Tips for Visiting the Cliffs of Moher: Planning Your Own DIY Tour

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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.

PS: planning a trip to Ireland? Check out my itineraries.

Check the Weather at the Cliffs of Moher

While the Cliffs of Moher 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 check the weather at the Cliffs of Moher in advance and plan your visit accordingly.

Stay Close to the Cliffs of Moher

Doolin Cliff Walk

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 to the Cliffs of Moher Wisely

Cliffs of Moher Sunset

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 of Moher are located on the west coast, sunset is a beautiful time to visit if you get a sunny day.

Skip the Crowded Areas at the Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

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.

Most 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 of Moher where you will find more stunning views with very few fellow visitors. Depending on when you are visiting the Cliffs of Moher,  you may even have the outlying areas to yourself.

What to Look For at the Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

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.

Final Tips for Visiting the Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

  • Drivers will need to pay to park at the Cliffs of Moher. This includes your ticket to the visitor’s centre. If you walk, you do not need to pay to enjoy the paths. However, if you would like to access the visitor’s centre, thee is a fee. 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. You can learn more here.
  • The cliffs face west, so if your main intent is photographing them, the afternoon and evening offer 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.

Ready to Book Your Trip?

Don’t forget travel insurance!

Please do not travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to use it multiple times throughout my travels and it has saved me thousands of dollars. You can learn more about travel insurance here. If you are looking for a provider I love and recommend SafetyWing. For Canadian readers, take a look at SoNomad.

Book your accommodation

I love and recommend for accommodation. They have a range of hostels, guesthouses, hotels, and resorts. Plus, the platform has a great loyalty program that means the more you book, the more you can save. 

Book your tours

My go-to tour provider that I love to recommend is GetYourGuide. They have options all over the world and partner with local companies for everything from day trips to food experiences and even airport transfers. 

Get connected

If you want to have data while travelling for online maps or any other needs, an esim is one of the easiest solutions. I’m a big fan of Airalo and have used their sim cards around the world from Brazil to Uzbekistan, Greece to the USA. It’s really easy- you download the app, pick what country you want an esim for, and after you purchase it follow the installation instructions. You can use promo code HANNAH3326 to save $3USD on your next esim purchase. 

Not sure what to pack?

I have destination-specific guides for some countries but you can also check my travel essentials and camera gear if you are looking for some ideas. 

Looking for a travel buddy?

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  1. Mike from TravelAndDestinations on January 26, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    The Great guide to visiting these cliffs. They look and sound fantastic. I also quite like your picture with the low clouds and the cliffs peaking out over the top. I haven’t even made it to Ireland yet so will definitely check these out and also some of your other suggestions in your day trip post.

    • Hannah on January 26, 2018 at 9:08 pm

      Thanks! The cliffs are pretty spectacular- just one reason to head to Ireland 🙂

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