Falcarragh is one of the more overlooked towns in Donegal, which is a shame, as this place has an awful lot going for it!
Located on the coast in the north-west of the county, Falcarragh enjoys a beautiful location just a stone’s throw from the golden sands of Tramore Beach.
Inland, the impressive Muckish Mountain looms, while lakes, forests, bogs, and rivers surround the town.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Falcarragh to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-knows about Falcarragh
Although a visit to Falcarragh is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
2. A charming Gaeltacht village
This is a Gaeltacht village in which Irish culture thrives. The majority of people living in Falcarragh speak Irish on a daily basis and the majority of people speak English fluently.
3. A quiet base to explore from
Falcarragh is a stone’s throw from many of the best things to do in Donegal. It’s the perfect base for nature lovers, who are just a short distance from Muckish Mountain, gorgeous beach walks, and much more. There are also plenty of cultural things to check out in the area.
Surrounded by moody moors, craggy cliffs, golden beaches, and imposing mountains, it’s not hard to see why Falcarragh is a popular destination for tourists visiting Donegal.
The surroundings give the town an impressive backdrop, while the locals create a vibrant and friendly atmosphere. Falcarragh is the anglicized version of the Irish name; An Fál Carrach, which roughly translates to the stone wall/boundary.
This name has only really been in use since around 1850. Before that, it was known as Na Crois Bhealaí, or in English, the Crossroads. Some maps still show this older name, and many older locals still refer to the town by this name.
Just outside of Falcarragh is the Bridge of Tears. The name comes from the fact that this was the point at which family members and friends would accompany loved ones who were emigrating.
Here they would say their goodbyes, the emigrant walking on to Derry Port, and those left behind returning back the way they had come.
Things to do in Falcarragh and nearby
There’s a handful of things to do in Falcarragh and there’s endless places to visit a short spin from the town.
Below, you’ll find everything from hikes and walks to beaches, castles and much more. Dive on in!
1. Tackle the Ballyness Way Walk
This is one of the lesser-known walks in Donegal, but it’s well worth doing. The Ballyness Way Walk is a short but scenic coastal walk that takes in some spectacular scenery including sand dunes and epic seascapes.
The route starts from the historic Ballyness Pier, itself a great viewpoint over Ballyness Bay where you might see wildlife such as seals, otters, whales, and even dolphins.
The trail ends at the mouth of the Ray River, where you’ll find a car park and a small place to buy toasties and coffee.
2. Saunter along one of many beaches
You’ll find some of the best beaches in Donegal a short spin from Falcarragh. The nearest is the beautiful Falcarragh Beach which sits just outside the town. Ballyness Beach is just five minutes away, offering excellent views.
It continues onto Tramore Beach, which stretches for several kilometres, divided halfway by rugged cliffs. Follow the beach and circle Horn Head, a rugged landscape strewn with ancient monuments and ruins, before arriving at Killahoey Beach, a tranquil slice of paradise.
Following the coast, you’ll soon reach another idyllic white sand beach, Marble Hill Strand, where you can relax in the sun with an ice cream or a coffee, enjoying the deep, blue ocean as it laps at your feet.
3. Conquer Mount Errigal
Soaring 751 metres into the sky, Mount Errigal is the tallest peak in the Seven Sisters mountain range, and also County Donegal. It’s a steep climb to the top, but the trail is easy to get to from the main road.
From the car park, you’ll cross a patch of bogland before hitting the slopes. In total the hike takes in just over 4 km to the summit and back again, gaining 500 metres of elevation.
It’s rated as difficult, but it’s manageable if you’re reasonably fit. You’ll need a decent pair of boots though. It’s worth the effort, as the views from the summit are breathtaking, with sights over the ocean and surrounding countryside.
4. Or nearby Muckish Mountain
Muckish Mountain is another of the Seven Sisters and while it’s not quite as tall as Errigal, the views from the peak are smashing. Meaning the “Pig’s Back”, Muckish Mountain has a distinctive flat top, making it stand out on the horizon.
Arguably the most trodden path up is the Miner’s Path, which follows in the footsteps of the miners who once mined high-quality quartz sand. In fact, you’ll still see some of the old mining equipment strewn along the path.
This trail requires some good hiking experience so it’s best tried if you know your way around a map.
5. Take the ferry to Tory Island
Just twelve minutes away from Falcarragh you’ll find Magheroarty Harbour. From here you can take the passenger ferry to Tory Island, an island steeped in ancient history, stunning nature, rich culture, and fascinating mythology.
It’s well worth a visit and there’s a looped trail that showcases the best that the island has to offer. You can either rent a bike or enjoy the walk. There are two ferry services, the quick ferry that takes you to the island directly in around 45-minutes and the audio tour.
The latter circles the island, providing a wealth of information that gives you a much better idea about life on the island, as well as its ancient history and natural wonders.
6. Explore Glenveagh National Park
The spectacular Glenveagh National Park is brimming with things to see and do. Within the boundaries, you’ll find forests, lakes, mountains, the impressive Glenveagh Castle and its gardens, and several marked trails.
It’s a haven for wildlife such as badgers, deer, foxes, and much more. A superb place for nature lovers, the different hiking routes showcase some of the best scenery in Ireland.
From woodlands and waterfalls to the pristine castle gardens, there are trails for all abilities, taking in various different sights. The castle is also worth checking out, and the indoor learning centre is an eye-opening facility for kids and adults alike.
7. Or the often-missed Ards Forest Park
Ards Forest Park is also nearby and is another stunning place to get close to nature. It encompasses 481-hectares of parkland filled with walking trails, playgrounds, gorgeous forests, and ancient ruins.
There are a myriad of trails to explore, taking you through ever-varying scenery, including bogs, sand dunes, gorgeous beaches, farmland, and dense woodland.
Great facilities make it easy to enjoy a day in the forest park and there’s always something new to see. From impressive wooden carvings to secret woodland trails to ducks and much more, it’s a great day out for the entire family.
8. Step back in time at Doe Castle
Nestled on the banks of Sheephaven Bay, Doe Castle is well worth seeking out. Slightly off the beaten track, it’s a peaceful yet fascinating attraction. Formerly the medieval stronghold of the MacSweeney clan, the castle dates back to the 1420s and the very walls are soaked in history.
Nowadays, visitors can tour the grounds and check out historic artefacts that have survived the years. The surrounding scenery is also spectacular and with a coffee shop nearby and picnic tables, it makes a great spot for lunch.
Places to stay in Falcarragh (and nearby)
With plenty of things to do in Falcarragh and its surrounds, it’s well worth spending at least a few days in the town. Here are some of our favourite places to stay.
1. Óstán Loch Altan
Ideally located on the Wild Atlantic Way, Óstán Loch Altan (Loch Altan Hotel) is just outside of Falcarragh. Boasting 39 ensuite rooms, you’ll find everything from singles to doubles to family suites, all stylishly decorated and offering all the mod-cons you need. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served at their SONAS Restaurant, which focuses on local ingredients cooked to a high standard. There’s also an onsite bar.
2. Suil na noilean Middle Killult
This gorgeous guest house is the epitome of a warm Irish welcome. The host is super friendly and ready to help with whatever you need, making you feel at home from the moment you step in. Some bedrooms boast sea views and there’s a lovely terrace and garden to relax in. The bedrooms are comfy and cosy, providing you with all you need for a comfortable stay.
3. Arasáin Bhalor
These self-catering apartments in the heart of Falcarragh are a great choice if you’re looking for your own little home from home. There are three apartments; 1 bedroom (double), 2 bedroom (double and twin), and the ground floor apartment (double and twin). Stylish, cosy, and packed full of amenities, your stay is guaranteed to be comfortable and enjoyable.
Pubs and restaurants in Falcarragh
Although it’s a small enough town, there’s some great pubs and restaurants in Falcarragh to kick-back in. Here are our favourites:
1. The Strand Road
This modern bar and kitchen in the centre of Falcarragh is a top spot for anything from a quiet pint to a meal with friends and family. They serve up a gorgeous menu of locally produced dishes, ranging from light bites to full meals. Local seafood is heavily featured, but there are also plenty of other dishes from around the world, from Thai-style curries to burgers. Live music, sports, a large outdoor space, and a warm welcome add to the charm.
2. The Shamrock Lodge
The Shamrock Lodge has been family-run since 1959. It oozes charm and is crammed with knick-knacks from yesteryear, crackling fireplaces, and cosy nooks and crannies. They serve up an excellent pint of Guinness and while there’s no kitchen, you can often order food in. There’s also a jukebox, pool table, and a fantastic beer garden, with live music every now and then.
3. The Gweedore Bar & Restaurant
The Gweedore Bar is a popular pub and restaurant that focuses on quality seafood and fish, warm welcomes, and a great selection of drinks. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed making it a superb choice for a meal with the family. They show live sports every now and then as well and you’re more than welcome to take a seat at the bar and enjoy the craic.
4. Batch – Coffee House, Bar & Kitchen
If you’re looking to start your day off right, then Batch is the place to do it! This lovely coffee shop/cafe makes an excellent full Irish breakfast, as well as plenty of other, perhaps slightly healthier, options. They do a mean cup of coffee as well as sumptuous lunches, cakes, and pastries. Most days it’s only open for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks, but occasionally they’ll also open in the evenings for divine seafood platters and many more delights.
FAQs about visiting Falcarragh
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is there anything to do in the town?’ to ‘What attractions are close by?’.
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.
What are some good things to do in Falcarragh?
If you’re looking for things to do in and around the town, you’ve Falcarragh Beach, Horn Head, Tory Island, Glenveagh, Errigal and lots more.
Is Falcarragh worth visiting?
Yes! Although its best used as a base to explore from, the town is home to a gorgeous beach along with several great pubs and restaurants.
Andy was once on a glorious worldwide trip on his equally glorious motorcycle. After 4 years, he’d still only made it as far as Eastern Europe, before falling in love with his surroundings and deciding to settle down a while. Nowadays, he spends his time writing about traveling through the places he once explored, normally while sipping a pint.