Best Things to Do in Doolin Ireland (2023)
So you’re planning an upcoming trip to the Emerald Isle and looking for things to do in Doolin, Ireland, am I right?
Perhaps you’re a history buff who is a fan of art, Irish music, and culture. Or, maybe you’re an outdoor enthusiast who prefers exploring nature and stunning natural landscapes.
Regardless of what brings you to Ireland, you’re sure to find plenty of things to love about the quaint town of Doolin.
Read on below to learn the top things to do in Doolin and why this charming coastal village is an absolute must-visit during your trip to Ireland.
See The Cliffs of Moher
It’s near impossible to visit Doolin and not experience The Cliffs of Moher. Just a five minute drive from town, the National Park and heritage site is one of (if not the most) popular spots in Ireland — and for good reason!
The stunning vertical cliffs found along the Wild Atlantic Way are part of a UNESCO Geopark recognized for its international geological significance. You’ll also find unique flora and thousands of seabirds that make their home here.
At the Southern end, the cliffs rise 390 feet above the ocean. At the north end, near O’Brien’s Tower, they reach their highest point of 702 feet. In fact the cliffs are so high, you can even see the Aran Islands across the sea on a clear day.
To get the best views of the cliffs, you can take a walking tour from the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, or view them from the sea by boat.
Professional group tours to the cliffs are available, but it’s also possible to take your own self-guided tour. Exploring the cliffs on your own is free, just parking will cost between 3 to 6 Euros.
If there’s something you want to learn about the cliffs while there, you’ll likely see guides walking around who are happy to answer any questions you have.
👉 Take a small group Cliffs Of Moher Hiking Tour from Doolin
Visit the Burren
Another great thing to do in Doolin, is to explore The Burren. Located in County Clare, it’s a 135 square mile piece of land known around the world for its beautiful limestone formations.
Stretching out to the Aran Islands, it’s home to several villages and is a haven for nature lovers (it includes more than 70 percent of Ireland’s flowers!)
Within its vast landscape, you can find The Burren National Park. This park is one of only six national parks in the entire country. It’s the smallest, but considered one of the most striking.
There are a number of amazing attractions to see within the national park (some free and some for a fee), so you’ll want to spend at least a half to a full day here.
One of the best free activities to enjoy is The Burren scenic drive. In the shape of a figure 8, it’s 100 miles long and covers most major sites in the national park. You’ll stop at the picturesque fishing town of Ballyvaughan along the way, as well as other towns with cute pubs and beautiful hiking trails.
Other must-see sites include:
- Fanore Beach in the village of Fanore to swim, fish, and enjoy the lively pub scene
- The Burren Smokehouse for the best smoked salmon in Ireland
- The Poulnabrone Dolmen to view one of the world’s best preserved examples of a portal tomb
- The Aillwee Caves to view stalagmites and stalactites that are millions of years old
Take a Ferry to the Aran Islands
The Aran Islands are known as a popular destination to enjoy when in Galway, but did you know they are actually closer to Doolin? In fact, it’s one of the top things to do in Doolin.
There are three total islands that make up the Aran Islands: Inis Mor, Inis Meain, and Inis Oirr. The closest island via the Doolin Express Ferry is Inis Oirr, and there are endless things to enjoy here. A few of the most popular sites to visit are the Plassey Shipwreck, the Inis Oirr Lighthouse, and O’Brien’s Castle.
If you choose to visit one of the other two islands, the journey by boat can take up to 30 minutes from Doolin Pier.
One thing is for sure: once on the islands, it’s like taking a step back in time. The official language spoken on the islands is Irish, but most locals also speak English.
The coastlines are peppered with sandy beaches, fishing boats, and emerald green water. There’s also no shortage of traditional Irish pubs, places to camp, spas, restaurants for fine dining, and trails for hiking and biking.
👉 Take a private history & cultural Tour of Inishmore, Aran Islands.
Explore Doolin Village
Doolin is known for streets filled with colorful and eclectic shops filled with handmade crafts, deli’s, chocolates, clothing, and more.
A few of the most popular shops are along Fisher Street. First, it’s a must to stop into The Sweater Shop for authentic wool apparel. Don’t pass up Clare Jam Shop for unique jellies, or Irish Crafts for gifts, coffee, and pastries.
Grabbing a pint in one of Doolin’s traditional Irish pubs is a must, especially on a rainy day.
A few local favorites include Gus O’Conner’s on Fisher Street, which has been operating since 1832. Here you can find plenty of Irish fare, free flowing beer and whiskey, and traditional Irish music nightly.
Stop at Doonagore Castle
On a hillside close to Fisher Street, sits the ominous 16th century Doonagore Castle. It looks like something out of a Disney movie, and has a dark past full of murder and mystery (although, who are we kidding? Most Irish castles have a great tale surrounding their history!)
Visiting it to take in the sights of the surrounding countryside is one of the top things to do in Doolin, but doing so can be a bit complicated:
There’s no general parking at the castle grounds, and the hill is located on a bend in the road so you need to be careful. There is a tiny spot for one car up the hill and away from the castle, but as it’s becoming a more popular attraction, it’s often full.
You can also hike to Doonagore Castle, just know that it’s not an easy trek! Since the castle itself is privately owned, you can’t go inside. But it’s still a great photo op from the road outside, and it’s really worth the visit.
Experience Surfing at Lahinch Beach
Did you know that County Clare is known for its surfing? In fact, the water all along the Wild Atlantic Way serves up some killer waves.
Even though the size of the waves are really only for expert surfers at some spots, it’s still an amazing sport to watch.
You can take a surf lesson too though. If you’re up for trying your hand at surfing, you and your travel buddies can take lessons at Lahinch as well as Fanore Beach.
This is a fun activity for most age groups, and you don’t need prior experience. Boards, wet suits, and other equipment are provided.
Is Doolin Ireland Worth Visiting?
Without a doubt, yes. Doolin is absolutely worth visiting!
Its location on the Wild Atlantic Way means you’ll enjoy sweeping coastal views. You can also take advantage of numerous hiking trails, beaches, and lookouts.
In the village itself, you’ll find plenty of friendly locals. Charming restaurants also serve world-renowned classic Irish cuisine. If you’re a fan of folk music, Doolin is home to a number of Irish pubs, too. Many of them have trad sessions (traditional Irish music sessions), and serve local beer and Irish whiskey.
One of Ireland’s most famous attractions is also less than five miles away: the Cliffs of Moher. Doolin is one of the best locations to explore the cliffs and other surrounding natural wonders such as the Doolin Cave.
What is Doolin Ireland Known For?
Doolin is thought of as being the home of traditional Irish music. Many pubs host informal “trad sessions” throughout the year.
The village is also the birthplace of the Doolin Folk Festival. The festival usually takes place in late June at Hotel Doolin.
How Many Days Should I Spend in Doolin?
Most people spend a couple of nights in Doolin. However, if you want to experience everything worth seeing both in and around the village, it’s best to spend 3 nights.
If you’re short on time, you could certainly see the main attractions closer to town in a day or two. Ultimately, it really just depends on what you want to see and the time you want to spend at each place.
What are Things to Do in Doolin When it’s Raining?
There are many ways to spend a rainy Irish day in Doolin. Some of the best things to do in Doolin when it’s raining include beer at O’Connors Pub, and a jam session with Christy Barry at Doolin Music House.
If you’re up for venturing outdoors for a short period, the Doolin Cave and the Aillwee Caves are worth visiting. Doolin cave is a five minute drive from town, while the Aillwee Caves in The Burren are less than thirty minutes away. You can explore both caves on your own, but guided tours are also available if you need transportation.