You’d be hard pressed to find anyone visiting Ireland for the first time that isn’t interested in seeing the Cliffs of Moher.
Waves crashing into rocks, cliff edges towering overhead, The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most visited and unique attractions.
Part of a dramatic stretch of coastline, 14 km of cliffside trail in total, the cliffs draw thousands of visitors yearly.
Millions of years ago, the area where the cliffs are today was the mouth of a large river. Over time, floods, sand and mud were washed to the area to become the compressed rocks the cliffs are today.
On my second visit to Ireland, at the end of May, we drove around the country, and of course, planned a stop at the cliffs. We were fortunate to have great weather, visiting on a beautiful, sunny day when wind was light.
We lucked out with fantastic weather, and as such, visited the cliffs early, predicting the cliffs would be quite busy as the day went on. Sure enough, as we were leaving around 11 am (after spending a few hours hiking along the cliffs, watching birds soaring and waves crashing), there were dozens upon dozens of people milling about the cliff paths.
I wouldn’t say a lot of visitors make the cliffs an unpleasant experience- because the hiking area is so large, it’s easy to head somewhere less crowded, but it’s also not ideal in the sense that, when I go on a hike or spend time in nature, I prefer to be as close to alone as possible. Especially somewhere as beautiful as the Cliffs of Moher.
All said, the Cliffs of Moher attract millions of visitors each year for good reason- they’re beyond beautiful. And, with increases in tourism to Ireland each year, it’s getting harder and harder to find dramatic landscapes – especially seaside – that aren’t swarming with people.
Enter: County Clare, and more specifically, Kilkee Cliffs.
Clare, a county located on Ireland’s west coast, is located along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Terrain across Clare varies from rugged coastline to rolling countryside to dramatic cliffs, to out of this world landscapes, to castle ruins- it’s quintessential Ireland.
In Clare’s, Kilkee, you’ll find the Kilkee Cliffs.
The Kilkee Cliffs give the Cliffs of Moher a run for their money. Just as unbelievably beautiful, the rock walls rising out of the ocean are hundreds of feet high.
The best part?
Nowhere as many crowds as you’ll find at Cliffs of Moher, and free to visit.
If you can’t find parking at the Diamond Rock Cafe, park along the waterfront bordering town and walk over. On a beautiful day, the views of town from across the bay are just lovely.
Once you’re at the base of the cliffs, you’ll climb at a steady pace (read: never too steep) for about 10-20 minutes. The last stretch to the top is the steepest, but the views from the part just below are the most incredible part.
If you’re facing the sea, to the left, you have the tallest sections of the cliffs, towering over the ocean below. And, to the right, horses grazing. Say nothing for the fresh sea air and sound of waves rhythmically crashing into the rocks below.
Another reason I love the Kilkee Cliffs?
They’re on the Loop Head peninsula, which is full of tiny towns and scenic views to check-out.
We’d originally planned on spending a day driving the peninsula on our first visit to Kilkee, but were lured away by the last day of ‘good weather’ to head to Dingle early to see what we could.
No doubt I’ll be back to the Loop Head peninsula, and when I return, I’m excited to check out:
- Kilkee: We drove through this charming town of 1,000, but I’d love to spend more time wandering its cute streets, popping into a few shops and cafes
- Lighthouse: The Loop Head Peninsula lighthouse is coastal perfection, and Star Wars fans, it was a filming location for Episode 8: The Last Jedi
- Small towns among the peninsula- Kilbaha, Carrigaholt and Riverside, all of which have smaller populations than Kilkee, but are everything you’d imagine tiny Irish towns to be
- Taste some of Ireland’s famous fresh seafood- I’ve been told The Long Dock in Carrigaholt has great eats and fantastic ice cream
Have you ever visited Ireland? Would you add the Loop Head peninsula to your next trip to the Emerald Isle?
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