You’ve read the reviews. You’ve polled your FaceBook friends for recommendations. You’ve liked the posts on Instagram. You’ve flipped through your Lonely Planet manual. It’s official – it’s on the list of “must dos” for the trip! But then, after you’ve spent the time, money, and energy getting there, a haunting question creeps into your mind… “Was it worth it?!”
Avoiding this question is the point of all the research, isn’t it? And yet, here we are or rather, here we were. Picture this: I’m on a one week trip with Andrew — a few days in Dublin, a quick 48-hour pop over to London, and a day trip booked to see the Cliffs of Moher. Touted as a “must-see” and “one of the top points of interest in Ireland” the Cliffs were one visit I did not want to miss.
We’re staying in Dublin and would prefer to be on our own schedule, so we rent a car and begin the three-hour drive across Ireland to the west coast, to the Cliffs of Moher. The drive through the countryside is scenic and, at times, bumpy and narrow due to a lack of cross-country highway roads. There isn’t much traffic once outside of the city limits though and the directions were straightforward enough.
Upon arrival, we purchase entrance tickets and start the pathed walk up to the tops of the cliffs. There are more people now and, once at the top, several well-worn paths to take in either direction. While multiple signs and a barbed wire warn visitors of impending danger at the cliffs’ edge, couples and photographers alike accept the risk for an Instagram-worthy shot. We wander along the cliff for a while and find a less crowded spot to sit in the sunshine for a while. The views are beautiful, no doubt, but with the popularity of the destination and lengthy drive, I begin to wonder if we’d made the right choice for my last day in Ireland.
After about an hour, we stop in the gift shop to find souvenirs for the family and begin the drive back toward Dublin. We found in a sleepy seaside village for lunch and continued on. By the time we’re back, it’s about 6pm and there are throngs of traffic. The commute back takes an additional hour and a half than the drive out and is flooded with frustration as there’s no escaping the sea of brake lights. By the end of the day, we’re exhausted and hungry. Andrew, having done all of the driving, is especially warn and we make a quick decision to duck into a pub for a pint and a soccer match. The end of a long day.
So, was it worth it? Would I recommend visiting the Cliffs to a fellow traveler? It depends. I think if you’re nearby, it’s a beautiful view and a nice stop but perhaps not for a day trip. Ireland is an island and it’s filled with cliff-side views. It’s likely you’ll find other cliffs around the country that are free, significantly less crowded, and more convenient to visit. Final verdict: unless you’re desperate to see this famous spot, enjoy other cliffs throughout the country.