48 Lovely Hours in Clare: Cliffs, Caves, Craic And A Whole Lot More (Detailed Guide)

All you need for a 2-day road trip in Clare

Grab a coffee. Kick back. And Bookmark the sh*t out of this page.

We’re about to take you through the best things to do in Clare on a craic and adventure packed 2-day road trip.

What you’ll get from reading this guide

  • A detailed, hour-by-hour itinerary from start to finish
  • Advice on where to eat, sleep a drink
  • A guide on the best things to do in Clare during your visit

Sound good? Let’s get cracking!

The best things to do in Clare on a mighty 2-day road trip

First things first, here’s what you’ll be doing over the course of 48 hours

Day 1

  • Loop Head
  • A grand aul drive
  • Surfing in Lahinch
  • Fooooood
  • Doonagore Castle
  • Dinner, pints and live music

Day 2

  • The Doolin Cliff Walk
  • A chunk of the best chocolate in the land
  • Coffee and a big aul cave
  • A ferry to Inis Oirr Island
  • Sailing below the Cliffs of Moher
  • The gorgeous drive from Doolin to Kinvarra
  • Food, pints and bed

And here’s a map of Clare with the attractions plotted out.

Day 1 Stop 1 – Loop Head Lighthouse and the cliffs at Kilbaha

// We’ve a busy day ahead, so aim to arrive here for 10:00 //

The cliffs near Loop Head Lighthouse are, in my opinion, one of the most overlooked things to do in Clare.

When you think of cliffs, you’re mind generally flies to Moher (which we’ll be visiting later).

kilbaha cliffs loop head
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Few visit the cliffs at Kilbha. And that’s what make them even more special.

I’ve been here on many different occasions, and it’s rare that you’ll ever meet more than a handful of people. Often, you’ll have the whole place to yourself.

Aim your car in the direction of Loop Head Lighthouse and park in the little car park out front. When you walk around the right side of the lighthouse, you’ll see a big aul sea stack.

When you walk away from the lighthouse and to the left, you’ll see the cliffs in the photo above.

Warning: the cliffs here are unguarded and the wind here can be extremely powerful. Be careful and hold onto children at all times.

Day 1 Stop 2 – The stop that isn’t reeeeally a stop… but it’s still deadly 

// Leave Loop Head at 11 and aim the car in the direction of Lahinch //

So, the next stop isn’t really a stop.

We’re going to make our way to Lahinch via a long (about an hour and 15-minute drive) and lovely old road that’ll take you through chunks of Ireland’s wonderful countryside.

You’ll see some of the road that you’ll be travelling along in the shakey video below that we made a few years ago.

You’ll pass through Kilkee (stop here at the beach for a stroll, if you like) and Spanish Point, along with many other gorgeous little corners or Clare.

Take your time and hop out of the car whenever you fancy it.

Day 1 Stop 3 – Surfing in Lahinch (yes, it’s going to be seriously f*****g cold)

// Aim to arrive in Lahinch for 13:00 (note: check what times the lessons are at in advance) //

The gorgeous little town of Lahinch, similar to Strandhill in Sligo, is well known to surfers across Ireland and beyond.

On this road trip, we’ll be heading out for an adult lesson at John McCarthy’s Lahinch Surf School.

Lahinch surfing
Source

Now, if you’re worried that you’ve never hopped up on a surf board before, don’t – you’ll be taking a beginners corse which has been designed for people just like you.

And you won’t be milling about on a wave like the one above.

The surf lesson is 2 hours long and you’ll spend 90% of it in icy cold, waist-high water.

Prices are as follows:

  • Adults €35
  • Students €32
  • Kids/Teens €30

Day 1 Stop 4 – Filling the belly and warming the bones

// Arrive to the Tasty Station for around 15:30 //

You’re cold and hungry… a dangerous combination.

We’re heading for a feed next, however, so there’s a full belly en route.

tasty station Lahinch

When you finish up surfing, take the short 5-minute walk to the Tasty Station restaurant and get some food into you.

The Breakfast Burger (I don’t care if it’s 3 in the afternoon) sounds unreal, but they also do panckacakes and loads of other stuff.

Day 1 Stop 5 – The iconic Doonagore Castle

// Arrive to Doonagore Castle for around 17:00 (it’s a 15-minute drive from the Tasty Station) //

One of our final stops of the day takes us to the iconic Doonagore Castle in Doolin.

This tower house castle is finely plonked on a hill overlooking Doolin Point, the Aran Islands and beyond Clare to the Connemara hills.

Doonagore castle Doolin Clare
Photo by Stan Phang Photography

Dating back to the 16th century, this castle looks like something plucked straight from a fairy tale.

You’ll see the castle from afar as you spin along the road towards it. When you arrive, hop out and take a look.

Day 1 Stop 6 – Check into your room and chill for a bit

// Arrive to your hotel for 18:00  //

We’ll be staying in Doolin on night one. Now, there are several different places to stay to suit all budgets (you can find more info on this in our Doolin guide).

The doolin inn

I’m going to recommend that you stay in the Doolin Inn.

I stayed here a couple of years ago and the place was flawless – and cheap.

We stayed in a private twin room and were able to take the short stroll over to Gus O’Connor’s Pub for food and pints later in the evening.

Check-in and chill for an hour.

Day 1 Stop 7 – Guinness Stew, pints and music

// Arrive to your hotel for 18:00  //

We’re going to take the short stroll from the Doolin Inn over to Gus O’Conner’s Pub on Fisher Street.

gus o'conners pub doolin

Gus O’Connors Pub has been rocking since 1832. A welcome sight for many a weary traveler returning from a day of exploring.
For those in need of a feeding, the beef and Guinness stew is a hearty bowl of pure and utter deliciousness that’ll warm the coldest of cockles.
Wash it down with a pint and soak up the atmosphere in this cosy little pub.
Music sessions start around 9pm each evening during the summer and go on until late.

Day 2 – Cliffs walks, caves, islands and the best chocolate in the land

OK, so there’s a lot to fit into today – but it’ll be amazing.

Get up, fed and out the door for 9.

Day 2 Stop 1 – The Doolin Cliff Walk

// The Doolin Inn to Fisher Street – 1-minute walk //

The guided Doolin cliff walk is a unique and active way to experience the Cliffs of Moher and is run by local expert Pat Sweeney.

The 3-hour walk kicks off from Fisher Street in Doolin, just outside O’Connors Pub.

the doolin cliff walk
The Doolin Cliff Walk: Photo by Chris Hill

The walk takes adventurers towards Doonagore Castle and up to the walking trail along the Cliffs of Moher.

As you walk, you’ll be greeted with spectacular views of the cliffs as they rise up into view in the distance.

If you can manage to tear your eyes away from the scenery along the route, Pat will take you through the history of the area, recounting memorable stories, myths and past memories.

The walk costs just €10 and finishes up at the Cliffs of Moher visitor centre.

You’ll need to take a shuttle bus from the Cliffs of Moher to Doolin. Info on the times can be found here.

Day 2 Stop 2 – The best chocolate in the land

// You should arrive back in Doolin for around 11:30 (depending on how long it takes to get the bus) //

So, we’re after doing a long-ass walk, and stop #3 is going to involve coffee, so we’re going to grab some chocolate to compliment it.

I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but the stuff this place is churning out is just stupidly tasty.

doolin chocolate
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Known as the Doolin Chocolate Shop, it’s actually a sister company of Wilde Irish Chocolates where they’ve been perfecting their craft since 1997.

Try the white chocolate Oreo meringue. It tastes even better than it sounds.

Day 2 Stop 3 – Caves and Coffee

// Fisher Street to the Doolin Cave – 9-minute drive (arrive for 12:00) //

Hop back into the car and head in the direction of the Doolin Cave.

After a long walk along the cliffs, a trip to the Doolin Cave is a perfect follow up.

Armed with a chunk of chocolate that’ll knock you sideways, grab a cup of coffee in the little café in the visitor center first, and rest your legs a little.

the doolin cave
Photo via the Doolin Cave

When you’re adequately satisfied and buzzed from copious amounts of caffeine and sugar, head off on the tour (book it when you arrive).

The Doolin Cave is home to the largest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere.

Known as ‘The Great Stalactite’, it hangs from the ceiling like some giant cone-shaped chandelier.

Particularly mesmerising when you think it formed from a single drop of water many years ago.

The tour itself packs a punch, taking visitors to the natural entrance of the cave, a stream sink at the base of a cliff face, through the main chamber where a guide turns on a light to illuminate the Great Stalactite.

Definitely worth a visit!

Day 2 Stop 4 – A ferry to Inis Oirr Island

// Doolin Cave to Doolin Pier – 10-minute drive (leave the cave at 13:30, arrive at the pier for 13:40) //

Our next stop takes us to Doolin Pier – the departure point for the ferry to Inis Oirr Island.

There are several ferry companies to choose from. I can recommend the Doolin Ferry Company based on past experience.

For this trip, we’re going to go for the the ferry that cruises beneath the Cliffs of Moher on the return journey from Inis Oírr.

inis oirr island
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The trip to the island takes just 30 minutes but when you arrive you’ll reach a slab of rural paradise off Ireland’s West Coast.

inis oirr island
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Rent a bike for a tenner and cycle along the narrow country roads, surrounded by hand-built stone walls that separate the different fields on the island.

It’s like taking a step back in time.

I can’t even begin to recommend this enough. For food, drop over to Tigh Ned.

Finish off your trip with a creamy pint of Guinness in the pub near the pier.

pub on inis oirr
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Day 2 Stop 5 – Sailing below the Cliffs of Moher

// This isn’t a stop – you’ll do it on the return leg of the ferry back to Doolin. And it’s amazing! //

This, in my opinion, is the best thing to do in Clare (if you disagree, let me know in the comments below).

So, you’ll have seen the cliffs during your walk earlier in the day, but this is a different ball game altogether.

I did this a couple of years back and it’s cracking.

ferry cliffs of moher
Photo © The Irish Road Trip (I still have that jacket, I must lash it in the bin!)

You get surprisingly close to the cliff face, and it’s only when you approach from below that you truly appreciate the sight of the 700 foot cliff that’s towering above you.

Couple the view with the fact that you’re on a relatively small boat that’s swaying side-to-side thanks to the rough Atlantic Ocean and you’ve an incredible experience, just waiting to be seized.

Day 2 Stop 6 – The Drive from Doolin to Kinvarra

// Doolin to Kinvarra – 1-hour drive (we’re going to allow for 2 – Leave Doolin at 17:00, arrive in Kinvarra for 19:00) //

So, I’ve never known what this drive is called – I’ve spent time Googling it, but I can’t tell if it’s officially called ‘the Burren Drive’ or not.

Whatever it’s called, it’s one of my favourite things to do in Clare – especially in the early hours at sunrise or just before the sun starts to set.

Doolin to Kinvarra drive
Via Google Maps

There’s no other way to describe this route. The landscape changes by the minute, there’s a multitude of stop-off points, and it’s another fantastic example of why Ireland is such a wonderful place to road trip around.

This is another drive to play by eye, and to just let your nose lead the way (it’s a straight forward drive, so you’ll stumble upon the best bits.

Some places you can add into your sat nav

Note, you won’t be able to enjoy these when it’s dark, so try and squeeze them in while it’s still bright.

  • Fanore Beach
  • The Burren
  • Ballinalacken Castle
  • Poulnabrone Dolmen
  • Aillwee Cave

Day 2 Stop 7 – A room for the night

// We’ll be spending the night in Kinvarra. Check into your hotel for around 19:00 //

the merman hotel

I’m going to recommend that you stay in the Merriman Hotel in Kinvarra.

Check into your room and chill for half an hour. It’s time for a feed.

Day 2 Stop 8 – A bite to eat and a pint or 4 in Kinvarra

To round off our Clare road trip, we’re going to get a feast in the Pier Head Bar and Restaurant (5-minute walk from your hotel).

We’re going to polish it all off then with a few pints in Keogh’s Bar.

conollys pub Kinvarra

And that my friends is a wrap on our two day road trip around Clare.

Eh, WHERE is Father Ted’s House and what wasn’t it included?

So, as much as I wanted to fit it in, I couldn’t.

But we’ve created a guide to visiting Father Ted’s House so you can check it out if you’d like to.

Is there anywhere we’ve missed that you’d like to recommend? Pop a comment in the comments section below!

Keith
Howaya!The purpose of this site is to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories.No spam. Clickbait. Or boll*x. Ever.Keith

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