They are one of the most photographed spots in the whole of Ireland, but are the Cliffs of Moher safe to visit as a family? We were there again this weekend and this is our guide to visiting the Cliffs of Moher with kids.
Few places embody the wild landscape of Ireland better than the Cliffs of Moher. Located in the West of the country, not far from the city of Galway, the cliffs are over 200 mt tall and they plunge into the Atlantic Ocean amidst the screams of seagulls and roaring winds.
We have visited on many occasions, both in summer and winter and each time we stop in front of the beauty and might of this place. The cliffs of Moher rightly appear on the itineraries of all travellers to Ireland: visitors flock here from all over the world and the massive car park announcing the entrance to the site bears witness of the popularity of this place.
However, you shouldn’t let the fear of crowds stop you from visiting. Look beyond the colourful jackets and bags of the day trippers and let the cliffs do their magic: their vertical drop, the strong winds and the vast and cold ocean crashing against the rock hundreds of meters down are a powerful concoction of elements and they are sure to stay as one of the most vivid memories of your trip to Ireland.
If you are planning a trip to Ireland with kids, make sure you also check out our family friendly Ireland itinerary packed with tips and advice on how to make the most of your time in Ireland with kids.
What is the best way to see the Cliffs of Moher?
The best way to visit the Cliffs of Moher is to plan at least one night in Co Claire and get accommodation in the area. This will allow you to make your way to the cliffs early in the morning or in the late afternoon (the less crowded, more atmospheric moments) and will leave you the option of adding a second visit to a local attraction on the same day.
Especially with kids, you are not likely to spend more than a couple of hours at the cliffs. You can have a first glance at accommodation options and prices in the area on hotels combined, prices here, or booking.com, prices here (affiliate links)
The Cliffs of Moher with kids: practical info for families
The cliffs of Moher are located in the West of Ireland, in Co Claire. There are a couple of ways to reach them:
Cliffs of Moher by car and bus
The best way to reach the cliffs of Moher is by private car. For car rentals in Ireland, you can check latest prices and deals from Auto Europe here (affiliate link)
The roads in this area are narrow and winding but they are well kept and reasonably well signposted. Just one word of warning: the West of Ireland is not a place to be tackled in a hurry! The roads are slow, you often get stuck behind a tractor (I wish I could say a flock of sheep but heavy machinery is a more likely encounter) and even small distances take time: go here with time to spare and enjoy the stunning views.
The burren, as this area is called, is a peculiar, beautiful place with an interesting geological history and a road trip here is unforgettable.
In front of the cliffs of Moher, there is a large car park. There is a fee to leave your car here which also includes access to the visitors centre: many people complain about the cost of admission to a natural site (6 Euro per adult, at present) but we could not find a safe, free alternative.
If you are travelling with kids, I recommend leaving the car here: while it may be technically possible to leave the car for free farther down the road and then cross the fields towards the cliffs (something I have seen on many blogs as a ‘hack’ to get in for free), I would be very worried walking here with little ones and would advise against it. Also, the cost of the ticket goes towards the preservation of the area, so I found that a good incentive for paying.
Getting to the cliffs of Moher by bus: many buses serve the cliffs of Moher, stopping right in front of the entrance to the visitor centre. Galway and Ennis are both good starting points and also good overnight stops if planning on visiting the area and the cliffs of Moher with kids. You can see the full schedule of the National Bus service here
Going to the cliffs of Moher from Dublin
The best way of getting to the cliffs of Moher from Dublin is by car. The distance between Dublin and the cliffs of Moher is over 250 Km: part of this is motorway (M6 Dublin to Galway) but the roads get smaller and slower as you approach the cliffs so you should allow for a good bit over the 3 hours google maps estimates
While I do see day trips to the cliffs offered from Dublin by bus, because of the long distance I do not recommend this option for families with very young kids and would suggest you plan one night in the area instead. Families with older children or teenagers, however, can find this a convenient option: you can check details and prices here.
Galway to the Cliffs of Moher by car
Driving between Galway city and the cliffs of Moher takes less than two hours. The main road to the cliffs is the N67 but if you have time and like to drive, you have smaller, scenic roads crossing the burren: I highly recommend following these smaller roads if you have time but do consider your options if your kids suffer from motion sickness as they are winding!
Arrival and accessibility: the cliffs of Moher for families
The very first time I visited the cliffs, over 20 years ago, I described them as a natural site. Sure, there was a car park there and some facilities, but you could walk straight up to the cliffs without having to pay tickets or entrance fees and you could even peek down to the ocean from the very edge of the cliffs should you be so inclined, after making your way through muddy, grassy paths.
Things are significantly different now. The first thing you see on arrival to the cliffs of Moher is the large esplanade hosting the car and coach park and the visitors centre. The whole area is paved and accessible: on your right, you have shops, restaurant, exhibition centre and facilities and you can follow a large, paved, well-kept road all the way up to the lookout over the cliffs.
The walk between the car park and the lookout won’t take more than one minute and it is very safe: you only get close to the edge of the cliffs at the end of the path, where you have a fence built with slabs of rock preventing access to the exposed area.
For kids, this area poses little risks. As always, you need to keep an eye on them not climbing over the protection wall (it is not easy as the slabs have no gripping points but I guess possible, if the really really wanted to), but overall this part of the cliffs experience is built with visitors in mind and a big effort has been put in place to make it as risk-free as possible.
THE AREA UNDER THE CARE OF THE CLIFFS OF MOHER VISITORS CENTRE CAN BE EASILY VISITED WITH KIDS AND EVEN BUGGIES BUT CONSTANT ADULT SUPERVISION IS NECESSARY ESPECIALLY CLOSE TO THE END OF THE MANNED PATHS
From the lookout you have two options: walking to your right, you have some large steps allowing you to climb up a small hill and then to a second lookout and O’Brien’s towers, while on your left the road goes slightly uphill to get views over the southern part of the cliffs.
The walk to both doesn’t take over a few minutes and the views are stunning. Access to the O’Brien’s tower is not included in the cost of the tickets and we didn’t feel like going in, but the views even just from outside it are breathtaking.
All these paths are under the supervision and care of the cliffs of Moher visitors centre and are overall safe with kids: the side of the path towards the cliff has these the tall slabs of rock (they can be a bit frustrating for kids as they do make visibility poor for them, you will need to lift them up) and the pavement is wide and buggy accessible.
Things change drastically once you leave the area under the care of the visitors centre. Huge signs warn you about the end of the supervised area and the nicely paved road leaves the way to a narrow path following the edge of the cliffs.
Access to the path is not forbidden and the vast majority of visitors do take on the walk, but personally I would not chance it with kids. The path is narrow, often slippery and there is no protection nor a lot of space between you and the 200 meters drop into the ocean.
I have in the past walked this path and while I didn’t feel it was dangerous for an adult, it is a place that demands caution: some parts of the path are easy for an adult with the right shoes and no fear of heights, but some are challenging and I remember more than once having to climb over the fence into cow pastures just to put some distance between me and the void! It is most
I have walked this path in the past and while I didn’t feel it was dangerous for an adult, it is a place that demands caution: some parts of the path are easy for an adult with the right shoes and no fear of heights, but some are challenging and I remember more than once having to climb over the fence into cow pastures just to put some distance between me and the void!
It is most definitely a walk I would not attempt with little kids and even to adults, I do feel like recommending caution especially on a day like the one we got, when the rain had made the path muddy and slippery.
The cliffs of Moher with fear of heights
I get nervous with heights so I could not possibly write a post about how to visit an attraction like the cliffs of Moher without a special thought to fellow travellers who may share the same fear as me.
Can you visit the cliffs if you are afraid of heights?
The answer is YES! If you keep to the main manned area, there is nothing scary about the cliffs: the view is vast but you are never close to the edge and you never feel exposed or in danger. As you may have guessed from the previous paragraph, I do not recommend tackling the unsupervised walk if you tend to get light-headed in high places but everywhere else, you can most definitely enjoy.
Cliffs of Moher Visitors centre
After spending some time along the cliffs, looking out towards Newfoundland (Mr M was surprised he couldn’t see it, I guess at 6 you may overestimate the power of binoculars!) we went into the visitors centre to warm up and have a look around the shops and the exhibition.
The centre is very well made and despite being, by nature, a place for tourists it is built to blend in as much as possible with the surrounding landscape and with an eco-friendly approach. The centre has a grass roof, somehow reminiscing of hobbit homes or anyway ancient dwellings, and uses geothermal energy and waste water to run.
In winter, when we were there last, all these aspects were easy to appreciate but I suspect in the summer, when the tourism season is in full force, the whole area can become a bit of a crowded nightmare
If you are visiting the cliffs in the summer, I would suggest going to the visitors centre to see the exhibition (we haven’t, but it sounds interesting as it talks about the history of the cliffs) but to time wisely your stop at the cafe. The cliffs oh Moher visitors centre has kid-friendly meals and high-chairs, but the line can be very long, so it is a good idea to get in early or anyway before the pangs of hunger become the cause of major tantrums.
Where to stay near the cliffs of Moher
The area around the cliffs of Moher is well equipped for visitors. Immediately in the proximity of the cliffs, you have B&B offering rooms of all standards and sizes and hotels and farms stays abound in the area.
Here are some suggestions about the best places to stay near the Cliffs of Moher:
Galway city. Galway offers many accommodation options and it is a lovely city to visit with kids, full of shops and family-friendly places for a meal. Hotels popular with families here are the Radisson, the Maldron (recently voted among the best family hotels in Ireland) and the Westwood hotel (these are affiliate links to the excellent hotels combined website, where you can book at the best price and check hotel facilities)
Something special: for a very special night you should book a room in Dromoland castle. This is a stunning castle now turned hotel and golf resort and it is just magical. A night in an Irish castle followed by a trip to the cliffs is guaranteed to be the highlight of any trip to Ireland not just for little princesses but also for their parents! I would love to get married all over again (to the same man, don’t get me wrong) just to be able to have the reception here: it is that beautiful!
If you prefer a small centre with plenty of access to the local attractions, cycling routes and hikes, a lovely choice is Ballyvaughan, the gateway to the Burren and a stop on the Burren food trail which promotes locally sourced, high-quality food.
Visiting the cliffs of Moher in winter
The best time to visit Ireland is the summer when days are longer and dryer, but it is worth visiting the cliffs of Moher in winter if this is when you happen to be in the area. Rain and fog are frequent here in all seasons and it is possible that you visit on a day when visibility is poor: however, the weather is also very changeable and even on a bad day it is possible to have a sudden clearing that allows you to enjoy the views.
In winter, come prepared with good water and windproof jackets and wrap up the kids: it gets very chilly!
Conclusion: should you visit the Cliffs of Moher with kids?
YES. The Cliffs of Moher are a must-see attraction in Ireland and are easy to enjoy with kids. Unlike other visitors, the presence of little ones will limit your options and you will most likely not be able to follow the cliff walk but despite this, it is worth spending time at the cliffs, point the binoculars in search of puffins and exploring the visitors centre.
Have you been to the cliffs of Moher with kids? Did they enjoy the day?
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