The Burren in County Clare, famous for its barrenness, is one of the most unique places in Ireland. Its limestone terrain, hardy vegetation, and rugged animals, both wild and domestic, mark the contrasts of the area. Bare stone gives way to open grazing land. Towering limestone cliffs drop abruptly into the ocean. And beauty appears out of nowhere.
Too often travelers driving along the Wild Atlantic Way gaze at the stone walls that climb the Burren hillsides but fail to stop and explore. Most tourists visit the Cliffs of Moher then leave, never knowing what they have bypassed in their rush to the next stop on their itinerary.
How many reasons do you need to spend a few days in The Burren?
It's easy to spend 2-3 days (or more!) exploring everything the Burren has to offer! Choose a few of these highlights to create your perfect Burren itinerary!
Fun Activities in the Burren in County Clare
The Burren offers a little bit of something for everyone!
Natural Wonders in the Burren
The Burren is a unique landscape filled with stone. But when you look beyond the stone you begin to discover the life that thrives in the crags. Discover the Burren's natural wonders at these spots.
In the south-eastern corner of the Burren nearly 4000 acres has been set aside as Burren National Park. You'll find walking trails of various lengths and difficulty winding throughout the parklands. Take at least a short nature walk to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Burren. You'll be surprised by what you discover.
Best for: All ages. Good mobility is required as trails are not handicapped accessible. Stop at the Burren National Park Information Point for assistance in choosing the best hike for you.
Get out into the Burren's unique landscape in a family-friendly environment at the Burren Nature Sanctuary. In this natural wonderland designed for exploration you'll encounter friendly domesticated animals, a famine village, a disappearing lake, and a fairy woodland – to name just a few of the attractions both natural and designed. Kids 12 and under will love the outdoor adventure playground with zipline, mobilis, and tower slide. A soft indoor playground is terrific for toddlers.
Best for: the entire family. The on-site cafe serves fresh, delicious food. And be sure to check the calendar for special events. (Directions, prices, and events at the Burren Nature Sanctuary website.)
The Cliffs of Moher have long been Ireland's top natural attraction. In fact, O'Brien's Tower was built as a viewing platform in 1835! When visiting you can go directly to the cliffs, bypassing the visitors centre and take in the view. But if you're interested in the history of the cliffs, a few stories, and the fabulous interactive interpretive centre, be sure to add 45-60 minutes to your itinerary. Tip: The Cliffs of Moher are a very popular stop on many itineraries. Visit after 4pm (6pm in July and August) to miss the majority of tour buses.
Best for: All ages. High walls are in place in the park for safety while paved pathways offer convenient viewing for all fitness levels. (Read more about the Cliffs of Moher.)
Take your Cliffs of Moher experience to the next level – sea level – with a Cliffs of Moher cruise. Leaving from nearby Doolin Pier the one-hour cruise takes you to the base of the Cliffs of Moher, giving you a completely new view of the cliffs you stood atop not so long ago.
Best for: All ages. Seating is available in the cabin, on the back deck, or even atop the boat. (Read about our Cliffs of Moher Cruise with Doolin2Aran Ferries)
Podcast Extra: Learn more about Doolin2Aran Ferries and their
cruises to the Aran Islands & below the Cliffs of Moher
Pat Sweeney's family has lived and farmed in the Doolin area for five generations. A walking enthusiast, Pat leads an 8km walk from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center, sharing the history and folklore of the area as he guides you along pathways through farm fields.
Best for: Adults and children 8+. All participants should have a reasonable level of fitness. (More information and book online at Doolin Cliff Walk. )
Go caving to discover what lies under the Burren's famous landscape! Two terrific options offer different experiences. Aillwee Cave features underground caverns with waterfalls while above ground you'll find the Birds of Prey Centre. Doolin Cave is home to the largest stalactite in the northern hemisphere while above you'll find a wonderful Farmland Nature Trail Walk.
Best for: All ages. These are perfect activities when the weather is just too nasty to be outside.
The Burren's Ancient History
People have been living in the Burren for thousands of years. Discover ancient history in the Burren at these sites.
Poulnabrone Dolmen is the oldest megalithic monument in Ireland and most accessible portal tomb in the Burren. This site is free to visit but do note that the field is privately owned and you may share the space with some grazing cattle.
Best for: All ages. Free parking is nearby. Pathways to the field are flat, but once in the field you will need to watch you step as it is easy to twist an ankle in the rocky landscape.
Just south of Poulnabrone is Caherconnell Stone Fort, a well-preserved 1000 year old ring fort. This site is also home to an archaeology field school, so new information about Ireland's past is unearthed often! Be sure to stay for the Sheepdog demonstration. It's pretty amazing to see a well trained dog at work.
Best for: All ages. Sheepdog demonstrations have a covered viewing area. Be sure to check the Caherconnell website for demonstration times.
Enjoy the Craic
Traditional music lives in the Burren!
You'll find plenty of small pubs in the villages of the Burren. Some pubs, like those in Doolin and Lisdoonvarna, may offer music nightly, while others will have weekly or seasonal sessions, singing circles, and set dancing.
Best for: All ages. Use this Music in the Burren resource to choose your craic!
Enjoy a small, private session at the home of whistle champion Christy Barry. If you play an instrument or sing you're welcome to join the performance.
Best for: Adults and children ages 10+. Visit the Doolin Music House website for more information and booking.
Taste the Burren
Enjoy a foodie tour of the Burren! Go from farm to table as you explore everything from goat and pork farms to ice cream, cheese, and chocolates.
Best for: Everyone. More information, locations, and map at Burren Food Trail website.
Adventures in the Burren
Just south of the Cliffs of Moher the village of Lahinch has become known as a surfing destination. In addition to surf school, Ben Bennett and his wonderful staff also lead cycling, hill walking, kayaking, rock climbing, and caving adventures. During our visit we practiced a bit of archery, as well. If the weather isn't cooperating indoor climbing walls and archery ranges are available to begin- or hone- your skills.
Best for: Adults and children 7+ or as strength/ skill allow. (More information and booking inquiries at Lahinch Adventures.)
And Don't Miss the Burren Perfumery
One of the top selling perfumes in Ireland, Man of Aran, is created in 20 liter batches at this natural and organic perfumery. Beyond the perfumery, which houses the retail store and a short audiovisual presentation, you can explore the gardens, blending room, and soap making room. Perfumes, lotions and soaps are available to sample.
Best for: everyone. Kids can enjoy the grounds and creation rooms, while mom & dad take turns in the perfumery. Older kids will enjoy the audiovisual presentation and the incredible scents. (More information & shop online at The Burren Perfumery.)
SO… how many days will you spend exploring the Burren in County Clare?
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