The Burren Ireland 2018

Poulnabrone Dolmen, The Burren

The Burren Scenic Drive

Whether you are traveling from Dublin Airport, Galway City, Shannon Airport or any Irish destination we would highly recommend you include a trip to the Burren National Park, it's a beautiful area and is well worth the trip when visiting Ireland.

The Burren National Park & surrounding area is a large region covering approx 360km2 square kilometers, located on the west coast of Ireland, County Clare and one of Ireland’s six national parks. As a part of The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, it has been added to UNESCO World Heritage site's tentative list.

“Burren” is derived from an Irish word “Boíreann” which translates a rocky place as it is covered with karst topography by limestone.

Enjoy the driving the Burren drive route through the winding roads and soak in the dramatic views (shotgun the passenger seat!), during the drive, you will experience vast wild landscapes, abandoned cottages, castles, ring forts, and more.

This article has been broken up into sections, all you have to do it is click the link below to jump to it.

  • ►    Burren, Co. Clare [VIDEO]: The highlights of the Burren route.
  • ►    Places to see: Where you should add onto your driving itinerary.
  • ►    The Burren Map: A visual map showing you the full route and the main stops.
  • ►    How to do it: How to get started on the trip and distances.
  • ►    Driving Itinerary: Decided to do it? Here's a detailed itinerary by roads for the places mentioned in the article.
  • ►    TripAdvisor Reviews: Need more to help you decide? Well read the reviews from those who have driven the route.
  • ►    Accommodation: Useful information on b&bs or hotels on or near the route.

Places to see

These are some of the best of the Burren area provides;

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Black Head – Popular for walking trails to the Black Head Lighthouse, it is quite a strenuous hike at approx. 5-hour timeline with rewarding views and terrain. A walking trail map can be found here, starting from Fanor Beach car park.

Aillwee Cave – one of the oldest karst caves in Ireland formed by water flowing through limestone cracks, located in the heart of The Burren. Take a 30 minute guided tour through the caverns and waterfall. The name Aillwee is derived from the Irish Aill Bhuí which means "yellow cliff"

As part of Aillwee Cave, Birds of Prey center is a home to one of the largest collection of Birds of Prey in the Ireland – Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, Owls, and Vultures.

The Poulnabrone Dolmen – is the oldest megalithic portal tomb with two large portal stones standing and topped with a capstone. This is the second most visited location in the Burren region.

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Caherconnell Stone Fort – one of Ireland’s best-preserved ring forts and located less than a mile from Poulnabrone Dolmen. There is a visual exhibition to learn more how the megalithic ring fort was developed and used for.

Kilfenora – Visit the Burren Interpretive Centre for the excellent interactive exhibition area showing how The Burren developed over 320 million years. Traditional Irish music is played by the Kilfenora Céilí Band throughout the Burren center and also has a solo exhibition dedicated to the band.

Lemenagh castle – a ruined five-storey castle built in the 1480s, the name 'Leamaneh' derives from the Irish work 'Leim an eich' which means 'The horse's leap. The castle is found between Kilfenora and Corofin villages.

Burren National Park – there are five marked walking trails in the national park. The trails allow you to explore the limestone karsts, natural faunas, and woodlands. It is open all year round and free access to all.

The Burren national park map can be found here.

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Father Ted House – a fan of Fr Ted TV series? Well, you’re in luck, you can visit the Glanquin Farmhouse which was used at the location for the house. You can book a lovely afternoon tea and take the opportunity to re-enact Father Ted classic moments with masks & props provided by the house. You can almost hear Mrs Doyle calling you over - "Ah, go on, go on, go on"

Cliffs of Moher – Ireland’s most visited natural attraction with over 1 million visitors in 2017. The Cliffs of Moher and the visitor center is open year round with an entrance fee, the visitor center includes a multimedia exhibition about its’ cliff tops, wildlife, and geology. Over 800m cliff top paths and the 19th-century O'Brien's Tower viewpoint.

The distance from the Burren to Cliffs of Moher is approx 19.2 miles.

Burren Drive Map

Ballyvaughan, Aillwee Cave, Poulnabrone Dolmen, Caherconnell Stone Fort, Lemenagh, Burren National Park, Kilfenora, Cliffs of Moher, Fanor, Black Head.

We think this would be the best driving route through the Burren and covers all the main attractions to see.

How to do it

You would need a car to do this route, Car Rental Ireland provides car hire service from nine locations in Ireland which you can easily pick up a car and do the Burren scenic drive.

From Dublin, it is approx. 2.50 hours’ drive (142 miles)
From Cork, it is approx. 2.5 hours’ drive (108 miles)
From Shannon, it is approx. 1-hour’ drive (37 miles)
From Galway, it is approx. 1-hour’ drive (29 miles)

The Ballyvaughan loop is approx. 62 miles.

Book a car with Car Rental Ireland and add The Burren drive to your itinerary.

Driving Itinerary

The advisable loop including Cliffs of Moher attraction.

Starting from Ballyvaughan, take the R480 road towards Leamaneh.

Your first stop would be Aillwee Cave, then back on the main R480 road for Poulnabrone Dolmen & Caherconnell Stone Fort.

The road continues to Leamaneh Castle. Once you have explored Leamaneh Castle, take a left on the R476 for Father Ted’s House and the Burren National Park Visitor Centre.

Moving onto your next stop, Burren Interpretive Centre in Kilfenora. You’ll need to return back on the road you came from and go past Leamaneh Castle on R476 road then straight on towards Doolin, taking the left onto R478 for Cliffs of Moher.

Leaving Cliffs of Moher, take the coast road back into Ballyvaughan via Fanore (R479). The Burren coastal drive offers wonderful scenery driving back into Ballyvaughan.

TripAdvisor Reviews

Read the reviews left by people who have visited the area TripAdvisor.

“rock & roll to your heart's content!”” the extended burren area provides a vast array of attractions...the cliifs of moher, ailwee caves, ballyvaughan, doolin music, etc...but the treat are the ROCKS and STONES.... from simple massive rocks/stone to the precious dolmens and forgotten stone houses.... the doolin to ballyvaughan road via fanore along the atlantic/galway bay is a MUST!!... and don't just drive it, walk it to feel the area... the area of poets, music and the past.... a favourite area that I return to every trip.... like good old rock & roll....

“One of the drives to do before you die!” This is a beautiful, eerie drive because the region looks other-worldly. You have to experience it, it's so hard to describe. The rocks look lavender from afar, and driving the coastal route is a wonderful way to view the Burren. There are lots of places to stop and get out to walk or just take in the scenery. I can't wait to come back here -- it's one of my favorite places in Ireland.

“One of the best drives on the WAW” We spent eight days driving the Wild Atlantic Drive. For us it is not the scenery that makes this particular drive, it is the moonlike landscapes absolutley amazing, such an enjoyable drive hard to keep eyes on the road at times, plenty of stops to take it all in and piccies of course.

“Such vast landscape all rock , like walking on the moon .” My daughter and I did a day trip here it was so unreal to see miles of rock replace all the fields of green we past to get here , JUST GO

“One of the best spots in Ireland” I always visit The Burren when I go to Ireland. I especially love the southeast Mullaghmore region, where the plateau reaches a height of 626 feet (191 m). Historic and popular stops are the Poulnabrone Dolmen and the eerie Leamaneagh Castle. Kilfenora is a great stop as well -- it has a modest 12th-century cathedral and is famous for its High Crosses. The Burren Center next door has excellent exhibits on The Burren. When I first visited this area, the limestone looked lavender in the light and it was incredibly beautiful. This trip, I spent the better part of the day driving through The Burren National Park. If you drive the along the coast, you get a great view of The Burren from Black Head point.

The Burren Accommodation

The Creggs – Ballvaughan View website
Hazelwood Lodge – Ballyvaughan View website
Atlantic Hotel – View website

If you want to keep traveling around Ireland, why not take take your rental car and have a look at our other suggested driving routes. If you have any questions regarding car hire, please take a look at our car rental guide. There is so much beauty around Ireland just waiting for you to capture it on your cameras. Don't forget to send in your pictures and review of any of the trips you've taken, we love getting feedback from our customers.

For frequently asked questions about Renting a Car in Ireland please click on the link.