Ireland's most visited natural attraction, these sea-cliffs in County Clare are 5 miles (8 km) long and soar over 700 feet (200 metres) above the crashing waves. When standing at the beautiful and breath-taking canvas of the Cliffs of Moher, you come face-to-face with the the ageless and savage power of nature.
Perhaps the 1940's naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger described the impact of these cliffs best when he wrote: "If you want to feel very small, go out in one of the canvas curraghs [small canvas boats] on a day when the ground swell is coming in from the ocean, and get your boatman to row you along the base of one of those gigantic rock walls."
Formed over 300 million years ago, the Cliffs of Moher have historically been a sacred site of the Celtic people with rich archaeological remains found in this region, and throughout the nearby area of The Burren. The cliffs were also a much-frequented hunting ground of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland in the early 11th century.
In late medieval times, the Cliffs of Moher became a tourist attraction, with visitors from all over Europe coming to admire the cliffs. The cliffs were a popular spot on the "Grand Tour" -- a voyage taken by young nobles between the 16th and 18th centuries. The scenery was admired greatly by Queen Victoria, when she holidayed in this region in 1861. The cliffs have more recently been visited by Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, along with countless other dignitaries and celebrities.
Spectacular aerial views of the unguarded cliff edge
Things to See
The fabulous view is the main attraction from the top of these layered cliffs of sandstone, silt and shale. Take a walk along the unguarded cliff edge, which offers unobstructed views (weather permitting, of course) of the Aran Islands and 30 miles of County Clare coastline and offers countless photo opportunities.
In 1835, Sir Cornelius O'Brien built an observation tower to make the visit of Victorian tourists more hospitable. Perched upon the highest cliff point, O'Brien's tower looks out over Breanan Mor, a rock-stack rising up amid the crashing waves. O'Brien also erected an interesting wall of Moher flagstones, imprinted with images of prehistoric eels.
On clear days, from O'Brien's Tower, visitors can see all the way to Mount Brandon in County Kerry, and to the Twelve Bens mountain range of Connemara. Fee: There is a fee of €2 for adults / €1 for children to visit the O'Brien's Tower upper viewing platform.
Buskers and PerformersThere are also often performances, especially during the summer, by traditional Irish musicians and step dancers. Performers are usually seen in the car park area, or along the walk towards the cliffs. Fiddles (violins), harps, guitars and tin whistles are the instruments most commonly used.
Along the entrance road to the Cliffs of Moher, visitors will find a modern Visitor Centre, opened in 2007, which features an audio-visual exhibition about the Cliffs. The centre also has plenty of printed material about the geology and history of the Cliffs, as well as information on other natural wonders and attractions in the area.
The Vistiors Centre also provides information on bird watching opportunities - a large colony of puffins inhabits the cliffs.
The Centre additionally provides shelter from any inclement weather. As the saying goes, in Ireland you can get "four seasons in one day", so shelter is welcome from rain showers, which often pass quickly.
During summer months, particularly July and August, visitor numbers to the cliffs swell during the middle of the day, from about 11am to 3pm. Visiting at these times can make your experience a little less enjoyable, as the popular viewing points become crowded.
If you are travelling by car, and can pick your own times, it is best to try to arrive before 11am, or after 3pm, when most of the tour buses arrive.
Entrance Fees and Parking
Is it Free to visit the Cliffs of Moher?
In principle it is FREE to visit the Cliffs of Moher -- but this may not obvious, as you will be asked for a ticket on arrival, which you can get at the car park. Visiting the Cliffs is free only if you do not want to use any of the facilities (car park, visitors centre, or O'Brien's Tower). Realistically, the only way to avail of free access is if someone drops you off by car at the entrance road.
Children under 16 are FREE, however. If you are travelling as part of a coach tour, your tour operator will probably have prepaid, and will receive a ticket from your driver / operator.
If you are travelling by car, there is a charge to use the car park, which has ample spaces. On parking, you will receive a ticket, which allows you to also to enter the Visitor's Centre.
If you do get dropped off at the entrance road (i.e. you do not need to park a car, or do not want to access the Visitor's Centre), state this on arrival to the person asking for tickets at the entry road to the cliffs, to avoid charges.
Fees for Car Parking / Visitors Centre
- Adults: €6 euro each
- Students / Seniors / Disabled: €4 euro each
- Children under 16: Free
Fees for O'Brien's Tower
- Adults: €2 euro each
- Children: €1 euro each
Cliffs of Moher, Image by Cord Cardinal
Moher Cliffs, O'Brien's Tower in background. Image: Vincent Moschetti.
O'Brien's Tower. Image: Irish Fireside.
A harpist busking, Cliffs of Moher. Image: Cliff Hellis.