Even if you've never visited Ireland chances are you've at least heard of the Cliffs of Moher. Although these aren't the tallest coastal cliff faces in Ireland, they're some of the most accessible and impressive terrain you'll encounter on the Emerald Isle.
As you stand from the edge of the cliff faces you'll be able to look out and enjoy powerful views of the Atlantic Ocean which seems to stretch on endlessly. I'll never forget the feeling of seeing of the Cliffs of Moher for the first time while feeling the salty ocean breeze hit my face.
But experiencing these cliffs can be a little trickier than you might think. Keep in mind that Ireland can have rainy and unpredictable weather. Not only that but this is a major tourist attraction that attracts hoards of tourists from all over Ireland on any given day.
Despite these factors we were able to enjoy incredible views of the cliffs on a beautiful evening while nearly having the whole place to ourselves!
In this post I'm going to discuss everything you should know when visiting the Cliffs of Moher. I'll discuss important things like the best time of year to visit and strategies for improving your odds of seeing the cliffs with clear skies.
You'll notice some links and advertisements from partner or affiliate sites throughout this post. I typically earn a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. If you check those out, great. If not, I'm still happy you're here!
Where are the Cliffs of Moher located?
The Cliffs of Moher are located on the west coast of Ireland, in County Clare. They stretch for approximately 14 kilometers (9 miles) along the Atlantic Ocean, from Hag's Head in the south to Doolin Village in the north.
The cliffs are considered part of the dramatic Wild Atlantic Way coastal route that stretches the west coast of Ireland. This coastal route stretches 2600 km (1600 miles) and features some of Ireland's most beautiful natural landscapes.
Where is the best place to stay when visiting the Cliffs of Moher?
There are several great options for accommodations when visiting the Cliffs of Moher, depending on your preferences and budget.
During my trip to the area we stayed at The Cliffs of Moher Hotel (how could we not with the name?) which is located in the nearby town of Liscannor. We really enjoyed our stay at the hotel and you can't beat the 7 minute drive to the cliffs!
Liscannor sits to the south, while another nearby option is Doolin to the north. You'll find an affordable selection of hotels in Doolin as well, and still have an easy 13 minute drive to the cliffs.
We wanted to stay nearby since we planned to visit the cliffs during sunset (the best time to visit) and knew we'd be getting back to our room super late.
How did the Cliffs of Moher get their name?
The Cliffs of Moher get their name from an old fort called Mothar or Moher, which once stood on the cliffs. The fort was demolished in the early 19th century to make way for a signal tower to warn of potential invasion from the French during the reign of Napoleon, but the name Moher stuck. In Gaelic the word means 'ruined fort' and pays homage to the building that once sat here.
What to expect when visiting the Cliffs of Moher?
We chose to visit the Cliffs of Moher about 90 minutes before sunset on an evening in late May. From our hotel in nearby Liscannor we had an easy 7 minute drive over to the main parking area.
By visiting the cliffs after visitor center operating hours, we were able to dodge the normal parking fee. Despite that, you're still able to utilize the main car park.
Even though an incredible sunset was shaping up to be the cliffs were pretty much dead at this time. All of the tour buses which carry most visitors to the cliffs from larger cities in Ireland had already cleared out for their lengthy return trips.
As we made our way across the road and past the empty visitor center facilities, the cliffs slowly started coming into view.
Once you reach the edge you'll have the option of turning right and heading up some steps towards O'Brien's tower or turning left and starting a hike along the cliffs towards the south.
Views in either direction are spectacular, so be sure to budget enough time to check out both sides.
We took a left and hiked about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the visitor center which sets you up for what are in my opinion the most picturesque views of the rugged coastline as you look back north.
The trail through this distance is really easy to follow and the side exposed to the cliff drops has barriers making it extremely safe, even for small children.
Once we made it to an area that offered great views and a photo op we hung out there for about 30 minutes enjoying the sunset before working back where we had came from. The sun was getting low but we had just enough time to walk up near O'Brien's tower and enjoy views looking back in the opposite direction before the light completely faded.
My favorite part about visiting the Cliffs of Moher during sunset was that we only encountered a dozen or so other visitors along the way. It was surreal feeling like we had such an amazing place all to ourselves. If you visit during the day or with a tour group, you won't be afforded this luxury!
Were the Cliffs of Moher in Harry Potter?
Yes, the Cliffs of Moher were featured in the Harry Potter movies. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the cliffs were used as the backdrop for the dramatic scene where Harry and Dumbledore search for one of Voldemort's Horcruxes in a seaside cave.
What are the Cliffs of Moher famous for?
The Cliffs of Moher are famous for their dramatic beauty and impressive height, which make them one of Ireland's most iconic natural landmarks. The cliffs reach a high point of 702 feet (214 meters) above sea level
They are also known for their rich biodiversity, as the cliffs provide nesting sites for over 20 species of seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, and razorbills. We didn't spot any puffins during our cliff walk here, but we did spot tons of them when exploring Skellig Michael Island a couple days later.
Additionally, the Cliffs of Moher have been featured in several films and television shows, further increasing their popularity through pop culture.
The cliffs see over one million visitors in a year making them Ireland's most popular tourist attraction.
If you're looking for more incredible sea cliffs to see during your trip to Ireland be sure to check out my post covering the cliffs of Slieve League. Slieve League stands at nearly three times the height of the Cliffs of Moher but given its distant location, sees far fewer visitors each year.
You'll even have the opportunity to stop at a roadside waterfall on the way!
How long does it take to visit the Cliffs of Moher?
The time it takes to visit the Cliffs of Moher largely depends on how much of the coastline you actually want to hike along and whether or not you plan to enter the visitor center. I'd recommend budgeting at least two hours for exploring the primary viewing area.
This should allow you enough time to walk around O'Brien's tower and take in some views hiking a short distance south of the main viewing platform.
From there budget an additional 30-60 minutes if you plan to explore the visitor center or restaurant.
Of course, if you choose to take a guided tour or hike along the longer coastal trails, you may want to allocate additional time to fully appreciate the cliffs to their fullest.
Are dogs allowed at the Cliffs of Moher?
Dogs are allowed to visit the outdoor areas around the Cliffs of Moher but are prohibited from entering the visitor center.
Just be mindful that the viewing area here can be quite crowded during the day and you'll need to have your pet on a leash with you the entire time.
Are there bathrooms at the Cliffs of Moher?
Yes, there are public restrooms available at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre. These facilities are clean and well-maintained, ensuring a comfortable experience for visitors.
Keep in mind that there aren't any restroom facilities along the cliff trails and you won't be able to access the visitor center if you arrive outside of operating hours to view sunset.
Do I need any special hiking gear for the Cliffs of Moher?
The typical visitor to the Cliffs of Moher won't need any special hiking gear. I'd suggest first spending some time around the visitor center and main viewpoint before hiking at least 1 mile (1.6 km) south to enjoy a completely different perspective on the cliffs.
By hiking south you can enjoy views of O'Brien's Tower, get a taste of hiking along the cliffs and avoid some of the more congested areas. You might even spot a puffin if you're lucky!
Some visitors may prefer to attempt some of the longer hikes in this area. A popular hike is from the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center to Hag's Head in the south. This route is about 6.5 miles (10 km) when done as an out and back. There are also trails along the cliffs that lead north to the town of Doolin.
If you plan to hike Hag's Head, towards Doolin, or some combination of the two, you'll need to be better prepared. In that case I'd suggest reviewing my day hike checklist when packing to ensure you don't leave any essential hiking gear behind!
Be sure to check out some of my other posts for additional Ireland hiking inspiration. A good place to start would be the Benbulben Forest Walk in County Sligo or the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Northern Ireland.
Is there a guided tour option for visiting the Cliffs of Moher?
There are a wide variety of guided tour options available for exploring the Cliffs of Moher. The specific tour option you book is highly dependent on the city you're departing from.
You can choose from Cliffs of Moher tours here that depart from Dublin, Galway and Cork. While lots of visitors travel each day to the cliffs from Dublin, just remember that this journey involves a 3.5 hour drive in each direction. That makes for an extremely long day!
There are also guided boat cruises that depart from the surrounding towns which can offer visitors a completely unique perspective on the cliffs that few others will experience.
Is there food at the Cliffs of Moher?
Yes, there is food available at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre. Options include The Puffins Nest or Cliffs View Cafe which offer a selection of hot and cold beverages, sandwiches, soups, as well as a range of sweet treats.
There are also picnic areas available if you prefer to bring your own food. With advanced notice you can even arrange for a picnic basket to go assembled by the visitor center.
In addition, the nearby villages of Doolin and Liscannor have several pubs and restaurants where you can enjoy a meal before or after your visit to the cliffs.
What is the best time of year to visit the Cliffs of Moher?
The best time of year to visit the Cliffs of Moher is generally during the summer and shoulder months when temperatures are warmer and the weather is more favorable.
During my trip to Ireland we visited during the last week of May, into the first week of June. May is typically one of the driest months in Ireland and we were fortunate enough to go ten straight days without seeing a single drop of rain!
Visiting Ireland during the summer months also means more daylight hours which is great for exploring Ireland's incredible beaches and endless coastal cliffs.
If you need assistance planning your trip to Ireland I'd recommend checking out my guides on how to plan a trip abroad and cheap airfare hacks. These guides include a ton of tricks I use to save money and avoid common trip planning pitfalls!
What is the best time of day to visit the Cliffs of Moher?
Unless your heart is set on exploring the visitor center, I'd recommend visiting the Cliffs of Moher after hours so that you can take in sunset.
The views and photography opportunities will be special during this time as the westward facing cliffs will be illuminated by soft light as the sun fades below the Atlantic Ocean.
Not only will the lighting be ideal, but you'll also avoid the busiest hours of the day. Arriving in the evening means you'll avoid the endless armies of tour buses and tourists arriving from other parts of Ireland.
Another perk of arriving late in the day is that you won't have to pay for parking! Which also makes this the most budget friendly option for your visit. Just keep in mind that an after hours visit means the visitor center restrooms will be closed for the day.
Be sure to monitor the weather as your visit approaches as well. For some travelers, there could be poor weather conditions at this time so take advantage of any flexibility in your travel plans to avoid visiting the cliffs when its raining for the best experience.
Do I need a reservation to visit the Cliffs of Moher?
While reservations are not explicitly required to visit the Cliffs of Moher, it is recommended that you book your tickets in advance. This is especially true during peak season or if you are visiting with a large group.
By purchasing your tickets online ahead of time, you can avoid potential queues at the ticket booth and ensure a smoother, more enjoyable experience.
During my visit we didn't need to purchase tickets or parking since we arrived after operating hours. We didn't have any issues securing a parking space or getting over to the viewing area.
If you're trying to book a guided tour from a surrounding city (such as Dublin or Galway) then you should definitely reserve your seat in advance since space is very limited with these options.
How do I reach the Cliffs of Moher?
The Cliffs of Moher are located on the west coast of Ireland, in County Clare. There are several ways to reach the cliffs, depending on your preferences and starting point.
If you've rented your own vehicle (which I highly recommend), the Cliffs of Moher are approximately a 1.5-hour drive from Galway, a 3-hour drive from Dublin or 10-15 minute drive from the nearby villages of Liscannor and Doolin.
Ireland is best experienced by road tripping between the many coastal towns that dot the island. Make sure you reserve your vehicle well in advance and use a tool that allows you to compare prices across rental agencies to ensure you get the best price!
Major Irish cities such as Dublin, Galways and Limerick offer frequent guided tours, including transportation, to the cliffs. If you don't plan to rent a vehicle during your travels, this is your best option for reaching the cliffs.
Are the the Cliffs of Moher safe for children?
The main visitor area and pathways near the visitor center are well-maintained and fenced for safety making this a safe activity for children.
However, it is essential to closely supervise children at all times and ensure they stay on the designated paths and away from the cliff edges.
Is it dangerous visiting the Cliffs of Moher?
The main pathways near the visitor center are well-maintained and fenced for safety, I was actually slightly disappointed at how hard they make it to get near the edge! However, this means that the area surrounding the visitor center is extremely safe.
If you want to get closer to the edge you'll need to hike away from the visitor center. To the south we found some really nice, flat areas on the other side of the barriers with great views looking north of the cliffs.
Is visiting the Cliffs of Moher worth it?
Visiting the Cliffs of Moher is definitely worth it, as they are one of Ireland's most famous and awe-inspiring natural attractions. It was one of my most memorable activities we did during my trip to the Emerald Isle.
If you take away one thing from this post, I'd suggest planning your Ireland trip so that you aren't beholden to a guided tour departing from Dublin to see the cliffs. Visiting from Dublin means you'll miss out on sunset, have no flexibility to change your visit time to avoid poor weather and be stuck on a bus for over seven hours!
Ireland is best enjoyed by road trip so you can take your time exploring small coastal towns and the rolling green hills between them. I had a blast spending 10 days driving around Ireland. While there are many great things to do in Dublin, don't make the mistake of only visiting the Irish capital city when visiting Ireland.
If you're interested in some travel inspiration, be sure to check out the drone montage I put together highlighting some of the most beautiful Irish landscapes we encountered during my trip (including the Giant's Causeway, Dark Hedges and more).
I hope this post covering the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland helps you decide whether or not to include it in your travel plans!