Discovering Doolin Ireland- Six Spectacular Things To Do
Doolin Ireland is the gateway to several of the most popular sites along the Wild Atlantic Way, a 1500 mile long route along Ireland’s west coast. The section of it around Doolin includes the Aran Islands, the Cliffs Of Moher, and the Burren. It’s also well known for the local pubs which typically offer live traditional (“trad”) and folk music. There’s even a music festival every year. Doolin is a speck of a town and can be walked from end to end in about 15 minutes. While popular with tourists, it has a population of only about 500 full-time residents, but its location makes it the perfect spot to spend a couple of days exploring the natural wonders.
Doolin Ireland-48 Hours on the Wild Atlantic Way
The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are what everyone comes here to see and whether you view it from the top or from the sea, or both like we did, it’s not hard to come away impressed with the beauty and magnitude of these majestic cliffs.
The Cliffs have their own visitor’s center and shops and in order to be able to park in the parking lot across the road, it’s necessary to purchase an entrance ticket. Tickets can be booked in advance for a discounted rate and fluctuate based on time of day. All the info for visiting the Cliffs of Moher can be found here. Technically, it’s free to walk along the cliffs and the admission fee is for the parking and the visitor’s center, so if you are hiking the path from Doolin, you may not need to pay.
The Aran Islands
There are three islands off the coast of Doolin which are accessible by ferry (and by both ferry and flight from Galway); Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer. We chose to do a day trip to the smallest of the Aran islands called Inis Oirr (commonly known as Inisheer) because it is closest to Doolin. We combined the ferry trip to the island with a boat tour along the base of the Cliffs of Moher.
To reach the island, we purchased tickets from Doolin Ferries at an office close to our hotel. The next morning we went down to the ferry dock to get on the boat. There are several companies, all offering similar trips to the islands for about the same cost.
The ride over to the island was quick and we were blessed with a beautiful day of sunshine.
Scroll through the slideshow below to see some scenes of Inis Oirr from our walk around the island. It’s also possible to rent bicycles or hire a horse cart to take you around the island but we chose to experience it on foot. We were able to see the ruins of an old castle and shipwreck, views of the main village, and of course cows.
For lunch, we stopped in at the cozy pub called Tigh Ned where we had a warm grilled panini and some homemade soup served with Irish soda bread, as well as the local beer. Later we stopped in at another pub with a giant rock slab table in front for a quick pint before getting on the ferry back to Doolin.
The Burren is important from both a prehistoric and geologic standpoint. It is the largest karst formation area in Western Europe and covers over 300 square kilometers. Instead of the tall limestone karsts you may have seen in China or Thailand, these present as cracks and crevices in the ground. The area is also important to botanists as both Alpine and Mediterranean plants grow here including orchids, mosses, and ferns. For more on The Burren, please see the previous post on Prehistoric Ireland.
The geological formations of the area (see the Burren above) lend themselves to some amazing cave structures. We had really wanted to see these caves but ran out of time, so we’ll just have to make another trip!
The Doolin Cave is known for its “Great Stalactite” which is a massive free-hanging stalactite (one of the largest in the world). Find out more about the Doolin Cave here.
There is also the Aillwee Cave, Birds of Prey Center, and Cheese shop– we didn’t have time for this either but if we’d had a 3rd night in Doolin we surely would have visited. Birds of Prey? Check! Cheese? Check! Aillwee Caves looks like a ton of fun!
This iconic castle is not hard to miss when you drive between Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher. Doonagore Castle on a hill overlooking the ocean and the town of Doolin. Of course we wanted to see inside, but the castle is privately owned so you can only admire it from afar and daydream about what it would be like to sleep in that tower.
Enjoy Good Food and Listen to Live Music
Two of the most famous pubs in Doolin are Fitzpatrick’s and Gus O’Connor’s and we ate dinner at both of them. Fitzpatrick’s Bar is well known for offering live traditional music 365 nights a year. Fitz’s Pub is part of the Hotel Doolin and more info on them can be found here.
Gus O’Connor’s pub was established in 1832 and also offers live music nightly from February to November and on weekends the rest of the year.
For more dining options in Doolin, check out this site.
Where To Stay In Doolin Ireland
We stayed in the lovely Doolin Inn which offered everything we needed; a central location, free parking, a comfortable room, and a bountiful breakfast in the morning filled with home-baked goods. Scroll through the slideshow below to see our room and the view.
There are lots of other options in Dooin for places to stay so make sure to check out the link to booking.com (affiliate) below.
Have you been to Doolin Ireland? Do you want to visit? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!
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For more posts on Ireland, make sure to check out the Ireland Destination Page.
NOTE: Everything on this trip was paid for by us. Nothing was complimentary or given in exchange for reviews or promotions.
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Love your photos! We did a trip around Ireland a few years back. It’s such a beautiful country! Pity we didn’t get to see Doolin.
Thank you! I think that just means you have to go back! 🙂
A place with some great memories from a visit in 1996.
Standing in the pug listening to the music – I couldn’t move for the crowd, walking along the path to the Cliffs of Moher, hiking across the Burren looking for plants, etc. We stayed in the Doolin campsite, and we didn’t get out to the Aran Islands – very low budget trip – but what a wonderful time we had. You’ve brought the memories for me. Thank you.
Ah, love those memories. Places change, yet also stay the same in many ways. 🙂
Gosh your photos are awesome and I love all your suggestions. It’s been six years since we were in Ireland and I really need to go back. We did many of the things here but not all and I really wish we had gone out to the islands. So a trip must happen in the future. Great post. Saved for later.
The islands are gorgeous. I’d like to go back someday and spend some time on each one, not just day trips.
Fantastic post and your photos are beautiful. A road trip in Ireland is in my travel wish list. I will keep this post for a future reference.
Thank you! It really is lovely there. I hope you get to go someday.
Linda (LD Holland)
We had just a small taste test of Ireland and we plan to go back for a long road trip. You have added some great spots for Doolin along the Wild Atlantic Way. The stunning Cliffs of Moher are absolutely not to be missed with those stunning views. It would be fun to take a ferry for day trips to one or more of the Aran Islands. And we could not possibly be in Ireland without visiting a castle or two!