12 Of The Best Things To Do In Ennis (And Plenty Of Places To See Nearby)

things to do in Ennis Ireland
Photo left: Madrugada Verde. Right: 2checkingout

If you’re looking to things to do in Ennis, then you’ve landed in the right place.

County Clare’s largest town is small but it packs a mighty punch. With a ton of history, some fine spots for a pint and plenty of charm, you’ll be sure to get a warm welcome in Ennis.

It’s also a good base for exploring Clare’s stunning windswept landscape and much of the Wild Atlantic Way (see out guide to things to do in Clare for more!).

The best things to do in Ennis

Ennis Cathedral from above
Photo by shutterupeire (Shutterstock)

From the gorgeous Cliffs of Moher to the ruined medieval grandeur of Clare Abbey, we’ve got you covered.

In the guide below, you’ll find a handful of things to do in Ennis along with several worthwhile places to visit within handy driving distance.

1. Clare Museum

clare museum ennis
Photo via Clare Museum

Set inside a former Sisters of Mercy Convent in the centre of Ennis, Clare Museum opened to the public in 2000.

Documenting the history of Clare over 6000 years, the museum covers some serious ground for its size.

From archaeological sites to Clare’s musical tradition, taking in religious and social history along the way, the Riches of Clare exhibition is a treasure trove of Irish history.

Traveller tip: Looking for free things to do in Ennis? Get yourself to Clare Museum – admission won’t cost you a penny!

2. The best Vol-Au-Vents in the land at the Old Ground Hotel

an old school hotel in ennis
Photo via the Old Ground Hotel

Oozing old-world charm, this old-school hotel (and I mean that in the best possible sense!) is set in an immaculately restored 18th-century building.

Expect Great Gatsby-esque 1920’s glamour mixed with the usual warm Irish hospitality, making for the most comfortable of stays in Ennis.

Head to the ornate Poet’s Corner bar and settle into one of the cosy alcoves with a pint of plain and a book for a class escape at the Old Ground Hotel.

Related read: Check out our guide to the best hotels in Ennis (with something to suit most budgets).

3. Ennis Friary (one of the best-known Ennis attractions)

Ennis Friary from the outside
Photo by Borisb17 (Shutterstock)

You’ll find the medieval ruins of Ennis Friary right in the heart of town. Established in the 13th century by the ruling O’Brien clan, the monastery became a Church of Ireland place of worship in the early 17th century.

It then fell into disrepair by the end of the 1800s, following the end of religious worship at the Friary in 1871.

It’s now open to the public and the nave has been roofed so it can display some beautiful 15th century stone carvings.

4. A fine feed (and very creamy pints) in Brogan’s Bar

brogan's bar ennis
Photo by The Irish Road Trip

While there are many things to do in Ennis, you’re going to need a bit of relaxation at some point and there are few better places to do that than Brogan’s – one of our favourite pubs in Ennis.

Settle in for a few of Clare’s smoothest pints or dig into their cracking gourmet food. Or both. In fact, definitely both.

Whether you go for one of their generously filled sandwiches or a hearty main, you’ll see why Brogan’s is now an Ennis institution.

Editors note: As you can see from the very dodgy photos above, we were in Brogan’s in Ennis recently (we paid – this isn’t an ad or any of that craic) – the food (the ribs are unreal), the pints (creeeeamy) and the service are all top-notch!

5. Ennis Cathedral

Ennis Cathedral from above
Photo by shutterupeire (Shutterstock)

Soaring over 200 ft above Ennis, the spire of Ennis Cathedral is one of the town’s most recognisable sights.

The building of the cathedral had a troubled history so while construction began in 1828, it wasn’t completed until 1874, in part thanks to the devastation of the Great Famine in the middle of the 19th century.

Located to the south of the town centre, a visit here is a handy one if you’re in search of things to do in Ennis when it’s raining.

6. Great food galore

ennis restaurants guide
Photo left via McHugh’s Bar on Instagram. Photo right via Mondo Coffee Shop on Facebook

There’s an almost endless number of great restaurants in Ennis, with everything from early morning eats, lunchtime feeds and relaxing dinners on offer.

When it comes to pub-grub that packs a punch, you can’t go wrong with Brogan’s. If you’re after a hearty feed, the folks at the Market Bar will make your belly happy.

For a more casual bite-to-eat, you can’t go wrong with Souper Cafe and Sweet N Green. Discover lots more in our Ennis food guide.

Things to do near Ennis

Doonagore Castle
Photo by shutterupeire (shutterstock)

OK, so we’ve tackled things to do in Ennis Town – now it’s time to take a look at the various places to visit nearby.

Ennis is a lovely little base to explore Clare from. Below, you’ll discover the many different places that are a stone’s throw from the town.

1. Clare Abbey

clare abbey near ennis
Photo by 2checkingout (Shutterstock)

Another stark medieval ruin can be found on the outskirts of Ennis, although this one has a slightly more gruesome history than Ennis Friary, for those who like that sort of thing.

Founded in 1189, Clare Abbey was the scene of a legendary bloody massacre in 1278 following a civil war between feuding members of the O’Brien clan (them again!).

Things have calmed down since then and it’s a cool site to see that’s only a short drive from Ennis.

2. Surfing in Lahinch

Lahinch village
Photo by shutterupeire/shutterstock.com

Lahinch Beach is widely regarded as one of the best places to go surfing in Ireland, and that’s saying something, as there’s some stiff competition!

The conditions will be colder and harsher than typical hotspots like Australia and California, but the experience is unique and challenging.

And that’s why we travel, isn’t it? If surfing doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are plenty of other things to do in Lahinch, from walks indoor activities to loads of great places to eat.

Traveller tip: If you’re looking for things to do in Ennis / nearby with a group of friends, book in for surfing lessons in Lahinch. They take place even if it’s raining, which is handy!

3. The Cliffs of Moher

cliffs of moher at night
Photo by Burben (shutterstock)

Little introduction is needed for the spectacular Cliffs of Moher but you’re going to get one anyway.

Stretching for 9 miles and rising to a maximum height of just over 700 ft, they’re one of Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions.

If the sun’s out, try to get there for late afternoon/early evening for that iconic golden sunset photo.

Traveller tip: If you’re wondering what to do in Ennis / nearby, a trip to the cliffs will take you no longer than 45 minutes by car.

4. Quin Abbey

quin abbey ennis
Photo by shutterupeire (Shutterstock)

The 14th century Quin Abbey is located just outside of Ennis, and it makes for a great mini excursion from town. 

The Abbey was constructed between 1402 and 1433, on the site of an earlier monastery that was burned down in 1278.

There’s a wealth of history to be discover here and you can nip into a little visitor centre near the entrance where you can learn all about the history and architecture of the Abbey. 

5. Doolin

Doonagore Castle
Photo by shutterupeire (shutterstock)

Two things you need to know about Doolin: Its proximity to a bunch of breath-taking sites and its collection of great pubs.

You can spend the day at the Cliffs of Moher, Doolin Cave, Doonagore Castle or on a trip to the Aran Islands.

And by night, tell tall tales of your adventures over a few creamy pints at Gus O’Connors, McGann’s, McDermott’s or Fitzpatricks’s – 4 of the finest pubs in Doolin!

Discover more: Hop into our guide to 13 of the best things to do in Doolin to discover heaps more places to visit in this gorgeous little town.

6. The Burren

Poulnabrone Dolmen
Photo by Remizov (shutterstock)

The mystical limestone landscape of The Burren (Gaelic for ‘stony place’) is about as far from those clichéd green Ireland postcards as it’s possible to get.

Only a 15-minute drive north of Ennis, its harsh karstic terrain takes on a Martian-like purple hue on some evenings and is one of Clare’s most interesting spots.

It also contains over 70% of Ireland’s flower species, including some of the country’s rarest examples. You can explore it on the Burren Way or via one of the shorter Burren walks.

7. Loop Head

kilbaha cliffs loop head
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Owning some of the most spectacular scenery along the Wild Atlantic Way, Loop Head is a dramatic promontory thrusting out at the north entrance of the Shannon Estuary.

The drive out to Loop Head Lighthouse over an hour from Ennis but the payoff is worth it. The tumbling cliffs, historic lighthouse and ocean views all form a remarkable scene.

And don’t forget to stop off at the picturesque natural arches of the Bridges of Ross on the way down.

8. Bunratty Castle

bunratty castle
Photos via Shutterstock

Last but not least is the historic Bunratty Castle and its much-loved folk park. You’ll find the 15th century Bunratty Castle in the heart of Bunratty Village.

It’s a stone’s throw from Shannon Airport, which makes it the first stop for many tourists flying into Ireland for the first time.

Named after the River Raite which runs alongside it, the site on which Bunratty Castle stands has been constantly occupied for over 1,000 years. Learn more here.

Related read: If you visit Bunratty, carve out some time to check out some of the many other things to do in Shannon (walks, pubs and more!).

What to do in Ennis: What have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out plenty of worthwhile things to do in Ennis from the guide above.

If you have an attraction (or a bar or restaurant) to recommend, give us a shout in the comments section below.

FAQs about the top things to do in Ennis

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what to do in Ennis when it’s raining to which Ennis attractions are most worth a visit.

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 Ennis?

Visit Ennis Cathedral, see Ennis Friary, try some of the best Vol-Au-Vents in the land at the Old Ground Hotel and head for a ramble around Clare Museum.

I’m wondering what to do in Ennis when it’s raining?

A visit to Clare Museum is one of the best rainy-morning spots if you’re looking to wait-out some bad weather.

What are the best things to do near Ennis?

One of the beauties of Ennis is that it’s a stone’s throw from many of Clare’s top attractions, like the Cliffs of Moher, Lahinch and more (see above).

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