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10 things to do in Dinan in Brittany

10 things to do in Dinan in Brittany

Brittany City Guide Emerald Coast France

Dinan is a charming medieval town, not to be confused with Dinard! Indeed, Dinard is located across from Saint-Malo, while Dinan is slightly inland along the Rance River: it’s a riverside town! If you love ancient architecture, you’ll adore visiting Dinan.

So, if you’re looking for inspiration and things to do in Dinan in Brittany, let me guide you.

10 Things to Do in Dinan

What I particularly love about Dinan is its medieval atmosphere. From half-timbered houses to the old stone ramparts, it feels like wandering through the Middle Ages. So, here are some things to do to explore Dinan in Brittany from every angle.

Explore the Historic Center of Dinan

In Dinan’s city center, typical half-timbered houses line the streets. The Cordeliers and Merciers Square is an essential stop to admire Dinan’s architecture.

If you have time, I also recommend taking a stroll to the Dinan Market Halls, a perfect place for market enthusiasts.

visit dinan in brittany

Anyway, in the city center, the streets are narrow, the cobblestone streets reminiscent of small Breton villages. There are also numerous shops and restaurants that add the perfect touch of liveliness to the place.

My advice? Take the time to wander through the streets and alleys at random; you may come across some lovely surprises. The city center isn't very large, so there's little risk of getting lost.

Climb to the Top of the Clock Tower

The Clock Tower dominates the town with its 45-meter height! It was built in the 15th century by the town’s bourgeoisie as a symbol of their power.

At the time, its role was to watch over the town. But in the 16th century, a clock was installed. The mechanism has not been changed since then, making it one of the oldest in Europe. For your information, two bells chime every quarter of an hour, and a larger one every hour.

If you’re up for it, you can take a tour of this tower and climb to the top by taking the 158 steps of the building. The panoramic view of Dinan and the Rance Valley will surely leave you impressed.

As a reference, the entrance ticket costs €4 per adult.

Admire the Basilica of Saint-Sauveur and Saint-Malo Church

Dinan bears a strong religious heritage with evidence of Catholicism’s presence in the region.

An absolute must-see in Dinan is the Basilica of Saint-Sauveur, a beautiful blend of architectural styles. Constructed from the 12th century onwards, the basilica houses the tomb of Bertrand Du Guesclin, a famous Breton who left his mark on Dinan’s history.

Smaller but equally lovely, Saint-Malo Church stands out for its stained glass windows. If you observe them closely, you’ll recognize Dinan’s history in them.

Stroll by Dinan’s Port

It’s impossible to visit Dinan without stopping at the port. If the sun is shining, you’ll love sipping a coffee and soaking up some sun! To explore Dinan from all angles, the port is an excellent starting point.

Dinan’s port is just a few minutes from the city center and its hustle and bustle, yet it offers a completely different ambiance.

dinan little port

The area is particularly relaxing and soothing. If you’re looking for the perfect spot for photos, the little bridge over the Rance seems to be the ideal place.

Visit Dinan Castle

Dinan Castle is an iconic monument in the region. It was built at the end of the 14th century at the request of Duke John IV, who wanted to assert his power. The castle’s history is quite impressive, and even from the outside, you’ll be amazed by its various towers: the Duke’s Tower and the Coëtquen Tower.

Dinan's castle
Source: Deposit Photos

But the castle is also known because Anne of Brittany, in the 15th century, chose it as her residence after the death of her husband, King Charles VIII.

But the Castle is also known because it is the place Anne of Brittany chose in the 15th century to settle there after the death of her husband, King Charles VIII.

For a long time, a museum occupied the castle’s keep, but it closed a few years ago to prevent the works from becoming damp. Nevertheless, it is still possible to visit the castle.

To learn more about the history of the site, I recommend opting for a guided tour, included in the ticket price (€8 per adult). However, this is not available all year round. I invite you to check directly on the castle’s website for more practical information.

Stroll on the Ramparts of Dinan in Brittany

The town of Dinan is protected by 3 km of ramparts overlooking the Rance. You can spot them from afar when you arrive in Dinan, and they immediately immerse you in the medieval atmosphere of the town!

Unlike the ramparts of Saint-Malo, which can easily be toured, only a small part of Dinan’s ramparts is accessible for self-guided visits. To have full access, you will need to take a guided tour available at the Tourist Office.

My advice? To enjoy the ramparts even more, know that every 2 years, the Ramparts Festival takes place in July and plunges the place into the heart of history, giving it a medieval feel: jousting tournaments, medieval market, and a grand parade are on the program! Next one is in July 2025.

Discover the Artisans on Rue du Jerzual

Rue du Jerzual is the most famous street in the village. It’s the main artery of Dinan because it connects the city center to the port. You can’t visit Dinan without stopping by.

But it is especially known because you will find many artisan shops and artists’ workshops there. For your information, this street was the favorite place of weavers and tanners during the industrial era.

jerzual street in Dinan brittany

However, you need to be in good shape to walk around! The street is only 500m long, but it has a significant elevation change ranging from 12 to 18%.

Take a ride on the little train

Dinan is also equipped with a tourist train! The ride lasts 40 minutes and takes in the town’s main attractions. I like this kind of tour. It may seem childish, but in the end, you really learn a lot about the town!

If you’re interested in visiting Dinan by train, head for the Esplanade la Résistance. There are departures every hour from 10 a.m. (except Sundays, from 2 p.m.). Tickets cost €10 per person.

Please note that the little train only runs from mid-April to the end of September.

Discover the English Gardens

The Emerald Coast is particularly influenced by English culture, and Dinan is no exception.

In fact, there is a small English garden that is worth a visit, if only for the clear view of the valley.

The English garden of Dinan was created in 1853, on the site of the old cemetery of Dinan, in honor of a British colony. It’s a nice place to discover another aspect of Dinan in Brittany.

dinan in brittany

Take a cruise on the Rance

Dinan’s little port is very pretty, but if you’ve got your sea legs, why not take a little cruise on the Rance to see Dinan from a different angle? I’ve done it several times, and it’s so relaxing!

cruise on the rance in brittany

The River Rance takes on emerald green tones, making the scenery quite magical. Compagnie Corsaire runs cruises from Saint-Malo, but you can also find a boat tour from Dinan. Along the way, you’ll sail up the Rance, passing lovely little villages like Saint-Suliac.

If you like, and especially in summer, you can also take a kayak trip on the Rance. The Dinan nautical school offers kayaks, canoes and paddles for hire.

Not-to-be-missed events in Dinan

Here are the events and festivals not to be missed in Dinan.

International Celtic Harp Festival

Every summer, a music festival takes place in Dinan. This gathering of lovers of medieval music can listen to Celtic harps.

Throughout the festival, open stages are organized, as well as concerts and events. There are even introductory workshops for those wishing to learn to play the harp.

This year’s festival runs from July 10 to 14, 2024.

The Ramparts Festival in Dinan

I mentioned it above, but every 2 years, Dinan comes alive for the Fête des Remparts. Over a weekend in July, a host of events take place to celebrate the medieval era.

In 2023, Dinan’s Fête des Remparts celebrated its 40th anniversary! The event featured knight tournaments and life-size equestrian shows. There were special activities for children, such as shield decorating. There were also initiations into the art of blacksmithing and sword fighting, as well as role-playing (in disguise, of course!).

Over 140 craftsmen and exhibitors were on hand, and no fewer than 700 actors were on hand to liven up the weekend! It was even possible to stroll down the aisles of a real reconstructed medieval market or watch a parade in period costume.

What to Do Around Dinan?

If you have some time and want to explore the surroundings of Dinan, there are many possibilities.


Located not far from Dinan (you can easily walk or cycle there), the small town of Léhon is also a small character village.

You’ll also find some old stones there. The sublime Saint-Magloire Abbey is, in fact, a beautiful historical testimony. If you love nature, this place is for you, as every species of plants and flowers is indicated on a small sign.

Finally, in Léhon, you’ll also find the ruins of a feudal castle. Less impressive than the castle in Dinan, but another trace of our rich historical past.


Heading towards Saint-Malo while following the Rance, the village of Saint-Suliac is a little Breton wonder.

It’s actually one of my favorite places on the Emerald Coast. There are almost no shops, except for a bakery and a restaurant, but the narrow streets and stone houses are very charming.

saint-suliac in brittany france


Quévert is a small town not far from Dinan. Also located inland, I recommend it especially for Le Courtil des Senteurs, a large rose garden where you can find more than 500 varieties of roses and 250 various plants that thrive in Brittany.

I hope you will enjoy visiting Dinan and its surroundings. Moreover, don’t hesitate to share in the comments what you liked the most! Northern Brittany has many little treasures like this to offer…

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Sarah - Carnets Vanille

Hello! I’m Sarah, a Malouin at heart, living in Montreal for a few years. Carnets Vanille is an opportunity for me to combine my two passions, writing and travel, by sharing with you about the two corners of the world that excite me, Quebec and Brittany. I share my discoveries, provide tips to help you plan your visits, and also offer recommendations on the best restaurants and accommodations.

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Plan your trip with my ebook “Discover Saint-Malo” !

180+ pages in PDF or EPUB about Saint-Malo and the Emerald Coast. Works on your tablet as well!
Buy for 9,90€