The 12 Best Things to Do in Doolin, Ireland

The best things to do in Doolin

Doolin, Ireland, is a small village in County Clare known as the home of traditional Irish music and the closest town to the famous Cliffs of Moher. Doolin is a picturesque village with bright, colorful cottages and stunning views of the lush Irish landscape and Atlantic Ocean. While popular among tourists, you’ll encounter many friendly locals willing to stop for a chat in one of the pubs or help you along your journey. In this post, I’ll share some of my favorite things to do in Doolin and why visiting this small town should be on your Ireland bucket list!  

This post contains affiliate links, which means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a tiny bit of income if you decide to make a purchase or booking.


Ireland travel resources

Where is Doolin, Ireland

Doolin is a small town on the west coast of Ireland, on the Wild Atlantic Way in Clare County. It is tucked between the majestic Cliffs of Moher and the unique Burren region and is a quick ferry ride to the rural Aran Islands.

Doolin’s small size allows you to immerse yourself in Irish culture. You can spend the day marveling at the size of the Cliffs of Moher or learning about the unique limestone landscape of the Burren. By night, you can be at the fireside in an Irish pub enjoying traditional music and food and having a nice chat.

Center of Doolin, Ireland

How to Get to Doolin

Getting to Doolin by Air

The closest major airport to Doolin is Shannon Airport, which is about 70km away. Shannon Airport offers direct flights from various European cities and connections from international destinations. 

When you arrive at Shannon Airport, you can rent a car and drive to Doolin. It will take about an hour.

If you’re not renting a car, hop on Bus Éirrean route 343 to Ennis. Then, in Ennis, transfer to route 350 to Doolin. Depending on the transfer times, this will take anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours.

Getting to Doolin by Public Transport

Bus Éirrean offers bus service to Doolin from major cities and towns in Ireland. 

From Galway: You can get a direct bus from Galway to Doolin on route 350. It takes about 2 hours.

From Dublin: There isn’t a direct bus route from Dublin to Doolin; you’ll need to transfer to Galway. If this is your plan, I recommend spending a few days exploring the fun things to do in Galway before or after your time in Dooin since you need to transfer there anyway! The journey will take about 4.5 to 5 hours, depending on the transfer time. 

Book your bus ticket here.

If you’re considering taking the train around Ireland, you might be disappointed to learn that Doolin does not have a train station. You can still take the train to nearby cities like Galway or Ennis and hop on Bus Éirrean to take you the rest of the way.

Book your train ticket here.

Getting to Doolin by Car

If you’re road-tripping the Wild Atlantic Way, make sure Doolin is a stop on your itinerary. Plan to arrive in the early evening so you can enjoy the pubs and have the entire following day to explore!

Here are some approximate drive times to Doolin from many popular destinations in Ireland.

  • From Galway: Approximately 1.5 to 2 hours
  • From Dublin: Approximately 3.5 to 4 hours
  • From Cork: Approximately 3.5 to 4 hours
  • From Killarney: Approximately 3 to 3.5 hours

Book your rental car here.

The Best Time of Year to Visit Doolin

Summer (June – August):

Summer is peak tourist season with warmer weather and longer days. It’s a great time of year to hike the Doolin Coastal Trail, explore the Burren, and take a day trip to the Aran Islands. However, since it’s the busy season, accommodations can be booked quickly and be more expensive than at other times throughout the year. Make sure to book them early!

Fall (September – November):

October is my favorite time of year to visit Ireland. The crowds dissipate as the weather cools, but you’ll still benefit from long enough days to explore the area’s beauty. Prices will decrease, and you can likely score last-minute accommodations!

Winter (December – February): 

Winter brings crisp air and a calm atmosphere to Doolin. As the temperatures cool, head into Doolin’s cozy pubs for a hearty meal and a live music session. That being said, some places are closed for the off-season, so make sure that what you want to do in Doolin is still available.

Spring (March-May):

Spring is a beautiful time of year to visit Doolin! Wildflowers bloom, and Atlantic Puffins make the Cliffs of Moher their home. As it’s not quite the summer months, you won’t have to contend with large tourist crowds to see them! It’s also St. Patrick’s Day!

Cow in Doolin, Ireland

What to Pack for Doolin

When planning your Ireland packing list, consider the unpredictability of Irish weather and the activities on your itinerary. 

Clothing: When packing your clothes for Doolin and Ireland in general, remember to think in terms of layers. Start with a moisture-wicking shirt as a base layer, topped with a fleece jacket or sweater for additional warmth. For the lower half, consider fleece-lined leggings (I LOVE these) paired with waterproof pants for extra protection on rainy days. Your favorite pair of jeans and sweater are perfect for a night out in Doolin.

Footwear: Opt for sturdy, waterproof hiking boots or shoes with reliable tread, especially if you plan to hike from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher. Boots like Blundstones or Sorel are ideal for this environment. They’ll keep your feet dry and look cute both on the trails and in the pubs. Pack Darn Tough socks to prevent blisters and keep your feet comfortable all day. 

Rain Gear: Let’s accept the fact that it will rain during your trip to Ireland. So be prepared with a lightweight waterproof jacket and an umbrella

Accessories: Keep the elements at bay with a hat—whether a beanie, baseball cap, or wide-brimmed hat, it’ll shield you from sun and rain. Consider bringing a scarf and gloves for added warmth if you’re visiting in the colder months. 

Backpack: Choose a backpack that can accommodate extra layers, your camera, and a water bottle. If possible, opt for a waterproof option, like this one, to safeguard your belongings from unexpected showers.

Camera & Electronics: Remember to bring your fully charged camera (or smartphone) to capture the beauty of the islands. Make sure you have enough space for all the stunning photos you’ll take. Also, bring along a portable charger to keep your devices powered up throughout the day—investing in a reliable option like the one I use can make all the difference. Use your universal travel adapter to recharge for the next day’s adventures!

Reusable Water Bottle: Bring a reusable water bottle to keep you hydrated throughout the day. You can fill it up in the Cliffs of Moher visitor center after your hike! I prefer Hydro Flask water bottles for travel, and they finally made a lighter-weight bottle for travel and hiking! Get it here!

Shop all my favorite gear for Ireland here!

me standing in front of the Cliffs of Moher at sunset

Solo Female Travel in Doolin

If you’re a woman traveling Ireland alone, rest assured that Doolin, and Ireland as a whole, is an incredibly safe place to visit. I recommend that you refrain from telling people where you’re staying, wait until you leave to post about it on social media, and generally use common sense. But you should have a very fun and safe experience in Doolin.

How Many Days to Spend in Doolin

As you build your Ireland itinerary, you may wonder how many days to spend in Doolin. I highly recommend spending at least one night there. With one day in Doolin, you can spend the first day at the Cliffs of Moher, enjoy a night in the pubs, take the morning ferry over to Inisheer until midday, and then check out the Burren region on your way to your next destination.

The Best Things To Do in Doolin

Now that we’ve covered all of the practical tips for visiting Doolin let’s discuss the fun things to do while you’re there!

Doolin Cliff Walk

If you are blessed with the luck of the Irish and get a sunny day then I highly recommend the Doolin Cliff Walk to the Cliffs of Moher. Time it for about 3 hours before sunset so you’ll get to the Cliffs just as the sun begins to set but still have enough light to enjoy it! It’s stunning!

This walk is clearly marked and follows what feels like the edge of the earth for the majority of the time. A few steep inclines take you away from the cliff’s edge and through farmland; I mean, you are walking toward cliffs that are 702 ft high at their highest point, so inclines are to be expected.

Doolin Coastal Walk at Sunset

Here are a few essential pointers for the cliff walk:

  • Stay on the marked path. It’s easy to follow the correct path; try to avoid crossing the barriers for photo ops, as the ground has been known to crumble to the sea with people standing on it.
  • One section of the walk takes you directly in front of a cattle pen. Trust the sign that says to go right. I followed it right for a few steps, and it appeared the green pasture had dropped off into the Atlantic, so I turned to the road and rejoined the path a few meters later. What happens when you walk to the right is witnessing your first jaw-dropping views of the Cliffs of Moher, according to the people who followed instructions.
  • Wear waterproof hiking boots. Did you know that it rains in Ireland? So even if it’s a sunny day, there will be mud. I wore Nike running shoes, which were covered in mud by the end of the walk, and my feet were soaking wet. Learn from me and wear the right shoes that I mentioned in the packing section of this post!
  • There is one section that looks impassable, as the walkway over a trench was washed away. Just walk down to the rocks and back up again. You’ll be fine!
Cliffs of Moher at Sunset

When you’re done walking and enjoying the Cliffs of Moher, you can take the bus back to Doolin. Check the timetables so you don’t miss the last pick-up time of the day.

If doing this walk at sunset won’t work for your schedule or the evening calls for rain, consider joining a guided walk with local legend Pat Sweeney. His walks leave at 10:00 am daily from Gus O’Connor’s Pub, and you’ll learn about the Cliffs and Doolin as you make your way to the cliffs. The guided walk costs €25 and includes the taxi ride back to Doolin.

Visit the Cliffs of Moher

Whether or not you do the Doolin cliff walk, you absolutely must visit the Cliffs of Moher! The Cliffs of Moher is one of the top tourist destinations in Ireland, with over 1 million visitors per year! The Cliffs of Moher have been in movies like The Princess Bride, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and more recently, Irish Wish, adding to their lore. Beyond their big-screen fame, the views are absolutely spectacular from the top of the cliffs, and there are ample photo opportunities. It can get quite windy at the cliffs so follow my Cliffs of Moher travel tips and stay away from the cliff edge!

O'Brien's Tower at Sunset

Take a Cliffs of Moher Cruise

Want a different view of the Cliffs of Moher? Take a cruise and marvel at their height from below. Seeing them from below gives a great perspective on how high they are (and how dangerous it can be to stand on the edges).

From your boat, you’ll see people standing on the edge and realize that there truly is only a small bit of cliff below them as the sea erodes the cliffs from the bottom up.

You may also see Atlantic Puffins, depending on the time of year! April to July is the best time for Puffin sightings!

You can purchase your ticket with Doolin Ferry Co. at the tourist office or the Doolin Pier. Cliffs of Moher boat tours can also be combined with a day trip to Inisheer (Inis Oírr), the closest Aran Island.

Cliffs of Moher Cruise

Take a Day Trip to Inisheer on the Aran Islands

If you think Doolin feels rural and quiet, wait until you step off the ferry onto Inisheer Island. Inisheer is the smallest of the three Aran Islands and the closest to Doolin, taking only 20 minutes to arrive via ferry. 

One of the best things to do in Inisheer is rent a bike for €10 and ride around the island, seeing all the sites in about two hours. One of the main sites is the Plassey Shipwreck which is more or less still intact, save for the gaping hole in its rusted-out side. Don’t feel bad about taking photos here, as everyone onboard survived, thanks to the quick action of the islanders. 

Plassey Shipwreck on Inisheer

If riding a bike isn’t your thing, hire a carriage ride to see all the top spots with minimal exertion.

At the end of your day, head to Tigh Ned for a pint before boarding the ferry back to Doolin. Or, if you really want to soak up the unique atmosphere of the islands, stay the night!

If the weather is poor, ferries tend to cancel their trips due to rough seas. So, if you get a sunny day, take advantage of the opportunity to sail.

Book your day trip to the Aran Islands here.

Inisheer Island - the Smallest of the Aran Islands

Explore Doolin Village

Spend an afternoon exploring the small village of Doolin. Doolin has craft shops and galleries that sell locally made pottery, jewelry, and artwork. You can also check out the Doolin Sweater Shop (in the pink cottage) for a warm sweater. 

If you’re into photography, get your own photo of the famous Fisher Street. Fisher Street is the road that leads into the village and has brightly colored thatched cottages at the end!

The best things to do in Doolin

Visit the Doolin Wilde Chocolate Shop

A few doors down from the pink sweater shop is the Doolin Wilde Chocolate Shop, a must visit for fudge! All the chocolate is made locally in Tuamgraney County Clare, which you can visit for free (about an hour’s drive from Doolin). 

I tried the Rocky Road and the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, which were fantastic treats for the cliff walk.

The woman helping me pick out my chocolates was incredibly welcoming. She chatted with me about my Irish heritage and treated each customer who entered as if they were long-lost friends.

Doolin Wild Chocolate Shop

Practice Your Photography at Doonagore Castle

Doonagore Castle is a 16th century round tower perched on a hill almost as if it is protecting Doolin. These days the castle is privately owned so entrance is prohibited. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t walk up the road behind the castle and take some epic landscape photos!

Doonagore Castle at Sunset in Doolin, Ireland

Listen to Live Music in Doolin’s Pubs

There really is no shortage of excellent music in Ireland. It’s almost as if the Irish have this special musical gene. That being said, the music played in Doolin’s pubs is some of the best I’ve heard in the country. You can listen every night in any of the pubs, but there are two specific musicians you should seek out.

Ask your B&B hosts where Blackie O’Connell and/or Eoghan Neff are playing that night – everyone in town will know. Blackie plays the uilleann pipes, think bagpipes, but they make beautiful music. Eoghan Neff is a fiddle player who I heard play at McDermott’s. He’s like next-level Ed Sheeran, using a machine to layer sounds to create an entire song – fantastic. 

Find out where those two are playing for the night, and head to that pub! I heard them at McDermott’s and McGann’s.

McGann's Pub Doolin, Ireland

Or you could do a pub crawl! Start at a pub on the edge of town opposite where you’re staying. This way, you’ll be close to your bed at the end of the night! Since music starts around 9:30 pm at each pub, you’ll have about 30 minutes to listen before you walk to the next pub. When you’re short on time, this is a fun way to soak up the atmosphere of each pub and get a great glimpse of the beautiful music to enjoy here.

Enjoy Traditional Irish Food

Doolin is a fishing town, which means its seafood, specifically its salmon, is on point. Smoked salmon appears on every pub menu in town, and you should most definitely order it.

Each pub serves food daily, which is great during the offseason as the other restaurants in town were closed during my visit in October. So I had one meal in each of the pubs and not one of them disappointed.

And since you may be wondering what to order, I’ll tell you what I ate to help you decide!

Here’s a rundown of what I ate in Doolin’s pubs:

  • Gus O’Connor’s: I ate the smoked salmon plate here for lunch before I started my walk to the Cliffs of Moher. I was shocked at how much salmon was on my plate for less than €10. I left feeling comfortably full and energized for my walk. Highly recommend. 
  • Fitzpatrick’s Bar: I went for lunch, during which they cater to tour buses, so lunch is served carvery style. I opted for the seafood chowder, and it was excellent.
  • McGann’s: Oh, McGann’s. I ate here twice. The first night, I forgot to pay my tab before leaving. I returned the following day, and they didn’t seem bothered by it, but I paid for my delicious Guinness Stew and numerous drinks the next day, vowing not to return out of embarrassment. Then I got over myself and returned two nights later and had their salmon and mussels. The salmon was better at Gus O’Connor’s, but the mussels were fantastic!
  • McDermott’s: Unfortunately, I made a poor ordering decision with the fish and chips. I keep trying fish and chips, hoping to like the meal, but I just don’t. I’m sure if you enjoy fish and chips, they’re great. They weren’t overly breaded or greasy; it’s just not my meal. I would say that McDermott’s prices were just slightly higher than the other pubs.
McDermott's Pub Doolin

Visit the Burren

Take a 10-minute drive to Burren National Park to see the unique karst landscape, a vast expanse of limestone pavement interspersed with lush green valleys and hidden caves. 

In the spring and summer, the limestone rocks of the Burren are dotted with gorgeous flowers, and even in the winter, greenery sprouts in the crevices of the rock.

The Burren National Park near Doolin Ireland

If you have time, there are several walks in the National Park, ranging from 30 minutes to 3 hours, so you can really immerse yourself in this rocky landscape.

Alternatively, visit the Burren Perfumery, located in the heart of the Burren, to learn about traditional herbal remedies and perhaps purchase a perfume made from locally sourced botanicals. 

Check out the Burren National Park’s website for more information about the Burren.

The unique flora of the Burren

Explore Doolin Cave

The Doolin Cave is home to the Great Stalactite, one of the longest free-handing stalactites in Europe. A guided tour takes you 125 steps underground to witness it for yourself. When you’re done exploring the cave, you can walk along the eco-trail, enjoying views of the glacial valley and native plants. 

Book your tickets to the Doolin Cave here.

Explore Ailwee Cave

The Ailwee Cave in the heart of the Burren is suspected to be over 330 million years old! A 45-minute guided tour takes you through the caves, where you can see a frozen waterfall and the 10,000-year-old skull of a brown bear!

Book your ticket to the Aillwee Cave here.

Irish flag over Doolin

Where to Stay in Doolin

There are plenty of accommodation options in Doolin to suit any budget, including B&Bs, hotels, and even hostels. 

Here are my top recommendations for places to stay in Doolin:

Dubhlinn House: Dubhlinn House is a charming bed and breakfast located in the heart of Doolin. In addition to cozy rooms, Dubhlinn House will offer you a packed lunch for your day exploring the area, onsite yoga classes, and bicycle rentals! You’ll have everything you need in this charming B&B.  

Check rates and availability here.

Hotel Doolin: Hotel Doolin is Ireland’s first certified carbon-neutral hotel! The rooms are elegantly decorated, there is a pub onsite with live music and a gorgeous outdoor area. I highly recommend considering staying here!

Check rates and availability here.

Fiddle + Bow: Fiddle + Bow is a boutique hotel located in the heart of Doolin. The rooms are beautifully decorated, there is an onsite bar and restaurant, and the staff is friendly. This is a beautiful place to stay in Doolin. 

Check rates and availability here.

The Cottage Fairwinds: Stay in a quintessential Irish cottage at the Cottage Fairewinds. This gorgeous three-bedroom cottage is excellent for families or friends looking for a relaxing getaway. The cottage has a patio with great views of the lush green fields, and it’s a short walk to some of Doolin’s best pubs! 

Check rates and availability here.

The best breakfast table at Nellie Dee's in Doolin

I spent three nights in Doolin because I found the people there extremely warm and welcoming. I loved soaking in the wide-open spaces and the coastal winds. Doolin is a great place to slow down and enjoy the moment in front of you, with beautiful Irish music as the soundtrack to your experience. 

I’d love to hear about your experience in Doolin. Leave me a comment below with your favorite thing to do in Doolin, Ireland. And if you found this post helpful in your Ireland trip planning, please share it!

Like this post? Pin it to Pinterest!

What to do in Doolin, Ireland
The best things to do in Doolin, Ireland
The best things to do in Doolin, Ireland.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.