County Clare combines spectacular windswept landscapes and vibrant Irish culture. The ocean relentlessly pounds Clare's coast year-round, eroding rock into fantastic formations, and fashioning sheer rock crags including those at the iconic Cliffs of Moher and at ends-of-the-earth Loop Head. Right along the coast, the waves are a magnet for surfers, and surf schools set up on many of Clare's beaches in summer.
Stretching down to the shore – and out as far as the Aran Islands, linked to Doolin in summer by ferries – is the moonscape-like bare limestone expanse of the Burren, which blazes with wildflowers in spring.
If the land is hard, Clare's soul certainly isn't: traditional Irish culture and music flourish here. And it's not just a show for tourists, either. In larger towns and even the tiniest of villages you'll find pubs with trad-music sessions year-round.