There are many things to do in Doolin, a small fishing village in County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland. Its location along the Wild Atlantic Way gives it some of the most amazing views in all of the country.
The ocean is always visible, and the green rolling hills in every other direction make for breathtaking sights.
There are plenty of activities in Doolin, whether you’re looking for an adventure, or just want to relax and enjoy the scenery. From hikes to boat tours, and from roaring fires to lively trad sessions, there’s something for everyone in Doolin.
Growing up in County Clare, I visited Doolin almost every summer and have many happy memories of running around on the cliffs, exploring caves and playing in the ocean.
You won’t want to miss any of these 15 best things to do in Doolin, Ireland.
In This Post:
- 1. Take a Hike to the Cliffs of Moher
- 2. Visit Doolin Cave
- 3. Experience Island Life on Inis Oirr
- 4. Shuck Oysters at Flaggy Shore
- 5. Enjoy the Taste of Ireland with a Guinness at McDermott’s
- 6. Stop by Doonagore Castle
- 7. Cruise Under the Cliffs of Moher
- 8. Learn How to Cook a Traditional Irish Stew
- 9. Experience Ancient Folk Healing in the Burren
- 10. Go on a Stand-Up Paddle Boarding Adventure
- 11. Explore the Ailwee Caves
- 12. Have a Romantic Photoshoot on the Cliffs
- 13. Take a Surfing Lesson in the Atlantic Ocean
- 14. Attend a Traditional Irish Music Session
- 15. Cycle Around The Burren on Electric Bikes
- FAQs About the Best Things To Do in Doolan
- Now You Know What to Do in Doolin, Ireland
1. Take a Hike to the Cliffs of Moher
You can’t visit Doolin and not wander around the Cliffs of Moher.
Not only are they one of the most beautiful things to see in Doolin, they’re also one of the most popular natural attractions in all of Ireland, rising over 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, and stretching for over 5 miles.
There are several different trails you can take to get to the top of the cliffs, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views, but the Doolin Cliff Walk is by far the best choice if you want to avoid the masses and enjoy some peace and quiet along the route.
The hike isn’t too challenging itself, taking you through an 8km gravel pathway. It took me around 3 hours at a leisurely pace to get to the top, but you barely notice the time go by as you’re taking in the stunning scenery, and breathing in the fresh ocean air.
This Doolin Cliff Walk guided tour starts from the village of Doolin, and ends at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre. From there, you can either take the same route back, or your guide will arrange for transportation back to the village.
Be ready to hear some incredible stories from your guide and locals along the way.
☞ SEE ALSO: 10 Best Doolin Airbnbs
2. Visit Doolin Cave
Want to see the longest free-hanging stalactite in all of Europe? Then a visit to Doolin Cave is a must!
The cave is located just outside of Doolin Village and can be easily reached by foot, bike, or car. Once you arrive, you’ll take a 45-minute guided tour 70 feet below ground through the cave, learning all about the history and how it was formed.
The highlight of the tour is definitely seeing ‘The Great Stalactite’, which hangs down from the ceiling of the cave and is an impressive 24 feet long. It’s incredible how just one drop of water could create such a magnificent structure over time.
Although it was only discovered in 1952, Doolin Cave is thought to have formed over 350 million years ago, and the stalactite is likely 70,000 years old!
After the tour, it’s worth taking a stroll around the scenic eco-trail that surrounds the cave.
3. Experience Island Life on Inis Oirr
Not exactly in Doolin itself, but one of the best things to do near Doolin is to take a day trip out to Inis Oirr.
The island – pronounced ‘Inisheer’ – is the smallest and most eastern of the three Aran Islands, located just off the coast of Doolin.
I caught the ferry from Doolin Pier and it was a short 15 minute trip over to the island. I must have had the ‘luck of the Irish’ that day as we ended up having some dolphins swim next to us along the way!
As soon as the ferry arrived, I felt as though I had been transported to another world.
The island is only 3km long and 2km wide, so you can easily explore it in a day. There are no cars on Inis Oirr, which makes for a very relaxed and laid back atmosphere.
The best way to get around the island is by bike, and this particular tour takes you to all the best spots. From ancients forts and castles, to eerie shipwrecks, and even stops off for some freshly baked scones along the way.
Sadly, the Irish language isn’t spoken widely in Ireland anymore, but on Inis Oirr you’ll hear a lot of locals still speaking it. This makes for a unique and authentic experience as you immerse yourself in traditional Irish culture.
4. Shuck Oysters at Flaggy Shore
If you’re looking for one of the most unique activities in Doolin, you can’t go wrong with an oyster shucking experience, that’s for sure.
This experience is hosted by David, who has years upon years of knowledge about the seafood industry. You’ll learn about the world of oysters before getting stuck in and shucking your own.
David tells wonderful stories and jokes as he shucks away and makes the whole experience a lot of fun.
After you become a pro at oyster shucking, you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labour with some freshly opened oysters, paired with a glass of wine. The perfect way to spend an evening in Doolin!
5. Enjoy the Taste of Ireland with a Guinness at McDermott’s
Inevitably, you’re bound to come across that famous Irish rain during your trip to Doolin. But fear not. There are still many things to do in Doolin when the weather turns.
In fact, one of the best things to do when it rains in Doolin is to hunker down at McDermott’s pub with a pint of ‘the black stuff’. This traditional Irish pub is located in the heart of Doolin Village, and is the perfect place to cosy up with a Guinness by the fire on a rainy day.
McDermott’s is also known for its tasty traditional food, so make sure to order yourself a hearty meal to go along with your pint.
The pub has a great atmosphere and is always full of locals and tourists alike; making it the perfect place to mingle, and get a taste of the true Irish culture.
6. Stop by Doonagore Castle
Doonagore Castle is a 16th century medieval tower located just outside of Doolin Village.
The castle was built by the O’Brien clan and it served as their family home for many years, before changing hands to the O’Connors.
The castle isn’t open to the public nowadays as it’s privately owned, but it’s still worth stopping by to admire its beautiful exterior.
The castle is located on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and is surrounded by lush green fields, making for a stunning setting. It’s definitely one of the most picturesque spots in Doolin.
Rumour has it that a Spanish Armada ship sank just off the coast, and the surviving crew made their way to Doonagore Castle to seek refuge. However, when they got there, they were met with an untimely death by hanging instead.
I’ll leave it to you as to whether you think this beautiful castle could have been the site of such a dark past!
7. Cruise Under the Cliffs of Moher
If you think the view from the top of the Cliffs of Moher is impressive, just wait until you see it in all its glory from below.
There are many boat tours available from Doolin Pier that will take you out on a cruise under the Cliffs of Moher, but I recommend this highly rated tour.
Not only will you get to see the cliffs from a whole new perspective, but you’ll also get to see some of the local wildlife up close, including puffins, seals, dolphins and even sharks!
And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, this tour is definitely for you, as you’ll get to cruise past the sea cave where Harry and Dumbledore went in search of a horcrux in The Half Blood Prince.
The boat tour lasts about an hour, and it’s a great way to relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Irish coast. I would recommend checking the weather before taking the cruise as it can get choppy out on the water if it’s windy.
8. Learn How to Cook a Traditional Irish Stew
A cooking class is always a great way to learn about the local cuisine of a place, and Doolin is no different.
If you eat out anywhere in Ireland, you’re sure to find Irish stew on the menu, so why not learn how to make it yourself?
This hands-on cooking class will teach you how to create a traditional Irish stew using fresh, local ingredients, as well as how to make soda bread to go with it.
Not only will you get to enjoy your delicious dish for lunch, but you’ll also get to take home the recipe so you can recreate it again and again.
This is a great activity for foodies and families alike, and it’s sure to keep your tummy satisfied!
9. Experience Ancient Folk Healing in the Burren
One of the most unique things to do around Doolin is to experience some of the ancient folk healing methods which were used around the area.
The Burren is a large area of karst landscape in Doolin and the surrounding areas, and it’s a wonderful place to feel at one with nature.
On this tour, you’ll visit a ring fort, abbey, and holy well, and learn how the local flora was used to heal various ailments throughout the years.
This is a great tour for anyone interested in history or alternative medicine, and is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture.
I would highly recommend checking out this tour if you’re looking for something a little different to do in Doolin.
10. Go on a Stand-Up Paddle Boarding Adventure
One of the most fun things to do in Doolin is to get out onto the water, and paddle boarding in Doolin is the perfect activity for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike.
You’ll get to explore the coastline, check out the local wildlife, and paddle through some of the most stunning lakes, rivers, and bays in Ireland.
Even if you have horrific balance and fall in – yep, that’s me – you’ll still have an absolute blast. I would recommend wearing a wetsuit if you’re planning to paddle board in Doolin, as you’ll be glad of it once you’re in the water!
11. Explore the Ailwee Caves
One of my favourite things to do as a child growing up in Co. Clare was to visit the Ailwee Caves at weekends. And going back as an adult was just as magical.
The caves are located in the heart of the Burren, around a 30 minute drive from Doolin. They were discovered by a farmer and his dog in the 1940s, and they’re now one of the most popular attractions in the area.
You’ll have a 45 minute guided tour through the caverns, which will take you past a waterfall, bridged chasms, and ancient limestone rock formations. And if you’re lucky, (or perhaps not), you might even spot a bat or two!
The Ailwee Caves are a must see for anyone visiting Doolin, especially if you’re travelling with kids. They’re sure to love it.
12. Have a Romantic Photoshoot on the Cliffs
Being one of the most beautiful things to see in Doolin, The Cliffs of Moher is a very popular spot for engagement, wedding, and just couple photos in general.
If you’re travelling to Doolin with your other half, and looking for a truly unique and memorable experience, have a professional photographer capture your love against the stunning backdrop of the cliffs.
Is it a little cheesy? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely!
You’ll have gorgeous photos to hang on your wall, and a once in a lifetime experience to cherish forever.
13. Take a Surfing Lesson in the Atlantic Ocean
If you’re on the hunt for fun things to do in Doolin, this one takes the cake. West Clare is known for its world-class surfing, and there’s no better place to learn how to surf than in the Atlantic Ocean.
Not only is surfing a great workout, but it’s also an incredible adrenaline rush. And what could be more fun than learning how to surf on one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland?
14. Attend a Traditional Irish Music Session
You’ve spent the day exploring and now you want to know what to do in Doolin at night. It has to be hitting the pub for a traditional Irish music session!
There’s no craic, (a good time in Irish), like a trad session in a Doolin pub. These sessions are lively and spirited, and they’ll leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Picture stamping feet, clapping hands, and a ‘YEOW’ or two thrown around.
No matter what day of the week, you’ll find live music in one of the pubs in Doolin. My favourites for a good trad session are Gus O Connor’s, Fitz Pub, McGann’s or McDermott’s.
Pull up a stool, order a pint of Guinness, and enjoy the show.
15. Cycle Around The Burren on Electric Bikes
The Burren offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in Ireland, so it’s no wonder that cycling the area is one of the most popular things to do when in Doolin.
Making your way through the back roads, you’ll encounter a patchwork of landscapes including farmland, wildflowers, woodlands, limestone pavement, and cliffs. It really is a cycling paradise.
With so much to see in this UNESCO World Heritage Site, it can be tough to fit everything into one day. That’s where electric bikes come in handy. You can cover more ground on an electric bike and really make the most of your time in the area.
You’ll get to explore a 10th century ring fort, as well as an ancient dolmen – a megalithic tomb – all while spotting stunning flora that blankets the Burren.
This is definitely one of the best things to do in Doolin for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. And it’s suitable for all fitness levels. Check out this firm favourite electric bike Burren tour.
FAQs About the Best Things To Do in Doolan
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Doolin.
Is Doolin Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Doolin is a small village with a big personality. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and to connect with nature.
What is Doolin Famous For?
Doolin is famous for its traditional Irish music, as well as the fascinating scenery. The Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and the Atlantic Ocean are all located nearby; making Doolin the perfect base for exploring the west coast of Ireland.
What is the Best Time to Visit Doolin?
The best time to visit Doolin is in the summer, particularly August, when there’s a better chance of the weather being warm and sunny. However, Doolin is a great destination year-round. If you visit in the winter, you’ll be treated to cosy pub fires and traditional Irish music sessions.
Which County is Doolin in?
Doolin is located in County Clare in the west of Ireland.
How Many Days Do You Need in Doolin?
You could easily spend a week in Doolin and not run out of things to do. However, if you’re pressed for time, 3-4 days is enough to get a taste of what the village has to offer.
Now You Know What to Do in Doolin, Ireland
There are so many things to do in this small village that you’ll never run out of activities to keep you busy.
From exploring the great rolling hills and stunning cliffs, to enjoying a pint of Guinness by the fire in a traditional Irish pub, Doolin has something for everyone!