Alessandra Amodio/Travel + Leisure
Walking alongside a stretch of the eight-mile-long Cliffs of Moher last month, I paused and drank in the view. A soft sprinkle of Ireland’s famed rain cast a dramatic filter over the scenery — fitting for the stunning site, which I first saw in a drearily dark scene in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” when the boy wizard and Dumbledore go horcrux-hunting in an eerie cave.
Even in the rain, the greens of the grass seemed greener and the ruggedness of the cliffs seemed sharper here at the UNESCO Global Geopark site. As I traveled the Emerald Isle’s Wild Atlantic Way along which the cliffs were set, I was stunned by the sheer vibrance of the scenery.
For many travelers flying into Dublin, the idea of navigating across the island nation to the western Atlantic coast can be a challenge, especially when cars here drive on the opposite side of the road than we do in the U.S. But a 13-hour day tour from the capital makes the trip a breeze — it’s no wonder that it snatched one of the top spots in this year’s Viator Experience Awards as one of the best tours in Northern Europe.
Run by Wild Rover Tours, which operates a variety of day tours from Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher Tour Including Wild Atlantic Way and Galway City from Dublin is offered daily on a coach bus with Wi-Fi.
Once aboard and out of the urban center, the charm of the Irish countryside starts to emerge, with fields of varying green hues dotted with both sheep and ruins of historic buildings, like Bunratty Castle.
The first stop is at the 702-high Cliffs of Moher for a two-hour stop to explore and walk the coastal pathway alongside the cliffs. You may even spot puffins on a craggy island and dolphins leaping in the distance. (Pro tip: bring your own binoculars since there are a limited number to borrow from the information booth.) After taking in coastal views, hop back on the bus for a stop at The Burren National Park, where you’ll find 70 percent of the nation’s endemic flowers.
Back on the bus, keep your eyes peeled as sights like Dunguaire Castle and Galway Bay pass you by before arriving in Galway for a two-hour visit. The guide will offer an optional walking tour, but you can break out on your own and visit highlights like the Galway Cathedral, Spanish Arch, and Eyre Square, or maybe shop the craft boutiques and grab a pint at a pub on your own. (There’s an option to stay overnight, pending availability on the return trip.)
With 7,315 five-star reviews, recent travelers called the tour a “nice day trip” of the “beautiful countryside of Ireland,” noting that the guide was an “amazing storyteller holding everyone’s attention.”
This experience earned a top spot based on average review ratings in the last year and number of bookings, among other factors. Other tours that made the list of best tours in North Europe include Iceland’s South Coast Full Day Tour by Minibus from Reykjavik, London’s Harry Potter-themed Tour for Muggles, and Scotland’s Highlander Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield 8 Seater Tour from Inverness.