Ireland travel guide: 8 memorable things to do in beautiful County Clare

I was wide awake well before the alarm clock had a chance to let me know it’s 5 am yet the gleaming morning light was already peaking through one side of the curtains, spreading flickering shadows on the wall. House was soundless; everyone was still asleep and off in the distance, I could hear an aeroplane rumbling in the sky.

My heart was on fire as I focused on today’s drive ahead, there is a certain magic when it comes to exploring Ireland’s West coast, something we desired to guzzle after a few months of slow hibernation.

Ever since travelling to Galway  10 years ago and hearing about the Cliffs of Moher, I have dreamed of going back to the untamed cliffs on the way re-visiting lovely Doolin Village and Burren National Park as well.

Last summer, just shortly before the Midsummer festival, we finally packed our bags and surfboards and made our way towards Doolin. We couldn’t have picked a better time to visit County Clare, if only you could see how colourful Ireland is once the summer arrives.

Pinkish shades of cherry blossoms are replaced by bright yellow flaxseed fields, lilacs and wild daisies, After a very long and dreary winter, it was nice to finally see pops of colour everywhere. Days are much longer and brighter, the weather is warmer, making it a perfect time for a road trip.

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Exploring coastal inlets in County Clare, Ireland.
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Doonagore Castle, located on the outskirts of Doolin, is one of County Clare’s landmarks.

 

 

Ireland travel guide: 8 memorable things to do in beautiful County Clare

Thanks to many things to do and see, your trip to County Clare deserves a little planning ahead. Whether you are looking to visit Aran Islands, go hiking along the coast or immerse yourself in traditional Irish music, researching about it can make your trip more enjoyable.

No matter where we go in this country we have been rewarded with slower a path of life and beautiful sceneries and Clare was no exception.

That’s why we invite you to be in charge of your life’s journey and visit the beautiful County Clare! Stay focused, pay attention to little things around you and enjoy the ride.

 

#1. Stop at colourful Doolin Village

Home of Traditional Irish music, Doolin is a beautiful coastal village that can be easily used as a base for exploring County Clare. It’s the closest village to the Cliffs of Moher with lots of lively pubs and plenty of accommodation options, and despite its small size, you’ll be surprised by the number of things you can do and see there.

Allow yourself at least a couple of days to see the sights in Doolin, talk to friendly locals about the way of life on Ireland’s West Coast, you’ll get a great history lesson as well as learn about a few hidden gems, such as

Here, you can visit Doolin Cave and see the biggest free-hanging stalactite in Europe, take a boat to one of Aran Islands and go for an invigorating hike along the coast – which is very impressive if you do it on a good day – to the Visitor’s Centre the top of the Cliffs.

Our Crossing tip* As it happens with many other beautiful places around Ireland’s west coast, Doolin gets very busy, especially during the summer month and Bank Holidays weekends. That’s why, to avoid disappointment,  always book your tours and accommodation well in advance.

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Beautiful street in a charming village of Doolin in County Clare.
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Fantastic coastal views and plenty of photo spots in Doolin, Ireland.

 

#2. Visit Poulnabrone Dolmen

The short and easy walk vowing thought the spectacular landscape to the geologically and archaeologically unique structure – said to be older than the Egyptian Pyramids – makes for a great photo stop while crossing The Burren National Park.

The site, where the man-made Poulnabrone Dolmen is located,  is free of charge, easily accessible, comes with its own car park and takes only 5 minutes to reach on foot. Along the way to a burial site like no other we’ve ever seen, you’ll find information boards detailing its impressive history.

The well-kept example of the portal tomb is a rather small monument, yet it’s fascinating to find yourself in front of something that was constructed nearly 5 thousand years ago.

#3. Marvel at the sheer size of Cliffs of Moher

Even though we knew what we were going to see, I was still intrigued by yet another chance to see the legendary Cliffs of Moher. The immense expanse of wind-blasted and a completely isolated stretch of coast struck us yet again as we impatiently rushed to the edge where we could see the ferocious cliffs rising 700 feet upward from the depth of the turbulent ocean.

Often regarded as Ireland’s top sight,  Cliffs of Moher attracts millions of foreign and domestic visitors every year. The attendance at this spot is overwhelming but definitely worth it, mostly because you’ll find plenty of quiet corners to enjoy the natural wonder.

No matter how many times we have seen it, every time we come back, this place strikes like on the first time. The natural reds, greens and browns complement each other perfectly.

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The Cliffs of Moher are amazing sea cliffs located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, Ireland and this half-blurry photo is from my very first trip 13 years ago.
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Visiting Cliffs of Moher is a truly unique experience for visitors to the area.

 

#4. Enjoy amazing food and beverages

County Clare has plenty of amazing and award-winning cafes and restaurants where travellers can fuel up for the day ahead. You can stop at an old fashioned pub usually kitted out with historical memorabilia with a cosy environment and hearty foods on the menu, or you can settle in a cafe with healthy food such as Little Fox in Ennistymon.

Beyond exploring the beautiful sights that County Clare is famous for, don’t leave without trying some of the traditional foods – it’s one of the best ways to learn more about Irish culture. Make sure you try soda bread, Irish stew and Irish potato pancakes Boxty.

• Hazel Mountain Chocolates | Visit Hazel Mountain Chocolates to create delicious memories and sample creamy milk chocolate created using Irish milk from grass-fed cows. You can join the tour and learn about the history and origins of chocolate or simply stop by to try out gluten-free tarts and cakes.

• Burren Smokehouse |  It’s worth adding Burren Smokehouse into your itinerary as a stopping point to discover and taste freshly smoked organic salmon. Burren Smokehouse is a family business set up in 1989 located just 15 minutes from the Cliffs of Moher.

• Burren Food Trail |You can also set aside time for a self-guided driving tour which includes a variety of stops and activities along the way.  Taste of the Ocean Trail offers fresh seafood, cooking demos and foraging walks. Nature’s Child Trail is a family-friendly route that offers ice cream stops and a Farm to Fork Trail showcases fruit orchards and farmers markets.

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Hazel Mountain chocolate factory, with an award-winning cafe, is located a short drive away from Kinvara but there’s also a lovely shop in Galway city.

 

#5. Explore Burren National Park

Give yourself a few hours to explore Burren  National Park where granite formations and chunks of limestone are scattered through a landscape so many hold to be sacred.

The Burren comes with its own 300 million-year-old geology history worth looking up as well with the fact that nearly 75 % of Ireland’s native plant species can be found in here.

To explore the park, you can go for a hike – choose the red trail – where the route rolls over limestone scattered hills than climbs steeple before rewards hikers with a fantastic view over incredible landscape.

Follow the path that weaves through bluebell scattered forest and arrives at the lake, taking in the sights and smells.

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Visitors to The Burren can go on numerous hikes and learn how limestone was formed over 20 million years ago.
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Don’t forget that it’s very important to respect wildlife and farm animals while exploring Burren National Park.

 

#6. Go surfing in Lahinch

Following the drive along the coastal road, where gigantic rock formations tower out of the ocean, our journey took us past stunning castles and charming traditional pubs and brought us to beautiful Lahinch village.

The little town is home to a crescent-shaped beach two kilometres in length is always buzzing with surfers, swimmers and other water enthusiasts.

Located in Liscannor Bay and facing the Atlantic ocean, Lahinch is one of the top destinations in Ireland for surfing. If you fancy catching a wave or two, you’ll find lots of surf schools with qualified surf instructors in town where you can learn to pop up. All the surf lessons are around 2 hours

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Lahinch town may be small, yet it is very welcoming and offers heaps of outdoors fun.

 

#7. Go for a ride around Loop Head Peninsula

Do you love rugged coastal scenery and beautiful lighthouses? Then I’m pretty sure that this part of the coast in County Clare is something for you. Loop Head Peninsula makes for a fantastic drive with lovely villages, incredible searches, rocks and dramatic cliffsides welcoming its visitors and offering plenty of hiking, biking and photography adventures.

The roads are much quieter around the peninsula, and to drive the whole loop doesn’t take longer than 45 minutes without any stops. Once you leave Kilkee, a charming seaside town,  behind and start to drive toward the tip along the western side of the peninsula, be ready for many incredible views.

There’s a mythical sea stack that’s known as the Lover’s Leap, there’s an incredible lighthouse that offers amazing views of Galway on one and Kerry on the other one from the top of it, and there are many art galleries and pubs, like the Long Dock Pub in Carrighacolt to stop at too.

Our Crossings tip* Always check the weather forecast before you set out to drive the Loop, the lighthouse is usually closed during the stormy weather, and it can be challenging to drive the small roads in bad weather conditions.

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Make your way to the lighthouse at Loop Head and see an exhibition on the history of Irish Lighthouses that can be found in the Light Keeper’s Cottage.

 

#8. Take a ferry to one of the Aran Islands

The Aran Islands, situated only 45-minute ferry ride from Doolin is one of Ireland’s majestic natural attractions which makes for a memorable day trip from the mainland.

Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer are the three limestone islands often battered by harsh weather conditions where only a small handful of people live very simple lives still making a living through fishing and farming.

Thousands of visitors each year travel to isolated islands, where Gaelic is still the official language, to see some of the oldest archaeological sites – some believed to date from c. 1500B.C, escape the mayhem of the modern world and experience rural West Irelands traditional culture.

The most popular with tourists is Inish Mor island, home to 1000 inhabitants offering a good variety of shops, cafes and accommodation. Once you set your foot on the island, a local man with pony carts happily scoop up arriving tourists to show them around. You can also rent a bike or opt for a minibus tour of the island.

You can catch ferries from Rossaveal Ferry Terminal, travel to Aran Island with Doolin Ferries and OBrien Line or travel by air from Connemara Regional Airport with Aer Arran Islands.

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The Aran Islands are known for their ancient sites and natural beauty.

 

How to get to and around County Clare

If you are travelling from Dublin, then the most common way to access County Clare and Cliffs of Moher is trough M6, and the best way to see the coastal stretch around Galway and to visit its attractions is by car.

Shannon Airport, the first airport in the world, outside of the Americas, to offer Full US Preclearance facilities to passengers travelling to the USA, is located only 64 km from Cliffs of Moher and can easily be used as an entry point.

Well-signposted and well-maintained roads are perfect for a self-guided tour, and even if you aren’t too sure about driving on the other side, there’s really is no better way! Travelling by car, you’ll get to choose the overall tempo of the holiday and have the freedom to explore the shifting landscape.

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Incredible views in County Clare, Ireland.

 

Where to stay in County Clare

The bulk of accommodation is in the main towns and villages of Lahinch, Doolin, Kilrush Ennis, Kilkee and Ennistimon and they include traditional holiday cottages, welcoming B&Bs, budget hostels and plenty of places for motor home overnight parking.

 •Hotel Doolin |Located in the heart of the Doolin, Hotel Doolin can be used as a base for exploring Burren National Park and Cliffs of Moher. As a member of The Burren Food Trail, Hotel Doolin offers guests great food that’s made using local produce, and you can also enjoy traditional Irish music.

Address – Rivervale, Teergonean, Doolin, Co. Clare

 •Doolin Inn | Another great place to stay in Doolin is a family-run country house with a cosy double and family rooms perfect for a relaxing and recharging. Doolin Inn,  overlooking Fisher Street, is located just steps away from all the major attractions and there’s also private parking are available onsite.

Address –  Fisher Street, Ballyvara, Doolin, Co. Clare, V95 CC79

 •Aille River Hostel | Set in an 18th-century cottage right beside the river, Aille River Hostel is a cosy place with a shared kitchen, friendly staff and beautiful riverside terrace. You can choose from the dorm and private rooms, all of which comes at affordable prices and can use the campsite to pitch your tent.

Address – Ocean Road, Teergonean, Doolin, Co. Clare, V95 AN80

 

 

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Now, over to you!

Have you been to County Clare? Let us know in the comments!

Let us know if you are plotting a visit to County Clare and have travel-related questions!

 

 

 

 

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

52 thoughts on “Ireland travel guide: 8 memorable things to do in beautiful County Clare

    1. Thank you very much! There is a lot of coastline to Clare; with plenty of great surf and there are lots of rolling hills dotted with sheep and cows. It’s a fantastic part of Ireland to explore! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The Cliffs of Moher is probably one of the most well-known sights along the Wild Atlantic Way and for the right reasons – it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe. By now, I’ve lost count how many times we’ve been to the cliffs, but one thing is for sure – we are always looking forward to going there again. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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  1. Great helpful post. This is a beautiful part of Ireland. The first time we were here was in 1977 on our Honeymoon. A Force 8 gale was blowing off the coast at the Cliffs of Moher and the sea spray was blowing straight up the cliffs. The wind was so strong, it blew our coat pockets inside out and undid our shoelaces. Talk about the wild Atlantic. The last time we were here was in 2017 and even in May, it was crowded. We loved the Burren, but did not hike there. We just marveled at the roadside hedges of Rhododendrons. Thanks for sharing and bringing back memories. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Allan! he whole of the west coast of Ireland is jaw-droppingly stunning but the County Clare, aside from Sligo and Donegal, has to be our favourite. Seeing the Cliffs Of Moher in person and feeling the power of natural forces is something no visitor will soon forget! Although the place does get extremely busy, there are lots of trails along the coast you can use to escape the tourist crowds. Thanks for stopping b and have a lovely day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aiva, what a gorgeous part of Ireland. I haven’t been since I was a kid, and had no appreciation for the landscape. I think it’s time to return. Beautiful pictures and great information for traveling there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much. There is no place like the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs tower above the roaring Atlantic Ocean below and provide awe-inspiring views out over the ocean towards the Aran Islands. Beyond that, it is nothing but ocean as far as the coast of North America, how amazing is that! Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. To experience the breathtaking scenery of Ireland’s Atlantic coast as you make your way to Ireland’s most visited natural attraction – the Cliffs of Mohe is a truly remarkable adventure. I hope you get to visit one day. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva xxx

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  3. These photos are so so gorgeous!! Makes me want to visit Ireland so badly. I’ve seen the Cliffs of Moher once before and they were absolutely gorgeous. When I visited Ireland, I was very young and only remember it being overcast all the time. I didn’t even know surfing there was a thing! All the flowers look so beautiful, I guess I’ll just have to visit again in the summer. 🙂 Hope you’re having a great Monday so far!

    Miles of smiles,
    Grace

    gracefulrags.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Grace! Irish weather is famously unpredictable, but we got lucky because it’s scarce to get three consecutive days of neverending sunshine in Ireland. And everything looks different once the sun is out – many wildflowers are in bloom in the hedgerows and on the hillsides and lush meadows invite you to hop their lichen-covered stone walls. We were delighted to marvel at the Cliffs of Moher yet again, such a fantastic place to visit in Ireland. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I always feel guilty reading about the Cliffs and the Arrans. A good number of years ago I was in a small campervan with friends, heading up the west coast but starting from Cork, where they picked me up. We had a limited amount of time, which ran out after we’d done the Ring of Kerry and Dingle, so we never made it to our true destination. I have often regretted it, but the opportunity has gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the first things we mention to people planning to explore Ireland – it may look small on the map, but due to the small country roads, rural traffic is the norm, and that’s why distances between tourist attractions take much longer to cover. I’m sorry to hear you never made it to your destination, but the Ring of Kerry and Dingle are amazing places to explore too. Who knows, you might come back to Ireland one day. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ireland is vibrant and cosmopolitan, yet warm and down to earth. You can easily find the remote-feeling region just south of Dublin and can explore the hermitage island of Skellig Michael. You would love Ireland! Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow Wow! I so want to go hiking up on those cliffs. Your photos are lovely. I especially like the header with the gorgeous flowers in the foreground. Thanks for the great report. It really makes me want to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Although Clare is a relatively small county, there are many amazing hiking trails and most of them right along the cliff edge! One of the bucket list-worthy hikes, still sitting on our wish list, starts in Doolin and goes all the way to Hags Head. Along the way, you can enjoy rugged and wild Irish coastline. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a fabulous article you’ve written Aiva, wow! It is certainly true that Eyre is the Emerald Isle, sans doubte! An enchanting island and that western coastline is incredible, you can certainly see that it borders on the North Atlantic Ocean! The villages are beyond lovely and the way you write about them makes them seem magical. We are planning a trip soon, when the weather gets better, and I am taking all of your articles as guides. Thank you Aiva so much!
    All the best and I hope you’ve a lovely week!
    Greetings from the Mediterranean,
    Francesc

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Francisco for such beautiful and encouraging words! It’s easy to fall in love with Ireland and everything it has to offer. Ireland is home to some of the most amazing natural attractions, and on top of that, you get to meet friendly locals that are willing to listen to your story and doesn’t shy away from sharing theirs. Exploring Ireland’s west coast is an experience, unlike any other, and I hope you get to visit soon. Thanks for stopping by. The sun is shining today in Sligo, and for the first time, it feels like spring. We couldn’t be happier. Have a lovely day, Francisco. Greetings from Ireland. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

      1. To hear that you are getting sunshine and feeling like Spring is wonderful to hear! I am very happy for you! Enjoy the lovely weather…we are getting cooler weather here after almost two weeks that felt like summer!!! Now it is a nice and comfortable 14 degrees which I think is ideal… Have a great week Aiva and it is always a pleasure to read what you write, you really make one feel like one is experiencing those incredibly lovely places!
        Greetings from Spain,
        Francisco

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    1. Hi, Brian! We arrived quite late at the Dolmen, and it was way too dark to capture anything, yet the site was quite impressive. I mentioned one of the Dolmens we had a chance to see in Donegal, and thanks to your shared knowledge learned what ”dol-men and men-hir” mean! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My mother who was from Brittany once told the meaning of “men” a long time ago. never forgotten. The interesting thing is that it should be called a dolmen in Gaelic too. Though related to Breton, the two languages are a bit different I understand.
        Cheers.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m just like you! I lobe County Clare and pretty much all the other counties in Ireland too. There’s something worthy to see and do in each of them, thus providing a difficult task of choosing the best. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! I am in love with this landscape. We did a road trip a few years ago with friends from Killarney to Galway and stopped few times, for Cliffs of Moher, Doolin Village and a bit further from the village where there are some fantastic rocks and the waves are crashing. It was so amazing. Hope to be able to return one day and visit other places you mentioned as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Janja! Ireland is a perfect place if you love to spend your holidays on the coast, capturing sunsets and exploring beautiful inlets. The famed Cliffs of Moher are perhaps the most photographed coastal region of Ireland, and once you’ve had a chance to visit for yourself, you’ll know why! We had a chance to explore Doolin Village and surrounding sights last year, yet can’t wait to go back once more – there’s a certain magic when it comes to County Clare. Thanks for stopping by and I hope spring is in the air in Ljubljana! Aiva

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    1. Thanks so much! Exploring County Clare and seeing the Cliffs of Moher in person is an unforgettable experience. You can feel the Spring energy rising, and we are waking up and getting ready for the new travel season in Ireland and are planning to go back to Clare/ Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva xxx

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    1. Thanks so much! From impressive movie screen locations to captivating natural landscapes, County Clare is an oasis of character and charm in the heart of Ireland, and you would love it. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you get to visit one day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Ali, how are you doing? Exploring Ireland’s rugged coast, enjoying good pub-food and meeting friendly locals would inspire anyone to pick up a pen and write. County Clare is just a small part of what Ireland has to offer yet some of the world-famous attractions are located there, Cliffs of Moher Including. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. On a sunny summers day, Ireland looks almost too good to be true! As beautiful as the landscape is its the people who made our visit meaningful. You can easily bump into one of the locals and receive a short lesson in basic Irish phrases. You might not remember much, but it can serve as a memorable encounter. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva xxx

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by. County Clare is a fantastic place to explore, and it was so easy to find off the beaten track places too. The Cliffs of Moher is a sight to behold and Burren National Park worth a visit also. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day Aiva

      Like

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