There are a handful of of things to do in Doolin in Clare. And there are endless things to do near Doolin.
Doolin cemented itself as one of my favourite towns in Ireland many moons ago (see our Doolin accommodation guide to find a place to stay).
It’s at the heart of some of Clare’s best scenery and it’s home to many a cosy and buzzy pub along with a clatter of great places to eat.
In the guide below you’ll find the best things to do in Doolin along with places to visit a short spin away!
The best things to do in Doolin in Clare
The first section of our guide tackles what we think are the best things to do in Doolin. Below, you’ll find a mix of walks, pubs and unique tours.
Later in the guide, you’ll find what to do in Doolin when it’s raining along with a handful of things to do near Doolin, too.
1. The Doolin Cliff Walk
If you’re staying in Doolin then the chances are you plan on wandering over to the Cliffs of Moher, and there are few ways to see the cliffs that are as enjoyable as on the Doolin Cliff Walk.
You can do this on a guided walk (with Pat Sweeny or Cormac’s Coast) or you can do it self guided (here’s an overview of the route to follow).
This is a nice way to avoid the crowds (you won’t meet too many people until you reach the visitor centre) and see the cliffs from a unique angle.
You’ll want to allow around 2.5 to 3 hours to complete the walk and care is needed at all times as the trail follows the cliff edge.
Another option is to walk the Liscannor to Cliffs of Moher trail.
2. Take the Doolin Ferry out to the Aran Islands
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, one of my favourite things to do in Doolin is to, eh, leave it… on a ferry to the Aran Islands. Sounds contradictory, but bear with me!
You can grab a ferry to Inis Oirr, Inis Mor or Inis Meain from Doolin Pier, and each of the islands packs a unique punch.
Doolin Ferry provides a boat trip to Inis Oírr from Doolin Pier that sails below the Cliffs of Moher on the return leg. So, you can explore Inis Oirr for a few hours and then see the cliffs from the chilly water below.
Related read: See our guide to getting from Doolin to the Aran Islands (with info on prices, times and tours)
3. Visit the fairytale-like Doonagore Castle
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 you’ll catch a brilliant view of the surrounding countryside from here.
As a visit here is one of the more popular things to do in Doolin, and as there’s (literally) 1 make-shift spot to pull in (caution needed as it’s on a bend), you’ll need to get here early!
Related read: Check out our guide to 32 of the best things to do in Clare (from lively villages to coastal walks).
4. Food, Pints and traditional Irish music in the village
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.
Gus O’Connor’s is arguably the best known of the 4/5 pubs in Doolin, 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.
5. See the Cliffs of Moher at sunset
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.
6. Visit Doolin Pitch and Putt
Doolin Pitch and Putt provides a great combination of scenery and golf. This is an 18-hole links course located between Fisher Street and the Pier.
As you play, you’ll get an eyeful of the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands and Doonagore Castle as you (hopefully) sink a few putts.
You can rent a set of clubs and head off on your merry way.
7. Saunter along colourful Fisher Street
A ramble along Fisher Street is arguably one of the most popular things to do in Doolin.
This colourful little ‘street’ is like something whipped straight from a postcard thanks to its brightly painted buildings.
If you visit during the busy summer months, prepare for the entire place to be mobbed with people!
8. Cruise beneath the cliffs
If you fancy seeing the Cliffs of Moher from a very unique angle, give one of these cruises (affiliate link) a try (I’ve done this a handful of times and it’s excellent).
You’ll leave from Doolin Pier and sail out around 20 minutes from the coast, where you can soak up views of the coastline and the Aran Islands.
You’re then taken below the cliffs where you’ll be able to admire their sheer size from the water below. This is one of the most unique things to do in Doolin and it’s well worth doing.
9. Make your belly happy
There are plenty of great restaurants in Doolin if you fancy something other than pub grub (although many of the pubs in Doolin offer top-notch dishes).
If you fancy a bit of rustic fine dining, the Oar Restaurant will be right up you’re street, especially if you’re looking for a fancy feed.
What to do in Doolin when it’s raining
One of the most frequently asked questions we get about this corner of Clare is from people looking for things to do in Doolin when it’s raining.
Luckily, you’ve several indoor attractions in Doolin itself, and very nearby, that are well worth visiting.
1. Doolin Cave
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.
2. The Burren Scenic Drive
If you want to see what else the coastline nearby has to offer, the Burren Scenic Drive is well worth dedicating an afternoon to.
Following the shape of an 8 (see the route to follow here), this drive takes in many of the areas most popular sites, along with a clatter of charming towns and villages.
3. The Aillwee Caves
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 Caves 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. If you’re looking for things to do in Doolin with kids, you can’t go wrong here.
Things to do near Doolin
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.
1. Try one of the Burren walks
A visit to the incredible Burren National Park is one of the most popular things to do near Doolin, and it’s best explored on foot.
In our Burren walks guide, you’ll find a mix of long and short walks that start a short spin away from Doolin and that range in difficulty and terrain.
2. Have a nosey at the Poulnabrone Dolmen
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!
3. Head for some nostalgia at Father Ted’s House
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.
4. Saunter along the sand at Fanore Beach
Fanore Beach is one of the most overlooked things to do near Doolin, which is a shame, as it’s a handy, 20-minute drive from Fisher Street.
This gorgeous sandy beach is prefect for a stroll or, if you fancy, you can take surf lessons with the folks at Aloha Surf.
Fanore is a Blue Flag beach and it’s a popular spot among local swimmers (just be careful if you enter the water).
5. Visit Lahinch and try your hand at surfing
If you fancy doing something a little bit different on your visit to Clare, head out to Lahinch Beach 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. If you’re after unique things to do near Doolin, you can go wrong with this! There’s plenty of other things to do in Lahinch while you’re there, too!
6. Loop Head and the Bridges of Ross
Last, but by no means least, in our guide on what to do in Doolin are the brilliant Bridges of Ross, the Kilkee Cliff Walk and the incredible Loop Head.
It’ll take you 1.5 hours to reach Loop Head Lighthouse (there’s a nice cliff walk here) and roughly the same amount of time to reach the Bridges of Ross.
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 what to do in Doolin in Clare
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
If you’re wondering what to do in Doolin, you can’t go wrong with the Doolin Cliff Walk, the Cliffs of Moher cruise, Doonagore Castle, Doolin Cave and the ferry to the Aran Islands.
What to do in Doolin when it’s raining
If you’re looking for rainy day activities in Doolin, a visit to the Doolin Cave, Father Ted’s House (for afternoon tea) and the Aillwee Caves are worth doing.
The best things to do near Doolin
There are plenty of places to visit nearby, like Lahinch, the Burren, Loop Head and much more.
Friday 30th of September 2022
Thanks so much for the guide Keith, heading to Doolin tonight for 2 nights and have picked a few things to do from your list :)
Saturday 8th of May 2021
I went about 30 years ago with family. My sister had the car and went down to Cork. I jumped on a ferry and went out to Inishmore. I’d never sat and listen to folks speaking Gaelic but over a pint, I’d just sit and nod.
O’Connor’s was a great pub and I made the 30 minute walk to our rental house numerous times. McDermott’s Was great too, but had more fun at O’Connor’s.
Sunday 20th of September 2020
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
Monday 31st of August 2020
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.
Friday 9th of March 2018
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!
Saturday 10th of March 2018
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!