County Clare is home to one of the most visited attractions in Ireland, being the Cliffs of Moher. But it’s not just the cliffs that are worth your time in this mid west region of the country. There is a raft of things to do in Clare that you can include into a full day’s outing or overnight stop off on your way south to the Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry.
If like me you are travelling south along the west coast of Ireland you’ll be entering county Clare after stopping off in Galway. The perfect introduction to Clare is to drive the coastline between Ballyvaghan and Doolin on your way to the Cliffs of Moher. Taking the R477 and follow the signs all the way while taking in some spectacular views. Just be sure to keep your wits about you while driving. The roads can be narrow at points, and as a scenic drive people are often driving at a slower pace.
At the end of your scenic drive, the Cliffs of Moher await. If arriving on a clear day you’ll be able to see them in all their glory. Arrive on a wet foggy day and you’ll struggle to see anything. For reference I visited in early September and got lucky with the weather but your experience may differ. The weather in Ireland is unpredictable to say the least, as you might expect.
Entry to the Cliffs of Moher costs 6 euros per person and that includes parking for your car. There is a cafe on site to buy food and drink but I’d suggest bringing a picnic with you to enjoy the view or seek food elsewhere to save on the tourist priced food.
Departing the cliffs you can either head further south along the coast to Kilrush where many stop for the night before catching a ferry across the River Shannon and onto the Dingle Peninsula, loop around to Limerick for the night or return via the scenic route to Galway like I did.
If taking the scenic route back then I can recommend making a stop in Ennistimon for a lunch break. I can vouch for the cakes from Unglert’s Bakery to satisfy anybody looking for an afternoon tea break.
Departing Ennistimon and you’ll head north along the R481/R480 which begins the scenic route back to Galway. It’s also where you’ll enter into The Burren, an area of about 250 square kilometers known to be one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. I’d always imagined Ireland to be all about rolling green fields and well just green everywhere so to come across this contrasting rocky landscape was a bit of a surprise.
Along the drive you’ll pass the crumbling Leamaneh Castle, long forgotten churches, Aillwee Cave and the Poulnabrone Dolmen which dates back to the neolithic period. And then it’s back to Galway for the night before continuing on with your road trip the next day.
All of the above however is just a sample of the things you can do in Clare from what I was lucky enough to experience. I Unfortunately missed out on visiting the Aran Islands just off the coast of Doolin, Bunratty Castle and the Loop Head drive from Kilkee to Loop Head. But like everybody I’ve ever spoken to about exploring Ireland, you can always come back again can’t you.
Have you explored county Clare at all? If so I would love to know some of your favourite places or tips so that others might enjoy them as well. Let me know in the comments below.