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Trip List by Sarnia G

Burren Highlights

Jun 2, 2009  by SarniaG - Burren Fan
5.0 of 5 bubbles based on 10 votes

The Burren is a fascinating limestone landscape where you will find prehistoric remains, ruined churches and abbeys, and a unique range of alpine and mediterranean plants growing side by side in the rocky crevices.

At least a day is required to see some of the most well-known sites in the area, but 2 days would give you the opportunity to take a walk through this area - the best way to find those beautiful flowers: gentians, orchids, cowslips and harebells, and appreciate the landscape. Best time of year to see the flowers: April-August.

Popular places to stay in the area: Ballyvaughan, Doolin, and Lahinch; a quieter but very scenic option on the coast: Fanore village. Details below.

Note: The Burren Code
Sadly in recent years it has become "fashionable" to build "mini dolmens" or "cairns" at popular tourist stops like Poulnabrone or Black Head. Please DO NOT build afore-mentioned as they spoil this legally protected landscape and it takes volunteers many hours to dismantle the cairns.

* Leave the limestone pavement as you find it
* Preserve natural habitats and leave wildflowers undisturbed
* Take care not to damage monuments, walls and buildings
* Respect landowners, their property and their livestock
* Park and camp in designated areas
* Leave no trace of your visit, take nothing but memories

Thank you!

List updated: August 2012

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Fanore, Doolin, Liscannor
  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Active/Outdoors
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Seniors, Budget travelers, Active/adventure, Tourists
  • Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Ballyvaughan Village

    Ballyvaughan village lies on the north coast of county Clare, on the edge of the Burren. It is approximately 75 minute drive from Shannon airport, and from Galway city.
    The village has a good choice of guest house and b&b accommodation, plus Gregan's Castle Hotel for those looking to splurge on a luxury stay.
    There are several gift shops in the village, plus pubs: Monks, Logue's Lodge, O'Loughlins.

  • 2. Lahinch - Seaside Town

    Lahinch is a popular destination with surfers; there is a fabulous sandy beach where the waves rush in from the Atlantic.
    Wave's restaurant on the seafront is a popular lunchtime spot for families.

  • 3. Doolin Village

    Doolin is another popular choice for visitors to co. Clare, particularly those wishing to hear traditional music in the pubs. Doolin lies 10 minutes drive north of the Cliffs of Moher, approximately 75 minutes drive from Shannon airport.

    The village is very small, and pubs, hotels, guest houses and b&bs are spread out along a few narrow roads.
    At Fisherstreet you will find O'Connor's Pub, and at Roadford - towards the other end of the village, you will find Fitzgerald's, McDermott's and McGann's. It's here near McGann's that there are two very fine restaurants: Cullinan's and Roadford House (both also offer accommodation.).

    Please note that the village is very popular in High Season and at weekends, when the pubs are crowded with large(r) groups looking for fun. If you want somewhere quieter, then consider staying in Ballyvaughan or Lahinch.

    Doolin is also the ferry departure point for the Aran Islands.

  • 4. Fanore
    Fanore, The Burren

    If you don't want the tourist masses that are attracted to Doolin, but still want a west coast location, consider the quiet village of Fanore, which lies 10-15 minutes drive north of Doolin.

    You'll discover several guest houses, a pub and a restaurant along the coast road, together with beautiful sandy beach, marked trails into the Burren, and gorgeous views to the Aran Islands and also Connemara on a clear day.
    Definitely the choice for those looking for "off the beaten track" location.

  • 5. Burren Perfumery

    This super little perfumery lies in the lanes leading from the small village of Carran. There is a short audio-visual about the flowers of the Burren, and a shop where you can purchase items made on the premises from organic products: scent, soaps, scented candles, etc. The Perfumery is open year-round.

    There is a very nice cafe on site that offers organic savoury dishes, delicious cakes and snacks; it is open during High Season: usually Easter to end of August.

    See web-site for details.

  • 6. Michael Cusack Centre, Carron

    Michael Cusack, who was born in Carron, co. Clare had two major interests: the Burren, and Gaelic Games. He founded the Gaelic Athletic Association - the GAA.
    Learn about man, the GAA and the Burren at the Visitor Centre.

    A short distance away lies the Burren Perfumery.

  • 7. Aillwee Cave

    Aillwee Cave lies just off the R480, south of Ballyvaughan; just follow the signs!

    The guided tour lasts approximately 25 minutes; recommend comfortable flat, waterproof footwear.

    There is a nice cafe on site, plus a farm shop selling locally made cheese and fudge, smoked salmon and other items made elsewhere in Ireland.

  • 8. Burren Birds of Prey, Aillwee

    Within the grounds of Aillwee you will find the Bird of Prey Centre.
    Twice a day, weather permitting, at 12pm and 3pm various birds are flown (flight displays are 3 times daily in high season).
    The falconers: James, Jamie and Niamh are extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the birds in their care, and bird conservation. The Centre is involved with several conservation projects in Ireland and further afield.
    You can also take a Harris hawk out on a "hawk walk" and learn all about these beautiful birds. Highly recommended!
    This is a firm family favourite, and we visit every time we're in Clare.

  • 9. Burren Beo Visitor Centre, Kinvarra, co. Galway

    The Burren Beo Centre in Kinvarra is an excellent source of information on the area.
    You will find information on the flora and fauna of the area, forthcoming events, maps, books and dvds.

    The Centre is open on Friday mornings from 10am to 2pm, to coincide with the Kinvarra Farmers' Market.

    Kinvarra lies approx. 25 minutes drive east of Ballyvaughan.

    On the outskirts of Kinvarra lies Dunguaire Castle: a small "Tower House" open to the public from Easter to end of October (Part of Shannon Heritage Group).

  • 10. Burren Centre and Kilfenora Cathedral

    The Burren Centre is a good place to start your tour of the Burren. There are audio visual displays where you can learn the history, flora and fauna of this region.
    There is also a shop and cafe on site.

    Next to the Centre lies the ruined Cathedral with its fine collection of High Crosses.

  • 11. Poulnabrone Megalithic Tomb

    This is one of the most photographed monuments in co. Clare - if not Ireland.

    Instantly recognisable, this 5,000 year old tomb lies at the side of the R480 which leads from Leamaneh Castle to Ballyvaughan.

  • 12. Caherconnnell Fort

    This is a good example of a Prehistoric Fort.

    Although little remains of the Fort, there is an interesting audio/visual display at the Visitor Centre, plus cafe and shop.

    Sheep dog demonstrations also take place (check web-site for details).

    The fort can be found signposted from the R480 Ballyvaughan-Leamaneh Castle road.

  • 13. Leamaneh Castle (ruin)

    This ruined castle lies on private land, but can be photographed from the road. You will find it at the junction of the R480 from Ballyvaughan, and the R476 from Kilfenora.

  • 14. Corcomroe Abbey, near Bellharbour

    This beautiful ruined abbey, also known as "St Mary of the Fertile Rock" lies nestled in the Burren Hills just inland from Bellharbour (Bealaclugga).

    directions: travelling between Kinvara and Ballyvaughan on N67, turn inland at Bellharbour, and then take first left, past the thatched roof holiday cottages.

  • 15. A Walk through the Burren

    Exploring on foot is the best way to appreciate this landscape - and to find the many rare and beautiful flowers that grow in the crevices.

  • 16. Doolin Cave
    Doolin Cave, Doolin, The Burren

    This cave was discovered fairly recently (1952), and it has taken time and considerable financial investment to make it accessible to the general public. Guided tours last approximately 45 minutes and are limited to a maximum of 20 people per tour.

    There is now a small visitor centre with pleasant cafe and a nature walk on site.

    Note: there are 120 steps down into the Cave (and back up again!) and the ground underfoot may be wet. Recommend sensible, waterproof footwear regardless of time of visit.

    Highly recommended by my 12-year-old son, who said it was a "fantastic" experience.

  • 17. Cliffs of Moher
    Cliffs of Moher, Liscannor

    The Cliffs of Moher lie a few miles south of the village of Doolin and it would be a missed opportunity to leave them off this list of places to see in the Burren, even though they're not "in" the Burren.

    If you're feeling energetic, you can walk from Doolin to the Cliffs; the route is approx. 8km, consisting of cliff path and road (fairly busy) and is part of the much longer Burren Way.