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- 23 Feb 2020, 3 nights
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Ireland's village of Doolin (which is actually three small villages) is a scattering of stone buildings surrounded by craggy hills and coastline. Wander down Fisher Street to see postcard-like houses, then stop by the famed trio of pubs to discover the village's renowned lively spirit. Music fills the streets here, with live bands playing traditional songs each evening and a range of festivals taking place every year. This stretch of Ireland's west coast is also home to historic sites and kilometres of hiking trails with dramatic views.
There are a few hostels in Doolin to choose from where you can expect free Wi-Fi and even a free breakfast. Get cosy in a 300-year-old renovated cottage, or pick a converted 18th-century farmhouse with traditional high pine ceilings and a turf-fire stove in the common room. There's a modern Doolin hostel too, with its own café that serves steaming fresh coffee and meals made with regional produce. Most Doolin hostels are run by locals who'll give handy sightseeing tips and take you out on free tours.
The village of Doolin only has a few streets flanked by fields stretching to the coastline of the Atlantic. It's a small but energetic place, as you'll see in the old pubs filled with live performers in the town centre. Take to the town or surrounding fields for festivals celebrating everything from local folk music and surfing to Harley Davidson motorcycles. Nearby is the other-worldly rocky landscape of The Burren, once a seabed formed millions of years ago.
Doolin and the encompassing region is a favourite for outdoor activities like bouldering and mountain biking, and even sea kayaking and caving. Tolkien fans should head to Poll na gColm, said to be the character Gollum's hole. In the UNESCO Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, you can try rock climbing on the 700ft cliffs or go underground into Doolin Cave, home to an ancient free-hanging stalactite that's the longest in the Northern hemisphere.
Shannon Airport is the closest international airport at 68km away. From there, you'll reach Doolin in under 2 hours by taking a bus into nearby Ennis and a second one to the village's centre. There are also daily buses running from well-known cities like Galway. During summer, the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk Shuttle travels between the cliffs and Liscannor. To explore further, you can catch a ferry from Doolin Pier to the nearby Aran Islands between March and October.