I'd like to hear people's thoughts on visiting the Cliffs of Moher. I'll be visiting here in June and I'm trying to determine the best way to visit. How many hours should I spend there? A tour vs. just taking public bus from Ennis Pros and cons of a guided tour Pros and cons of going by yourself Can you hike along the cliffs for several hours? Has anybody taken Burrren Wild Tours (as recommended in Rick's guidebook) which stops there? Pros and Cons of cruise from Doolin Thanks!
The Cliffs of Moher is great site to visit. You could spend hours there, but I'm not sure you can hike along the cliffs for several hours. Portions near the edge are posted off limits and intended to keep tourists from getting to close to the edge. However, we did see a few people who ignored the signs and walked in these off-limit areas. I can not remember if there are hiking areas near the Cliffs, perhaps someone else can answer that. The is a visitor's center which has an interesting exhibit (Atlantic Edge), a store, and restaurant which you will pass as you walk to the Cliffs. I seem to remember several stores outside of the center, too. Also, there is O'Brien's tower that you can climb-for a small fee. We did spend several hours at the Cliffs. Not sure you would need a guide as the exhibit may take care of that. I'm assuming that you are thinking about taking a cruise from Doolin to the Cliffs? We wanted to do that, but the weather did not cooperate for us! I think it would an interesting way to see the Cliffs and also fun. My understanding is that you would have a guide on the cruise, but you would need to check that. Going by yourself would be fine.
Kira - By all means visit the Cliffs and see them on your own; too small an area and no need to join a tour just to be held captive by others' schedules. Two or three hours should suffice. Since the site was commercialized about 10 years ago, it's not as natural looking or as appealing as it once was. There is now a large parking lot across the street and shops, etc. have been built ( somewhat discretely) into the hillside. Not to mention the fence that was erected with a sign prohibiting visitors from walking along or peering over the side of a section of the cliffs. People largely ignore it, and it's one of the more adventurous reasons for going there. If, by a cruise from Doolin, you mean taking the little ferry to the Aran Islands, by all means take it! Insihmor and Inisheer are the largest of the three, with the former offering the pre-historic Dun Aengus ring fort. It's a healthy two hour or so walk from Kilronan, or you could probably rent a bike or take a taxi. Well worth the visit and another chance to peer over the 300 foot tall cliffs.
The cliffs are a great natural site. We spent several hours walking and taking pictures and then maybe half an hour in the visitor center. Given the information at the visitors center I don't see how a tour would add that much unless you're really into sea birds and want positive IDs on various ones. I also suggest engaging the rangers (or whatever they are) in conversation. One was standing around and responded to a single question with about 30 minutes on the cliffs, birds, he pointed out puffins and a peregrine falcon and told us the story of the raven that hates the new age singer who performs there and tries to poop on her. If a tour was to include the Burren then it would make more sense. The Burren is a stark place I found beautiful but it has no real information and context so an informed guide could really add something in that context. But I haven't taken the tour mentioned. Going on your own will allow you to go at your own pace which I think is important when you are appreciating nature. As I recall the only charge for the cliffs was for parking so a bus or hitching a ride should effectively make it a free site as well. Protip - bring binoculars if you have them. Have a great trip!
If you pay for parking, that stub gets you in the exhibit. If you come on a bus, walk, whatever, you pay for the Edge.
The best time of day to see the Cliffs is in the afternoon, since that is when the sun is on them. In the morning, they are in shadow. The last time I was there, the visitor center was just being built into the hill, so I have not seen the finished museum/site, but I hear it is very impressive.
If you go after 7pm, when the Visitor Center is closed, you can park and visit for free. But of course then you'll miss the visitor's center. As far as I know, all the ferries from Doolin go to the Aran Islands first. It's a great way to spend a day, but allow extra time. The day we went, our return ferry was almost an hour behind schedule. I highly recommend both the Cliffs and the islands. Have fun!
Kira as of 2013 there is a 15k way marked trail from Doolin to Liscannor along the Cliffs of Moher that takes in the visitor centre grounds. I strongly recommend it if you are keen on hiking as it is one if the most spectacular trails you will find and has been upgraded and made safe over the recent winter by a Failte Ireland grant project. It's not for the faint hearted as it rises from sea level at Doolin to over 700 feet and it's still along a cliff edge but it's much safer than the old trail that was never officially open although many visitors ignored the private property signs and walked it. There's a great walking guide in Doolin, Pat Sweeney, who takes walks as far as the visitor centre and a section of the trail goes through his land. Worth the extraordinarily cheap price of €5 for his walk. See www.doolincliffwalk.com From the visitor centre to Liscannor is equally spectacular and can easily be walked without a guide or you can pick up a scheduled bus from the visitor centre back to Doolin or Ennis if 15km is too long. Allow at leat an hour at the centre to see the exhibit, visit O'Brien's Tower and talk to the Rangers. More if you want to eat lunch there. There are one hour cruises from Doolin along the base of the Cliffs in addition to the Aran Island crossings which are also excellent. See www.cliffs-of-Moher-cruises.com Loads of hiking options in the Burren area also with great guides or solo options. It's worth staying in North Clare if you've time. See www.burrenecotourism.com for options
The Cliffs of Moher are fantastic and would recommend doing it on your own. A tour is not need and there is plenty of free literature to get information on the birds, geology etc. I would recommend against a tour bus experience as you are tied to a specific time allocation and if the weather and visibility is poor they don't wait around and that's your experience. Plus the tour buses all arrive during the busiest time at the Cliffs. As the evenings are getting longer going to see the sunset in the evening is beautiful and free or go up early in the morning. (Parking at the visitor center is €6.00 per adult from about 8.30-5.30pm opening hours are longer in the summer). The best option for seeing the Cliffs is taking the Doolin Cliffs of Moher Hiking Trail (which is free). The Cliffs start at Doolin and the trail hugs the coast and ascends up to peak at the visitor center 8km away and down to the other end at Hags Head (12km). There is a local guide Pat who meets outside O'Connors at 10am and gives a very informative walking tour of the Cliffs. If you are staying in Doolin you can also get the Bus Eireann buses outside Doolin Hostel, who run a number of buses throughout the day (less in off season)up to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center and back. And the Doolin Hostel bus stop is pretty much the start of the trail. With the weather ever changing being close to the Cliffs gives you the best options as you see exactly what the conditions are like, and it can change regularly during the day. If not suitable you can work your schedule around other less weather dependent activities such as Doolin Cave, Exploring the Burren, Aran Islands etc. The Cliffs of Moher Cruise from Doolin Pier is well worth the trip and gives a different perspective on the Cliffs. Enjoy the holiday
Anthony Doolin Hostel