The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most popular destinations in Europe and they are a little over an hour away from Galway, widely regarded as the most fun city in Ireland. I often see visitors to this country try to visit both as a day trip, so I thought I would sit down and talk in detail about the best ways to visit them.
What is the best way to see the Cliffs of Moher and Galway? If you are staying in Dublin, then there are multiple tour companies that will bring you from the city, out to these sites and back again in a day. Alternatively, you could spend some time in Galway and see nearby attractions from there.
The cliffs have been a major destination for over a hundred years and Galway has always been regarded as one of the most beloved cities in Ireland. Making a day of going to see both from Dublin has become a popular activity for visitors to the country, lets talk about the different options you have for this day trip…
Since Galway is the fourth biggest city in the Republic of Ireland, the transport links to it are good. However, the Cliffs of Moher are in the remote Liscannor area of County Clare, as such they are a little more difficult to get to. It is possible to see both in a day from Dublin without going on an organised tour, but if you want to do this properly, I would recommend staying in Galway for at least a night.
I have created comparison tables for you to review the prices and logistics involved with each of the options that I give you. Just scroll down to review them. All prices are for an adult single ticket and all journeys are one way, unless otherwise stated.
Most people who come to Ireland will stay here for a couple of nights, I thought that it would be a good idea to start here. There are plenty of options for travellers who want to make their way from Dublin to Galway. Galway is about 200 kilometres away from Dublin city centre, normally this is about a 2.5-hour drive. If you don’t have access to a car, there are good bus and rail links. While the train is expensive compared to the bus, it is more comfortable, though it’s not noticeably quicker. There are multiple companies that offer coach services between the two cities for affordable prices.
Once you make it to Galway, you will have multiple options for services to the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are about 75 kilometres away from Galway, which is about a 1.5-hour drive. If you don’t have access to a car, this is where things will get a little tricky. Though there are multiple routes to the cliffs from Galway, all of them are more than 2 hours long and most of them will require at least one transfer. While this is doable for those of you staying in Galway, for people staying in Dublin, an 11 or so hour total commute (you should always allow for longer in Ireland) is not really a viable option.
For alternatives, I would recommend that you look at one of the many coach tours that run services from Dublin city. Most start early in the morning, head to the cliffs, Galway and the some of the surrounding areas and return that evening. Though it may seem like a big investment of both money and time, these tours can be good value if you want to see as much of Ireland as you can while here.
The company that I recommend you check out are called; Irish Day Tours. They have routes all over Ireland, but their day trip to the Cliffs of Moher and Galway is one of the most highly reviewed. I passed one of their groups in Galway this morning on my way to write this article! They will take you from Dublin in the morning to the cliffs and surrounding areas like the Burren for €50.
If you want to compare prices for journeys to Galway from Dublin, then please consult the table below:
|Method||Approximate Journey Time (Each Way)||Approximate Price (€)||Company Link, for more details|
|Car Rental||2.5 Hours||€43 (24 hours rental)||Hertz Dublin|
|Bus to Galway||3.5 Hours||€13 (One Way)||GoBus.ie|
|Train to Galway||3 Hours||€45 (Adult same-day return)||Irish Rail|
|Coach Tour||Full Day (12-14 Hours)||€50||Irish Day Tours|
If you want to stay in Galway, then seeing the cliffs will be easier. The cliffs are located about 75 kilometres away from Galway and are about a 1.5 hour drive away. If you don’t have access to a car, the best public transport route from Galway city to the cliffs is the 350 Bus Eireann route, towards Ennis Bus Station. This journey will take you about 2.5 hours and will have some great views along the coast of Galway Bay (just make sure you stay on the right side of the bus to see them!). This service will run regularly from the centre of Galway.
If you want to take an organised tour, then Lally Tours operate a great service from the centre of Galway right to the cliffs and back again. This tour will get you to Moher and back as quickly as possible and is probably the most effective option available. It goes along the same route as the bus, but you won’t have to stop nearly as often. This tour is cheaper than using any of the public transport routes available, €14 vs €17 (for an adult single ticket)!
To compare, please check out the table below:
|Method||Approximate Time (Each Way)||Approximate Price (€)||Company Link, for More Details|
|Car||1.5 Hours||€43 (24 Hours Rental)||Hertz Dublin|
|Bus||2.5 Hours||€17||Bus Eireann|
|Organised Tour||Half Day (4-6 Hours)||€14||Lally Tours|
Things to do Nearby
If you do make it out to the cliffs there are plenty of things that you can do nearby. Before we start talking about them, let’s talk about the cliffs themselves:
The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world and easily the most popular in all of Ireland. These cliffs are so imposing that they have been used in various Hollywood productions, they are the Cliffs of Insanity in the Princess Bride and they also feature in Harry Potter. There are plenty of things to explore around here. The area is home to a wide variety of wildlife, the most famous of which are probably the North Atlantic Puffins, who make their homes along the cliff faces at certain times of the year.
You can learn all about the geology of the cliffs, the nature and the impact they have had on the people nearby at the visitor’s centre. This has been built to look like part of the natural landscape. Tickets to use the centre are €8, though this price is usually included in any organised tour.
There are a couple of things I feel you should be aware of before you use the visitors centre. Firstly, it is expensive, tickets and food inside are not cheap. Secondly, all the bathrooms are unisex, there are no separate toilets for men and women. You don’t need to go into the centre at all though. There are hiking trails nearby and the cliffs are open to the public for free.
Stay in Galway
I always tell tourists to stay in Galway if they get the chance, it is regarded as one of the most fun cities in the country. Even with the Atlantic Ocean pounding against the shores of the west coast of Ireland, Galway is still one of the cosiest places that you will find anywhere around. The winding medieval streets are full of buskers during the day and the pubs will be full of music and craic during the evening. This city has become a meeting point for artists and performers of all descriptions, and it can be easy to lose yourself in the bohemian culture that the place is famous for.
During the day, you will have plenty of options for things to do. The city is located right next to some of the most beautiful parts of Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher are just the tip of the iceberg and we will go into more of your options later. The city itself has a unique history and feel to it. You could easily spend a day wandering the winding streets and moving in and out of its great museums and cathedrals. With a city this size, one of the best things that you can do is to go on one of the many walking tours available. But it’s the nightlife that Galway is famous for.
There seems to always be something going on here. From comedy festivals in the middle of winter to the Galway races at the height of summer, you will always find something to do. But even just wandering the streets and going to one of the many pubs for a meal, a drink and conversation with the locals can really make a visit to Ireland.
As already mentioned in this article, the Burren is one of the strangest geological features in the west of Ireland. This limestone formation has been eroded over millions of years and has produced the lunar looking landscape. The area is unlike many of the surrounding parts of the countryside and as such, it has a unique micro-climate, with many different plants and animals found nowhere else. If you get the chance to visit this part of Ireland, you should also try and learn some of its history. Though sad, this area has had a big impact on the rest of Ireland down the centuries.
Getting here will be relatively straightforward by car. About 250 kilometres away from Dublin, you can get here in about 3 hours if you are going straight here. If you want to use any of the public routes however, your options are going to be more limited. It is not going to be practical to make your way from Dublin to the Burren via public transport. Having said that, all the coach tours that I have mentioned do make stops here whenever possible.
If you want to make your way here from Galway, its obviously a lot easier by car, you can get here in about 1 hour, but there simply isn’t any realistic public transport option to get to this part of the island. In order to see it, you really will have to use other means.
The Aran Islands
These are a series of three small inhabited islands off the west coast of Ireland. Though they are officially a part of County Galway, though they are closer to County Clare and they are accessible through the small village of Doolin. Multiple companies offer ferry services to the islands, there is also a small air service that can bring you from the mainland to each of the smaller islands, this service costs about €50. Getting to Doolin is straightforward by car and will take a little over 3 hours from Dublin and about 1.5 hours from Galway.
Though it is possible to go from Dublin to Doolin by public transport, this will take about 5 hours each way, so I don’t feel it is worth your time for a day trip. Getting from Galway to Doolin will take about 2 – 2.5 hours by public transport and there are multiple busses available. Once you are there, you will have to board a ferry which will take you over to the islands. This journey can take about half an hour, though there are services that will also bring you under the Cliffs of Moher (weather permitting). I think that this is probably the best way to see the cliffs of Moher, the only issue is that you will likely need to stay the night somewhere nearby (like Galway) to really experience it.
I really feel that this is worth mentioning, as seeing the Cliffs of Moher from the water is breath-taking. If you do this, not only will you be able to fully take in their beauty and be able to experience the wildlife nearby, hardly any of the visitors to the cliffs will make this journey. Your trip under the cliffs will be far more rewarding than any of those along their edge!
The Dublin and Galway Tour company offer an excellent tour from Galway. It starts in Galway in the morning, goes through the Burren region, then onto Doolin. From there you will take the ferry to Inisheer (Inis Oirr), the smallest of the islands where you will have some time to explore the tiny inhabited island. After a couple of hours there, the ferry will take you back to the mainland, going under the cliffs. This is the only place where you can see the wildlife, including the famous puffins. Then you will head back through Doolin for lunch, you will get to explore the cliffs from the top for free. The tour finishes back in Galway around 7pm. It costs €50 and includes all your travel, this is one of the best value for money tours I have come across in Ireland.
To compare prices for the various ways to get to the Aran islands from Galway, please consult the table below:
|Method||Approximate Time (Each Way)||Approximate Price (€)||Company Link, for More Information|
|Car||1.5 Hours||€43 (24 Hours Rental)||Hertz Galway|
|Bus (to Doolin)||2 – 2.5 Hours||€17||Bus Eireann|
|Airplane||About15 Minutes in the Air||€50 (return)||Aeraranislands|
|Ferry||30 Minutes||€20 (return)||Doolin2Aran Ferries|
|Organised Tour||Full Day (8-10 Hours)||€50||Dublin and Galway Tour Company|
Can you get to the Cliffs of Moher by Train? No, the Cliffs of Moher are not accessible by train. You can reach the nearby city of Galway by train, then take the 350 Bus Eireann route towards Ennis Bus Station, stopping at the cliffs. This ticket from Galway to the cliffs is about €17.
What city is closest to the cliffs of Moher? Galway is the closest city to the Cliffs of Moher, about 1.5 hours away by car, though the large town of Ennis is closer at about 40 minutes. You could also try to stay at the nearby villages of Doolin (11 minutes) or Liscannor (7 minutes).
How far are the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin? They are 266.6 kilometres from Dublin. This journey will take approximately 3 – 3.5 Hours by car, or about 4.5 hours by public transport. There are many companies that offer tours of the cliffs and these are usually the best option for a day trip.