Irish Day Tours: Cliffs of Moher and Galway
Have you ever had to change your travel plans on the fly?
My experience visiting the Cliffs of Moher and Galway with Irish Day Tours wasn’t exactly planned, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my trip to Ireland.
After 6 hours on a flight from Chicago to Reykjavik, and 2 hours from Reyjavik to Dublin, saying I was tired would be an understatement. I arrived at the airport ready to get in my rental car and buy the biggest coffee I could find.
I had made a reservation for a rental car a few weeks before, so I found the counter I needed and gave them my information, expecting the whole process to go smoothly. Boy, was I wrong.
The woman behind the counter told me that they weren’t able to rent to anyone under the age of 25, which was not a policy that had been communicated on their website. She referred me to a woman working at a different company at the next counter over, who assured me that they could rent me a car for an additional $350 underage fee. No, thank you.
I had been supposed to explore the country of Ireland by car before returning to Dublin, but I clearly needed to adjust my plans.
Sleep-deprived and cranky, I turned around and bought the first bus ticket to Dublin I could find. After finding a hostel and cancelling my original reservations, I focused my attention on finding a way to get out of Dublin and explore Ireland without a rental car. Enter: Irish Day Tours.
Benefits of Traveling with Organized Group Tours
My experience with Irish Day Tours was my first time going on an organized group tour. I have always preferred to explore destinations at my own pace, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
When I thought of group tours, I pictured a large group of fanny pack-wearing senior citizen tourists (and me) boarding a stuffy bus driven by a cheesy tour director, and being rushed through some of the most crowded tourist attractions in Ireland. Harsh and condescending? Yes. But hey, I’m just being honest here.
What I actually found was that (shocker) it was a bus full of travelers who, like me, were just looking for a way to explore the beautiful Irish countryside.
The biggest benefit of traveling with a group tour is that you obviously don’t need a car to travel outside of the big cities. While I love the freedom of exploring on my own, I found that we had adequate time to see the highlights and then some. Likewise, you can spend the trip taking in the scenery instead of behind the wheel.
If you only have a short time in Ireland, organized day trips are a great way to explore the country in a limited time frame!
It can give you a taste of the country so that you know what you want to see more of when you come back.
I ended up meeting a few different travelers on this trip that I really enjoyed talking to! As a solo traveler, I do my best to branch out to meet new people and learn about different cultures. Group trips are a great way to do this!
One of the things I really enjoyed about this trip was our bus driver. His commentary, not to mention his singing, was both entertaining and informative. He taught us a lot about Irish history and culture, and gave us a ton of tips about what to do at each stop. He even gave us recommendations for restaurants when we got back to Dublin!
Why I Chose Irish Day Tours
There are a seemingly endless supply of tour operators in Dublin, which can be intimidating when you don’t know where to start!
I chose Irish Day Tours because of the itinerary. Since most of my time was going to be spent in Dublin, I wanted to see at least a little bit of small town Ireland life. Irish Day Tours offers lunch in the charming town of Doolin, and I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. This tour also has stops at the Burren and Galway, so it offers a little bit of everything!
When you book online, the tour costs €45 for adults, €39 for students and seniors, and €22.50 for children 5-12. This was the best price I found for a Cliffs of Moher and Galway tour!
For this tour, you really need to buy your tickets in advance. They can be purchased at https://www.irishdaytours.ie/tour/cliffs-of-moher-tour/!
Overall, the buses were pretty comfortable. I’m 6’2” so I found the seats a little lacking in the leg room department, but it would probably be fine for anyone a little closer to average height!
Irish Day Tours Cliffs of Moher and Galway Itinerary
6:50am – Depart Dublin
10:40am – Arrive at the Cliffs of Moher
12:45pm – Lunch in Doolin, Ireland
2:00pm – Photo stop at The Burren
3:45pm – Explore Galway City
5:00pm – Depart Galway and return to Dublin
Departing From Dublin
The tour leaves at 6:50am from the Molly Malone statue on Suffolk Street (statue pictured above). I suggest arriving at least 15 minutes before departure, especially if you want a window seat or have a travel partner you want to sit with!
While the tour does advertise free WiFi, only some of the buses have this perk. Unfortunately, my bus did not. I suggest asking the bus driver before you board, or simply checking once you’re on the bus. If WiFi is important to you, you can always change buses. I was way too immersed in the scenery and the driver’s commentary to miss having WiFi!
For this tour, I suggest sitting in a window seat on the same side as the bus door (left side if you’re facing the front of the bus). After leaving the Cliffs of Moher, the Wild Atlantic Way scenery is to the left of the bus. I definitely missed out on some great views and photos because I was sitting on the right side!
Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher
Once you leave Dublin, it is about a 4 hour drive to the Cliffs of Moher. This includes a couple different gas station stops for food, drinks, and bathroom breaks.
Part of the way through your drive, you’ll pass the Barack Obama Plaza – a gas station named after the former President of the USA. There’s a pretty interesting story about how this name came about – click here to read more about it!
During the drive, keep an eye out for castles! Our bus driver pointed them out to us. While I didn’t get up close with any during my trip, it was nice to at least get to see them as we drove by!
Exploring the Cliffs of Moher
When you arrive at the cliffs, you’ll see that there are two different sides to the walkway.
The left side is split into two paths, one that is much closer to the cliffs and requires walking through a fence to get there. This probably wasn’t the safest thing I’ve ever done on my travels, but there were plenty of other people using the lower path as well.
Bottom line: don’t be stupid. Use common sense and don’t get dangerously close to the edge, especially if the weather is bad. Get your pictures and get back to the safe side of the fence.
The right side of the cliffs walkway has a tower at the top. O’Brien’s Tower marks the highest part of the cliffs. The tower was originally built in 1835 by a local landowner, who was ahead of his time and believed that investing in tourism would benefit the local economy. For a €2 fee, you can climb to the top of O’Brien’s Tower for an even higher viewpoint of the cliffs!
The visitor’s center holds a Cliffs of Moher Exhibition that includes four different areas: ocean, rock, nature, and man. I didn’t take the time to walk through much of this, but if you happen to run into bad weather it would a great way to kill some time!
The visitor center also has a cafeteria with food and, most importantly, hot coffee. I was freezing after wandering the cliffs in the rain, so the hot coffee was a nice surprise!
The Cliffs of Moher stretch 5 miles (8km) long and 702ft (214m) high along the Western coast of County Clare.
To see all that the cliffs have to offer, it would take much longer than the time allotted. I chose to stop at each of the major viewpoints and give myself enough time to sit down and really take it all in!
Lunch in Doolin, Ireland
While we didn’t get much time in Doolin, I really enjoyed having lunch in this small, charming Irish town. It was nice to sit down for a hot meal and, of course, a pint after a cold morning walking the cliffs!
Our guide took us to McGann’s Pub, while the other groups in our tour visited another establishment. Our guide recommended the fish and chips, and I second that recommendation! It was the best I had during my stay in Ireland.
Photo Stop at The Burren
Before you get to Galway, you’ll stop at a karst landscape called The Burren. The Burren is made up of limestone formations that span for about 100 square miles! The bus makes a quick photo stop here and made for some great pictures of the coastline.
Experiencing Galway City
I had heard great things about Galway, but I’ll be honest: I wasn’t overly impressed with this seaside town. I found it to be extremely crowded and even more touristy than Dublin.
I spent my time walking around exploring the city. I wandered into a few different used book shops that I enjoyed looking through, but unfortunately couldn’t purchase anything due to limited space in my luggage.
I also stopped at Hazel Mountain Chocolate for a cup of their famous hot chocolate. I opted for the dark chocolate flavor and was not disappointed!
The center of Galway is home to Eyre Square, a large park surrounded by different shops and pubs. There was a variety of live music in the park and lots of people sitting around.
Looking back, I wish I would have just stopped at a pub in Eyre Square for a pint. I think I would have enjoyed sitting outside and people watching more than wandering around the city! If this is something that seems more up your alley, ask your bus driver to recommend a pub!
Tips For This Tour
First of all, be sure to set an alarm on your phone for however long your bus driver says you’ll be allowed at each stop. You don’t want to be that one tourist that loses track of time and makes everyone late!
Take your valuables off the bus with you. This should go without saying, but the tour company is not responsible for anything stolen or damaged on the bus.
Be ready for any kind of weather. The weather in Ireland changes frequently, so be sure to wear layers and pack your rain gear! It was hailing on us when we got to the Cliffs of Moher, and then was warm and sunny by the time we arrived in Galway!
Guided group tours are a great way to make new friends! Try not to keep to yourself too much – open up and talk to the other travelers!
Most of the bus drivers are Irish locals. Use this time to ask for recommendations about each stop, and even for recommendations about what to do for the rest of your stay in Ireland!
My experience with Irish Day Tours
Overall, I had a great experience with Irish Day Tours and would highly recommend booking a tour with them!
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed going on a group tour. I still think I prefer the freedom of renting a car, but I wouldn’t hesitate to book another group tour! I’ll be taking advantage of Irish Day Tours’ other options the next time I’m in Ireland. You can check out the rest of their tours on their website!
Although I think the tour gave adequate time to see the main points at each stop, I would love to go back to the Cliffs of Moher and explore the entire coastline.