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How to see the Cliffs of Moher and Lahinch without a car
Take to the coast of Clare and visit the Cliffs of Moher car-free.
Nicola BradyNicola Brady is a travel writer based in Dublin. She writes regularly for the Irish Independent, The Irish Times and Condé Nast Traveller, and has contributed to books on Dublin and Ireland for DK Eyewitness.
There's a reason the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most popular attractions in Ireland. These mammoth sea cliffs are impressive whether you take a long windswept hike along the top, or simply take in the view from the platforms by the visitor centre, watching seabirds fly between sea stacks as the Atlantic crashes against the cliffs. While they feel remote, you don’t need a car to get there. Hop on the bus from Ennis and you’ll be able to tick the Cliffs of Moher off your bucket list, then stop off in the cool surf town of Lahinch on the way back.

Here’s how to do it.

Experience the Cliffs of Moher

The first bus to the Cliffs of Moher isn’t until 10.30am, so start the day with some breakfast in Ennis before you set off. If you’re in the mood for something virtuous, head to Sweet n Green, a healthy café where you can get green juice, avocado toast or a Burren Smokehouse plate of smoked salmon, sourdough and a smoked trout potato cake.   

Afterwards, walk 15 minutes to Ennis Bus Station. The Bus Éireann 350 service runs daily between Ennis and the Cliffs of Moher (5 times a day, 50 minutes). Sit on the left-hand side for the best views of the coast – as you leave Lahinch, the bus goes right next to the sea, passing over the scenic O’Briensbridge, where the Inagh River meets the ocean.  

Aerial view of O'Briensbridge in Lahinch, Co Clare
Catch a glimpse of O'Briensbridge before you leave Lahinch.

When you arrive at the cliffs, the bus drops you off at the ticket kiosk, so pick up your ticket and make a note of where you are, as this is where you’ll get the bus when you’re done. There’s also a public toilet here, which is much quieter than the one in the visitor centre. Make your way up to the centre itself, which looks a little like a hobbit hut built into the stone, with curved windows and a grassy roof.  

Start off at the exhibition inside, to give yourself a bit of background on the cliffs. There’s a giant multimedia map showing Ireland changing over the past 500 million years, as well as visual explanations of the formation of the cliffs (those with an interest in geology could lose a lot of time here). There are also handy panels detailing the native wildlife, and you can take a photo for a virtual postcard at the green screens.  

Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare
Look out on the horizon from the cliff top.

Finally, head into The Ledge, a 4D video experience where you’ll be blasted with wind and sprayed with water as you whizz (virtually) over the edge of the cliffs. You’ll follow the path of a seagull swooping over the rocks, as you pass the nesting puffins and finally dive into the sea (spoiler alert: that’s when you get wet). Underwater, you’ll meet a curious seal and watch humpback whales swim, before flying back up to the cliffs.   

When you’ve had your fill of the audiovisual stuff and are ready for the real thing, head out onto the cliffs themselves. But before you do, go to the visitor information point and pick up a pair of complimentary binoculars – you just need to leave an ID or credit card as a deposit. Your ticket also includes a QR code for the Cliffs of Moher app, which gives you a handy audio tour at set points along the paths.  

The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk is a linear route between Liscannor and Doolin, which stops at the cliffs themselves. The route is 20km in total, but if you walk south or north from the visitor centre, you can explore as much or as little of it as you like. If you fancy doing more of the trail, you can book onto a guided walk with Cormac’s Coast or Ollie’s Tours.  

People walking along the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare
Take in the views on the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk.

If you’re going it alone, the walk south (left from the centre) is a great introduction to the cliffs and is usually a little quieter. After about five minutes you’ll get to the first viewing platform, but if you continue for another five, you’ll get a great view of the little spit of land that juts out beneath the viewpoint.  

This grassy headland is a popular spot for seabirds, including puffins between May and July. Use your binoculars and try to spot these funny little birds as they shelter in the grass and flit between the rocks – the key to differentiating them from the black razorbills is to look for their bright orange feet.  

A puffin eating fish
Keen an eye out for local puffins.

Continue further along this path as it weaves along the clifftops, being mindful of the trail as it narrows. The further you get along the path, the quieter it gets – 97% of the visitors to the Cliffs of Moher stick to the areas around the centre, so you don’t need to go too far before you get a bit of peace and quiet. While the cliffs are beautiful, it’s worth keeping an eye on the sea as well – you can occasionally spot basking sharks, whales and dolphins in the water. 

If you want to see the cliffs from another angle, head back towards the visitor centre and follow the trail north towards O’Brien’s Tower, which you can also climb. Otherwise, continue your stroll along the clifftops, pausing at the sign for Aileen’s Wave. This treacherous reef break is a hotspot for big wave surfers, who come here to tackle what some call the perfect wave. It may look perfect from a distance but peek through the binoculars and you’ll see how giant the swell is - and how dramatically the wave smashes against the base of the sea stacks and cliffs. 

O'Brien's Tower on the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare
Climb O'Brien's Tower and enjoy the scenery.

When you’re ready to leave, head back to the bus stop. Don’t worry if it looks popular – the bus to Galway departs at a similar time, so not everyone is getting on the same one.   

Where to eat at the Cliffs of Moher 

There are two food options at the visitor centre. You can grab a pre-made sandwich and snacks downstairs, or you can head upstairs to the Brambles Café for heartier fare, like fish and chips, chowder or beef and Guinness stew.  

Hit the beach in Lahinch

Instead of staying on the 350 bus all the way back to Ennis, hop off in Lahinch (5 times a day, 18 minutes). This cool surf town is one of the discovery points along the Wild Atlantic Way and is well worth a couple of hours of your time.  

You can rent a board from Lahinch Surf School or Ben’s Surf Clinic and enjoy the waves; inexperienced surfers can get a lesson, but these are usually held in the mornings.   

A surfer on Lahinch Beach in Co Clare
Catch some waves on Lahinch Beach.

Otherwise, wander up and down the brightly coloured façades of Main Street and pop into the various boutiques along the way. Lahinch Bookshop is good for local interest and travel guides, and you can browse the Aran jumpers and herringbone throws in Kenny Woollen Mills before popping into the adjoining Lahinch Art Gallery.  

Afterwards, get a flat white from the Coffee Hatch and head off for a walk along the beach, watching the surfers rip up the waves and popping in for a dip if you’re feeling brave. When it’s time to go, the bus departs from the same place where you arrived.   

Where to eat in Lahinch

A stroll along the beach isn’t the same without an ice cream, so stop into Spooney’s for a scoop of freshly churned gelato, topped with chopped fudge, cookie crumbles or even whole biscuits. Just over the road, The Edge is a cool seaside bar with turquoise walls, vintage lampshades and brown leather booths, where you can get a cocktail or a glass of wine alongside hearty burgers or fish and chips.  

Ice creams from Spooney's in Lahinch, Co Clare

Photo credit: @spooneys99

Treat yourself to an indulgent ice cream from Spooney's.

On the waterfront, Vaughan’s on the Prom is a casual seafood restaurant with great views of the ocean, serving dishes like barbequed Aran Island monkfish, Flaggy Shore oysters and langoustines dripping in garlic butter.  

Take to the Burren

Soak up the incredible scenery on offer in Ennis and the Burren National Park, all without needing to bring the car.

More to discover
Family funExplore Ennis and the Burren car-free

There’s nowhere quite like the Burren. The swathes of grey limestone could pass for the surface of another planet, with deep fissures and crevices in-between the sheets of rock. But it’s anything but barren – rare native orchids grow in the cracks; wild goats roam the land and purple butterflies flit around the wildflowers. The best way to experience it is on a hike through the national park, and it’s easy to get there by bus from Ennis, 13km to the south. The handsome county capital is itself worth exploring, with a historic abbey, great food and even better shopping.

Arts and cultureHave car-free fun in Westport

With quaint houses and shopfronts, lively pubs and a tree-lined river that runs right through its centre, Westport is one of the most charming towns in Ireland. It was also one of the first planned towns in the country, laid out in the 1780s in the pleasing Georgian style of the day. Westport is easy to explore on foot, with everything you’d want to see within walking distance.

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