Trip Idea: Cliff Coast

Untamed beauty on the Wild Atlantic Way

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
Driving Driving
389 Kilometres
4 Days

Introducing the Cliff Coast – it's nothing short of epic as you meander between Galway Bay and Tralee

Be wowed with panoramic views from dramatic cliff edges. Feel blasts of fresh sea air with lighthouse walks. Get up close to dolphins, grab a fireside seat at a traditional music session and walk along some of Ireland's most exhilarating coastal scenery. Here come the cliffs between Galway and Tralee...

Galway to Tralee

Explore our itinerary on the map
Map View

Day One

From the cobbled streets of Galway to the cool grey rock of the Burren, journey through beautiful landscapes, past fairytale castles and into the heart of Ireland's neolithic past.

A driving 41 mins
Galway city

Medieval lives and delicious seafood

Famous for its culture, "craic" and laidback bohemian vibes, Galway city is perfectly suited for exploring on foot, and a walking tour is a great way to enjoy it. Get a history fix at the Galway City Museum, soak up the medieval atmosphere of the Spanish Arch overlooking the sea, or grab a bite to eat in Ard Bia, Kai or McDonagh’s – a top spot for fish and chips.

Come at festival time

Join the fun at the Galway International Arts Festival (July) when the City of Tribes becomes a festival of surprises. 

B driving 25 mins
Dunguaire Castle

See a fairytale castle

Perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking Galway Bay, Dunguaire Castle is the star of a million photos. This craggy, romantic 16th century tower sits just outside the pretty village of Kinvara, and in the early 20th century was a meeting place for some of Ireland’s greatest writers, including WB Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and JM Synge. 

If you have more time

Book ahead and make a night of it with dinner and literary readings at the Dunguaire Castle Banquet (seasonal).

The Burren

Traditional Ballyvaughan and the moon-like Burren

The picturesque little village of Ballyvaughan is the perfect place to start exploring one of Ireland’s most incredible landscapes – the Burren, part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark. Stark grey rock tumbles over the land here right down to the Atlantic Ocean, and following a walking trail from the village is a great way to experience this karst limestone region up close. In the village, stop off for a cake at the Alice in Wonderland-style An Fear Gorta Tea and Garden Rooms – it’s a delight.

Don't miss

If you're visiting on a Saturday between May and October, the Ballyvaughan Farmers' Market has everything you'll need for a picnic!

Friends at the Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

Day Two

Journey to the centre of the earth – almost – then emerge to roar at the impeccably stunning Cliffs of Moher.

D driving 29 mins
Ailwee Cave

Venture into a magical underworld

You can't visit this part of the world without going underground – at least for a little while. Deep down in the Aillwee Cave, nestled into a limestone terraced mountainside, you can seek out fossils, explore beautiful caverns and wander through the chasms and bridges carved through the limestone over millions of years. Don't want to go below ground? Talk a Hawk Walk with a feathered friend at the Burren Birds of Prey Centre. 

E driving 14 mins

Feel the vibes of a trad music pub in Doolin

Passing through the lively village of Lisdoonvarna, the road winds around until you get to Doolin – one of the best places in Ireland to catch some traditional music. Stop for a bite to eat at the Wild Honey Inn, just outside Lisdoonvarna, then step into McGann's or Gus O'Connor's in the evening, and you'll find a toe-tapping music session taking place, with a great warm atmosphere that keeps things going late into the night.

Come at festival time

Make a date – literally – at the brilliant Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival (September).

Cliffs of Moher

Roar at the Cliffs of Moher

Stretching out into the mist along the Irish coastline, the Cliffs of Moher are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Waves crash below, seabirds whirl above and paths wind along the cliff-edge with photo opportunities all the way. Unmissable. If you want to get a closer look, book online for the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience where you'll get the best rates, best times and guaranteed entry. Avoid the crowds and enjoy reduced rates if you visit before 11am or after 4pm. Or take a walk along the incredible Cliff Path (8km) from Doolin – all that exercise is well worth it for the views.

If you have more time

Take a cruise and marvel at the scale of the cliffs from sea level – you may even spot the sea cave that featured in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince! A number of ferry companies operate cruises from Doolin Pier.

Loop Head

Day Three

Watch the aqua acrobatics from this fine surfing hub, before journeying to a place called Lover's Leap.

G driving 45 mins

Laidback vibes in Lahinch

Boasting a scenic location at the tip of Liscannor Bay, Lahinch is a small and buzzy coastal village that’s a big hit with surfers. Surfing makes for a fascinating spectator sport, so pick your vantage point and watch the thrills on the waves – any time of year. Or perhaps you'd prefer to be on the greens at Lahinch Golf Club, a world-renowned links course that's challenged many a great since opening in the 1890s.

Don't Miss

Drop into the very friendly Barrtrá Seafood restaurant just outside Lahinch for deliciously fresh fish and shellfish.

H driving 31 mins
Kilkee Cliff Trail

Walk on the wild side in Kilkee

A favourite holiday haunt since Victorian times, Kilkee – the gateway to Loop Head – has seen Lord Alfred Tennyson, Charlotte Brontë, Che Guevara, Richard Harris and Russell Crowe all head here to refresh the soul and the spirit. Protected from the full force of the Atlantic by a reef called Duggerna Rock, take a walk on the wild side along the Kilkee Cliff Walk – an exhilarating 8km loop that takes you past natural swimming spots called the Pollock Holes, incredible blow holes along the cliff edges. Stunning. 

Don't miss

Pop into Murphy Blacks in Kilkee for a great selection of seafood dishes – and to hear the secret of Kilstiffin – a hidden city that appears just once every 100 years!

Loop Head

Feel the power of nature at Loop Head

Follow the one main road, criss-crossed by quiet boreens (narrow country roads), and you're at the place where the sheltered Shannon Estuary meets the Atlantic Ocean. This is Loop Head, where the views stretch out to the Blasket Islands in Kerry, and spotting dolphins, whales, seals and seabirds is commonplace. This is another spot with a World War II relic: large white letters spelling ÉIRE were placed on the peninsula to let pilots know they were entering neutral airspace. Climb to the top of the lighthouse and look down on Ross Beach, where sea urchins, barnacles, limpets, and the beautiful strawberry anemone rest. Nature at its finest. 

Don't miss

Just past the lighthouse you'll find Lover's Leap – a giant sea stack with an intriguing legend, aptly called Diarmuid and Gráinne’s Rock.


Day Four

Let the Atlantic winds heighten your senses while out at sea with the dolphins, before taking a sip at the home of the Irish Coffee.

J driving 1 hr 56 mins

Say hello to the dolphins

At the very place where the Shannon River opens into the Atlantic Ocean is Europe's largest group of bottlenose dolphins. A beautiful sight! Take a boat trip with Dolphinwatch at Carrigaholt, and see these wonderful creatures (and perhaps a few grey seals) in their natural habitat. Back on land, you might catch a glimpse of a herd of wild goats or even nesting seabirds. No surprise then that this place is one of the BBC Wildlife Magazine's Top Ten Attractions in Ireland!

Don't miss

The Killimer-Tarbert car ferry not only cuts down travelling time, it straddles the counties of Clare and Kerry, taking in some terrific scenery all the way!

K driving 42 mins
Irish Coffee

Aviation history and an Irish Coffee

“Is this Brazilian coffee?”, someone asked. “No," replied Joe, "that's Irish Coffee." It's one of the many tales you'll hear at the Flying Boat and Maritime Museum in Foynes, County Limerick. Invented in 1942 by chef Joe Sheridan at Foynes Port, where planes en route from Europe to America would stop to refuel, he whipped it up one cold winter’s night for passengers who were delayed due to bad weather! Of course, the museum is also a haven for those enthralled with the brave stories from aviation history.

King John's Castle

Down by the riverside

Festivals, food and fun for all the family – Limerick City is a vibrant hub sitting on the edge of the River Shannon. There is a real sense of history to this ancient city with its unique antique stores and artisan café’s not to mention the array of museums and galleries housed here. After a busy day exploring the Georgian Quarter you can take a load off in one of the bustling bars and chat to locals about their beloved sport – rugby!

If you have more time

Escape the city and head for the coast again to tee off at Ballybunion Golf Club. Once visited by Tiger Woods, the renowned Ballybunion Golf Club can be your last stop before making your way to Tralee.

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