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Cliffs of Moher

You are going to discover the best way to visit the Cliffs of Moher on the wild west coast of Ireland, the country's most popular natural attraction – spectacular sea cliffs 700 feet high, dropping vertically into the Atlantic Ocean, with a trail along the edge and numerous vistas from which you can enjoy it. This is surely one of the great views on our planet, and has been named such in various polls.

We're going to show you some of the best angles, with tips so that you can get the most out of your experience at different times of day and weather conditions. If you're coming down from Galway it's a one hour scenic drive, or you could take a public bus which takes two hours. The area's extreme beauty has made it a big magnet for most Irish tourists. About 1 1/2 million people are visiting each year, and that number is growing pretty rapidly. They've developed a new visitor center and strict barrier walls to deal with the situation and provide a safe and pleasant experience for the visitors.

Not only is it a visual feast but it's a real physical experience of being here at the edge of a cliff, and yes, you can go right up to the edge. You need to be very careful. Don't get too close to the edge, and watch your footing, but you will be fine. Take your time. Sit down and soak in the view.

We're showing the vista from the south side of the visitor center and there's also the view from the north side of the visitor center, so you have two different angles to enjoy it from. Depending on the time of day, one angle is usually better than the other one, based on position of the sun. Afternoon sun is over the ocean, lighting up the view looking south. In the morning there's better lighting when you're looking north.

You could pay a small fee to walk up to the top of O’Brien’s Tower for a slightly better view, but not much different from the main walkway. A good strategy followed by most is start out at the visitor center which is cleverly built semi-underground, then walk up to the main observation area. It's a gentle uphill walk with low stairs and a well-paved walking path. It's the most popular route up to that viewing tower, but many visitors only take this path instead of also going to the left which is even more spectacular, as we'll be showing you. It's the thrilling route that goes right alongside the cliff. Be sure you have at least one hour, although two hours is much better so that you can experience both viewpoints.

Be especially wary if you have any kind of fear of heights. You can easily stay in from the edge. Otherwise, you can walk along and enjoy the view looking down, but always taking great care.

Most people start by passing the visitor center and going up those stairs, and then head south where you get to walk along the cliff and get a different experience altogether, which is usually more spectacular than that first viewpoint. Then you can easily walk along up that slight hill to the main viewpoint, which is also really quite nice. It's a bit uphill, but there is an efficient series of steps and ramps that will bring you right up there, up to O'Brien's Tower. From here you get a really commanding view looking at that classic lineup.

You’ll have best lighting in the afternoon, especially if you come after 4 PM when it's a bit less crowded. But no matter the weather, the crowds, or the restrictions, you'll still love it. At midday, sometimes the lighting from this side is not so great. In late afternoon it's fine, but at midday when most people visit, you also want to go around to the south side for better lighting and that thrilling walk along the top of the cliff. To get to the south side viewing just follow the paved sidewalk and then you will be leaving the grounds of the Cliffs of Moher visitor center onto what's called the Unsupervised Path. Use extreme caution beyond this point.

And you'll have some excellent lighting over here and you can also walk quite close to the edge and look down. It's very dramatic. Very scenic, it just takes about 10 minutes from the visitor center and you'll have that sunnier view with much better lighting on the cliffs. You'll see there's an inner and outer path with a stone barricade separating the two. It's easy to climb over the barricade or just step through various gaps in the stone fence. And most people, it seems, enjoy walking on that path closer to the edge.

While you do have permission to walk on the dirt path, the park does offer several warnings: stay on the official trail, and do not wander to the cliff edge, wear appropriate footwear, check the weather before accessing the trail to ensure the conditions are suitable, and sometimes, hang onto each other.

As you walk along further, the view keeps changing, always getting better and better. When you come around a little further on the south side, you get even more of a sweeping panorama of the cliffs. This only takes you about 20 minutes from the visitor center, so it's something you don't want to miss. This is easy, scenic path out from the visitor center continues along for about half a mile, always with fascinating views in both directions. And if you're a hardcore hiker, you could continue south for another couple of miles all the way down to Hags Head. That will provide many more breathtaking views on a relatively level hike and then you can take a shuttle bus back to the Visitor Center when you're done. There is a well-defined trail along the cliff the entire way.

Most casual park visitors don't need to go up the final slope uphill to the top point, because the view you get up there is about the same as the view you're getting from the lower point. So it makes a lovely round-trip walk. You could do this portion in a half-hour if you want, or maybe stretch it out to sit down and enjoy the views, and take a lot of pictures along the way, stretch it into one hour If you like. If you have that time it would be worthwhile to go slowly. It is wonderful that you can actually get close to the edge, enjoying a slightly scary scene and yet feeling quite safe.

Anybody who can walk can enjoy this adventure. And yet many visitors fail to take this walk. They arrive, they go to the visitor center, they'll walk up the staircase ramp to the tower as we’ve shown you, but walking along this dirt trail is really something very special. And it is so easy and safe to do. Follow the path back and exit from this unsupervised path, easily following the stone paved routing. Maybe take a break for lunch, and then down some steps and around the bend. Overall you're going to find that the Cliffs of Moher provide a spectacular visitor experience. The experience today is quite magical. The view looking down those cliffs is one of the great sights of the world.

The cliffs extend for 8 kilometers south from here, and there is a nice hiking trail that you can walk along, and you will soon find places where you can look straight down. Just be careful. Some restrictions on viewing bring up the much bigger concept that tourism in large numbers is affecting the sites. Worldwide, places are getting more crowded, so the lesson is get out and travel now before it gets even more crowded.

When you're done, if you have time left, hopefully you can enter the Visitor Center, which has a wonderful multimedia display of the history, the geography and the geology of the area. You'll learn about the puffins and 20 other bird species that live in the area, with 30,000 pairs of breeding birds. Sit in the small theater for the wraparound video display about life above and below the ocean waters in the cliff area.

It's all included in your admission fee to the park. This visitor center is something that you do not want to miss, and also they have got a snack bar, a café and a gift shop with a nice range of Irish souvenirs.

Nearby is a well that supposedly has healing powers. It's in a tiny grotto whose walls are thick with holy pictures representing various saints. It's devoted to Brigid who was originally a Druid goddess and then later Catholic saint with healing powers.

This is part of our series on Ireland which we have visited many times and have lots of movies available in our collection, especially focusing on the west side of Ireland visiting Connemara, Galway, Dingle, Kinsale, Killarney, Cashel and other points in between.

video in dedicated video page.