Looking like a layered cake of earth, the Cliffs of Moher are stunning natural wonders at 702 ft at the highest point (214 meters) and stretching over 8 kilometers in length. However, with over a million people visiting them every year it feels a bit like Disneyland on the claustrophobic scale. The Cliffs of Moher and nearby sites are great to see on a day trip if you don't have a car or you are on a time crunch. However, this part of Ireland has much more to offer than just the cliffs so while tourists are zooming past on tour buses, it is great to explore the nooks and crannies of County Clare, Ireland.
Ironically, when I saw the Cliffs of Moher, I was one of those tourists that was zooming through on a tour bus because I didn't have a car that trip. I took a day tour to the Burren and Cliffs of Moher and it was still a great way to see it.
I have used the town of Ennis, Ireland as home base several times when flying in and out of the Shannon airport. I love Ennis because it is a good ol' workaday, Irish town and because the music is some of the most phenomenal that I have heard in Ireland. Ennis is a great starting place from which to explore the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren either by car or bus tour (what we did).
This other-worldly limestone sheet landscape of the Burren is stunningly beautiful, especially in summer when flowers creep up the cracks in the limestone. I visited in late May and the wildflowers were just beginning to bloom, but They're usually at their full glory through June. The Burren is its very own unique temperate ecosystem that can and does support plant life and flowers from the arctic, the Mediterranean, and the tropics! This is a must-see during wildflower season, with the Cliffs of Moher being more of an added bonus. After the Burren, the little town of Ballyvaughan is a great place to stop for lunch, stay a night, or just to admire the Galway Bay for a few minutes before moving on.
From the little and well known town of Doolin, for an extra and highly recommended excursion, you can go to the Aran Islands. I recommend going and staying a few days. Back in 2008 I spent three wonderful days on Inis Mor, which in my opinion offers even more astounding cliffs than the Cliffs of Moher, and as an added bonus you can see the Cliffs of Moher from the cliffs on Inis More. One of the best places to visit on these cliffs is the ruined fort of Dun Aonghasa. The cliffs are a fun, six mile, bike ride from Kilronan Village. The Aran islands offer a slower lifestyle and preserved Irish traditions because of their rugged remoteness. Unfortunately, when I went I was in the mode of selfies instead of travel photography, so the only picture I have is of this photogenic chicken. Being the poor college student I was, one of my favorite memories is eating a block of cheese on a gorgeous stone beach.
Cliffs of Moher
So all through this blog post, it probably sounds like I have been bashing the Cliffs of Moher, but they really are a gorgeous site. The layers of earth they reveal are really quite fascinating. You are looking at millions of years of earth's history. If you have a car, I advise going in the early morning or at sunset, to avoid some of the crowds and to hike the whole edge of the cliffs, because the farther you get from the visitor center, the farther you get from all the people, and you can enjoy the beauty of the Atlantic.
Next time I go to Ireland, I'm planning on exploring County Clare more, especially down to the Loop Head Peninsula and into the old fishing villages. However, if you don't have time for that, and/or are flying in and out of Shannon, the Burren and Cliffs of Moher are an easy day of glorious sight seeing.
Did this inspire your marvelous wanderings? Let me know!