13 Things To Doolin In 2020: A Guide For Lovers Of Adventure, Chocolate & Pints

Welcome to one of the best villages in Ireland.

things to do in Doolin Ireland
Photo by the brilliant Seán Haughton (@ wild_sky_photography)

Howaya! I hope you’re feeling mighty! In this guide, we’re going to show you LOADS of things to do in Doolin, Ireland.

And I mean looooads! Doolin in Co. Clare cemented itself as one of my favourite towns in Ireland many moons ago.

It’s at the heart of some of Clare’s best scenery and it’s home to many a cosy and buzzy pub – what’s not to love?!

In the guide below you’ll find a load of things to do in Doolin along with a handful of things to do and places to visit nearby. So, g’wan – dive on in below!

The Best Things to do in Doolin (Clare)

You’ll find the postcard-perfect village of Dublin in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. I’ve visited Doolin many times over the years.

It’s a great place to base yourself from when you’re exploring Clare, as there’s a heap of things to see and do nearby, with everything from the Cliffs of Moher to the Aran Islands within spitting distance.

When you’re finished reading the below, make sure to nip into our guide to the best things to do in Clare – you’ll plenty more places to visit.

1. Check out the Cliffs of Moher on the Doolin Cliff Walk

Doolin cliff walk
Photo by Patryk Kosmider (Shutterstock)

If you’re staying in Doolin then the chances are you plan on wandering over to the Cliffs of Moher. The Doolin cliff walk is a unique and active way to experience the Cliffs of Moher.

The guided walk, which is run by local expert Pat Sweeney, kicks off early in the morning from Fisher Street in Doolin, just outside O’Connors Pub.

If you have the car, there’s some limited parking just outside the pub but there are plenty more spaces down at the pier.

The walk takes you down towards Doonagore Castle and up to the walking trail along the Cliffs of Moher. As you ramble, you’ll be greeted with spectacular views of the cliffs as they rise up into view in the distance.

If you manage to tear your eyes away from the scenery along the route, Pat will take you through the history of the area, recounting memorable stories, myths and past memories.

2. Take the Doolin Ferry out to Inis Oírr (Inisheer)

inis oirr beach
Photo by Andrea Sirri/shutterstock.com

I hate boats. No, really. I absolutely hate them. With a passion. It could be down to movies like JAWS and the Perfect Storm, but it’s probably more likely due to the fact that I get seasick at the drop of a hat.

Despite the above, I took the ferry to Inis Oirr (Galway) a couple of times and I’d take it twenty times more. This is a mighty little tour that’s well worth doing.

Doolin Ferry provides a boat trip to Inis Oírr from the village pier and it’s worth every penny. The trip to the island takes just 30 minutes but when you arrive you’ll reach a slab of rural paradise off Ireland’s West Coast.

Rent a bike and cycle along the narrow country roads, surrounded by hand-built stone walls that separate the different fields on the island.

It’s like taking a step back in time. I can’t even begin to recommend this enough. Finish off your trip with a creamy pint of Guinness in the pub near the pier.

3. Visit the fairytale-like Doonagore Castle (and discover it’s very bloody history)

Doonagore Castle
Photo by shutterupeire (Shutterstock)

This is one of the most frequently missed Doolin attractions. Dating back to the 16th century, Doonagore Castle looks like something plucked straight from a fairy tale.

You’ll see the castle from afar as you spin along the road towards it. When you arrive, hop out and take a look. Although you can’t go inside (it’s privately owned) you’ll catch a brilliant view of the surrounding countryside from here.

Doonagore Castle also has a bit of mad history tied to it. Learn all about it in our guide here.

4. Mosey on down to the Doolin Cave (one of the best things to do in Doolin when it’s raining)

the doolin cave
Photo by Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

If you’re looking for things to do in Doolin when it’s raining, get yourself to the Doolin Cave. The Doolin Cave is home to the largest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere.

Known as ‘The Great Stalactite’, it hangs from the ceiling like some giant cone-shaped chandelier. It’s particularly mesmerising when you think that it formed from a single drop of water many years ago.

Located in the Burren region of County Clare, Doolin Cave was formed around 350 million years ago, but it was actually only discovered in 1952.

The tour itself packs a punch – visitors enter the cave via its natural entrance (a stream sink at the base of a cliff face) and continue through the main chamber where a guide turns on a light to illuminate the Great Stalactite.

5. Food, Pints, live music and more at Gus O’Connor’s

gus o'conners pub doolin
Photo via Gus O’Conners on Facebook

After a ramble along the cliffs or a trip to the Aran Islands, the chances are you’ll be tired, hungry and probably cold/wet. Gus O’Conner’s pub is the perfect spot to recharge the batteries.

You’ll find it on Fisher Street where its been rocking since 1832. For those in need of a feeding, the beef and Guinness stew is a hearty bowl of pure and utter deliciousness that’ll warm the coldest of cockles.

Wash it down with a pint and soak up the atmosphere in this cosy little pub. Live Irish music sessions usually start around 21:00 each evening during the summer and go on until late.

Note: There are several other lovely pubs in Doolin that offer live Irish music during the week and over the weekends. If you visit, make sure to nip into McDermott’s, McGann’s and Fitzpatrick’s, also!

6. Or dodge the crowds and grab the best Guinness (and lunch) in the land at McDermott’s

where to eat doolin
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

I’m just back from a visit to Doolin. On our two lunchtime visits to the area, we found it a nightmare to find a place to eat.

Then we stumbled upon McDermott’s Bar. There was heaps of parking, the service was brilliant, the food was incredible and the pints were creamy.

In fact, it was so good we went back a couple of times. The wings (seriously spicy!), the bangers and mash (seriously tasty) and the veg sound were all mighty!

7. Cruise beneath the cliffs (one of the most unique things to do in Doolin!)

Visiting the cliffs of moher
Photo by Simon Crowe

One of the tours you can choose with Doolin Ferry involves cruising beneath the Cliffs of Moher on the return journey from Inis Oírr.

I’ve been to the cliffs twice before and loved each visit, but this is just a whole other ball game.

You get surprisingly close to the cliff face, and it’s only when you approach them from below that you truly appreciate the sight of the 700-foot cliff that’s towering above you.

Couple the view with the fact that you’re on a relatively small boat that’s swaying side-to-side thanks to the rough Atlantic Ocean and you’re in for a treat.

8. Then visit them at sunset

cliffs of moher at sunset
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

One of my favourite things to do in Doolin is to arrive at the Cliffs of Moher at sunset. Why? Well, during the day they’re absolutely mobbed with people.

If you arrive at sunset on a clear day, there’ll be far fewer people and you’ll (hopefully) be treated to a view like the one we had in the photo above.

Another solid option is to visit for sunrise. In our guide to the Cliffs of Moher, you’ll find where best to park nearby and what route to take for the best view.

9. Sample some of the best chocolate in the land

doolin chocolate

I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but the stuff this place is churning out is just stupidly tasty. Known as the Doolin Chocolate Shop, it’s actually a sister company of Wilde Irish Chocolates, who’ve been perfecting their craft since 1997.

These guys create over 80 different chocolates out of a small artisan chocolate factory. On a recent visit, we went for the white chocolate Oreo meringue. It tasted even better than it sounds.

Things to do near Doolin (within 50 minutes)

There’s plenty of things to do near Doolin. If you have a car, you’ll have no hassle reaching the places below in well under an hour.

If you have a bike, you shouldn’t have any real hassle, either… once you done mind a long cycle. I’ve popped in driving and cycling times from Doolin below each attraction, so you can tell how long it’ll take you to get there.

10. Spin along the road from Doolin to Kinvarra

Doolin to Kinvarra drive
Via Google Maps

The road that takes you from Doolin to Kinvarra is magnificent. The landscape changes by the minute and there’s a multitude of stop-off points that are worth a nosey around.

I did this with a friend last year around sunset (we didn’t time it around then – we were staying in Kinvarra!). It’s a mighty spin and the views as you spin along it are spectacular.

It’ll take you 50 minutes to drive from A to B and just under 2.5 hours to cycle it.

11. Visit the Aillwee Cave (another one for those of you wondering what to do in Doolin when it’s raining)

The Ailwee Cave
Photo via the Aillwee Cave on Facebook

This is another great option for those of you looking for things to do near Doolin when it’s raining. You’ll find the Ailwee Cave in the heart of the Burren.

Those who visit the cave will be taken on a 20-minute expert-led tour through the cave’s spectacular caverns. Expect bridged chasms, weird formations, a thunderous waterfall and plenty more.

It’ll take you half an hour to drive to the Aillwee from Doolin and a little under 1.5 hours to cycle it.

12. Have a nosey at the Poulnabrone Dolmen

Poulnabrone Dolmen at sunrise
Photo by Chris Hill

Our next Doolin attraction is one of the most visited places in Clare. You’ll find Poulnabrone Dolmen situated atop of the high Burren limestone plateau, where it has been attracting tourists and locals alike for many a year.

Interestingly enough, this Dolemn is the oldest dated megalithic monument on the island of Ireland. Make sure you pop this one onto your Ireland itinerary.

It’ll take you half an hour to get here by car and just under an hour if you’re peddling!

13. Head for some nostalgia at Father Ted’s House

father teds house in county clare
Look familiar? Photo by Ben Riordain

If you’re not familiar with this place, then take a minute or two to breeze through our guide to finding Father Ted’s house.

For those of you that grew up watching the series, you won’t want to miss a spin out here. Now, keep in mind that you can’t actually get into the house unless you book afternoon tea.

You can still admire this iconic Irish gaff from afar, however. It’ll take you 35 minutes to drive here from Doolin and just under 2 hours if you’re cycling.

14. Visit Lahinch and try your hand at surfing

surfing on lahinch
Photo by Brian Morrison via Tourism Ireland

If you fancy doing something a little bit different on your visit to Clare, head out to Lahinch and give surfing a bash. The gorgeous little town of Lahinch is well known to surfers across Ireland and beyond.

There’s a number of surf schools operating in the area and each one caters for both novice swimmers and those that have hit the waves before.

It’ll take you 20 minutes to get here from Doolin in the car and 50 minutes if you’re cycling. Discover more deadly surf spots in our guide to the best places to go surfing in Ireland.

Doolin attractions on a map

If you prefer to plan your trip with the aid of a map, you can use the one above. I’ve plotted out the various different Doolin attractions, along with places nearby.

If you’ve anywhere that you feel needs to be added, let me know in the comments section at the end of this guide and I’ll check it out.

FAQ about where to go in/near Doolin

We published this guide a long time ago. Since then, we’ve had heaps of questions from people asking about what to do in and near Doolin.

I’ve lashed in the most FAQs below – if you have a question that we haven’t covered, ask away below.

The best things to do in Doolin

  • The Doolin Cliff Walk
  • Cruise beneath the cliffs on a ferry
  • Take a spin over to Inis Oirr
  • Have a nosey around Doonagore Castle

What to do in Doolin when it’s raining

  • Nip into the Doolin Cave
  • Take a spin from Doolin to Kinvarra
  • Drop out to Father Ted’s House for tea (book in advance) 

The best things to do near Doolin

  • Surfing in Lahinch
  • The Ailwee Cave
  • The cliffs at Kilbaha
  • The Poulnabrone Dolmen

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

4 COMMENTS

  1. This has definitely made me want to stay in Doolin! Me and my friend plan on visiting Ireland in a couple months and it was hard to pick where we wanted to stay. We know we wanted to stay in Dublin for a few nights to get the city feel, so now Doolin feels like the perfect place to get the country feel. Thanks a lot!

    • It’s brilliant – you really should stay a night. Another great town not to far from there is Ennis, but Doolin has that real ‘old Ireland’ feel and charm to it. It’s cracking! Enjoy the trip!

  2. The chocolate shop in Doolin is closed at the moment. I tried to get to it when I was in the area a few weeks back and no joy.

  3. Donagore Castle is a private residence. If your staying in Doolin as a base, it worth while investing in local maps ditch the car for the day and explore the wonders of natural beauty and ancient history many only a short distance away . Doolin is steep in history and there are many archaeological sites which you can walk to from the village old ringforts etc, the medieval Killilagh church and graveyard which is 10mins walk from McDermott’s pub

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