Around Ireland In 18 Days: A Coastal Road Trip Of A Lifetime (Full Itinerary)

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

Doolin cliff walk
Photo by Patryk Kosmider (Shutterstock)

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.

The 3-hour walk kicks off from Fisher Street in Doolin, just outside O’Connors Pub. 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. As the car will be back in Doolin, we’ll need to take a shuttle bus back.

2. Chocolate

doolin chocolate
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

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

the doolin cave
Photo by Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

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

inis oirr island
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

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

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

6. Sailing below the Cliffs of Moher

Visiting the cliffs of moher
Photo by Simon Crowe

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

gus o'conners pub doolin
Photo via Gus O’Conners on Facebook

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

Limestone Lodge doolin
Photo via Limestone Lodge

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.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I have been using your guide for the past few months to plan my Ireland trip set for April 2019. I figured it was about time I dropped a comment!! 🙂 Your guide has helped me tremendously as it seems to encompass everything we are looking to find in Ireland…. raw natural beauty, unique experiences, good coffee, and good beer! Can’t thank you enough. I hope to comment again once we return!

    • Ah, thank you. I’m glad. Getting comments like this make it worth it.

      I hope you’re trip goes well.

      Cheers,

      Keith

  2. This is seriously the best travel guide ever. I was getting stressed because I’ll be solo traveling all of March and haven’t planned much (by design) and this gives the perfect outline of exactly the things I want to do and see. So thank you for the enormous amount of time this must have taken. So much appreciated.

    • Haha! Cheers dude.

      Glad you found it useful. This took roughly 3 weeks of research and writing… and rewriting.

      I hope the trip goes well.

      Keith

  3. We’re traveling to Ireland in November, 2019 and thank you very much for your outline and information. Question: On maps, it shows Northern Ireland almost like another country. Do you need anything to pass from Ireland to Northern Ireland and back, or is it all in the same? Seems trivial, but it could make a big difference if we plan to do things in Northern Ireland and then we could possibly not have the proper travel documents. Also, do you know if your passport is all you need or if you need a travel visa? Thanks for your time. Have a great day!. WandanTexas

    • Hi Wanda,

      You’re welcome.

      Northern Ireland is technically part of the UK, so it is regarded as a different country.

      Currently, there is no form of ‘hard’ border, but there’s been a lot of talk about the potential of one with Brexit looming.

      If you’re driving a rental car, this is where things can get tricky. I had one from Europa car recently and was told I’d be automatically charged (they have GPS devices within the rental) whenever my car passed into Northern Ireland – the max total charge was 90 euro, I believe.

      If you’re renting a car, be sure to check this in advance.

      I hope this helps.

      Keith

  4. Hi,
    This is a great guide, but if you had a few extra days…
    Three Castle Head is also stunning. You are close enough to it when you are heading for brow head. Well worth it!
    Lough Hyne in Skibbereen is also beautiful, lovely forest walk and salt water lake to swim in. Night time kayaking with the bioluminescent water a must!
    Enjoy,
    Joanne

    • Thanks for the recommendations Joanne.

      Love Lough Hyne in particular. Did the forest climb with my dad last summer on a hot day in July – great spot!

  5. Question for Keith and others. We have a wonderful opportunity to spend a month in Ireland and in previous trips we’ve enjoyed many of the same activities you do…hiking, enjoying the featured sights and geography in general, informal dining, great pubs, etc. We have never been north of Westport, county Mayo. Would it be worth it to spend a week in the Sligo / Donegal region? If yes, we would rent a house for the week. Is there a town that would be central to this region that you could recommend as a home base? We would be there in late August/early Sept 2020.
    Thanks in advance for your response (or anyone else who could add their thoughts)

    • Hi Bill.

      Abbbbbbbbbbbsolutely spend a week in Sligo and Donegal.

      There’s a tonne of things to do in both, regardless of whether you decide to do something active or just chill.

      Personally, I’d spend half in Sligo and half in Donegal.

      Here’s a guide to 48 hours in Sligo that should help, along with a 3-day guide to the best things to do in Donegal.

      In terms of where to stay – I love Strandhill and Rosses Point. For Donegal, it’s hard to beat Ardara.

      I hope this helps!

      Keith

  6. Hi Keith,
    I am planning our road trip to Ireland in october and I love your Instagram account. I like to use your suggestions for our schedule.
    On day 11 you suggest to leave Westport and Achill on the same time (16:55) ? So this is a pretty long day 😉 I prefer to stay an extra night on Achill Island. What do you think?
    Thanks
    Uli

    • Aha! OK, that’s clearly a mistake on my part. I’ll get those times updated!

      I love Achill, personally.

      There’s nothing bad that can come from a second night spent there.

  7. Hi Keith,

    I am considering travelling to Ireland this summer via road-trip and AirBnBs. While researching, I found your blog and found it very helpful and resourceful.

    I am travelling from New Delhi (India) with my extended family (infants, toddlers, siblings, wife, parents etc.). Assuming this might be our only trip to Ireland together as a family, I am interested in covering Ireland comprehensively within a limitation of 11-13 days.

    Is it possible to shorten the suggested 18-day itinerary to the above duration by bypassing some of the locations or sites. I understand this would mean we missing a few locations, but need your help.

  8. Really digging this blog!! I have the travel blog so bad and Ireland is next on the list – your recommendations are speaking to me! Thanks for taking the time to create all the wonderful road trips / ideas.

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