Doolin (Dúlainn) is a small community in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. The main attraction is the Cliffs of Moher, and it's also an access point for reaching the Aran Islands and The Burren. Doolin pubs have a lively trad music scene.
There isn't really a village here, but several small collections of buildings: the Harbour, Fisher Street leading up from it, Fitz's Cross 1 km inland, and Roadford another km inland. Another 7 km brings you to the short street that is Lisdoonvarna (Lios Dúin Bhearna, "fort of the gapped keep"), also described on this page.
The main road is N67, which branches off M18 at Ennis and loops north through Ennistymon. The turn off to Doolin is 5 km south of Lisdoonvarna while N67 continues through Ballyvaughan and Kinvarra to Galway.
A slow scenic route is along the cliff tops, northwards branching off N67 at Ennistymon for Lahinch, Liscannor and Cliffs of Moher to Doolin, and southwards branching off at Ballyvaughan to arrive via Black Head and Fanore.
Bus 350 follows that slow route from Galway six times a day via Kinvarra, Ballyvaughan, Fanore, 1 Lisdoonvarna, Doolin village and pier, Cliffs of Moher, Liscannor, Lahinch, Ennistymon, Corofin and Inagh to Ennis.
Doolin is a straggly but small place. It's 7 km to Lisdoonvarna or to the Cliffs of Moher.
North Clare can be a great place to cycle and Doolin is the start of 4 cycle routes.
- Doolin Rent-a-Bike, Fisher St, Doolin V95 D6V4, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 08:00-19:00. They rent touring bikes, they don't have off-road models.
The Paddywagon is a minibus that shuttles between Doolin pier and village, Cliffs of Moher, Kilconnell, Liscannor, Lahinch and Ennistymon. So you can ride one way and hike the other, and avoid bringing a vehicle to the crowded Cliffs car park. It runs every couple of hours, adult €8.
- Crab Island is the uninhabited lump 500 m off Doolin pier. Nothing there except the remains of a 19th century police post, showing that Victorian authorities were as concerned with seaborne goings-on as on land.
- 1 Doonagore Castle. Closed. This 16th-century tower house is nowadays a private holiday home and not open to the public, but there are great views from the single-track lane that runs by it. Don't try to park along here.
- 2 Doolin Cave (Poll an Eidhneáin), Craggycoradon East, Doolin, ☏ . Daily 10:00-16:00. Show cave with a remarkable stalactite 7.2 m long, one of the longest in the world. And actually that's all there is, the cave is otherwise undecorated. Tours start on the hour with the last at 15:00. Adult €14, child €7.
- 3 Cliffs of Moher (7 km south of Doolin). Daily 08:00-dusk. The cliffs stretch away north and south, but here they reach 214 m above the sea. There are three main viewing areas, free if you can get here without a car (see "Get around"). The charge covers parking, use of the visitor centre (which has a cafe), and viewing from O'Brien's Tower, built in 1835 as an observation tower for tourists. Views take in the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, Maum Turk Mountains and the Twelve Bens to the north in Connemara, and Loop Head to the south. The cliffs were built 320 million years ago by the silt of a river delta, compacted into beds of shale and sandstone. Watch for puffins, hawks, gulls, guillemots, shags, ravens and choughs. Adult €8.
- See Lahinch for the cliffs further south to Kilconnell and Liscannor.
- 4 Spa Wells, Rathbaun, Lisdoonvarna. May-Aug daily 10:00-13:00. Lisdoonvarna was a spa in Victorian times thanks to these pungent spring waters. Donation.
- The Burren: Doolin and Lisdoonvarna are good bases for exploring this area of limestone scenery.
- See Ballyvaughan for Fanore Beach, Caherconnell Stone Fort, Poulnabrone Dolmen and Aillwee Cave.
- Visit the Aran Islands. April-Oct there are several daily sailings from Doolin pier, for day trips or point-to-point ferry rides, foot passengers only. Boats take about 30 min to Inis Oirr, 75 min to the largest island Inis Mór. Inis Meáin is in between but takes 90 min as the boat calls on its way back from Inis Mór. Adult fares are €20-25.
- The main operator is Doolin Ferry Company, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Two other operators' websites redirect you to Doolin Ferry Company.
- Sail to Cliffs of Moher: April-Oct they also have hour-long boat trips beneath the cliffs, adult €15.
- Walk along the cliff tops between Doolin, Cliffs of Moher, and Kilconnell near Liscannor. Guided walks led by a local farmer also go as far as the Cliffs visitors centre.
- Caving: the real thing, not show-caves. The limestone bedrock is riddled with caves, and Poll na gColm is Ireland's longest, with over 12 km of mapped passages. You need suitable training and equipment; the caves can flood rapidly in wet weather. They continue west beneath the sea, and the Green Holes of Doolin just north of the harbour is one that non-cavers can peer into through a gash in the rock.
- Doolin Folk Festival[dead link] is 11 – 13 June 2021.
- Doolin Motorcycle Fest is probably 20 - 22 Aug 2021 in Lisdoonvarna, tbc.
- Matchmaker Festival[dead link] throughout September in Lisdoonvarna continues a tradition from 1831 of trying to fix up the local farm boys once they'd finished the harvest. It was boosted from the 1880s when the spa fashion brought Victorian visitors to take the waters. It's nowadays mainly a singles music festival, with the next held 4-27 Sept 2020.
- Traditional Music Shop, Fisher St, Doolin V95 CP21, ☏ . Bodhrans and other Irish instruments, and CDs with Irish music.
- Village Crafts Shop is open daily Apr-Oct, Sa Su Nov-Mar.
- Burren Smokehouse, Kincora Rd, Lisdoonvarna V95 HD70, ☏ . Daily Jan Feb 10:00-16:00, Mar Sep-Dec 10:00-17:00, Apr-Aug 09:00-18:00. Smoked salmon, mackerel etc.
Food is served at all the pubs, and there is a small grocery store on Fisher Street. Beware that several places only take cash, and there's no ATM in Doolin.
- Gus O'Connor's Pub, Fisher Street, Doolin V95 FY67, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 09:30-23:00. Good pub with food, great service, sure to warm you up after a breezy day on the cliffs or at sea. It's gotten onto the tourist circuit but still a decent honest place. Trad music every night.
- McGann's, Main St, Roadford, Doolin, ☏ . Su-W 10:00-23:30, Th-Sa 10:00-00:30. Pub with trad music, it's the food that draws admiring reviews.
- McDermott's, Roadford, Doolin V95 P285, ☏ . Su-W 10:00-23:00, Th-Sa 10:00-00:30. Grand little place with live music most nights and good home cooked food.
- Fitzpatrick's Bar is within Hotel Doolin, see Sleep.
- O'Connor's Riverside Camping & Caravan Site, Doolin, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Site with 50 pitches near village centre, open all year. Tent €10 ppn, caravan €25.
- Nagle's Camping & Caravan Park, Ballaghaline, Doolin (100 m from ferry jetty), ☏ . Well-run site open mid-March to mid-October. Tent €10 ppn, caravan €28.
- Aille River Hostel, Ocean Rd, Doolin, ☏ , email@example.com. Beautiful hostel with 3 small dorms, private rooms and camping in back garden. Dogs, musicians and other reprobates allowed but no hen or stag parties. From €10 ppn.
- 1 Sea View House, Fisher St, Doolin, ☏ . Gorgeous little B&B with great views towards the Atlantic. Also has two self-catering lodges. No availability in summer 2020.
- 2 Fisherman's Rest, Fisher Lane, Doolin, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Small but clean rooms with en suite bathrooms. Friendly, colourful host.
- 3 Daly's House B&B, Doonmacfelim, Doolin, ☏ , email@example.com. Clean welcoming B&B.
- 4 Riverside Cottage, Fisher St, Doolin V95 K5C7, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Well-kept B&B in renovated 1850 cottage.
- 5 Cannville House B&B, Kilfenora Rd, Lisdoonvarna, ☏ . Family run B&B, all rooms en-suite, with good home cooking. B&B double €80.
- Burren Hostel, Kincora Rd, Lisdoonvarna V95 WP40, ☏ , email@example.com. A 130-bed hostel open Mar-Oct. Rooms sleep 2-5, there isn't a dorm. Rooms from €50.
- 6 Ballinalacken Castle, Coast Rd, Craggycorradan East, Doolin, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The castle itself is yet another Irish medieval masonry shambles, but the rooms of the hotel are modern, spacious and well-designed. B&B double €185.
- Sheedy's, Main St, Lisdoonvarna V95 NH22 (next to Imperial Hotel), ☏ . Splendid upscale hotel in 18th c mansion with excellent dining. Open Apr-Sept. No children under 11 or dogs. No availability shown in 2020. B&B double from €180.
- See Kilfenora for Smithstown or Ballynagowan Castle, available for self-catering lets, sleeps 8.
As of July 2020, Doolin has a good mobile and 4G signal from all Irish carriers, but 5G has not yet reached this area.
- The Burren is a wild sparse landscape a few km inland.
- Northeast along the coast brings you via Fanore and Ballyvaughan into Galway Bay, with lively Galway city sparkling across the slate-and-indigo waters.
- West are the Aran Islands - most visitors are day-trippers but the islands deserve a longer stay.
- Southwest follow the coast through Lahinch and picturesque Ennistymon towards Kilkee and dramatic Loop Head.
- Ennis inland is a pleasant market town ringed by ruined abbeys and other historic sights.