We get emails asking about ‘Buncrana Beach’ every once and a while. However, there isn’t just one beach here – there are several!
The waters around Buncrana in County Donegal have seen their fair share of intrigue and adventure over the years (did you know Wolfe Tone was captured and imprisoned near here?).
Fast forward to 2022 and there are several sandy stretches around the town to enjoy. You’ll find info on each of them below.
Some quick need-to-knows about Buncrana’s beaches
Although a visit to Buncrana Beach is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
1. There are several
Where to start then? There are a bunch of beaches around Buncrana that look out towards the mighty Lough Swilly and all of them have their own character. Choose from Buncrana Beach, Lady’s Bay, Porthaw Beach and the slightly more removed Stragill Bay Beach (great for a little ramble!).
2. You can pair a visit with a great breakfast
Located just a stone’s throw from Buncrana Pier, Tank and Skinny’s is a bright and stylish café/bistro with gorgeous views across Lough Swilly! Kick off your day in Buncrana with a few of their fluffy pancakes or an indulgent breakfast burrito. And don’t forget to grab a coffee-to-go for the walking!
3. Part of the Inishowen 100
The Inishowen Peninsula is criminally underrated, but if you want to get to know it better then the Inishowen 100 is an awesome drive that takes in a bunch of awesome sights, scenery and attractions (see our guide with handy Google Map here).
4. Water safety (please read)
Beaches in Buncrana worth a visit
Each of the beaches in Buncrana vary greatly and some have more appeal than others. Here’s a speedy overview of each:
1. Buncrana Beach
The long sandy expanse of Buncrana Beach is about a 20-minute walk from the lively town centre of Buncrana (there’s plenty of parking) and is lovely for a ramble at any time of day!
In summer, you can usually find one or two ice cream vans nearby and you might see a coffee van too. You’ll also find a toilet and showering facilities beside the smaller car park at the beach.
And definitely don’t miss the gorgeous sunsets from here, when the sun dips below the distant mountains across Lough Swilly.
2. Lady’s Bay
If you’ve just enjoyed a fine feed at Tank and Skinny’s, then Lady’s Bay is very conveniently placed for your first morning stroll! Walk straight out onto the beach and go for a saunter with your coffee while enjoying beautiful views across Lough Swilly.
As well as being the closest beach to Buncrana town if you want to head back and explore the main street, Lady’s Bay is also the start of the Buncrana Shore Path walk (which we’ll talk a bit more about later!).
3. Porthaw Beach
A secluded beach on the Buncrana Shore Path, Porthaw Beach is located around 4km north of Buncrana town and is a lovely spot for relaxing as it’s rarely too busy.
There are car parking facilities a short walk away at Ned’s Point, but it’s best discovered as part of the shore path.
Enjoy the lovely views from here and keep an eye out for Lough Swilly’s abundant wildlife, such as dolphins, porpoise, seabirds, migratory geese and swans.
4. Stragill Bay Beach
Around 6km north of Buncrana, Stragill Bay Beach is the final stop of the Buncrana Shore Path and it’s a great spot to end your walk. The beach is large and has plenty of room for strolling and there are a bunch of rocks that are great for climbing if you’ve got kids with you.
There’s parking here, but like with Porthaw, taking the Buncrana Shore Path is far more rewarding. And if you time it right, you’ll arrive in late afternoon for one of those majestic Lough Swilly sunsets!
Places to visit near Buncrana
There’s a handful of things to do in Buncrana, but there’s endless places to visit a short spin away.
So, if you’re staying in one of the hotels in Buncrana for a few nights, here’s some things to do to keep you occupied.
1. Mamore Gap (20-minute drive)
Rising up to 800ft above sea level and giving off gorgeous panoramas down towards Dunaff Head, the Mamore Gap is one of the most unique stretches of road in Ireland!
Park up at the car park near the holy shrine (yes, there’s also a holy shrine!) and take a bit of time to fully appreciate the epic views.
2. Glenevin Waterfall (20-minute drive)
One of a number of magical spots in the area, the picturesque Glenevin Waterfall cascades over black rocks from a height of 40ft.
A handy 20-minute drive from Buncrana, the soothing sound of the tumbling fresh mountain water is one of many reasons to head to this enchanting spot.
3. Fort Dunree (15-minute drive)
Initially built to guard against potential French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars, Fort Dunree is now a museum that houses a fascinating display of military memorabilia and artifacts.
Oh, and its location is absolutely spectacular! Perched on a rocky promontory overlooking Lough Swilly, the wild views are epic.
FAQs about Buncrana Beach
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Which beach is best for a swim?’ to ‘Where’s worth visiting nearby?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Are there many beaches in Buncrana?
Yes, there’s 4 main beaches in and around Buncrana: Buncrana Beach, Lady’s Bay, Porthaw Beach and Stragill Bay Beach.
Is Buncrana Beach worth stopping off at?
We’d argue that any beach is worth having even a little nosey at. The beach here is a good spot to stretch the legs. The views over Lough Swilly add to the experience!