How to Visit the Cliffs of Moher and Avoid the Tourists

Jennifer Meyer Ireland 8 Comments

Here's the deal:

The Cliffs of Moher is one of Ireland’s most famous landmarks.

This makes the cliffs insanely popular and busy, even during the off-season.

Tourists pour in from all over the world to witness breathtaking views.

This guide to the Cliffs of Moher will walk you through everything you need to know about planning a visit to this amazing destination.

Plus, I have a top-secret Cliffs of Moher tip that will make your visit super amazing, so make sure you stick around for it!

This tip will help you save money and avoid the hoards of tourists that flock to the Cliffs of Moher annually.

Let’s get started!

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. Also know that I only recommend products and services that I love and trust! If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I will be compensated at no cost to you. Purchases made through affiliate links help me keep this blog running, so thanks for your support!

Related: Staying in Dublin? Discover exactly what to do in Dublin, Ireland.

Prepping for your trip? Don't Forget a Thing!

Before we get into the guide, you should take a moment to download the Cliffs of Moher Checklist!

This will help ensure that you have everything you need when you visit the cliffs!

The last thing you want to do is forget something vital to your trip!

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Best Spot to See the Cliffs of Moher (Top Secret Tip Here)

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When visiting any famous, scenic landmark, timing and strategy are key. Afterall, you’d like to avoid as many fellow tourists as possible, right? You don’t want a Disney World situation on your hands.

First things first, you need to pick a time of year to visit if you haven’t already.

Summer is the most popular time to visit Ireland, which makes sense because that’s when they get the best weather.

However, if you visit during summer, you are accompanied by many tourists.

We visited during the Spring and still saw plenty of tourists at the south end. Plus, there were tons of buses and cars parked in the lot for the north end.

So, just keep that in mind when you’re picking your dates.

As you plan your trip to the Cliffs of Moher, you have two points of access to choose from, each of which has a convenient parking lot.

You can see the north end of the cliffs, or you can see the south end of the cliffs.

The north end of the cliffs has a large parking lot, a visitor center, and a stone tower which you can climb, which is nice; however, it is also insanely busy!

To access this end of the cliffs, it costs €6 per person.

While this isn't break-your-budget expensive, it certainly costs more than viewing the southern end of the cliffs.

Back in the 16th Century, people would come from all over to witness the cliffs. A man who owned the land leading up to the cliffs built a tower (I believe it's the one on the north side of the cliffs) to capitolize on the tourism! I wonder how much he charged people to climb the tower?

When we visited the cliffs, we avoided the north end for two reasons: (1) We didn’t want to spend €6 per person if we didn’t have to, and (2) we didn’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of other people trying to take the same pictures.

View of the Cliffs of Moher from the South End

This is the view from the South End of the Cliffs of Moher

If you feel the same way, I would recommend that you visit the south end of the cliffs.

You only need to pay €2 to park in the parking lot (make sure you have exact change since you have to put it into a drop-box). Yep. €2 total. 

The parking lot is small, and it often gets pretty busy. To ensure you get a space, try to arrive in the morning. The lot was full in the afternoon when we were leaving.

But, it’s still nowhere as busy as the visitor center parking on the north side of the cliffs.

They park buses in that lot. Yes. Buses (plural).

If you’re wondering how we found out about this off-the-beaten-path parking lot, we (and that’s the royal “we” I had nothing to do with it) found it on a blog. (You can read the blog post from Wandering.world here.)

Update (April 2018): The instructions on Wandering.world have been updated to make it easier to find! Thanks, Birthe! 😁

To ensure that you don’t have any difficulty finding the parking lot no matter which direction you’re coming from, I dropped a pin in Google Maps for you!

The orange pin is the car park on the south end of the cliffs.

The purple pins are the visitor’s center and the visitor center parking, just in case you choose to visit the north end of the cliffs.

You can view the full map here! The full map will give your directions to the Cliffs of Moher (specifically the super awesome south end).

Just make sure to save it offline so you can use it if you don’t have service or data!

What Weather to Expect at the Cliffs of Moher

Since you’ll be spending time outside, you need to know what kind of weather to prepare for. As you know, Ireland is notorious for being overcast and rainy. Sometimes, it’s a little foggy, too. Unfortunately, you can’t control the weather, so when you visit the cliffs, you’ll have to work with whatever mother nature decides to throw your way.

Plan for the worst but hoping for the best.

Here’s what you know will be true no matter what:

  • It’s going to be windy by the cliffs.
  • The weather can change quickly.

The weather in Ireland (at least during my two days there) felt unpredictable.

I was in Ireland in early spring and the forecast called for rain for the entire two days, but it didn’t rain until the last night, which was inexplicably fortunate!

You just never know exactly what you’ll get.

What to Wear to the Cliffs

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Since the weather can be poor and can change quickly, there are four things you need to bring with you to ensure a comfortable visit to the cliffs:

  • a water-resistant windbreaker
  • a pair of water-resistant shoes (that you don't mind getting muddy)
  • a scarf
  • a pair of gloves

Windbreaker (Water-Resistant)

A water-resistant windbreaker is an essential layer nearly year-round.

Even if it’s supposed to be warm, bring the water-resistant windbreaker anyway because, if it rains, you’ll want something to help keep you dry and protect you from the wind.

 

If it’s supposed to be cold, you had better layer underneath the windbreaker!

Water-Resistant Shoes

I recommend bringing water resistant shoes because if it rains, you’ll want to keep your feet dry.

You’ll even want them if it’s not raining because there will likely be big, muddy puddles that can ruin other shoes.

Scarf

A scarf will protect the part of your neck and chest that your windbreaker doesn’t cover from the wind.

I was super glad to be wearing one, even in March. While it wasn’t incredibly cold, that wind was feisty!

Plus, if your face starts to hurt from the wind, you can use it to shield your face.

Gloves

Gloves will keep your hands warm and protect them from the wind.

I brought gloves to Ireland, but I didn’t take them to the cliffs for some reason, and it was a mistake.

My hands got incredibly cold while I was taking pictures.

In the warmer months, you probably won’t need gloves, but if you’re there any other time, definitely wear them! 

Cliffs of Moher Lore

As you might expect from something so old and grand as the cliffs, there's Irish folklore that surrounds them.

During my research, one story that kept coming up was a story about a Hag (named Mal) who fell in love with a man who was a hero of sorts and didn't share her feelings. So, she did was any sane woman would do and followed him around Ireland. I'm assuming she was desperately hoping this display of her love would change his mind, but I'm guessing he mostly found it creepy AF. Eventually, they ended up near the Cliffs of Moher. To escape, the man began to hop along sea stacks, and in pursuit, Mal hopped along but misstepped and fell to her death.

I wish that there were rumors that you could her her crying for her escaped lover if you listen closely, but there's not. There are also no reported ghost sightings at the cliffs that people attribute to her. However, there is an island right off the coast of the cliffs that is said to be named after her: it's called Malbay.

Source.

Mal is certainly not the only one who has died at the cliffs. There have apparently been numerous suicides there over the years, which shouldn't be surprising, but it's horribly unfortunate.

There have also been an alarming number of accidental deaths at the cliffs. People tend to get too close to the edge sometimes, and if you go to south end, I highly recommend you stay away from the edge! There is very little fencing if any!

More than just getting to close to the edge, the ground has been known to literally fall out from underneath people because of rock that were supporting the ground they were standing on slide down the side of the cliffs...

While there have been quite a few deaths at the cliffs, the story of Mal is the most well-known folklore surrounding the Cliffs of Moher. While I'm sure there are others, this is the only one I found that kept showing back up in my research.

Know of more Irish folklore surrounding the cliffs? Share it in the comments below!

Where to Stay When Visiting the Cliffs of Moher

Choosing a place to stay is always the most difficult part of planning any trip, at least for me. There are so many factors you have to take into account when making a decision.

When considering visiting the Cliffs of Moher, you have a choice to make on where to stay; you can either stay near the cliffs (in Doolin) or away from the cliffs (Dublin).

There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

To help you make an informed decision, I’m going to go over the pros and cons of both.

Staying in Doolin

When looking for sleeping accommodations near the Cliffs of Moher, I highly recommend checking out Doolin. It’s incredibly close to the cliffs. In fact, it’s where we went for a late lunch after exploring the cliffs because it was the closest town with restaurants.

There are some other small towns near the Cliffs of Moher where you can find sleeping accommodation, as well. However, I think that Doolin is certainly the closest, which is why we’ll be discussing it instead of another.

Staying in Doolin is amazing because you’ll be surrounded by green pastures, cows, and sheep. That’s literally your Ireland dream, right?!

But, don’t think there’s nothing around. There are some charming restaurants and shops that you’ll have an opportunity to explore.

Click here to see a list of hotels on Booking.com!

One great thing about staying so close to the cliffs is that you can wait for a break in the rain or fog, if necessary.

If you are taking a tour of Ireland, meaning you’ll spend a day or two in multiple Irish cities and towns, staying in Doolin makes perfect sense!

Interested in staying in the quaint town of Doolin? You can find hotels and prices using the map below!

Staying in Dublin

If you’re unable to spend a ton of time in Ireland, you should consider staying in Dublin and taking day trips from there.

There are tons of things to do and see in Dublin, and it’s only a 3.5 hour drive away from the cliffs.

To make the drive more fun, you can always stop and tour castles along the way.

While staying in Dublin, you won’t see Ireland’s iconic green pastures; you have to drive outside the city to find those.

 

There are a lot of great historic sites to see in Dublin. 

Related: Wanna know all the fun things you can do in and around Dublin? Read my Ultimate List of Things to Do in Ireland!

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You can find beautiful churches (like the one pictured above), astonishingly old pubs, and you can even see the Book of Kells! Yes, the actual book of Kells! Don’t know what that is? Read all about its history here!

The only downside to staying in Dublin and driving to the Cliffs of Moher is that it’s tough to plan for the weather.

Don’t get me wrong, there are certain things you can do to ensure your comfort no matter the weather, which we will discuss later. However, some fog would really disrupt your view.

And if you drive 3.5 hours to see the cliffs, it’s difficult to say that you’ll just come back the next day and try again.

Just make sure that you take that into consideration when considering where to book a hotel.

If you're interested in booking a hotel in Dublin, you will find a ton of awesome hotels at some pretty great prices on the map below! 

How to Get to the Cliffs of Moher

To get to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin, you can either rent a car or take a tour.

And, to get to the Cliffs of Moher from Doolin, you’ll need to rent a car. Hell, you’ll need to rent a car to get to Doolin. There’s no airport out there, so I’m not sure how easy it is to get there via public transportation.

No matter where you stay (Doolin or Dublin), I would highly recommend that you rent a car and drive yourself.

While tours can be nice, I think you'll enjoy going at your own pace and avoiding the crowds more.

Renting a car is much more budget-friendly and flexible!

Rent a Car

If you plan on doing anything in Ireland that lies outside of Dublin, you’ll definitely want to rent a car. It will allow you flexibility in your schedule, and it will get you to your destination quicker.

Renting a car is honestly pretty budget-friendly, especially if you rent one via Expedia. They usually have some great deals.

My travel group used Expedia to find a reasonably priced rental car in Ireland! Go check prices now!

Okay, so renting a car isn't a big deal. You might be wondering why I chose to devote an entire section to a non-issue.

Well, my friend, if you’re used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, you are in for an interesting surprise!

You drive on the left-hand side of the road in Ireland. Yes, that takes as much getting used to as you think!

Don't worry, though. You can do it!

If you have never driven in Ireland before, you'll definitely want to familiarize yourself with the road signs and other traffic rules before getting on the road

You'll recognize some of the road signs (yield, do not enter, stop, etc.), however, you might discover that some road signs, lines, and other symbols mean nothing to you.

You can brush up on yourIrish road signs and markings here!

About the Drive from Dublin to the Cliffs

The drive from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher is beautiful! Plus, like I said, there are plenty of castles that you can stop at on the way.

If you're wondering, the distance from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher is about 176.5 miles (284 km).

The drive takes about 3.5 hours.

Fortunately, there is a ton of beautiful scenery! It’s everything you’d expect to see in Ireland and more. If you live in a young country, like the US, you’ll find it amazing how there are so many old, stone structures in the middle of fields. It’s very different.

The drive is relatively simple once you get out of Dublin. It’s pretty much a straight shot up until the end.

The road signs can be a bit tricky to follow (if you're from the US, at least), so make sure you are paying attention and have a good navigator to help!

And, if you haven’t already, you can brush up on your Irish road signs and markings here!

Don't Visit the Cliffs Without This!

Before we get into the guide, you should take a moment to download the Cliffs of Moher Checklist!

This will help ensure that you have everything you need when you visit the cliffs!

The last thing you want to do is forget something vital to your trip!

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Conclusion

Where to Stay

If you want to be close to the Cliffs, stay in Doolin. If you’re okay with taking a day trip to the cliffs, stay in Dublin.

How to Get to the Cliffs

Whether you stay in Doolin or Dublin, you’re going to need to rent a car.

Weather

Hope for the best (sunshine), but prepare for the worst (rain/fog).

What to Wear

Definitely bring a water-resistant windbreaker, water-resistant shoes, a scarf (if it’s cold), and gloves (if it’s cold).

Related: Looking for more great content about Ireland? Read my Ultimate List of Things to Do in Ireland!

I hope that you enjoyed this guide!

Visiting Ireland soon? What are you most excited to see and do? Let me know in the comments below!

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Here are the best tips for visiting the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. You will learn everything you need to know for the trip, including the best place to see the cliffs (this is a top secret tip).

Comments 8

  1. Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for linking to our post on the Cliffs of Moher! I’m sorry to read our instructions on how to get to that car park weren’t too clear. We have a map on every blog post as well, with pins marking the spots we talk about. (You can click on the spots in the text and the right marker on the map will be highlighted.)

    I do have to admit the written instructions maybe weren’t all that clear, so I edited them a bit and added a marker on the map for The Rock Shop. Hopefully this will help others find the car park easier!

    Glad to read you enjoyed your time at the Cliffs of Moher!
    Birthe

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      Okay, awesome! Thank you! And that’s good to know for the future! I will update my post with that information. We definitely appreciated the great tips that we found on your site!
      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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      So glad you liked the post! Ireland is certainly a beautiful country. You’ll definitely enjoy yourself when you visit! 🙂

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