The lovely little village of Glenties in Donegal is a fine base for an adventure.
Taking its name from the unique location where two glens converge into one, Glenties is a charming little village that serves as a great spot to hike and cycle among some of Southwest Donegal’s finest natural treasures.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Glenties to where to eat, sleep and drink. So, go on – dive on in!
A brief history of Glenties in Donegal
With settlement in the area dating back to the Bronze Age, the area around Glenties in Donegal has always been a hub of activity, even during the dark days of the Famine.
Now, a village full of character and welcome, Glenties is a vibrant stop on the Wild Atlantic Way and its a great base from exploring many of the best things to see in Donegal.
The record five-time (no less!) winner of the Irish Tidy Towns competition, Glenties takes its appearance seriously and its colourful Main Street with rolling green glens in the distance is a lovely scene when entering town.
Only a few miles from the rugged beauty of the Donegal coastline, there’s plenty of things to do in Glenties and within reasonable distance of the village.
Things to do in Glenties in Donegal (and nearby)
Glenties in Donegal is a great place to base yourself from if you fancy exploring the surrounding county (especially if you try our Donegal itinerary!).
Finely positioned near a number of great attractions, there’s a handful of things to do in Glenties and there’s an endless number of places to visit nearby.
1. Kick start your visit with a coffee from Good Earth Farm
Located on farm just outside of Glenties and across the Owenea River, Good Earth Farm fully embraces nature and sustainability.
They’re also a great spot to grab a coffee! Learn how this friendly farm operates and pick up some organic bits and pieces from their shop too.
2. The drop into St Connell’s Museum & Heritage Centre
Speaking of learning, head over to St Connell’s Museum and Heritage Centre to find out about life in this fascinating part of Donegal.
Crammed with old artefacts, letters, photos and many, many stories, you’ll be treated to sublime vignettes of Glenties heritage from years gone by.
If you’re looking for things to do in Glenties when it’s raining, this is an interesting spot to whittle away a wet evening.
3. Have a gander at Doon Fort
Let your medieval imagination run wild at Doon Fort. Less than a 20-minute drive from Glenties, the fort now consists of circular walled ruins set on a small island in Doon Lake.
Thought to be the home of the O’Boyle Chieftains, the exact date of its construction is unknown but is undeniably picturesque.
4. Head for a ramble along Portnoo Beach
Our next stop is one of the best beaches in Donegal. Just a 15-minute drive from Glenties, Portnoo Beach is a designated Natural Heritage Area that’s perfect for a little ramble.
With views out to the small island of Inishkeel, the estuary of the Gweebarra River and the southern edge of the Rosses, Portnoo Beach is a relaxing spot to unwind on bright day.
5. Visit the Caves of Maghera
Just a 20-minute drive from Glenties, the mysterious Maghera Caves are situated beneath Slievetooey mountain and some are accessible at low tides from Maghera Strand.
The beach is sublime by itself but if you’re in a mood to explore then there are over 20 caves, 8 arches and 5 tunnels to check out!
6. Listen to the water crash at Assaranca Waterfall
One of Ireland’s prettiest waterfalls, Assaranca Waterfall is a gem that’s only a km away from the Caves of Maghera. Regardless of the season, its beauty is well worth the visit.
The cascading water forks at the top into several streams before converging into a powerful finish at the base. You can, quite literally, pull up right next to Assaranca.
7. Glengesh Pass
Glenties Restaurants and Pubs
If you’re feeling peckish (or thirsty!) after conquering some of the things to do in Glenties in Donegal mentioned above, you’re in luck.
There’s plenty of great restaurants in Glenties and there’s a handful of fine pubs to kick-back in after a long day on the road.
Where to eat in Glenties
1. The Thatch Bar and Restaurant
Until recently known as Kennedy’s, The Thatch is a bar and restaurant in Glenties in Donegal located on the apex of Main Street.
Serving up classic well-prepared hearty food such as traditional beef stew and honey glazed Donegal ham, this is one of our favourite restaurants in Glenties. Head there on a Sunday where their fine three-course Sunday Lunch menu will set you back just €22.50.
2. Jim’s Café
An institution in Glenties since 1976, Jim’s Café is a fine choice to kick your day off with an all-day breakfast. If you’re coming in later in the day then this friendly joint also serves up the likes of burgers, curries and fish and chips.
3. Ali’s Char Bar
Speaking of curries, just across the road from Jim’s lies Ali’s Char Bar where they do a mighty range of curries, kebabs, wraps and burgers. Easy to spot on Main Street with their bright green décor, they also do weekend specials so keep your eyes open!
Pubs in Glenties
1. Roddy’s Bar
Friendly and traditional, Roddy’s Bar in Glenties in Donegal is a great spot to enjoy a creamy pint at the end of a long day exploring. Its distinct red and white exterior (complete with decorative wagon wheel) is easy to spot from the outside, while inside you’ll get a friendly Donegal welcome.
Opened in 2017, there’ll be plenty of beer and plenty of music should you choose to venture into Sonny’s Bar. And if sport’s your thing, this family-run bar also shows all the biggest sporting events on its big screen.
3. O Faolain
Small but full of character, O Faolain is a tiny bar on Main Street that’s well worth your time. The unassuming exterior is verging on blink-and-you’ll-miss-it territory, as it blends in so well with the other houses, but it’s cracking place for a few pints.
Where to stay in Glenties
Now, a couple of things before we dive into accommodation in Glenties – there are a number of great places to stay in Glenties.
To see everything that’s on offer, hop into one of the links below:
(Note: if you book an Airbnb or hotel via one of the links above or below we’ll make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it).
1. Highlands Hotel
A part of Glenties life for over 50 years and one of the best hotels in Donegal, in our opinion, the Highlands Hotel is a classy establishment at the top of Main Street.
And now, having undergone major renovations and a refit (you can’t miss the bright blue exterior!), it’s a cosy spot serving up fine food with plentiful rooms to rest your head.
2. Marguerite’s B&B
A family-run bed and breakfast right in the middle of town, Marguerite’s B&B is in a perfect location for enjoying Glenties but also getting on the road and exploring the glorious surrounding countryside. And with a full Irish breakfast on offer every morning, they’ll make sure you’re good to go.
3. Avalon House
Situated just outside of town, Avalon House’s location means you’ll have spectacular views of the Bluestack Mountains to wake up to each morning. Its bright red façade is easy to spot, and it even has an outdoor patio to relax under during the warm summer nights.
4. The Cabin
A lovingly hand-built cabin, The Cabin is serene retreat with beautiful hillside views and a nice secluded feel. If you want a peaceful sanctuary to truly appreciate the Southwest Donegal countryside, then look no further than this great little lodge with a charming rustic interior.
Glenties Donegal: What have we missed?
I’m sure that we’ve unintentionally missed out on some brilliant things to do in Glenties and/or places to eat, sleep and drink.
If you have a restaurant, pub, place or anything else to recommend, let us know in the comments below and we’ll check it out!