney House is located on a family farm. This 4-star property has rooms that can accommodate between two and four people. Prior guests rave about the breakfast and excellent location in the town of Doolin. 

Doolin Inn. This 3-star hotel has rooms that can accommodate up to four people. From here, it is a quick and easy walk to the Cliffs of Moher, as well as O’Connor’s pub, a pub that gets rave reviews in Doolin. 

Twin Peaks B&B. This bed and breakfast is located in the center of Doolin, so it is a slightly longer walk to get to the Cliffs of Moher Trail. However, it gets exceptional reviews, serves a delicious breakfast, and offers rooms that can accommodate up to four people. 


More Information for Your Trip to Ireland:

Planning a trip to Ireland? Read all of our articles in our Ireland Destination Guide.

You Might Also Like:

 

Cliffs of Moher Ireland

Walking the Cliffs of Moher Ireland

 

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Comments 21

  1. Hi. Wonderful post by the way. My wife and I are travelling around Ireland by car in mid April to first week in May, planning to visit the Cliffs of M from Doolin where we are staying the night. I was wondering , after reading your narrative and enjoying the splendid photos, what time of year you did the trail. I looked everywhere but might have missed the date. Thanks for providing us and so many others such great tips! Gary

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  2. Dear Julie, thanks so much for the great recommendation. I started on a January day (rain, hail AND sunshine all mixed up in a 4 hour stretch) at the farmhouse, following your advice and then went from Hag’s Head toward the visitor center. For the first 2/3 of the way I was COMPLETELY ALONE on the trail, enjoying the solitude and the vista. It got only busy around the visitor center. Would have loved to hike the entire trail, but the northern half of the trail was closed due to the condition of the trail (in repair). So glad I was able to get the more spectacular side. I decided on a whim to come to Irland for a few days of solitude in January, and the Cliffs of Moher and walking them was my biggest draw. Thanks again for your great and well researched post. You allowed me to have an unforgettable day today!!!

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      Hello Liane. I’m so glad we could help you out. It’s an amazing spot, isn’t it? I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in beautiful (and rainy) Ireland. 🙂 Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi Julie,
    Loved your post and very informative! We will be in Galway early August and plan to see the Cliffs of Moher. Your suggestion to see the south side sounds lovely. And the parking was a good tip! My question to you is this. We will have four in our party: 2 daughters ages 18 and 22 and my husband and me. We are fit but are not hikers. My husband is not fond of heights but is ok is we are not too close to the edge. Are there parts of the trail very close to the edge and if so is it possible to walk further away from the edge? I am wondering if we should just chalk it up and go to the Visitors Centre with the crowds and have a look?
    Thanks!!

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      Hello Lynn. Definitely go to the south section. There are short sections that get somewhat near the edge of the trail (maybe within 5 feet, if my memory is correct), but yes, you can avoid these by picking a trail further away or just walking off the trail away from the edge. But I don’t remember any section of trail that gets right up against the edge of the cliff. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi, Julie, I just to want to thank you for sharing the itinerary! My family just came back from 10 days to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. I followed quite a few of you suggestions, and they all worked out great! I am planning a trip to Ireland now, and your article is what I base on when I research the route and itinerary. Thank you! Enjoy your next trip!

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  5. Thanks to your post we started our visit with the southern Hags Head end and parked in the residential lot and walked to the Cliffs. In hindsight, after going to the visitor center the next day, i was completely amazed how many people miss out on the beauty, solitude and peace that comes from walking out on this Southern most part of the cliffs. Not to take away from the scenic views from the middle section, but compared to the time we spend on the southern end, we would have missed so much if we had not read about it. Thanks.

    Note, not sure i would have been as relaxed had we had small children, but since we did not we were not constantly worrying about edges and cliffs.

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      Hi John. I’m glad we could help! I agree…the area around the visitor center gets a lot of hype and a lot of visitors, but the best parts of the Cliffs are north and south of that area. Cheers, Julie

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      If I remember correctly, it took us about 2 hours total to hike the southern portion round trip from the car park. Cheers, Julie

  6. Hi Julie,

    What waterproof gear ( jacket, pants, hiking shoes and backpacks) do you recommend while visiting places where it rains a lot and if one wants to hike nevertheless ? Please suggest for both men and women. Or if you have an article on it, please direct me to it.

    Thanks in advance !
    Merry X’mas and Happy New year to you and family and many more adventures 🙂
    Indie

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      Hello Indie. We wear Merrell waterproof hiking shoes. Tim and I wear Prana hiking pants that are somewhat water resistant. They aren’t waterproof but some of the rain runs off of them. Tim wears Prana Zion stretch and I wear the Halle pants and love them. If you take a look at the Prana website, they do offer water resistant pants. As for backpacks, we have an assortment…Camelback, Pacsafe, and Osprey. To keep them waterproof, we got a Duck Back cover at REI and put it over the backpack when it rains and it works well. I’m sure other companies carry something similar. And we all wear North Face rain jackets. To keep my camera dry, I carry it either in a backpack or in my camera bag and stand under an umbrella to take photos. Happy New Year, Julie

  7. Hi Julie! Thank you so much for your advice. Would you recommend the Cliffs of Moher or Giants Causeway? I have heard differing opinions and we are trying to decide whether to do Galway/Cliffs of Moher or Belfast and Giants Causeway.

    Thanks!

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      That’s a tough one! If you have the time, I think the Giant’s Causeway and the Slieve League would be the best option. The Slieve League are cliffs that are just as spectacular (so we have heard) as the Cliffs of Moher, but much less touristy, so it can be a better experience. They are located near Northern Ireland and may only be a few hours drive from Portrush. If you have the time, this is what I recommend.

      But if you had to only choose between the Cliffs of Moher and Giant’s Causeway…hmmm. Both are awesome, but I enjoyed the Giant’s Causeway a little more. You can combine this visit with Dunluce Castle, the King’s Road, and Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. The Cliffs are good if you want to go hiking/walking and want to see Galway, a city that a lot of visitors to Ireland love. You can’t go wrong with either one! Cheers, Julie

  8. Great travel advice you guys got here! We would have loved to hike the entire Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk (or portions of it, like you did) if we had the time. (And when weather permitting.) Unfortunately we didn’t, so we decided to check out the Cliffs of Moher from Hags Head. It was simply stunning! Bonus: we were able to fly our drone to get some awesome shots. Isn’t Ireland lovely?

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      I’m jealous!! It was too windy and rainy while we did the hike so we couldn’t fly our drone. You got some nice shots (I took a look at your post on the Cliffs of Moher). Yes, Ireland is lovely. Cheers, Julie

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