There’s a handful of great things to do in Dundalk and there’s plenty of places to explore nearby, which make it the perfect base for a bit of exploring.
In the guide below, you’ll discover a clatter of places to visit in Dundalk itself and a few nearby. If you fancy seeing everything there is to do nearby, hop into our guide to the best things to do in Louth.
Dundalk is home to plenty of historical sites, great places to eat and a good chunk of spots where you can head on a rainy day. In the guide below, you’ll discover heaps of things to do in Dundalk to keep you occupied.
The best things to do in Dundalk
The name ‘Dundalk’ is linked to the mythical warrior Cú Chulainn. If you look closely at the town’s crest, you’ll see the words ‘Mé do rug Cú Chulainn Cróga’, which translates to ‘I gave birth to brave Cú Chulainn’.
You just need to know where to look.
1. Kick-start your visit with breakfast or coffee from Park Cafe
I’ve been to Park Cafe 5 or 6 times at this stage and the only thing better than the breakfast is the friendly service.
This place has a properly homely feel to it and the food is the dogs boll… you get the picture!
I’m a creature of habit and tend to go for the breakfast bap (€6.75) every time that I nip in here, but there are a number of other hearty options available. Get in and fuel up for an adventure!
2. Step back in time at 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.
According to legend, Cú Chulainn used this as his base during a time when he was attacking the forces of Queen Meave as they drove north into the county.
Other tales say that this was where Cú Chulainn was born. If you’d like to read more, there’s plenty of factual history behind the castle and the area that surrounds it.
3. Nurse a post-adventure pint with a view at the Glyde Inn
If you fancy spending an evening in an award-winning pub in Dundalk, then the Glyde Inn is just the job. It was awarded National Pub of The Year and Irish Food Pub of the Year in 2018 at the Irish Pub Awards.
This traditional Irish pub and boasts impressive sea views and a menu that’ll have you itching to come back for more. A grand aul spot to whittle away an evening with friends.
4. Discover a whole load of history at County Museum Dundalk
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. Pop it on your list of things to do in Dundalk when it’s raining!
5. Head for a roam around 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.
According to Wikipedia, ‘The site of the castle held a strategic position on the frontier between the (then) exclusively Gaelic province of Ulster, and the Anglo-Norman territory known as The Pale and controlled the pass into what is now South Armagh.’
Situated atop of a rocky outcrop, Castle Roche offers magnificent views out across the surrounding country. If you can, try and angle your visit around sunset.
6. 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.
7. Spend the night in a castle
This. Place. Is. SWANKY. The original Bellingham Castle was built way back in 1660 by Sir Henry Bellingham. Many years later, In December 2012, the castle was bought by the Corscadden family.
Yep – the same crowd that own the likes of Ballyseede Castle and Cabra Castle along with plenty of other castle hotels in Ireland.
Since then it has become one of Ireland’s top castle hotels. If you fancy pushing the boat a bit, you can spend a night here and kick-back in a grand bit of luxury for a night, surrounded by history.
8. Make your belly happy at Fitzpatrick’s Bar & Restaurant
You’ll find this gem of a pub at the foot of the picturesque Cooley Mountains. Weary travellers that visit Fitzpatrick’s can expect stunning gardens, old-world charm, and a menu that receives ridiculously good reviews online.
The steak off the Bistro menu looks delishhhhh. I visited Fitzpatrick’s last summer with a couple of friends after we walked the Annaloughan Loop.
The only issue I had with it was that we found it near impossible to tear ourselves away from its warm and rustic interior. Well worth nipping into.
Quick note: This place is located in Jenkinstown, around a 15-minute drive away from Dundalk.
9. Then head off on the Annaloughan loop
There’s a nice, 8km/3-hour looped walk that starts and finishes at Fitzpatrick’s pub. You can park in their carpark and head off on your merry way.
There are a number of different looped walks in the area that you can conquer. The reason I’m recommending the Annaloughan Loop is that you’ll be treated to mighty views over Dundalk Bay.
If you’re visiting after rainfall, decent hiking boots are well worth bringing as the mountain section of the walk can be rough and wet.
10. 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, a legendary story 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.
11. 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
12. Clear the head with a coffee and a stroll at Stephenstown Pond Nature Park
If you’re 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.
When you’ve had your fill of the park, head into the on-site cafe (the Willow Tree) for a cup of coffee and something tasty.
13. Take a spin out to Carlingford and hike Slieve Foye
If you read our guide to the best things to do in Carlingford, you’ll know that there’s no end to the number of places to visit in this buzzy little seaside town.
If you fancy stretching the legs, head off on a hike up Slieve Foye mountain. I’ve done this hike several times over the years and it took around 1 hour and 45 minutes on both occasions.
If you fancy giving it a craic, it’s a handy 29-minute drive from Dundalk and you’ll be able to grab some to eat pre-or-post-hike from Carlingford village. Here’s a guide to the hike.
14. 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.
What things to do in Dundalk have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally missed out on plenty of other places in Dundalk that are well worth the visit.
If you know of a place that needs to be added, let me know below.