If you are wondering how to get from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher, this post will outline the best ways to get there, by both the quickest and the most scenic routes.
The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction, welcoming over 1.5 million tourists a year. After the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, the cliffs are the second most visited attraction overall in Ireland.
They are a must-see on your visit to the Emerald Isle and are only approximately 1.5 hours away from the wonderful city of Galway. While many choose to visit Galway for its charm, culture and coastal location, a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher is very doable and certainly worth it.
The Best Ways To Get To The Cliffs Of Moher From Galway
The first part of this post is going to let you know all the different ways of getting to the Cliffs of Moher from Galway City. Then, we will give you our opinion on what’s the best way to get there.
Here are all your options: (note: there is no designated cycle lane to the Cliffs of Moher from Galway, therefore, if you are not used to cycling on narrow west of Ireland roads, we can’t recommend this option)
- Car (quickest or most scenic route)
- Bus (public or organised tour)
- Rent a car for a day
Ok, so you’ll have to decide if you want to get there as fast as possible or take the scenic route.
The fastest routes are illustrated below. Galway is notorious for traffic from 8 to 9.30 am and from 5 to 7 pm so avoid these times at all costs.
The shortest route here displayed is via Kinvara. Having driven that route many times, we are aware that the roads are windy and you could get stuck behind a tour bus or tractor.
The other route shown i.e. the M18, which is a motorway (highway) is a great alternative to get you there asap during the peak summer season. Depending on the traffic situation, you can turn off at Gort or Ennis.
Most scenic route to the cliffs & back to Galway
The most scenic route is actually the original route over Kinvara (with the narrow roads) If this is a day trip from Galway, the return route along the coast will make for a cracking day of varied scenery.
Highlights along the scenic route to the Cliffs of Moher include:
The fishing village of Kinvara with Dunguaire Castle
Corkscrew Hill with a magnificent vista over the Karst landscape of the Burren
The incredibly scenic drive from Ballyvaughan to Lisdoonvarna along the Burren National Park
The village of Doolin and one of the most photographed castles: Doonagore
The rerturn journey along the Burren coast
Fastest Bus Route to the Cliffs of Moher from Galway
There are 6 services from Galway Bus Station to the Cliffs of Moher, ran by the national carrier Bus Eireann, the first which departs at 8 am. It takes over 2 hours to reach the cliffs. The timetable can be found here.
There are 5 return services from the Cliffs of Moher to Galway, with the first leaving at 11.21 am and the last in the evening at 19.22. This takes a good 2 hours, 20 minutes. Timetable can be found here.
Most scenic bus route from Galway to Cliffs of Moher
The trip below will provide you with a 2 hour stop at the Cliffs of Moher, along with many stops along the way, which include Dunguaire Castle, The Burren National Park and Doolin Pier. A guide is also provided.
This is the most informative, relaxing and all-encompassing guided tour you will do to the Cliffs of Moher. It passes by all scenic areas mentioned previously. Entry to the cliffs is also included.
This is also the most popular day trip from Galway and is likely to sell out fast, so booking in advance is recommended, especially from May onwards. Book Directly Below:
The Best way to get to the Cliffs of Moher
First of all, a visit to the Cliffs of Moher from Galway is a lot more than just a visit to the cliffs. The surrounding, almost lunar-like landscape of The Burren is so unique and fascinating, that it must be discovered.
Therefore, we would either do a full day trip by car, taking in all the sights we mentioned above, or if you are not willing or able to drive, we would do the all-encompassing bus tour mentioned above.
From experience, many people we’ve talked to choose not to drive in Ireland for the fact that we drive on the opposite side to many countries, including USA and all of mainland Europe.
Also, the roads in the countryside can be challenging for many, due to being narrow and windy, therefore the bus-tour option would be the best. It’s also the most relaxing and care-free. You don’t have to worry about parking at the cliffs and entry is covered.
In summary, both options have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s up to personal preference at the end of the day!
What would we do?
If I got to Galway using public transport, I would either do the bus tour above or rent a car for a day!
There are car-rental companies in Galway, who offer a short-term rental, and let’s be honest, you won’t be hauling any luggage if you are just going on a day-trip, so a small car will do just fine. The best rates can be gotten off-season i.e. October to April and mid-week.
We have done this numerous times, not just in Ireland, but in many destinations, and it gave the ultimate freedom to visit wherever we wanted, with no time obligations.
The Cliffs of Moher (some handy info)
The world famous Cliffs of Moher are an 8km stretch of some of the finest coastal scenery you are likely to see anywhere in the world. These cliffs reach a height of 214 metres and plunge vertically into the wild waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
They are one of the most iconic images of Ireland and have been used as a backdrop to many Hollywood movies, including an installment of the Harry Potter series.
When are they open?/Parking:
November – February: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
March – April: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
May – August: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m
September – October: 8 a.m to 7 p.m
Parking starts at 7 € per adult, with kids free, if you book online. It’s cheaper to park between 9 and 11 am. Book here.
Why should I visit?
The sheer scale of these cliffs will knock your socks off! The cliff face almost seems to act as a giant wall, protecting Ireland from the might of the Atlantic Ocean, while the 30,000 strong bird colony of 30 different species adds another fascinating dimension to the whole experience. Puffins are common here and can be photographed from late May to mid July.
The perfectly placed O’Brien’s tower is a photographer’s dream, offereing countless angles and backgrounds to take the perfect shot. The Aran Islands can be seen clearly from the cliffs and the sheer expanse of the Atlantic Ocean will leave you breathless.
Insider Tips for the Cliffs of Moher
- Visit the cliffs either very early of later in the day to avoid the crowds
- When you arrive, go firstly up the steps to the right, towards O’Brien’s Tower. Here is the highest point of the cliffs. Then make your way back down again and turn right to follow this path along the cliffs in a southerly direction, as far as you can go. The photo opportunities of the cliffs from this persepective are often overlooked and in my opinion, make for the best shots. Notice Branan Mor sea stack, the iconic rock seen in many Hollywood productions such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
- The sun will come around and shine on the cliffs from mid afternoon onwards (on average, depending on the time of year). This makes for the best photo opportunities and makes visiting the cliffs later in the day the best option.
- A wonderfully unique way to visit the cliffs is by parking in Doolin and taking the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk.
- The further south you walk, the less crowded it gets and the photo opportunities here are immense.
- Do not go off the designated walking paths, accidents have happened in the past.
- If you arrive at the cliffs by car, you must park at the cliffs and pay for this.
- Go to the visitor centre first, have a quick trip to the toilet here if you plan on spending the next hours on the cliffs.
Where to stay nearby
Below, you’ll see a link to all types of accommodation available near the Cliffs of Moher.
Tip: Have a look out for a room in Lahinch, a nearby coastal town known for its surfing. There are also some great restaurants, which serve up some great local seafood and the pubs are known to throw a good Irish music session or two.
If you are staying in Galway, all hotels, hostels and bed & breakfasts are listed down below. Browse around to find your best deal. Tip: The hotels in Galway can be quite expensive, especially in the main season. Either book a hotel midweek, or in the off season.
Otherwise, check out some bed & breakfasts in Galway. In our experience, they are excellent in Galway. We would advise staying near the town, to get the most out of the atmosphere of the place. You won’t regret this decision!
Have a look here to find your best deal:
So there you have it; the best ways to get to the stunning Cliffs of Moher from Galway. Ireland is known for its incredible coastal landscape and if these cliffs are right up your alley, why not travel to Achill Island to view the highest in Ireland, and second highest in Europe?
For the Cliffs of Croaghaun, you’ll have to have your hiking shoes ready though, because these monstrous cliffs are not accessible by car. If you’d like to find out more information about these cliffs (which stand at an incredible height of 688 metres/2,257 feet) have a look here at our detailed post.
If you would like to plan your trip around hiking these cliffs, we have a post which gives you an overview of the best things to do on Achill Island. Click here for more info. By the way, Achill Island was chosen as the filming location for the epic movie The Banshees of Inisherin. We have a post covering all the locations chosen for this movie. That post you can find here.
The Cliffs of Moher and the surrounding national park of the Burren will make for a memorable day full of incredible impressions. If you have any queries about visiting the Cliffs of Moher or maybe you’d like to know more about the local County Clare area, leave a comment down below We’d be delighted to hear from ye. Slán go fóill!