Cliffs of Moher Hike & Visiting the Burren in One Day

Cliffs of Moher Hike & Visiting the Burren in One Day

When it’s your first time in Ireland, there’s one thing you should definitely do: visit the Cliffs of Moher. There are several day tours from Dublin that take you to these impressive cliffs. Alternatively, you can get to the Cliffs of Moher by bus from Galway. Bus Eireann will take you through the Burren National Park as well. However, the best way to visit the Cliffs of Moher is by the Cliffs of Moher hike: get off the bus at Doolin and hike the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk. In this post, I’ll explain everything you need to know about this hike and why you should also visit the Burren.

Cliffs of Moher Hike

What are the Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are massive sea cliffs that are 14 kilometres long. The maximum height of the cliffs is 214 metres high (near O’Brien Tower). They’re one of Ireland’s most famous landmarks. There is a visitor experience you can visit at the point where the cliffs are about 200 metres high. Furthermore, there also is a path which allows you to explore the cliffs by a hike.

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

Where to start the hike

Actually, The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk runs from Doolin to Liscannor and is more than 18 kilometres long. However, you can start and end your walk at various points. We started our hike at Doolin and hiked until the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience. This hike takes about 2.5-3 hours uphill (and 2-2.5 hours if you’re taking the walk in the opposite direction from the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience to Doolin).

Doolin itself is a lovely small village. Furthermore, it’s a great base to explore other attractions in the area, such as the Burren (see below) and the Aran Islands. There are 4 hostels in Doolin and various B&Bs and hotels. If you’re planning a day trip to the Cliffs and Moher and the Burren, I would recommend having lunch at Doolin after visiting the Burren.

How to get there

Bus 350 runs from Galway to Ennis and stops at Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher. However, check the timetable beforehand, as the buses don’t run very often. At the end of your hike at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience you can take bus 350 back to Doolin or Galway.

Travelling by public transport in Ireland? Check out the Open Road Travel Pass. This pass entitles you to unlimited bus travel on a certain number of days.

Travelling by car from Galway? Make sure to make a quick stop at Dunguaire Castle, a 16th-century tower house. You can see this castle from bus 350 as well.

The Cliffs of Moher are 14 kilometres long
The Cliffs of Moher are 14 kilometres long

When to visit the Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most visited attractions in Ireland, so it will be busy all year round. However, if you visit the cliffs at the end of the day, the sun will shine on the cliffs, which makes for a good photo opportunity. Therefore, I recommend starting the Cliffs of Moher hike after lunch, so you’ll get to the Cliffs of Moher in the afternoon.

The Cliffs of Moher Hike

Starting in Doolin

If you start the Cliffs of Moher hike at Doolin, be prepared that you’ll have to climb a lot. Neverteless, it isn’t a very steep climb, nor is the hike in general very hard. Still, however, I would recommend wearing appropriate hiking boots.

Starting the hike in Doolin
Starting the hike in Doolin

The views of the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk are stunning. Starting your hike in Doolin and ending at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience may include a lot of climbing, but also has a great advantage: you’ll end at the highest (and most beautiful) viewpoint, so you’ll keep being impressed by the cliffs along the way. If you’d started at the highest point (the Visitor Experience), you would have been less impressed at the lower cliffs that you encounter near Doolin.

Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk
Cliffs of Moher Hike: Coastal Walk

We were lucky that it was sunny! However, Ireland is not known for its sunny weather. Therefore, you should check the weather forecast before you go, as I wouldn’t recommend doing this hike in bad weather. Most of the time, there’s no fence that separates you from the cliffs.

Halfway Cliffs of Moher Hike
Can you make out Doolin in the distance?

Puffins

When the cliffs become higher, the birds multiply. It’s possible to see puffins (who nest on the cliffs in the summer) during the Cliffs of Moher hike as well. When I did the hike in June, I was able to see some puffins and was very excited. It was my first time seeing puffins in the wild! During the hike, there are various viewpoints from where you can admire the cliffs. If you’re lucky, you can watch birds as well.

Tip: You can also admire the cliffs from the ocean by taking a Cliffs of Moher Cruise from Doolin.

The end of the hike

The view at the end of our Cliffs of Moher hike
The view at the end of our Cliffs of Moher hike

Near the end of the hike, you can admire one of the best views of the Cliffs of Moher (see the picture above). You can make out the highest cliffs near O’Brien’s Tower and see all the way to end of the cliffs: Hag’s Head.

O’Brien’s Tower was built in 1835 and served as an observation tower for the Victorian tourists that visited the cliffs. You can still visit this tower. From this point onwards, the path will be much busier with tourists. If the weather is clear, you can clearly make out the cliffs of the Aran Islands in the distance.

The Cliffs of Moher are free of charge. Tickets for the Visitor Experience start at 4 euros (if booked in advance on the website). We didn’t visit the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience.

Tip: Combine a visit to the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands with a day tour to the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher.

The Burren

The Cliffs of Moher won’t take a full day. Therefore, I would recommend combining the cliffs with the Burren. Bus 350 stops in the Burren as well. We stopped near Black Head Lighthouse and explored a small part of the Burren.

What is the Burren

The Burren is a region in northwestern County Clare that’s dominated by glaciated karst landscape. Part of the Burren forms the Burren National Park. You may wonder: what the heck is karst? This is the Cambridge Dictionary definition:

an area of land formed of rock such as limestone that is worn away by water to make caves and other formations.

The result is a very bare landscape. Nevertheless, the landscape is very impressive, because it’s so different from the rest of Ireland.

The Burren
The rocks of the Burren

How to get to the Burren

The Burren starts not far from Galway. If you drive the Wild Atlantic Way from Galway, you’ll find yourself in this landscape very soon. If you’re travelling by bus, I would recommend hopping off the bus at Black Head Lighthouse. Inform the bus driver in at advance that this is your destination.

The Wild Atlantic Way takes you to the Burren as well
The Wild Atlantic Way takes you to the Burren as well

Things to see in the Burren

There are various sites that are worth a visit in the Burren:

  • Poulnabrone Dolmen: this is the oldest dated megalithic monument in Ireland. It dates back to the Neolithic period.
  • Gleninsheen Wedge Tomb: a prehistoric grave site dating from 4000 to 5000 ago.
  • Aillwee Cave: the caves in this area were carved out by water 2 million (!) years ago. The main cave goes on for 600 metres into the mountain. Near the entrance, you can find the remains of a brown bear.
  • Doolin Cave: in this cave, you can find the longest stalactite (a type of formation that hangs from the ceiling of caves) in Europe.
  • Burren Centre: here you can watch a 12-minute film and explore interactive exhibits about the Burren.
  • Corcomroe Abbey: an early 13th-century Cistercian monastery. In the Romanesque ruins you can admire some very fine stone carvings.

Note: only few of these sites are accessible by public transport.

Hiking the Burren
Hiking the Burren

Exploring the Burren by foot

You can also explore the Burren by foot. There are several walking routes, of which some are accessible by public transport. Initially, our plan was to hike to the Cathair Dhuin Irghuis fort, opposite of Black Head Lighthouse, and hike part of the Black Head Loop. However, when we hopped off the bus, we realised that this would take longer than we thought. We only had 2 hours before the next bus would arrive that would take us to Doolin. Therefore, we changed our plans and hiked alongside the coast.

Near Black Head Lighthouse, you can walk over the rocks that form the typical landscape of the Burren. Likely, you’ll encounter some sheep as well. It’s a very solitary area with beautiful views over Galway bay. Moreover, the hill on which the Cathair Dhuin Irghuis fort is situated is very impressive: like the rest of the Burren, it’s rocky and bare.

Cliffs of Moher and The Burren Day Tours

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3 Replies to “Cliffs of Moher Hike & Visiting the Burren in One Day”

  1. This is such a useful post – I’ve recently looked into going back to Dublin, and doing some day trips. The Cliffs of Moher were top of my list! So I’ll be keeping this handy; looks like you had perfect photography weather too!

  2. I have not yet visited Ireland, despite being raised in the UK and having traveled to several places all over the globe! The Burren image of the flat rocks looks beautiful. I also enjoy hiking here in the mountains of South Korea, and I wrote an article about it over a year ago. I hope to go trekking sometime in Nepal. Nice post, and great job outlining how long trails take for hikers trying to coordinate with bus schedules.

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