If you want to see the Ireland you recognize on postcards, then you need to visit Donegal. Much of its landscape remains untouched, and it’s steeped in vibrant culture and rich tradition. You’ll pass through Donegal if you are cycling The Wild Atlantic Way, or indeed if you are walking the spectacular Bluestack and Sli Cholmcille Way.
The landscape speaks for itself with rugged cliffsides, tranquil waterfalls and rural forest trails. There are also some really interesting tourist attractions and historical points. Here are our top 10 places to visit in Donegal.
1. Lough Eske
Lough Eske is a popular fishing lake located to the northeast of Donegal Town. The lake is surrounded by winding forest paths and woodlands. On a nice day, this is the perfect place to chill out and have a picnic.
2. Slieve League Mountains
The Slieve League cliffs are among the highest in Europe, towering almost 2000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day here the views are unrivaled in all of Ireland. Make sure that you take some time to visit the visitor center to learn more about local history and tradition.
3. Glengesh Pass
This valley at Ardara on the Bluestack and Sli Cholmcille Way is another example of the gift of nature. Glengesh pass is about 15 kilometers long and is one of two glaciated valleys on the Banagh Peninsula. You’ll pass by local farms, cottages and wildlife in the luscious green countryside here.
4. Doagh Famine Village (WAW)
If you cycle the Wild Atlantic Way you’ll have an opportunity to visit this quaint little model village, which pays homage to The Great Famine in Ireland. You will get a real picture of the struggles that locals faced in the past and be inspired by how the people Ireland overcame this difficult time in their history.
5. Malin Head
Malin Head is a known for its rugged landscape that’s perfect for photography. You couldn’t ask for a more splendid backdrop for photos than this coastal point. The wreckage of The Twilight, a ship that sank in 1889, can still be seen here during low tide!
6. Assaranca waterfall
Finding your way to Assaranca waterfall is part of the fun of this popular attraction. Although it’s visible from a distance you’ll need to weave through forest trails to reach it. Your persistence will pay off as up close the waterfall is simply stunning.
7. Donegal Castle
You’ll find this 15th-century castle in the middle of Donegal Town. It was a stronghold of the O’Donnell clan, one of the most powerful and feared clans in Irish History. You’ll marvel at the decadent interior and timeless artwork in the castle. There are guided tours available here every hour.
The town of Bundoran has exploded in popularity recently due to watersports tourism. This buzzing little village has an amazing friendly vibe and is packed with great restaurants and traditional Irish pubs. Even if surfing isn’t your thing, you’ll enjoy watching the surfers with a warm cup of tea!
9. Glenveagh National Park
Glenveagh National Park is absolutely enormous. One of six National parks in Ireland it spans 16,000 hectares of the countryside. If you are interested in flora and fauna this will be paradise. If you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of the famed Golden Eagle which was reintroduced to the region in 2001 after becoming extinct in the early 20th century.
10. Gaeltacht Region
Did you know that the native language of Ireland Ireland is Gaelic? Although most people in Ireland speak English, there are some regions in the country where Gaelic is the first language. These regions are known as Gaeltacht. If you pass through a Gaeltacht region in Donegal make sure to say Dia duit (hello) to a local!
For more information on any of our walking and cycling tours please contact the travel specialists.