How to Visit the Cliffs of Moher and Avoid the Tourists

Jennifer MeyerIreland2 Comments

Cliffs of Moher
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Here's the deal:

The Cliffs of Moher are 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 this amazing destination.

I have some top secret tips for the Cliffs of Moher that will make your visit amazing!

Yes, that means I’m going to tell you exactly how to avoid the tourists and so much more!

Let’s get started!

Related: Read the Ultimate List of Things to Do in Ireland!

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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Where to Stay When Visiting the Cliffs of Moher

When it comes to picking a place to stay, you essentially have two options.

I know; that sounds insane. But it’s true!

You can either stay near the cliffs or away from the cliffs.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Let’s inspect each option more closely.

Staying Close to the Cliffs of Moher

There are some small towns near the Cliffs of Moher where you can find sleeping accommodation.

For example, you can stay in Doolin, which is incredibly close to the Cliffs! Click here to see a list of hotels on Booking.com!

This is nice because you’ll be surrounded by green pastures, cows, and sheep.

Sounds amazing, right?!

Plus, the cliffs are only a short drive away, which means that you can wait for a break in the rain or fog if necessary.

Additionally, there are some quaint restaurants and shops that you’ll have an opportunity to explore.

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!

However, if you only have a few days in Ireland, I would recommend that you stay in Dublin.

Staying in Dublin

If you’re not going to stay in Doolin and you don’t know where to stay, I would recommend staying in Dublin.

Dublin is great because it’s only a 3.5 hour drive away from the cliffs.

The drive from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher was scenic, which was awesome because it didn’t feel like a waste of time. Plus, there are castles that you can stop by along the way!

While staying in Dublin, you won’t see any green pastures (you’ll find them as soon as your travel outside the city though), but there are a lot of great historic sites to see.

Cliffs of Moher

Historic Church in Dublin

You can find beautiful churches, crazy 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 it’s 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.

How to Get to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin

Figuring out how to get to the Cliffs of Moher can seem like a daunting task, but it's really quite easy!

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.

Plus, tours are pricey! Renting a car is much more budget-friendly!

Rent a Car

If you’re going to Stay in Dublin and drive to the Cliffs of Moher, you’re going to need to rent a car. (You would also probably want to rent one if you were staying close to the cliffs, just saying.)

Renting a car doesn’t have to be expensive.

I would recommend checking Expedia. They usually have competitive prices for car rentals, and it’s actually how my travel group found a 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 on the left-hand side of the road or in a foreign country, 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 might mean nothing to you.

You can brush up on your Irish road signs and markings here!

About the Drive from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher

Like I said, the drive from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher was beautiful!

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!

The sights are picture perfect. Literally.

It was everything I imagined it would be and more!

You can look at pictures of the Irish country side, but they don’t do it justice!

Anyway, back on track.

The drive is relatively simple once you get out Dublin.

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!

Cliffs of Moher Parking Options

To be honest, there aren't a ton of parking options at the cliffs.

You essentially have two points of access to choose from when visiting.

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 visitor center, which is nice; however, it is also insanely busy!

Plus, it costs €6 per person to see the cliffs. While this isn’t terribly expensive, it certainly costs more than viewing the southern end of the cliffs.

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.

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 cash since you have to put it into a drop-box).

The parking lot is small, and it often gets pretty busy. 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.

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.)

I’m not going to lie. We had trouble following the directions that they gave on the site.

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

The original directions were probably good, but we were likely coming from a different direction, which made them difficult for us to follow. However, they do have a map on their site that you can use while you're trying to find the parking lot. But make sure you save the written directions to your phone, just in case you don't have service.

Still, we ended up finding it, and we’re quite grateful that Birthe and Brecht shared the spot on their blog (Wandering.world)!

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

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).

What Weather to Expect at the Cliffs of Moher

We all know that Ireland is often overcast and rainy. Sometimes, it’s a little foggy too.

I recommend planning for the worst but hoping for the best.

It’s almost definitely going to be windy by the cliffs.

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!

Also, take note that the weather in Ireland can change quickly.

So, even if it’s not forecasted to rain, be prepared for it.

Similarly, if it’s raining, give it a few minutes because it will likely let up.

What to Wear to the Cliffs of Moher

Okay, so you know what weather to expect…kind of.

You need to expect it all, right?!

There are four things that I highly recommend you wear or at least put in your car when visiting the cliffs: a water-resistant windbreaker, a pair of water-resistant shoes, a scarf, and a pair of gloves.

Windbreaker (Water-Resistant)

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

Even if it’s supposed to be warm, bring the windbreaker because it will be windy, and you might still get cold, especially if it rains.

Plus, if it does rain, the water-resistant windbreaker will double as a rain coat!

Water Resistant Shoes

I recommend bringing water resistant shoes because if it rains, you’ll really want them.

You’ll even want them if it’s not raining because there will be big, muddy puddles. (At least on the south end of the cliffs there will be puddles; I don’t know for sure about the north end, but I expect it would be the same.)

Scarf

I recommend that you bring a scarf because of the wind. If your jacket leaves some open space around you’re neck, you’ll likely want a scarf.

It helped protect my neck in the cold, windy weather.

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

Gloves

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!

How to Take Great Photos of the Cliffs

(Please note that I only recommend products that I have tested and love! With that being said, the link below is an affiliate link, which means that I will be compensated--at no cost to you--if you make a purchase using the link.)

I always start by recommending that you purchase an actual camera, if you don’t have one.

I know that phone cameras have come a long way, but the zoom function is still terrible! Digital zoom = bleh!

Personally, I use a point and shoot camera. It’s a Nikon B500.

You can check it out here.

It has all of the features I needed for about $250.

Eventually, I would love to upgrade to a DSLR, but those are a lot more expensive, and my point and shoot camera takes great pictures that are perfect for what I use them for.

So, if you're new to cameras, definitely check out the Nikon B500! It's perfect for beginners, like me!

Do Research Before You Go

Do a Google search for pictures of the Cliffs of Moher.

Find some interesting shots that people take of themselves.

Is the camera near or far? What is in the background?

Make notes of these details, and then try to recreate some of your favorite pictures when you visit.

Play with Perspective

You will likely notice that some of the images you see online will play perspective.

As long as you don’t put yourself in any risky situations, have fun and play around with forced perspectives. There might be some awesome photo ops.

When Taking a Landscape Photo, Place Something in the Foreground

You have an amazing view at the cliffs, and you’re going to want to try and capture it without any people in the picture.

However, capturing the depth of the scene in a photo can be difficult.

My best piece of advice is to make sure there is something in the foreground of the picture.

Cliffs with Grass in the Foreground

This can be as simple as the grass right before the drop.

If you just take a picture of the cliff in the distance, the photo will look flat.

No one will be able to tell how far away the cliff is or how tall it is.

Check out the bad example below. It's the same image as above, but the foreground has been cropped out.

Cliffs without Grass in the Foreground

As you can see, having the grass in the foreground adds a lot of depth to the picture.

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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Recap

  • Where to Stay

    I recommend staying in Dublin and taking a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher. The car ride is only 3.5 hours long, which isn’t bad at all! However, if you’d rather, you can also stay in Doolin, which is only a few minutes from the cliffs.

  • Driving from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher

    If you stay in Dublin, you will need to rent a car in order to drive to the cliffs. You can get a good deal on a car rental, but gas is a little pricey, so make sure you take that into account when you’re budgeting for the trip. You should explore the south end of the cliffs because it’s cheaper. View the map above for directions.

  • Weather

    Hope for the best (sunshine) but expect the worse (rain). It rains often in Ireland, so make sure you’re prepared to see the cliffs even if it’s a bit wet.

  • What to Wear

    During the cooler months, definitely wear water-resistant windbreaker, water resistant shoes, scarf, and gloves.

  • How to Take Great Photos of the Cliffs

    You should do some research before you go by looking at some pictures that other people have taken. You should also play with perspective (safely of course) and make sure there is something in the foreground when you’re taking a landscape photo of the cliffs.

    Related: Ultimate List of Things to Do in Ireland!

    I hope that you enjoyed this guide!

    If you enjoyed it or found it helpful, please share it on Pinterest or your favorite social media site! 

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

    Until next time,

    2 Comments on “How to Visit the Cliffs of Moher and Avoid the Tourists”

    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

      1. 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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