Wowza, are the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland ever stunning! That said, we had some major drama while visiting. Read on to avoid our mistakes so that you can savor your visit.
At 10am, we were speeding along the Wild Atlantic Way towards the cliffs, when we heard an odd sound from the back seat. “Bluuuuurg! Blurg-blurg-blurg!” I whipped around in my seat to observe the baby vomiting all over himself and the car.
“Find the parking lot!” I yelled to Colin as we approached the cliffs.
This brings us to Tip #1: The Cliffs of Moher parking lot is across the road from the Visitors’ Center, and the Center itself is hidden inside a hill! It took us fifteen minutes to figure this out. Now, most adults who can read signs could have solved this quandary in a minute, but I blame the vomit fumes for our bumbling.
Once we were parked, we stepped out of the car to towel off the baby. Right then, it started to hail.
Thus, Tip #2: Be prepared for wild weather mood swings. As you can see from the glorious sun in most of these photos, the hail didn’t last long.
We used a full pack of baby wipes to clean Devi and the car as best we could (note to self: always keep paper towels handy during a road trip), and headed into the Visitors’ Center.
Tip #3: The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience is AWESOME! Similar to the gorgeous El Yunque Visitors’ Center in Puerto Rico, every effort was made to integrate the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience into the natural landscape and to keep it “green.” Plus, the center opened in 2007, so it’s shiny and new.
Nestled into a hill, but sun-lit with cliff views from arched windows, the Visitor Experience is chock-full of exhibits, gifts, food, and even a movie. This movie consists of swooping views of the cliffs from a bird flying high above, and underwater simulations of the sea-life below. Upon watching this flick, Devi recovered from his tummy trouble and declared: “WOOW!”
Hungry? Let’s move to Tip #4: The food in the Visitors’ Center is good. This is an important fact, because we weren’t sure how the restaurant would be, and thus almost left to seek out other munchies. I’m glad we stayed, however, because there was an assortment of yummy treats in the upstairs restaurant, and I enjoyed eating while gazing out the wide windows at the cliffs. Devi ate a shocking amount of veggie pizza for a little man who had just vomited, and busied himself with a car that he’d found in the bathroom where we’d changed his nasty clothes. We now call that toy the Vomit Car. (If the family who lost that car is reading this, thank you for helping make our baby feel better!)
Clean and nourished, we stepped outside to begin ogling the cliffs and capturing their majesty on camera. It was then that we got Tip #5: Don’t visit the cliffs before noon unless you love back-lit photos. The Cliffs of Moher face west, meaning that you will take the best pictures in the later afternoon, when the sun has slid low enough to illuminate the craggy cliff faces. Because the photography light was so difficult, we actually ended up leaving the cliffs for a few hours, and returning later in the day in order to get better light. Luckily, there are plenty of attractions in the area (such as the Burren) so a double visit isn’t a terrible option. It should also be noted, however, that morning light is best to photograph the iconic “castle” on the cliffs, O’Brien’s Tower, as that is sun-lit before noon.
Fast-forward to our second visit of the day at 2pm, which featured more favorable light, though even later would have been an even better sun angle.
At this point, we encountered Tip #6: Be prepared for intense winds! The cliffs are staggeringly high, and are next to the ocean, which makes for race car-speed gusts. How strong were they? I took off my heavy winter jacket and put it on the ground to take a more fashionable photo, and that jacket came this close to being blown off the edge of the cliff! I caught it just in time.
Given this, paired with the variable weather, and the fact that we were holding a baby, we were thrilled to realize Tip #7: There are accessible, easy walks for good views from the Visitors’ Center. This is a huge perk, because I had originally thought it was long hike to see the famous cliff vista. Not at all, my dear! Rather, it is a two-minute walk to get quite a good view of the cliffs, and just a 10-minute walk up a wheelchair-and-stroller-accessible hill to reach the famous mini-castle, O’Brien’s Tower, which has the best views around it. Of course, there are fabulous scenic hikes for hours along the cliffs, as they span as far as the eye can see, but it’s good to know that there are sightseeing options for all levels and preferences.
Now, do be warned that the climb up the narrow spiral staircase of O’Brien’s tower is rather dizzying and tight, but one can’t really pass up the experience. Ireland clearly has a passion for intense staircases, as we also encountered them at Bunratty Castle on our first day in the country.
From the top of the tower, it is a bit hard to see over the turrets, but holding my camera in the air, I caught a few shots. It was fun to check out the cliffs on the right side of the tower, facing the sea. Those cliffs are less famous than the section to the left of the tower, but still spectacular, as you can see below.
Walking back down the hill towards the Visitor Experience (bracing hard against the whipping wind and ocean spray), we saw some striking signs. First, there was one advertising free WiFi! Very 21st-century of you, Cliffs of Moher. Second, we spotted this useful diagram displayed below, explaining that one should not climb up on the railings, lest one plummet off the cliff and into the sea. I was reminded of the dramatic signs from the Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island. I wonder if there’s a whole class in Graphic Design school for how to avert cliff tumbling.
On that topic, we were confused about why there was a “Meditation Room” at the cliffs, until we realized: Some people may come to the Cliffs of Moher in a… worked-up state. Inside the room is suicide prevention literature.
Let us close this article with some facts about the Cliffs of Moher. Did you know that at their tallest point, the cliffs are 702 feet high? Around one million tourists visit the cliffs each year, making it one of the top attractions in all of Ireland.
For many around the world, the Cliffs of Moher are known as the “Cliffs of Insanity” in the movie The Princess Bride. The evening after visiting them, Colin and I watched that clip from the movie and squealed as we recognized the very place where we had just trod! Word is that these cliffs also feature in a Harry Potter movie, but I’m too in love with the books to watch the films, so you all will have to tell me which one.
The name “Moher” comes from the ancient Gaelic word for “ruined fort,” as there used to be a fort dating from the first century B.C. on the cliffs. The official Cliffs of Moher website has a whole History section which contains fascinating tales of what has happened on these cliffs, including a section on legends and mermaids!
This brings us to the final tip, Tip #8: You MUST go to the Cliffs of Moher! Despite the drama, we adored the cliffs and the Visitor Experience. It is a not-to-be-missed attraction for any Ireland trip.
So what about you? Have YOU visited the Cliffs of Moher? Would you like to? Do share! Want to read more about our Ireland trip? Find all the Ireland travel articles here!
Check out the hotels we stayed in and loved near the Cliffs:
- Barna, Co. Galway: The Twelve Hotel (click for availability and rates)
- Clifden, Connemara, Co. Galway: Abbeyglen Castle Hotel (click for info)
- Westport, Co. Mayo: Knockranny House Hotel (click for info)
- Cong, Co. Mayo: Lodge at Ashford Castle (click for info)
- Limerick: No. 1 Pery Square (click for info)
Check out these exciting tours around the cliffs and Ireland:
- Here are neat options for Cliffs of Moher Tours
- Click here for other Ireland tours through Viator’s great tour search engine
Want more travel planning resources? Click here for an easy link to Ireland hotel deals, here for affordable flights to Ireland, and here for deals on Ireland rental cars. Note: These are affiliate links which provide a small commission to support this site at no cost to you. Thanks, and happy travels!
Thank you to Tourism Ireland for help in planning our trip. Be assured that all opinions, upchuck drama, and cliff poses are my own.