Day 9. Lahinch to Doolin
Clare is an absolutely magnificent county that often gets overshadowed by it’s biggest attraction – the Cliffs of Moher.
While we’ll be checking out the cliffs, we’ll also be exploring much more of what this fabulous county has to offer. Get up for 7 and get out the door for 7:45.
1. The Doolin Cliff Walk
Lahinch to Fisher Street, Doolin – 18-minute drive (leave at 7:45, arrive for 8:03). 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.
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. As the car will be back in Doolin, we’ll need to take a shuttle bus back.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
4. A Ferry to the Inis Oirr
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 ferry that cruises beneath the Cliffs of Moher on the return journey from Inis Oírr.
5. Head for a cycle and then round off your visit with a pint near the pier
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. Finish off your trip with a creamy pint of Guinness in the pub near the pier.
6. 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. 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.
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.
7. Warming up in Gus O’Conners
You should aim to arrive back to Doolin Pier for around 16:40, depending on how long you spend on Inis Oirr.
After the trip back across the sea from Inis Oírr and the busy day that you’ve had so far, the chances are you’ll be tired, hungry and probably cold/wet (hopefully just tired and cold).
Gus O’Conners pub is the perfect spot to recharge the batteries. This place 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 goodness that’ll warm the coldest of cockles.
8. A bed with a view for the night
It’s been a long productive day. Tonight, I’m going to recommend you stay in the Limestone Lodge.
If you look at the picture below, you’ll get a taste of the view out to the Cliffs of Moher that awaits you in this charming guesthouse.
The hand-built stone wall sealed the deal for me. Check-in and go back and chill in your room for a bit.
We’re heading to McDermott’s Bar for food (bar food served until 21:30), drinks and a dollop of live music tonight. Kick-back. Relax. Have the craic. And enjoy the atmosphere.