Before I arrived in Dinan, I thought this would be an average city trip. Oh, I was wrong! Dinan surprised me in all possible ways because of its quaint architecture, delicious creperies, and unexpectedly cute harbor! So if you’re planning to visit Dinan, you made the right choice!
The city of Dinan has a history that goes back hundreds of years. Up until today, you can see the remains of its majestic fortifications. In this guide, I hope to inspire you to visit this wonderful city by giving you all the tips from what to do and where to eat to where to stay!
Let’s dive into it!
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Best things to do in Dinan
Climb the Tour de l’Horloge
The number one highlight of this city is definitely climbing the Tour de l’Horloge. This old bell tower gives you a magnificent view of the city and its surroundings while also giving you some information about the history of Dinan.
Did you know that Dinan was such a popular religious place that one-third of the city consisted of religious buildings? Did you know that the towers of Dinan were used as a prison for English and Dutch war prisoners? These are just a few of the things you learn when visiting this tower!
An adult ticket is just €4, but I should give the disclaimer that all info is displayed in French, not in English. However, if you don’t speak a bit of French, you can still enjoy the wonderful view from above!
Rent an electric boat
In the tiny harbor of Dinan, you have the possibility of renting small electric boats. I rented one myself and it was a super fun experience! This is definitely something for you if you’re tired of walking in the city and want to relax a little bit in a green environment. The view says enough right ;).
For the smallest boat of 4 (the “Ace”), we paid €38 for an hour. Upon departure, you get the necessary explanations (don’t worry, it’s not difficult at all and you don’t need a permit!) and a route you can follow. I highly recommend reserving a boat online beforehand because otherwise, you run the risk of not having one, especially in the afternoon.
Admire Rue du Petit Fort
The cutest street in Dinan is called Rue du Petit Fort and runs from the harbor below to the city center. This quaint street is full of half-timbered houses, small art galleries, and aromatic flowers. Hint: this is also the perfect photo spot!
When you ascent to the city you’ll also pass by Jerzual Gate and you can proceed your way into another cute medieval street, Rue du Jerzual! Oh, and if you’re hungry, there are plenty of creperies to be found as well.
Have crêpes or galettes at Creperie Ahna
Yes, the specialty of the region is crepes, and (even better) galettes, which are savory crepes made of buckwheat with savory toppings like charcuterie, cheese, and vegetables. Honestly, they are too delicious to exist! With your crepe or galette, you should also order a “bolée” of cider since cider is also a well-known regional product. Here they don’t drink it from a glass but from a cup! That’s why it’s called a “bolée” of cider.
The best creperie in town is, according to TripAdvisor and Google, Creperie Ahna. We tried to get hold of a table there but we were just too late so I ate a galette Dinanaise at Creperie Le Be New. Their crepes and galettes were wonderful thus I highly recommend eating here. Moreover, they only use bio products and even sell art in their restaurant!
Visit church Saint-Malo
The Saint-Malo Church is one of the two main churches in Dinan and one of the remains of a rich religious history. This place is not only nice to seek refreshment on a warm day but the church is quite impressive to walk through as well! Especially take note of the stained glass windows that depict important scenes from the history of Dinan.
Admire basilique Saint-Sauveur de Dinan
Basilique Saint-Sauveur de Dinan is very easy to spot from the Tour de l’Horloge and also beautiful to watch from above. I personally prefer this church over the church of Saint-Malo, but that’s of course subjective ;). On the outside, take a look at the statues of legendary creatures that knights had seen on their crusades. On the inside, pay attention to the tomb that contains the heart of Bertrand Du Guesclin, a commander during the Hundred Year’s War.
Visit the castle of Dinan
Another highlight of the city is the castle of Dinan, an impressive building characterized by its large tower where you can relive medieval history. This 13th-century castle is home to countless activities for all ages such as nocturnes and a scenographic experience.
Similar to the Tour de l’Horloge, explanations in the castle are in French, so if your language skills are not great, you might want to consider another activity. But if you’re up for some medieval charm, then take a look at their offering! An adult ticket only costs €7.5.
Walk on the Jerzual Gate
You cannot only see the city walls from afar and walk underneath them, but you can also climb on them! There’s a path running over the Jerzual Gate so if you pass by I would definitely recommend this walk. At the time of my visit, however, the city wall was closed because of renovations so I hope you have more luck ;).
Stroll around the city
Everywhere you walk in the city of Dinan, you’ll find charming corners. Therefore, I highly recommend just strolling around, maybe taking a look at some of the art galleries or shopping souvenirs! You’ll also see quite some street musicians who light up the atmosphere in the streets, making your visit just that little bit more charming.
Hike to Léhon
Alongside the river, where you can also rent a boat, there are hiking trails that take you through forests and fields to the surrounding region. I particularly recommend hiking to Léhon, where you’ll find Abbey Saint-Magloire de Léhon and the castle of Léhon.
After a walk of only 30 minutes from the port of Dinan, you’ll arrive at this little piece of paradise. Take a visit to the church, admire the monastery cloister, stroll through the gardens, cross the cobble-stone bridge and climb up to the castle for a magnificent view… plenty of reasons to add Léhon as a stop to your trip!
Where to stay in Dinan
Dinan has plenty of good accommodations but the best of them all is probably La Maison Pavie. With a delicious breakfast, charming interior, and a score of 9.6 out of 10 (!!!), you’ll likely want to consider spending your night here! But of course, I still have some other options for you:
- La cour secrète – cute apartment in the heart of the old city
- Appartement de charme classé 4 étoiles coeur historique de Dinan – classy and very centrally located
- Luxueuse Villa au pied du château Dinan – luxurious apartment with jacuzzi
- Villa Tourelle – b&b with pool and a view of the castle
How to get to Dinan
Getting to Dinan is easiest by car. Moreover, there’s even free parking at your disposal at the port of Dinan. Although this free parking is located in a field and thus not quite convenient on a rainy day, it is the perfect spot to park your car if you don’t want to spend unnecessary money.
When crossing the viaduct of Dinan you’ll see the signs to get to the free parking. Don’t let the fact that it’s outside the city center scare you because you’ll be able to start your visit at the charming Port of Dinan and climb your way up through the quaint Rue du Petit Fort. A perfect start to your visit! Plus, the city is so small that you can easily be anywhere within 10 minutes.
If you come by public transport, you can arrive at the train station of Dinan. From there, it’s only a 10-minute walk to the city center so this is an equally good way of getting there! All major cities have train connections to Dinan and otherwise, you can arrive at the train station by bus.
Right now, I provided you with all the information necessary to plan a marvelous stay in Dinan! I hope you have a great time exploring the city and that this guide has helped you gain some inspiration. If you have something to add to this blog post or want to share your own experience visiting Dinan, feel free to leave a comment below!