A Guide To The Doolin Cave (Home To Europe’s Longest Stalactite)

doolin cave tour
Photo left via Doolin Cave. Photo right by Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

A visit to the incredible Doolin Cave is arguably one of the most overlooked things to do in Clare.

A stunning little corner of the county packed with history, Doolin Cave is home to Europe’s longest stalactite, which is over seven metres in length!

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about visiting, from the Doolin Cave tour to what there is to see inside.

Some quick need-to-knows about Doolin Cave

the doolin cave
Photo by Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

As the cave is one of the more popular places to visit in Doolin, a visit here is nice and straightforward.

There’s a visitor centre on-site, lots of parking right next to the entrance and there’s also a cafe out front, if you fancy a bite-to-eat before heading on the tour.

1. Location

You’ll find the Doolin Cave at the western edge of the Burren in Clare, a stone’s throw from the village of Doolin. 

2. Opening Hours

Open from 10am to 6pm Monday to Sunday, Doolin Cave offers tours on the hour every hour that run until 5pm daily (note: times may change, so check in advance).

3. Admission

Adults will pay €17.50 for admission to the caves, whilst kids tickets cost €8.50. Group rates vary and it is possible to get discounts on larger numbers visiting at once (note: prices may change, so check in advance).

4. Accessibility

There are 125 steps in and out of the cave, with a landing every ten steps and a handrail all the way down. Buggies and strollers are not permitted in the cave so small children and babies will need to be carried.

The discovery of the Doolin Cave

the discovery of the cave
Photo via Doolin Cave

In 1952, 12 explorers arrived in County Clare, on a mission to uncover some of the secrets hidden within the underworld of the magnificent Burren region.

Little did they know that they would discover the Doolin Cave – a place that, until then, had lay hidden for thousands of years.

How the discover took place

The discover of the Doolin Cave all began when 2 men from the group broke off and decided to go exploring around a cliff face they had noticed the day before.

Their interest had been sparked when they noticed a little stream that disappeared under a large, steep cliff.

Following it, they burrowed into a narrow passageway and crawled for a while before entering the cave. I feel claustrophobic just thinking about it!

The longest free-hanging stalactite in Europe

After making their way into the Doolin Cave, they found one of the great discoveries of 20th century Irish exploration.

An enormous stalactite, measuring 7.3 metres (23 feet), stood alone protruding from the ceiling of the cave.

After proper inspection took place, it was confirmed that the Great Stalactite was the longest known free-hanging stalactite in Europe.

The Doolin Cave Tour 

 

The Doolin Cave Tour is a fantastic way to enjoy the stunning Doolin Cave and to develop a deep appreciation of the cave’s unique beauty.

Lasting about 45 minutes, the tour includes exploration of a farmland trail of about 1km adjacent to the cave, whilst admission to a cafe and gift shop is included.

Cool in the summer and warm in the winter, visitors are recommended to wear sturdy walking boots as some areas of the cave are uneven and steep.

The sight of the enormous stalactite that hangs from the roof of Doolin Cave is truly something to behold.

Things to do near the Doolin Cave

One of the beauties of the Doolin Cave is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the Doolin Cave (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Doonagore Castle (8-minute drive)

Doonagore Castle
Photo by shutterupeire (Shutterstock)

Doonagore Castle is a stunning, 16th-century castle that takes the form of a tower house with a low walled enclosure situated around one kilometre south of Doolin.

2. Cliffs of Moher

doolin cliff walk
Photo by Foto Para Ti on Shutterstock

The area that surrounds the Cliffs of Moher is wild, dramatic and packed with nuance. You can see them via the visitor centre entrance or you can take a unique look at them on the Doolin Cliff walk. 

3. Doolin for a bite to eat

food in doolin
Photo left: The Ivy Cottage. Photo right: The Riverside Bistro (Facebook)

Packed with cool cafes, traditional restaurants and more, Doolin is a great spot to visit for a post-adventure bite to eat! You’ll find some great places to drop into in our guide to the best restaurants in Doolin. There are plenty of brilliant pubs in Doolin, too.

4. The Burren National Park

the burren
Photo by Pavel_Voitukovic (Shutterstock)

A stunning region of County Clare, the Burren is a stark area of bedrock known for its swathes of glacial-era limestone. Offering cliffs, caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological areas of interest, visitors to this section of Ireland tend to be adventurous types. There are several great Burren walks to try while you’re there.

FAQs about the Doolin Cave

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how long the Doolin Cave tour takes to what to do nearby.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

How long is the Doolin Cave tour?

The Doolin Cave tour takes between 45-50 minutes to complete. It’s a fully guided tour and extra time should be allowed if you want to walk the farmland nature trail.

How old is the Doolin cave stalactite?

The Great Stalactite is believed to have been formed over a staggering 70,000 years.

Is the Doolin Cave worth visiting?

Yes! This is a nice, unique experience that’s perfect for a rainy day!

James Connolly is a professional writer based in London. Having lived in cities across the world including Mumbai, Medellin and Barcelona, he uses his expertise to write articles showcasing the best of global travel.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi there, very keen to go here in August does it need to be booked in advance or can you just show up on the day? Kind regards

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