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My Top 5 Tips For County Clare in Ireland
Have you ever been to County Clare on the west coast of Ireland? If not, what are you waiting for? Why go? The landscapes are spectacular and windswept, a magnet for surfers from around the globe, a real contrast to the magical lunar landscapes of the inlands. And with those iconic cliffs and a place famous for it’s culture and music, how could you miss it out on your Ireland travel itinerary??
We had a beautiful few days exploring the area, yes it’s mostly famous for Ireland’s famous cliffs, but there is a lot more to it than that. We stayed in a gorgeous little AirBnB in the tiny town of Milton Malbay, right on the beautiful rocky coastline, fifteen minutes drive from Lahinch and and a stone’s throw from Spanish Point. Milton Malbay is a great little town, well known for its Irish traditional music sessions throughout the year, with a couple of the local pubs that definitely know how to throw a good session or two.
But when there is so much to see and you are short on time what should you do? Read on for my top five tips for staying and exploring County Clare.
1. Cliffs of Moher
Well the top one has to be the most obvious, the Cliffs of Moher, but don’t miss it, it’s a tourist attraction for a reason! It is one of Ireland’s most iconic sights, and there is something special about seeing these cliffs. We had the most amazing sunshine that day and the sea was sparkling. The cliffs are busy, so be patient for waiting for your photo opportunities! During the summer the cliffs can see up to 10,000 people a day. Try to go out of season, or at least first thing in the morning or later in the day to avoid the coach tours. Even better if you can catch a sunset, as the rocks turn a beautiful pink hue in the glow of the setting sun. As it was such a gorgeous day, we took the coastal path from Doolin to visit the cliffs rather than parking in the cliff car park, so we had a beautiful little hike leading us towards the cliffs. But, beware, this is a coastal path and it is quite elevated and there is no fence between the path and a very steep drop. That cliff top selfie is just not worth it!
2. Burren National Park
The Burren is a wild, rocky almost lunar landscape, filled with wildflowers and orchids in the late spring and summer. ‘Burren’ literally means rocky county (boireann in Irish) and this part of Ireland has flora and fauna found nowhere else on the island, with a selection of delicate Mediterranean flowers and lush Alpine plants. The Burren is full of prehistoric monuments and structures in addition to ancient tombs and forts strewn around the landscapes. We did the loveliest hike around Lough Avalla (with the cutest little tea shop run by the local farmer), taking in the absolute highlights of everything the Burren has to offer. We took our time (and I took my sketch book) and made the most of this beautiful place.
3. Sauna and Swim
Ireland’s perfect natural spa day. As we were staying so close to Whitestrand beach, high up on our list of things to do was take a sauna in one of the mobile saunas run by Sauna Suaimhneas. The sauna is at a different location around County Clare each weekend, so it’s essential to see the website for the location. This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip. The sauna is beautiful with panoramic views over the bay, and after a little sweat, it’s into the wild Atlantic Ocean for a cool off before its back into the heat of the sauna. An experience I won’t forget in a long time and I felt so good afterwards – like I could conquer the world. We’ll be back one day. Exhilarating and fun.
Drive. Just drive. Anywhere. The coastline is stunning with a beautiful road running parallel to the ocean for the length of the county. We spent an afternoon in the car, driving with no destination in mind, we packed sandwiches and pulled the car over when we saw something interesting and fancied exploring. We passed rocky coves, followed by white sandy beaches with surfers in their element. Outside of the bigger towns and away from the Cliffs of Moher, the roads are so quiet and it can feel at times you have the whole place to yourself. It is well worth a trip to wander and take in those coastal views.
5. The Burren Perfumery
Such a lovely stop in the Burren wilderness, the Burren Perfumery is well worth a trip. They have a gorgeous herb and flower garden and a pretty little cafe and shop where they teach you all about the variety of local flower and plant species found uniquely in the Burren landscape and demonstrate how they use it to hand make perfumes and soaps, which can be bought on site. Hold on to your wallets, you have been warned!!
- The Cliffs Of Moher
- The Burren National Park
- The Burren Perfumery
- Drive the coastal paths
- Sauna Suaimhneas
- Doolin or Aillwee Caves
- Loop Head
- The pub for a trad session
Eat & Drink:
- The Wooden Spoon -Miltown Malbay.
- The Cheese Press – Ennistymon
- Gus O’Connor – Doolin
- Dodi’s – Lahinch
- The Burren
- Coastal trails to the Cliffs of Moher
- Spanish Point
Of course there is so much more to do in County Clare. Next time we’ll plan to stop by the caves in Doolin, drive down to Loop head on the south tip of the County, and maybe even take a ferry over to the Aran islands just off the coast. As an abstract artist, I left with far too many ideas for what to paint next. My sketch book is full and I can’t wait to get the County Clare landscapes onto a canvas.
Have you been to County Clare in Ireland? Did you do any of these things? What was your favourite? Or did I miss something that I have to see next time?