Why Loop Head Lighthouse Should Be On Your Wild Atlantic Bucketlist

loop head lighthouse
Photo left: Irish Drone Photography. Photo right: Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

The cliffs at Loop Head Lighthouse are one of my favourite places to visit in Clare.

Loop Head Lighthouse is one of west Clare’s most impressive sights. The historic lighthouse stands right on the end of the Loop Head Peninsula overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

A trip out to the lighthouse offers views across to Kerry Head and Dingle and up to the Cliffs of Moher to the north. 

In the guide below, you’ll find info on the lighthouse tour, the Loop Head drive and what to see nearby.

Some quick need-to-knows before you visit Loop Head Lighthouse

loop head drive
Photo by 4kclips (Shutterstock)

Although a visit to Loop Head Lighthouse in Clare is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

Please pay particular notice to the safety warning – the Loop Head cliffs are unguarded and the wind here can get incredibly strong, so care is needed.

1. Location

Loop Head Lighthouse is located right on the end of Loop Head Peninsula in County Clare. It’s around a 30-minute drive from Kilkee, a 1-hour drive from Spanish Point, an hour and 10-minute drive from Lahinch and 1.5 hours from Doolin.

2. Parking

There’s a handy little car park right in front of the Loop Head Lighthouse and it’s free for visitors.

3. Weather

The weather at Loop Head can get very wild and windy at any time of the year. You’ll want to make sure you pack good waterproof clothing. If you plan on seeing the cliffs as well, the ground can get VERY boggy, so you’ll also want to make sure you have good, sturdy footwear.  

4. Safety

Just an important note on safety, the Loop Head cliffs are unguarded, which when combined with the strong wind, can be dangerous. If you’re planning on taking kids along, it’s especially important to be cautious of the cliff edges. Never get too close to the edge!

About Loop Head Lighthouse

 

The Loop Head Lighthouse is located quite dramatically right on the edge of the peninsula. There has been a lighthouse on the site since 1670.

It was originally a coal burning brazier on a platform on the roof of the cottage where the lightkeeper lived. You can still see part of this old cottage on the current site. 

The first tower lighthouse was built in 1802 and was replaced in 1854 by a new tower standing at 23m high. In 1869, the light was changed from being fixed to flashing and is a white light flashing four times every 20 seconds. 

The lighthouse was eventually converted to electric operation in 1971 and then completely automated in 1991. It’s one of 70 lighthouses operated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights around the coast of Ireland for maritime safety. 

The Light Keeper’s Cottage is now open to visitors with an exhibition on Irish lighthouses and the tower is open for guided tours.  

Things to do at Loop Head

If you’re visiting the Loop Head Peninsula in 2021, you’re in luck – there’s plenty to see and do here (more on that later).

In this section, we look at the various things to do at the lighthouse, from the Loop Head drive to the tour.

1. The Loop Head Lighthouse tour

loop head lighthouse tour
Photo by Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

Visitors wanting to enter the lighthouse can join a guided tour. The tours climb the tower and go out onto the balcony from where you can see as far south to the Blasket Islands and as far north to the Twelve Pins in Connemara. Of course, this view is heavily dependent on the weather, which changes often on this remote outcrop.

You can also head into the Light Keeper’s cottage which has displays explaining the history of Irish lighthouses. 

Admission to the lighthouse and tour is €5 for adults, and €2 for children. A family ticket can be purchased for €12 for up to two adults and three children (prices may change). 

Tours take place every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour with the first tour commencing at 10am and the last tour commencing at 5.30pm. The Loop Head Lighthouse is open from April to September for the summer season. 

2. Loop Head cliffs

kilbaha cliffs loop head
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

As well as the lighthouse, Loop Head is a geological paradise. There are dramatic cliffs and rock formations around the peninsula as well as wildlife and birds which have drawn visitors for many years. 

The cliff face exposures of the Loop Head Peninsula have been studied by geologists since the late 1950s. They illustrate an incredible development of large-scale submarine fan delta over millions of years from movements of the earth’s plates. 

You can take an incredible cliff top walk along the edge, while taking in the spectacular views and beautiful wildflowers. 

3. Spend a night at the Loop Head Lighthouse accommodation

Loop Head Lighthouse accommodation
Photos via Booking.com

As part of the old Loop Head Lighthouse station, the Lightkeeper’s House has been turned into tourist accommodation for a truly unique stay on the peninsula. Surrounded by birds, crashing waves and epic cliffs, it’s a place you won’t forget anytime soon. 

The house sleeps up to five guests with one dog allowed too. It’s completely self-sufficient with kitchen facilities, a bathroom, wood burning stove and central heating and a patio from where you can enjoy the view on a clear day. There’s a minimum stay of two nights. 

Kilbaha village with a post office, pub and shop is just 3 miles away and is the closest town. Otherwise, you can enjoy the remote location of the lighthouse and a walk along the cliffs. 

4. Hit the road on the Loop Head Drive

loop head lighthouse
Photo left: Irish Drone Photography. Photo right: Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

The Loop Head drive is up there with the best drives in Ireland. It takes you on a looped drive around the stunning Loop Head coastline.

On the drive, you’ll visit everywhere from Querrin and Doonaha to Carrigaholt, Cross, Diarmuid and Grainne’s Rock and much more.

The Loop Head drive takes around 1.5 hours, without stops, so you’ll want to add at least twice that for stops.

Things to see on the Loop Head Peninsula and nearby

One of the beauties of Loop Head Lighthouse is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Loop Head (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Carrigaholt Castle

 

This historic castle built in 1480 stands at the edge of the fishing pier in Carrigaholt village overlooking the harbour. Enclosed by high walls, the five-storey tower was abandoned in the late 19th century and its ruins remain open for visitors. While you can’t enter the castle itself, the views of the castle on the edge of the water are quite picturesque. 

2. Bridges of Ross

the bridges of ross in clare
Photo by Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

The Bridges of Ross are spectacular sea arches on the western side of Ross Bay near the village of Kilbaha. While the original formations included three bridges, only one remains. It can’t be seen from the road but just a few hundred metres from the car park you’ll easily find this hidden gem. 

3. Kilkee Cliff Walk

kilkee cliffs
Photo by Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

For a nice walk on the Loop Head Peninsula, the 8km Kilkee Cliff walk takes in the incredibly impressive Kilkee Cliffs. Beginning at the Diamond Rocks Café in the town of Kilkee, the path follows the coastline passing by beautiful rock formations and rugged cliffs. It can also be shortened to a 5km walk if you’re short on time. There are plenty of other things to do in Kilkee while you’re there.

4. Spanish Point and Doolin

doonagore castle doolin
Photos via Shutterstock

Spanish Point (and nearby Miltown Malbay) is another popular spot not far from Loop Head, on the road out to Doolin. You can grab food with a view at the Armada Hotel or just watch the waves crash. There are tonnes of things to do in Doolin, from the Doolin Cliff Walk to Doonagore Castle.

FAQs about Loop Head Lighthouse

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the Loop Head drive to what to see on the Loop Head Peninsula.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Is Loop Head worth visiting?

Yes! The scenery at Loop Head is wild and unspoiled, and because it lays a little off-the-beaten-path, it tends to be nice and quiet.

Can you visit Loop Head Lighthouse?

Yep! You can take the tour or you can stay in the lighthouse accommodation.

What is there to see on the Loop Head Peninsula?

You’ve everything from the Bridges of Ross and Carrigaholt Castle to walks, scenic drives and much more.

Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.

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