Things to Do in Ireland – Cliffs of Moher Cruise

People getting on to a cruise boat at Doolin
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Visiting the Cliffs of Moher is the most popular excursion on the island of Ireland and the sensational light over the cliffs is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

You can go one better: witness the cliffs from the wild waves of the Atlantic with its foamy peaks, while seabirds float above the Cliff of Moher’s sea caves. The Cliffs from the water is a unique and very special perspective.

A short cruise is a unique way to experience the Cliffs of Moher and a must-do for people interested in the Cliffs, photography or Harry Potter movies.

You can do this cruise in a number of ways: as part of a day trip by ferry from Galway, incorporating a stop on Inishmore (Inis Mor), as part of a day trip from Galway to Inisheer or an excursion from Dublin, or include it in a self-drive itinerary along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Read on for my guide on the best way to experience the trip and watch my video that includes this cruise.


TL;DR? don’t have time for a full review? In short: the excursions that I’m recommending here are an ALL-IN Cliffs of Moher experiences that save you having to make multiple separate arrangements.

  • Galway to Inishmore by Ferry (buy here): Ferry departing direct from Galway to Aran Islands, 4.5 hours on Inishmore, cruise past the Cliffs of Moher on return.
  • Galway Pick-up (buy here): Pickup from Galway, drive to Doolin, ferry to Aran Islands (Inisheer), cruise past the Cliffs of Moher on return, all entrance fees including access to the Cliffs of Moher.
  • Dublin Pick-up (buy here): Pickup from Dublin, drive to Doolin, access fees to Cliffs of Moher included, cruise to experience the Cliffs from the sea, stop at Caherconnell Stone Fort en route.

READY TO DECIDE? BOOK THIS TOUR

I enjoyed combining a day trip to the Aran Islands with a cruise to see the Cliffs of Moher from the sea. If you’ve come this far, you can enjoy the Cliffs with a short coastal hike AND from the ocean, getting a real sense of life in the wildness of this Atlantic coastal community.

Why take a Cliffs of Moher Cruise?

The ferry and cruise services that run from Doolin in County Clare, Ireland, as well as direct from Galway City, are very familiar with the waves and currents of this part of the Atlantic Ocean. They’ve mastered a way to run their boats along the coast to maximise your chance to get a great view of the Cliffs of Moher from the ocean. I started visiting the Cliffs of Moher as a child and didn’t even know this cruise existed until last year. I relished the chance to *really* see the Cliffs both from atop them looking out across the ocean, as well as the view that only fishermen and women had seen for hundreds of years.

The Cliffs of Moher from the water
Photo by Patrick Hughes: Cliffs from the cruise

Is this a typical cruise?

I’m going to talk about the cruise I took, which was part of a packaged day trip. If your idea of a cruise is Royal Caribbean, this is something different. Let’s call it a boat trip. There’s no drinks or snacks and you will be outside, seated comfortably for most of the time on deck, having a very real experience of the movement of the ocean, not least so you can see the Cliffs of Moher. It’s perfectly comfortable, but like all trips to Ireland, layer up and have a waterproof jacket. You might want to read my Packing List for Ireland. But don’t worry, this is not a long uncomfortable journey. The cruise departs from the Quay at Doolin, and there’s quite a fast journey out to Hag’s Head (at the end of the cliff formation), turnaround and journey back.

What to expect on your Cliffs of Moher Cruise

People getting on to a cruise boat at Doolin
Photo by Patrick Hughes: busy on board!

I took my Cliffs of Moher cruise in the early evening after a return ferry journey to Inishmore on the Aran Islands. It was announced that this boat would become the cruise vessel and for people who had a ticket to cover this should stay on board. People who buy the ticket option from Dublin will experience it this way on the return trip from Inisheer. Once everyone else had gotten off, the boat filled up quickly with Cruise Passengers who were doing only this part of the journey (this is when people who buy the ticket option from Galway will board). I found it hard to find a spot with a *perfectly* clear view at all times (there are various necessary pieces of equipment that get in the way for a seated passenger). But never worry, the boat is slow enough and pauses enough to get plenty of photographs.

Note: if you take the day trip by ferry from Galway City, you won’t have to do this handover of boats – everything will be on board the same boat for you.

A blocked view of the Atlantic
Photo by Patrick Hughes: limited view seating

Where to sit on the Cliffs of Moher Cruise

Because most views are slightly blocked when sitting down, choose your seat wisely! There will be chances to stand up to take a photograph and get a clear view, don’t worry, but the journey can be a little bumpy and standing up has its own risks!

Insider Tips

I spoke to a crew member, who advised me to sit on the RIGHT of the vessel as, when we reached the farthest point near Hag’s Head, the boat would turn and passengers on the right would have the clearest view as the boat returned more slowly along the Cliffs.

What IS good is that there is a guide who points out the main features. This is given ONLY in English.

Cliffs of Moher Harry Potter Connection

If you’ve seen the Harry Potter movies, you might recall one of the later films, Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince. In it, Harry and Dumbledore travel to a wild seascape and enter a cave in search of horcruxes. The Cliffs of Moher provide that backdrop and this very section of the Cliffs (see below) is the part in question. Next time you watch that movie, keep an eye out for it!

Cliffs of Moher where Harry Potter was filmed
Photo by Patrick Hughes: the Harry Potter Connection

Birds & Wildlife

I think there is a lot of natural bird and wildlife along the cliffs that we didn’t quite get to the bottom of on the cruise. However, the guide did go over the main species that we were seeing nesting and circling on the cliff face.

Cliffs of Moher from the Sea

Cost of a Cliffs of Moher Cruise

If you were booking a standalone cruise experience, the price is from €28 per adult. The fact that this is bundled into the Dublin or Galway option, alongside pick-up, transportation and the charges to access the Cliffs of Moher site (as well as an Aran Islands ferry ticket in the Galway experience) is crazy to me. I’d take the bundle option every time.

My bike on a cruise from Doolin
Photo by Patrick Hughes: my bike stashed on the cruise boat

Bikes on Board

I was travelling with a bicycle, so that I could make the most of my day trip to the Aran Islands (I visited the amazing site called Dun Aonghasa). Bikes used to be permitted on board the cruise at certain times of year AND if there is room. However, in 2024, the ferry companies are warning that bikes will NOT be accepted, except in very limited circumstances. If you are permitted, crew members will lift your bike onto the Doolin Ferry from the pier for you. After I booked my bundle, I contacted the supplier to request permission. If you’d like a bike but don’t have one with you, they can be hired (ebikes too!) on the Aran Islands. There’s also a super cool tour I’d love to try (including scones!) on this Inisheer half-day bike tour.

What Weather to Expect

On my full-day experience of the Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher, the weather was changeable. It’s one of the things to love about Ireland (or to learn to love!). The shifts in the light create a different vista each time you look out from the ocean towards the cliffs and you get these anomalies of heavy clouds with sunshine on your face.

A man faces the sun with dark clouds behind him.
Photo by Patrick Hughes: Patrick welcoming a glimpse of sun

It might be worth reading my Packing List for Ireland to make sure you’re covered for the shifting elements!.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is your question not answered here? Add your question using the comment box below

How long is the Cliffs of Moher cruise/ferry?

It depends slightly on the weather conditions, but expect your Cliffs of Moher cruise to take 45 minutes to one hour.

What city is closest to the Cliffs of Moher?

The closest city to the Cliffs of Moher is Galway. The road network in Ireland is sufficiently good that you CAN include the Cliffs of Moher on a full day trip from Dublin.

How long do you need at Cliffs of Moher?

It depends what you want to see and do. If you literally want to stop and shoot (a photo), you can get from your car to take a photo and back in 20 minutes. But you shouldn’t do that. Since you’ve come this far, and if you feel up to it, take some time to walk along the Cliffs of Moher coastal path. Enjoy the Cliffs of Moher centre – there’s a place to grab coffee or a lunch, and of course you could take the Cliffs of Moher cruise which this article is about. I’d schedule 1.5-2 hours for just the Cliffs of Moher to include a lunch or snack.

What is special about the Cliffs of Moher?

The view from atop the Cliffs of Moher is one of the most spectacular views in the world and I say that having visited 60 countries worldwide. It’s been attracting visitors for hundreds of years and is Ireland #1 visitor attraction.

Where are the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland?

The Cliffs of Moher are on the Western coast of Ireland. They are a key stop on the Wild Atlantic Way and possible to reach on a day trip from Galway or a day trip from Dublin.

BOOK A TRIP FROM GALWAY BOOK A TRIP FROM DUBLIN

What to wear to the Cliffs of Moher?

The weather on the Western coast of Ireland such as at the Cliffs of Moher can be changeable and a little wild, even in Summer. Bring layers including one waterproof jacket. Umbrellas are good, but only if they are windproof. You might want to read my Packing List for Ireland!

PACKING LIST FOR IRELAND

Can you drive to the Cliffs of Moher?

Yes, of course you can drive to the Cliffs of Moher! There’s a large car park (well signposted) on site. You will have to pay an entrance fee (payable at the entrance to the car park). The road network in parts of the West of Ireland is very narrow, especially for some overseas visitors. If you’re cautious about that, it’s better to take an all-in-one day trip to include transport from either Galway or Dublin.

Is the Cliffs of Moher free?

In one way, the Cliffs of Moher are free because they are simply part of nature and the landscape. In reality, there is a fee for the Cliffs of Moher visitor experience. If you arrive by car, the car parking fee includes your admission to the visitor experience.

There is a “free” way to visit the Cliffs of Moher, kind of… If you feel able, you can do a cliff walk, such as the Liscannor Walk. You’ll still pay around €5 for car parking at the start of the Walk (put it into Google Maps to find the car park), and then you can walk around 20 minutes to the Cliffs of Moher with no further payment. The walk itself is beautiful.

Are the Cliffs of Moher dangerous?

Yes, the Cliffs of Moher are dangerous. If you were to wander off the approved track and to slip, you could be seriously injured or even worse. When I was a child (back in the annals of time), there were no (or few) protective barriers at the Cliffs of Moher. Nowadays, there are walls and protective barriers that should keep you safe. However, don’t be foolish and behave irresponsibly.

Can I use a drone at the Cliffs of Moher?

Drone use is banned at the Cliffs of Moher. I love a bit of drone footage for my YouTube videos, but there are signs everywhere showing that drones are not permitted. Apart from permission, the weather and wind can be erratic and very strong here, so for most recreational drone users, you would need to have good experience to handle a modern, light drone. Special permission can be requested from the monument authorities.

Can you walk along the Cliffs of Moher?

Yes, absolutely, you can walk along the Cliffs of Moher in either direction. The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk stretches from Liscannor to Doolin via the Cliffs of Moher Experience. It’s about 20km all-in and would take a strong walker 4-4.5 hours to complete. The trail is medium to high difficulty.

Find the accompanying video for this article below:

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I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.

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