The Bottom Line
- One of the world's weirdest landscapes.
- Several prehistoric monuments.
- Close to Galway City and Cliffs of Moher, ideal for a combined day trip.
- Roads can become very full in summer.
- Bizarre landscape created by rain eroding a limestone plateau.
- Unique ecosystem plays host to unusual plants.
- Prehistoric monuments and cathedral town of Kilfenora represent long human habitation.
Guide Review - The Burren (County Clare)
When you think of stunning landscapes, most people would prefer green, lush areas with colorful plants and wildlife. In the Burren (the Irish word literally means "bleak area") you get 40 shades of grey with only a bit of green thrown in. And this is exactly what makes the Burren so stunning - and strangely attractive.
There are only a few roads crossing the limestone plateau and in summer literally thousands of cars and tour buses crawl along these roads. If you have the chance, come at another time. With only a few hardy sheep about the Burren is best experienced in small company or alone. Park the car at a convenient spot and walk a few hundred careful steps away from the road, negotiating fissures and the odd loose rock. Then look around you and experience the sensation of being the first explorer on another planet.
But the Burren has more to offer than loneliness. Several ancient monuments are signposted, with the Poulnabrone Dolmen being the most spectacular of them all. Other graves and a stone-age fort are nearby. Between Poulnabrone and the picturesque Black Head lighthouse you'll find Aillwee Cave, one of Ireland's few showcaves. Tours explore the Burren "from below" here, and a very good farm shop is justly famed for its cheese. Or make your way to Kilfenora. This tiny town boasts a very small cathedral, high crosses and the interesting "Burren Centre". Here you will learn that the Burren is not as lifeless as it may seem, both flora and fauna are worth a second, closer look.
On a practical note - should you wish to explore the Burren with your rental car, make sure to have a tank full of gas before setting out. It might also be a good idea to combine the trip with a visit to the Cliffs of Moher.