November 12- Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, & Galway
Originally, we had planned to go to the Cliffs of Moher on Saturday, but with the crappy weather we decided to hold off. And OMG I’m so glad we did! We woke up to beautiful, blue, sunny sky dotted with just a few fluffy white clouds.
We ate a quick breakfast at The Central Hostel of cornflakes and toast (exciting, I know lol) and hit the road for the thirty minute drive to the Cliffs. We ended up getting there around 10 am, just about an hour after it opened. It was great, there were hardly any people around. I would definitely recommend getting there earlier- by the time we left around 11:30, it was jam packed with way too many people (and it was off season!). Side note: despite reading everywhere that it is free to go to the Cliffs, it is not free to park, so just be prepared to pay for that. It’s totally worth it. The Cliffs of Moher are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. They’re huge, majestic, and breathtaking. You could hear the ocean hitting the cliffs (the best sound ever!) and the sheer size of the cliffs was indescribable. There’s a small section you could walk around that was included in the official park portion, but then you could climb over a fence (leaving the official park area) and wander around at your own leisure. Of course, we had to climb over the fence. Seriously, you could go right to the very edge if you wanted! We totally did not because it was terrifying, but there were a few crazy, adventurous (stupid) people who went and sat on the very edges. I loved walking around and seeing the cliffs from all different viewpoints.
We stopped at O’Brien’s Tower and as recommended by the Frommer’s Guidebook, we paid the extra euros to go to the top. Don’t do it. Totally not worth it. The view wasn’t any better in my opinion. In fact, it might have been worse due to all the merlons at the top (I had to Google what those were called, you’ll totally know what I’m talking about when you look it up).
If we didn’t have so much more of Ireland to see, I would have happily spent many more hours wandering around and enjoying the Cliffs of Moher!
Best “wet floor” sign ever!
Next, we headed to Burren National Park visitor center. Which, if I had properly read our guidebooks, I would have known was closed in the winter months. No worries, we just followed some very obscurely written instructions from our Dummies Guide to Ireland book to lead us to a hiking trail in Burren National Park. The park is very large and has seven marked trails offering some beautiful views of the landscape- from woodlands and lakes to mountains and limestone rock. We started out on the blue route (Mullaghmore Loop) which is a three hour hike through very uneven ground and lots of limestone rock. There is so much limestone rock, it’s literally everywhere. It was such a drastic change from all the lush green and ocean views everywhere else we had been.
We didn’t actually walk the entire blue route because it ended up being more rocky and uneven than we wanted to walk around on. It’s very much worth a drive through- the Burren was so wild and otherworldly, like we were on a different planet almost.
After our short hike at Burren National Park, we drove about an hour to Galway where we stayed for the night. We stayed at the cutest place, Merrion Townhouse. It was very clean and adorable, especially the dining room area with the exposed brick wall, hardwood floors, and bright blue fireplace. There were fresh scones and croissants waiting in the kitchen, so we helped ourselves to a little snack after bringing our luggage in. Our room was quite tiny, but they provided towels and water bottles for us and there was a TV with Netflix. It’s the little things!
We got to Galway early enough we even had time to explore! It was one of my favorite places of the trip…if we ever moved to Ireland, Galway would be where we lived for sure. When I booked the townhouse, I didn’t realize we were in the middle of walking distance to “the Prom” and the city centre. The Prom (aka promenade) is in Salthill, a little seaside area in Galway with lots of hotels, bars, and restaurants along it. We stopped at Lana Restaurant for lunch, a yummy little Thai place that does eat in, takeaway, or delivery. I had the pad Thai (flat rice noodles with chicken, prawns, bean sprouts, lime wedge, and crushed peanuts) and Josh had Lana’s special noodles (udon noodles with fresh chili, coriander, crispy shallot, chicken, prawns, and vegetables). Our meals came out in little Asian take out boxes (I say little, but there was about a pound of food in each one) which we poured into bowls at the table to eat with chopsticks. So yummy.
When we finished eating, we made our way down along the Promenade along the ocean. It was wonderful and relaxing. We saw so many people out walking with friends or their puppies or kids, just enjoying the ocean view and fresh air. There was a beach where we saw someone flying a kite and a couple playing fetch with their puppies. There was also a huge area with soccer fields and other activities.
My favorite part of the walk was when I just happened to catch a glimpse of a rainbow and snap a picture. Not ten seconds later and it was gone!
I also loved seeing all the buildings along the River Corrib with boats lined along the docks.
We finally made it down to Galway’s city centre. It was bustling with people. There were so many restaurants, pubs, and shops.
We stopped in for a drink (Orchard Thieves and Guinness) at The Quays, as had been suggested by the sweet trio we met at Bunratty Castle the evening before. I never became less amazed at how huge every pub was once inside. From the outside, they always seem so small, but when you go in they go on and on and up and down.
After our drinks, we walked back to the townhouse to relax in our room and plan out our next few days of adventures. We headed back up to the Prom for pre-dinner drinks at O’Connor’s Famous Pub. Yes, that’s the pub where Ed Sheeran filmed his music video for “Galway Girl”! Total fangirl moment for me lol. For dinner, we went across the street to Oslo Bar which is a microbrewery/gastropub. I had the Gannet fish and chips (fresh fish from Gannet Fishmongers in a Full Sail beer batter, chunky chips, crushed peas, and tartare sauce). Josh had the steak burger (100% Irish beef burger with onion, tomato, lettuce, and burger sauce on a Brioche bun and chunky chips). I enjoyed my fish and chips, but Josh thought the burger was too thin and overcooked. He did, however, enjoy his two pints of Full Sail IPA and the chips.
We just had to go back to O’Connor’s after dinner for another drink. I’m super glad we did because we got a seat (two of the last available) just in time for some live music. I really loved O’Connor’s. It was such a great pub, really cozy, full of people with very eclectic decorations and stuff hanging everywhere on the ceilings and walls.
Tip of the day: Go to the Cliffs of Moher as soon as they open. And go to Burren National Park. And walk the Promenade in Galway. Basically, just recreate our day.