It’s hard to think of a more quintessential Irish location than the Cliffs of Moher. Rising to a height of 702 feet (214 meters) above sea level, these jaw-dropping cliffs are among the most visited tourist sites in all of Ireland.
They have also served as a dramatic backdrop for famous movies such as Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Leap Year, and (my personal favorite) The Princess Bride.
Remember the *inconceivable* Cliffs of Insanity from The Princess Bride? You guessed it. Those were the Cliffs of Moher.
If you are obsessed with walking like I am, you’ll be delighted to know that you can stroll along the entire length of the cliffs. The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk stretches for 12.5 miles (20 km) from Liscannor to Doolin along these towering walls. It also stops at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center mid-way.
In my recent visit to Ireland, I decided to hike a shorter section of the trail. I opted for hiking from the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center to Doolin, which is also commonly called the Doolin Cliff Walk.
But first I had to figure out how to get there from Galway. I didn’t have a car and I didn’t really fancy taking some sort of organized tour.
As it turns out, this wasn’t a problem. All I had to do was to simply take the Galway to Doolin bus! Read on to learn everything you need to take the Galway to Doolin bus and to hike the stunning Doolin Cliff Walk.
Note: a section of the Doolin Cliff Walk is currently closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Keep reading for details on the closure as well as what parts are currently open.
Galway to Doolin Bus Details
The Galway to Doolin bus is the #350 route operated by Bus Éireann.
This bus starts at the Galway bus station and stops in front of the Hotel Doolin. The final stop is at Tobarteascáin in Ennis. It’s helpful to know this so you can ensure you’re taking the bus in the right direction.
(Don’t forget that, in Ireland, traffic runs in the opposite direction than many other countries. So you may have to stand on the other side of the street than you are used to!)
You can also get off at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center or at Liscannor, depending on where you want to start hiking along the coastal path. This makes it easy to do a point-to-point hike as you can simply catch the #350 bus on the way back again.
The Galway to Doolin bus runs 6 times a day and is supposed to take 2 hours each way… although I’ve found that buses can run a little (or a lot) late sometimes.
An adult single ticket costs €17 (or €19 if you’re going to Liscannor). I recommend getting the adult return ticket (€31.20) because you’ll need it to return to Galway afterwards.
I wasn’t able to book a ticket online for some reason (and still can’t). I’m not sure why because I can buy tickets online for other Bus Éireann routes. So, I just purchased one directly from the driver. Thankfully, there was plenty of room on the bus.
For the return trip, the #350 bus also runs from Doolin to Galway multiple times a day. In Doolin, the bus stop is just across the street in front of Cullinan’s Guest House.
Obviously, the ticket prices and route information are subject to change. Please check the Bus Éireann web site for the latest details.
Cliffs of Moher Shuttle
Another bus option is the Cliffs of Moher Shuttle. This new service was introduced in 2019 and shuttles passengers between Liscannor, Doolin, the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center and other points of interest along the coastal walk.
While this bus won’t get you from Galway to Doolin, but it may be helpful in traveling between key points along the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk.
Or, at least it would be if it was running. According to the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk Shuttle Bus Facebook page, the bus is currently not in service.
I’m not sure if this is a permanent closure or not. Hopefully it will be up and running when the trail is fully operational again.
Doolin Cliff Walk Details and Map
- Type of route: point-to-point
- Distance: 4 miles (6.5 km)
- Elevation Gain (hiking south to north): 250 feet (76 m)
- Elevation Gain (hiking north to south): 800 feet (250 m)
- Cost: Starting the hike at the Cliffs of Moher costs from €7 to €10 (depending on the entrance time)
When starting the hike from Doolin: get off the bus at Hotel Doolin and head south on the main road (R479). When you reach the junction with Fisher Street at Doolin Inn, do not cross the bridge. Bear left and head up the hill. The trailhead is just around the corner behind a gate.
If you drive to Doolin, you can park at the Doolin Community Center.
When starting the hike at the Cliffs of Moher: head west past the visitor center and up the steps to the cliffs. Turn right and walk uphill towards O’Brien’s Tower. The starting point is just past the tower behind a gate.
For the latest information on hiking the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk or the Doolin Cliff Walk, check out the official Clare County web site: Clare Get Sidetracked.
AllTrails Doolin Cliff Walk Map
Even though the Doolin Cliff Walk is well-signed, always carry a map with you when hiking in the outdoors. This will ensure you don’t get lost if you come to an unfamiliar trail junction or lose the trail.
Also, I found the map to be helpful in locating the starting and ending points of the trail. It’s best to download maps to your phone in advance in case you lose cell connectivity.
If you are using a phone for navigation, bring a portable battery such as the Anker portable battery charger and protect it from the rain and elements.
Note that this AllTrails map begins in Doolin at the closest shuttle bus stop to the trailhead. If you are taking the Galway to Doolin bus, you’ll be starting (or ending) at the Fitz’s Cross junction by Hotel Doolin.
Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk Map
This is the official Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk Map that is located on the trail signposts. It shows the length of the entire trail from Liscannor to Doolin.
The Doolin Cliff Walk is the section of trail that runs from the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center to Doolin.
Cliffs of Moher Trail Closure Information
As previously mentioned, a section of the Cliffs of Moher Trail is currently closed due to the COVID pandemic. Here is the official verbiage by Clare County:
“Due to the nature of the path and the fact that it is 1.5 metres wide in sections it is not possible to implement social distancing safely so Clare Local Development Company is temporarily closing the path.”
The good news is that only a small section of the trail is closed. This section is .8 miles (1.3 km) long and runs north from the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center at O’Brien’s Tower to Aillenasharragh near Pollboy.
So your best bet to avoid this section is to start the walk at Doolin and head south until you reach the closure. Then you’ll have to turn around and hike back into Doolin.
Another option is to start at the Visitor Center and hike south to Hag’s Head along the coastal path.
My Experience Hiking the Doolin Cliff Walk
When I planned this hiking adventure, I decided to start at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center. That way, I could grab dinner at a pub in Doolin if I needed to wait a while for the next Galway to Doolin bus.
Unfortunately, I had no idea about the trail closure before taking the 2-hour bus to Doolin. In fact, I didn’t discover this rather important piece of information until I got all the way to the trailhead at the Cliffs of Moher.
So my day didn’t exactly go as planned. But I still had a fun time seeing the Cliffs of Moher and then exploring the charming town of Doolin.
Hopefully the closure will end soon and the trail will re-open. In the meanwhile, hopefully you learn from my mistake and plan a better hiking route.
Taking the Bus from Galway to Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher
When I attempted the Doolin Cliff Walk, I took the 10:00 am Galway to Doolin bus. This route hugs the coastline for most of the trip and has some really spectacular scenery.
Not only is the coastline beautiful, but the road also passes through a region of Ireland known as the Burren. Known in Irish as Boireann (which means great rock), the Burren landscape is dominated by glaciated karst. The rocky landscape seems to stretch on forever and is really fascinating.
I should also warn you, however, that the route is curvy and bumpy. This is not a great bus route for those prone to carsickness. I noticed the girl behind me quietly puking into a plastic bag while we traveled a particularly windy section.
As we passed through Doolin, I made a point to notice where the bus stop was located. That way, I could easily find it on my return trip.
The Cliffs of Moher
When we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center bus stop at 12:15 pm, I was ready to hit the trail!
The bus stop is located next to a tunnel that leads to the visitor center. This is where the ticket booth is located.
Be aware that you do need to pay an entrance fee when visiting the Cliffs of Moher if you start your hike there – even if you arrive on the bus. I’m guessing that this doesn’t apply if you begin the hike elsewhere along the coastal path and then hike in.
The cost of the ticket is €10 per person when purchased at the door. However, there is a discount if you buy the ticket online in advance and arrive in the morning or evening hours. Tickets can be purchased at the Cliffs of Moher web site.
After passing through the tunnel, the path leads to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center. The building features an interactive Cliffs Exhibition as well as two cafes and a gift shop.
I decided to skip the visitor center and headed straight for the good stuff – the Cliffs!
So I hurried along the pathway to the cliffs, stared in amazement at the view, and then headed up towards O’Brien’s Tower. Constructed in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien, the tower offers great views of the Cliffs of Moher as well as the Aran Islands in the distance.
Shortly after passing the tower, I came to the official trailhead of the Doolin Cliff Walk. It was then that I found out about the trail closure as the path was blocked off.
The Doolin Cliff Walk Workaround
After encountering the trail closure sign, I had to come up with a new plan. At the time, I had no idea that only a small section of the trail was closed. I assumed the whole coastal walk was shut down.
I’m not much of a rule breaker so I decided not to jump over the gate (although I believe some people were ignoring the sign and hiking the trail anyway).
After a little research, I discovered that the next bus to Doolin left in 15 minutes. I was curious about checking out this little town, so I hustled back down to the bus stop and headed to Doolin.
It was the best alternative I could think of at the time to hiking along the coastal path.
After arriving in Doolin, I walked towards the Doolin Cliff Walk Trailhead to see what that side of the trail looked like.
As it turns out, Doolin is a really awesome little village. There are some quaint thatched roof buildings and picturesque shops lining the streets that are fun to see.
I wished I had more time to explore the town but I didn’t have long until the next bus left.
The Doolin Cliffwalk Trailhead is located behind a gate after a little bend in the road along the coastline. I stepped onto the path for a bit to see what it was like.
And I’m happy to report that the Doolin side of the trail is *just* as beautiful as the trail along the Cliffs. The coastline is spectacular.
But that’s not all – Doonagore Castle is perched on the hillside above the trail! I was delighted to see it on the skyline as I walked along the trail.
The Doolin to Galway Return Bus
As I rode on the bus back to Galway, I reflected on the days adventures (and misadventures).
Even though the day didn’t go as planned, it wasn’t a total wash. I still got to see some amazing scenery and I was ok with that.
And I’m definitely keeping this hike on my bucket list if I’m ever back in the area. Except next time, I’ll do more research ahead of time to ensure the trail is open.
Oh, and I *may* have bought myself some earrings made from real Connemara marble at the gift shop on the way back to the bus. There’s nothing like a little retail therapy to brighten one’s day!!
Preparing to Hike the Doolin Cliff Walk
Before embarking on this or any hike, remember that you are entering a rugged outdoors environment and prepare accordingly.
You’re going to be doing lots of walking so be sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes. Check the weather forecast and make sure you’re prepared for the weather conditions with plenty of layers and/or sun protection as appropriate.
Bring plenty of water and snacks. If you choose a longer hike, consider packing a lunch.
In case nature calls while you are away from a restroom, familiarize yourself with proper hiking bathroom etiquette.
Be sure to leave no trace of your visit behind.
Recommended Hiking Gear for the Doolin Cliff Walk
Not sure what to bring or wear on your hike? This list includes some of my favorite day hiking gear.
- Hiking Shoes – Sturdy hiking shoes are important. I’m a big fan of Altra Lone Peak Trail Running Shoes and pair them with Dirty Girl Gaiters to keep rocks from getting into my shoes.
- Socks – Good thick socks are key. I usually wear a pair of double-walled Wrightsock Coomesh II socks with my Altras. For longer hikes, I switch to Injinji Midweight socks to prevent toe blisters.
- Backpack – I love Osprey backpacks and use the Osprey Manta pack which is technically a men’s pack (because I have a longer torso than most women). The women’s equivalent is the Osprey Mira pack.
- Hiking Poles – Hiking poles reduce pressure on your joints and help maintain your balance if you trip. My current favorites are the LEKI Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles because they are super lightweight and portable.
- Rain Gear – Raingear is essential when hiking in Ireland. My favorite rain jacket is the Outdoor Research Helium II jacket since it is very lightweight.
- Camera – I love taking photos and always bring a camera along on my hiking trips. I use the Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II because it is lightweight yet has many advanced features.
Other Amazing Destinations in Ireland
Planning a trip to Ireland? Be sure to check out these other dreamy Irish destinations and walking paths:
- Howth Cliff Walk: Exploring the Green Route Loop
- Day Trip to the Aran Islands from Galway: A Visit to Inis Mór
- Donegal Day Trip: Exploring the Wild Atlantic Way and Slieve League
Have you hiked in the Doolin Cliff Walk? If so I’d love to hear from you! Leave your comment below.
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