Ireland Traveler's Series # 2 - The Majestic Cliffs Of Moher...
Written: Apr 1, 2012 (Updated May 15, 2012)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Unbelievable sight, gorgeous landscape, one of a kind natural wonder.
Cons:Tough to predict weather, tours go in the middle of the day instead of sunrise/sunset.
The Bottom Line: A must see destination in Ireland and easily accessible as well.
The gorgeous country of Ireland is known for many reputable attributes, one of the top ones being its' breathtaking landscape. Having moved to Galway, Ireland from my hometown of Boston back in September of 2010, I have been fortunate enough to have had numerous visitors come to see me. With every one of these visitors I make a point to take them down to the astounding Cliffs Of Moher, as it is a must see if you visit Ireland.
The Cliffs Of Moher are located on the western coast of Ireland in County Clare about 1.5 hours from Galway City and about 3.5 hours from Dublin. They are easily accessible from both locations through either renting a car and driving, or by taking a tour bus which leave from both locations daily (I will talk about the tours below).
How To Get There
You basically have two ways of getting there, unless of course you are staying close enough to the cliffs that you could take a bike to visit. The main way that most get to the cliffs is through tour groups. There are numerous tour companies situated both in Galway City and in Dublin that will shuttle you back and forth to the cliffs, both locations are day trips.
If you are leaving from Dublin, you will have to leave considerably earlier in the morning because you have to drive across the country to get to the cliffs. The tours from Dublin leave around 6:30am (depending on the tour company you use) and return anywhere between 6:30pm and 8pm depending on traffic and stops along the way (lunch, side tours etc.) This tour can be taken at a cost of €45.
If you are leaving from Galway City, the tour leaves the coach station at 10am (numerous tour companies are lined up inside for you to choose from) and almost all of the companies charge the same price of €25 for the tour. It is up to you which of the tours you prefer to go on, as they all take very similar routes down to the cliffs, the only difference is the locations at which they stop for certain sightseeing opportunities, or food. Most of these locations are uniform across the board, especially for the better known tourist spots on the way down, but some do differ.
For those of you who wish to have a very different view of the cliffs, there is another option for you. There is a ferry tour for the cliffs that leaves from Doolin Pier, just south of the cliffs, and takes you up the coastline giving you a very unique look at this gorgeous sight. If you don't mind a little wind and potentially some choppy waters, this is a great way to see this amazing natural wonder.
When Should You Visit
In terms of the best time of year to visit the cliffs, summer would be ideal. However with the weather changing in Ireland with every gust of wind that comes through, that can make what is supposed to be a summer day turn rainy in minutes. You are not necessarily more or less likely to get a rainy day in the spring versus the summer, however in the winter it does rain considerably more so if you can avoid that time period, do so.
The other aspect of a visit you should consider is the time of day. Now the only down side with taking a tour company down from Dublin or Galway City is that you are tied in to their schedule. It is openly known that the best time to see the cliffs is early morning for sunrise or a few hours after sunrise, or later in the evening towards sunset. The tour groups that go through usually arrive at the cliffs during the least ideal time for photography (due to the location of the sun) which is around 1 to 3pm. If you are driving yourself down, certainly keep this in mind and head down well before or after this middle window in order to get the best photographs of the cliffs.
So here are the fun facts about one of the most majestic and beautiful natural wonders I have seen. The cliffs are 702 feet (214 meters) at their highest point which is at O'Brien's Tower. They stretch a shocking 5 miles (8 kilometers) along the coast of Ireland until they reach their lowest point at 400 feet (120 meters) at the end of the cliffs, which is known as Hag's Head. O'Brien's Tower, at the highest point of the cliffs, was built in 1835 as an observation tower for tourists and visitors. There is a €2 charge to enter and climb the tower, however I don't feel that it improves your view that much going up another 20 or 30 feet.
On a clear day at the cliffs, which you are extremely fortunate to get if you do get one, you can see some amazing sights. Across from O'Brien's Tower, off in the distant ocean, you can see the 3 islands that make up The Aran Islands off of the coast of Ireland, as well as Galway Bay to the far right of islands which is due north.
While on the cliffs you can't help but notice the plethora of wild birds that are sailing through the skies just over the edge of the cliff. The cliffs have almost 30 different species of birds and can attain numbers over 25,000 during peak nesting season. The wildlife in the ocean at the base of the cliffs is just as bountiful with countless species of seals, fish, and even some types of sharks lurking about in the depths.
Being one of Ireland's top tourist attractions, the Clare County Council has gone above and beyond to maintain its integrity and natural facets. Not only have they passed ordinances in order to prohibit the building of any structures on the cliffs (so as to maintain the gorgeous views) but they have also gone to extreme lengths to disguise what I will speak about in the next paragraph, and that is the visitors center.
The Visitors Center / Shopping At The Cliffs
The visitors center at the Cliffs of Moher was completed in 2007 and has a very unique feature about it. So as to maintain the natural flow of the cliffs, the visitors center was actually built into one of the hillsides near the highest point of the cliff. This tremendous €32 million project took years to plan but has since provided a great place to exhibit the history of the cliffs as well as a place for visitors to relax. Receiving The Green Award in 2010, this building prides itself on using renewable energy such as solar and geothermal, as well as water recycling. Inside you will find bathroom facilities, exhibits on the history and amazing photographs of the cliffs, and a recent addition, a 3D animated film depicting the cliffs from a birds perspective in the air as well as an underwater perspective of all the wildlife surrounding the land.
Entering into the Visitors Center, you have a great gift shop with all sorts of items to help commemorate your trip to the cliffs, as well as two different venues to eat. The first option is downstairs at the Puffin's Nest Coffee Shop which is just a little place to have a cup of tea or coffee or maybe grab a quick ice cream to bring outside with you. Upstairs you have the Cliff's View Cafe which is more of a sit down venue with menu options and a large bay window that lets you overlook the cliffs while you enjoy your meal.
Just outside the Visitors Center you have six small shops as well. These small shops are local merchants selling anything from postcards and pictures to clothing, hand knit goods, music, jewelry, and DVDs.
The Cliffs Of Moher are one of the most breathtaking sights in Ireland. If you are here, you have to make a trip down to see them and appreciate the natural beauty that 300 million years of rock formations can create. Be it from the top or in a boat looking up from the bottom, this surreal, amazing, natural exhibit should not be missed. If you are interested in seeing some pictures of the cliffs to get an idea what they look like, I have a few on my photography page here: http://www.redbubble.com/people/AcePhotography
Visiting Ireland? Check Out My Ireland Traveler's Review Series:
# 1 - Galway, Ireland
# 2 - The Cliffs Of Moher
# 3 - The Burren National Park
# 4 - The Aran Islands
# 5 - The Guinness Storehouse (brewery)
Looking At Hotels In Ireland? Here Are Some Options For You:
Dublin, Ireland - The Shelbourne Hotel
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