If you’re in search of things to do in Dundalk, you’ve landed in the right place!
Louth’s County Town is a fine base for a bit of exploring, with a handful of things to do in the town and endless things to do nearby.
From walks and hikes to historical sites, excellent restaurants and cosy pubs, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
In the guide below, you’ll discover heaps of places to visit in Dundalk and nearby (a handful of which are regarded as some of the best things to do in Louth!).
What we think are the best things to do in Dundalk
The first section of the guide contains our favourite things to do in Dundalk – these are places and things that one or more of the team have visited and loved.
Below, you’ll find everything from food and castles to attractions for those of you wondering what to do in Dundalk when it rains.
1. Kick-start your visit with breakfast or brunch from The Spotted Dog
This place is fresh and vibrant, with city-chic styling of industrial lighting and well-loved wooden tables and chairs.
There’s a banging brunch and breakkie menu on offer here that boasts everything from the popular Great Northern Larder Breakfast Bap to a very tasty Spicy Beef Buritto.
2. Then step back in time at Castle Roche
You’ll find Castle Roche around 10 km north-west of Dundalk (it’s roughly a 13-minute drive). Back in the day, it was the seat of the De Verdun family who are said to have built the castle in 1236 AD.
Situated atop of a rocky outcrop, Castle Roche offers magnificent views out across the surrounding country. The only tricky thing with this place is the parking (info here).
Castle Roche is considered to be one of the most impressive Anglo-Norman castles in this part of Ireland and it’s unique location and design, along with its interesting history and legends tends to pique the interest of visiting travellers.
The views from up at the castle are worth the visit along and it’s particularly impressive at sunset.
3. Spend a rainy day at County Museum Dundalk
If you’re wondering what to do in Dundalk when it’s raining, Dundalk County Museum is well worth a nosey around.
There are few museums in Ireland that chronicle the changes and evolution of an area from the Stone Age right the way up to the present day as finely as Dundalk County Museum.
Built within a restored 18th-century distillery in the Carroll Centre, this unique museum is home to a huge variety of exhibitions and displays. It also regularly hosts drama presentations, lectures and film screenings for the local community.
4. And a fine one sauntering along nearby Blackrock Beach
The beautiful Blackrock Beach is less than a 10-minute drive from Dundalk, and it’s the perfect spot for a morning ramble.
Park up, grab a coffee from Rocksalt Café and head for a stroll along the prom before hitting the sand.
There are several beaches to saunter along here but, if you fancy dodging the sand, you can always sit on the prom wall and soak up the scenery.
5. See the often-missed Cú Chulainn’s Castle
A visit to Cú Chulainn’s Castle is arguably one of the more unique things to do in Dundalk. Known as ‘Dún Dealgan Motte’ (AKA Cú Chulainn’s Castle), it was built on a ridge overlooking the Castletown River.
Other tales say that this was where Cú Chulainn was born. Now, this is another place with no dedicate car park, so read this guide before you visit.
6. Catch a show in an Táin Arts Centre
An Táin Arts Centre is located in the former Táin Theatre in Dundalk. The centre took its name from the ‘Táin Bó Cúailnge’ or the Cattle raid of Cooley, the legendary tale that we mentioned earlier in this guide.
An Táin Arts Centre houses a 350 seat main theatre, a 55 seat studio theatre, a visual arts gallery and two workshop spaces with a lively programme packed with a diverse collection of local arts, national tours, workshops, exhibitions and in-house productions.
There’s a jam-packed schedule here and it’s another handy option if you’re wondering what to do in Dundalk when it’s pouring down!
More places to visit in Dundalk (and nearby)
Now that we have our favourite places to visit in Dundalk out of the way, it’s time to see what else the town has to offer.
Below, you’ll find a handful of attractions in the town along with heaps of things to do near Dundalk, too!
1. Visit the Proleek Dolmen (and try to land a stone on top!)
As you’ve probably gathered, Louth is home to an almost endless number of megalithic attractions. One of the more unusual ones is Proleek Dolmen.
This portal tomb resembles a giant’s table and stands at 3 metres high. According to legend, a wish will be granted to anyone who can successfully land a pebble on the top of the Dolmen without it rolling back off.
You’ll find it on the grounds of Ballymascanlon House (one of the best hotels in Dundalk), where you can pair a visit with a coffee or a bite-to-eat, if you like!
2. Or tackle one of many nearby walks
One of the beauties of Dundalk is that there’s endless things to do a very short drive away. If you fancy stretching the legs, you’re in luck – there’s a mix of hard and handy walks nearby.
The Ravensdale Forest Walk (20-minute drive) is one of the more popular nearby walks. Another popular option (also 20 minutes way) is the brilliant Annaloughan Loop Walk.
3. Head for a bounce at Air Bound Trampoline Park
If you’re looking for things to do in Dundalk with a group, carve out some time to take them to the Air Bound Trampoline Park. This place looks the business!
You’ll find this place in a specially kitted out unit in the Dundalk Retail Park. The facility boasts trampolines fitted into the unit’s floors and walls, so there’s plenty of space to hop around.
There’s a handful of different zones that you can visit:
- Dodgeball court
- The free jumping area
- Slam dunk
- High towers
4. Admire the architecture at St Patrick’s Church
St Patrick’s Church is an impressive Gothic-style structure located in the heart of the town. It was designed by Thomas Duff and opened for worship in 1842.
The impressive exterior is complemented by a stunning interior which boasts granite pillars, beautifully tiled floors a gorgeous vaulted seiling and much more.
When you visit, keep an eye out for the bell tower – it is the most recent addition to the structure, having been added in 1903.
5. Clear the head with a coffee and a stroll at Stephenstown Pond Nature Park
If you fancy a ramble, point your nose in the direction of Stephenstown Pond Nature Park. The park here was commissioned way back in 1817 by a local landlord.
Those that visit the park can head off on a saunter through some woodlands or take a stroll along the finely maintained lakeside walkways.
If you’re looking for things to do in Dundalk with kids, you’ll find a playground here along with some ducks that they can feed.
6. Visit the recently restored Dundalk Famine Graveyard
If you’re looking to uncover some of the area’s rich history, head for the newly restored Dundalk Famine Graveyard.
Situated on the Ardee Road, it is the final resting place for a staggering 4,000 people who were buried between 1850 and 1955.
Many of those buried here came from the Dundalk Workhouse which was built during the years of the Great Famine.
Loads of things to do near Dundalk
The final section of our guide to the best things to do in Dundalk takes a look at nearby attractions.
Below, you’ll find heaps of things to do near Dundalk, within a reasonable driving distance (under 30 minutes).
1. Spend the day exploring Carlingford
The scenic town of Carlingford is a handy 30-minute drive away and it’s home to heaps of things to see and do.
2. Visit one of countless nearby beaches
If you’re looking for things to do near Dundalk on a fine day, you’re in luck – the town is a short drive from some of the best beaches in Louth.
Although they’re not all suitable for swimming, each makes a fine early-morning walk destination. Here are our favourites:
- Blackrock Beach (10-minute drive)
- Gyles’ Quay (20-minute drive)
- Annagassan Beach (20-minute drive)
- Port Beach (25-minute drive)
- Templetown Beach (30-minute drive)
- Termonfeckin Beach (30-minute drive)
3. Soak up bucket-loads of history in Drogheda
Drogheda’s a 30-minute spin from Dundalk and it’s well worth the visit. If you’re not familiar with it, Drogheda is one of the oldest towns in Ireland and it’s home to a heap of history.
From ancient sites and museums to river walk and brilliant pubs, there’s a heap of different things to do in Drogheda at any time of the year.
From St. Oliver Plunkett’s head (yes, head!) and Laurence’s Gate to the Millmount Museum and more, there’s plenty to see and do here.
What to do in Dundalk: What have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant things to do in Dundalk from the guide above.
If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!
FAQs about the best places to visit in Dundalk
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what to do in Dundalk when it’s raining to where to visit 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.
What are the best things to do in Dundalk?
In my opinion, the best things to do in Dundalk are Castle Roche, the County Museum, Cú Chulainn’s Castle and An Táin Arts Centre.
What are the best things to do near Dundalk?
You’ve the Cooley Peninsula and its many walks (Annaloughan Loop, Slieve Foye and Ravensdale Forest), the ancient town of Drogheda and numerous beaches.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.