Back in May, our very good German friends from Nuremberg flew to Ireland for a 4 day visit with us. For a few reasons, Bell and I had not previously rented a car in Ireland (largely due to nerves driving on the left). But our friends decided they would rent a car and we would share in the cost of an overnight stay in Galway and a drive around County Clare. We can vouch that visiting the Cliffs of Moher by rental car from Dublin is an excellent option to consider if you’re visiting Ireland. Here are some tips to get the best value for this trip, along with some stunning pictures of the cliffs!
Where to Rent a Car in Dublin
We rented the car from downtown Dublin’s EuropCar location, one of the cheaper car rental companies, on average. Momondo is great for searching to see which websites offer the best deals on given dates- just remember that there are frequently additional fees with all car rental companies. City center locations can be a great option if you don’t need to pick up your car from the airport. You probably don’t want a car while you’re in Dublin anyway, as it’s generally more hassle than it’s worth. Uber is prevalent and cheap, if you’re not already using the service, sign up here and receive $20 credit!
So if you’re staying in Dublin, consider picking up a car in the city center, on your way out of town, like we did, because if you rent a car from any airport in Ireland there is also a 40 euro ($53 US) surcharge, which is especially steep for just a 1 or 2 day rental. The downside with renting from city locations is that they close earlier and open later than airport locations, so check times carefully. Additionally, some car rental companies’ city locations are closed Sundays, but EuropCar’s office is open, albeit from just 9am-3pm both Saturday and Sunday. If you pick up a car in the center of Dublin, try and avoid rush hour traffic if possible.
Where to Stay to see the Cliffs of Moher?
It depends on your budget, but you’ll typically find the best hotel deals on booking.com. Families especially will find the best value on short term apartment rentals. If you’ve never used Airbnb, sign up here and receive $40 credit off your first stay!
When we visited we were on a budget and stayed at the Travelodge, whom we’ve also stayed with in Limerick and Waterford. It’s no frills but the rooms are clean and it’s a way to save money traveling around Ireland.
Where to Eat in Galway
After a 2 and 1/2 hour drive west, through the center of Ireland, we arrived in Galway. We had an excellent seafood dinner at McDonagh’s. We highly recommend this takeaway or sit down restaurant for fish n’ chips, oysters (which are great in Galway) or any of their seafood options. It’s one of the most recommended places in town and busy with locals, which is usually a good sign. We then went for a few pints of Guinness and went back to our hotel for an early start in the morning.
County Clare: Home of the Cliffs of Moher
County Clare is amazing and a drive through its narrow and windy roads with dramatic cliffs and picturesque seaside hills made us realize why many Irish people say “you haven’t seen Ireland if you haven’t seen the west coast.” Though this is also because many parts of the west were less influenced by the British and in some small towns Gaelic is still the first language of many locals. When driving on the seaside road south of Galway, there are a few amazing areas to stop before the Cliffs of Moher. You’ll know where based on the other cars pulled over!
Cliffs of Moher Tips
Upon arrival at the cliffs, parking is easy and the cost is €6 ($8.50 US) per person in the vehicle. There is a visitor center where you can buy snacks, drinks and get additional information on the area. For those that don’t wish to have access to the visitors center, you can be dropped off at a pedestrian access to visit the cliffs for free. The photos can tell the rest of the story on why the Cliffs of Moher are the most visited attraction in Ireland, with around 1 million visitors per year.
Tours to the Cliffs of Moher
If you don’t rent a car there are tour buses available leaving from both Dublin and Galway daily. If you’re interested in a tour to the cliffs leaving from Dublin, check out cliffsofmohertours.ie and be ready to set your alarm clock with the roosters as they depart at 6:50 am. Of course, you can also catch some sleep on the bus if you need to rest off a wee bit of a Guinness hangover! For a tour beginning in Galway, check out Galway Tour Company. Adult tour prices are €45 return from Dublin and start at €20 return from Galway, per person.
Need help planning a trip to beautiful Ireland? Email firstname.lastname@example.org as I help organize awesome itineraries for the Emerald Island!