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13 Best Things To Do In Inishowen (Includes Handy Inishowen Peninsula Map)

13 Best Things To Do In Inishowen (Includes Handy Inishowen Peninsula Map)

The Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal is one of the most magnificent corners of our little island.

Long, sweeping beaches, towering mountains and (plenty!) of hidden gems make the Inishowen Peninsula an absolute joy to explore – once you know where you’re going!

In the guide below, you’ll find everything from things to do in Inishowen (includes handy Google Map) to the best Inishowen hotels. Dive on in!

Some quick need-to-knows before visiting the Inishowen Peninsula

places to visit in inishowen

Photos via Shutterstock

Before you look at the various things to do in Inishowen, it’s worth taking 20 seconds to read the bullet points below, as they’ll help you get your bearings:

1. Location

You’ll find the Inishowen Peninsula in the north of County Donegal. It’s a 40-minute drive from Derry, a 55-minute drive from Letterkenny and a 1.5-hour drive from Donegal Town.

2. Where to stay

There’s some great places to stay on the peninsula if you’d like to make a night or two of your visit. Personally, I tend to stay in either Buncrana or Ballyliffen, but I know plenty of people that love Greencastle.

3. The Inishowen 100

If you’re looking for things to do in Inishowen, the mighty Inishowen 100 drive or cycle is a great place to start. This route can be completed in one long swoop or you can tackle it over several days (more info below).

4. Comes alive during summer

The Inishowen Peninsula tends to be nice and quiet throughout the year. However, once summer arrives, crowds descend upon it as it’s home to many of the finest beaches in Donegal.

About the Inishowen Peninsula

Five finger Strand donegal

Photo by shawnwil23/shutterstock.com

Tucked away in north Donegal, the breath-taking Inishowen Peninsula is one of Ireland’s finest (it’s the country’s largest peninsula, as it happens!).

It’s arguably best known as the entry point for Malin Head – the most northerly point in Ireland – and the starting point for Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

The peninsula measures at a staggering 884.33 square kilometres and it’s enveloped between the Atlantic, Lough Foyle and the chilly waters of Lough Swilly.

There’s endless places to visit in Inishowen and it’s mix of natural and man-made attractions have made it a beacon for tourists for many-a-year.

The best things to do in Inishowen

kinnagoe bay donegal

Photo by Chris Hill via Failte Ireland

If you’re wondering what to do in Inishowen, the second section of our guide should tickle your fancy – it looks at walks, beaches, historical sites and more.

Below, you’ll find everything from Doagh Famine Village and Mamore Gap to the Knockamany Bens and plenty more.

1. The Inishowen 100

inishowen scenic drive

Photos via Shutterstock

We’re going to kick things off with one of my favourite things to do in Inishowen – the incredible Inishowen 100 drive (or cycle!).

This is a stunning scenic loop of the Inishowen Peninsula that takes you to many of the areas top attractions in a handy loop.

There are so many things to see on the Inishowen 100 that you will be oohing and aahing for about 4 hours (or longer, depending on how long you linger).

From untouched beaches to quaint villages to postcard-worthy mountain views, it has it all. The route got its name because of the approximate number of miles it takes to complete the loop around the peninsula.

2. Fort Dunree Military Museum

dunree fort military museum

Photo left: Lukassek. Right: Lucky Team Studio/shutterstock

If you’re looking for historic sites to visit on the Inishowen Peninsula, look no further than Dunree Fort, just down the road from Buncrana (there’s plenty of things to do in Buncrana, and it’s a great base to explore Inishowen from).

Once a defensive site, it was turned into a military museum and opened to the public in 1986. It’s considered to have one of the best collections of coast artillery guns in the world.

The museum offers a video presentation via an audio-visual theatre, museum displays chronicling the history and an expose of coastal artillery.

There is also underground bunkers which have a diverse range of artefacts to ogle at. There’s also a cafe with mighty coastal views.

3. Beaches galore

kinnagoe bat donegal

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

Many of the more popular things to do in Inishowen revolve around beaches. This corner of the county is home to some of Donegal’s finest.

Kinnagoe Bay is a stunner of a spot that looks like something you’d see in a land far more tropical. The same could be said from the magnificent Five Finger Strand.

Some other worth checking out are Culdaff Beach, Buncrana Beach, Stroove BeachLisfannon Beach, Tullagh Strand and Pollan Strand.

4. Malin Head

malin head

Malin Head: Photo by Lukassek (Shutterstock)

Malin Head is the most northerly tip of all of Ireland. It is usually the start or end of the Wild Atlantic Way and is famous for its breath-taking (literally) coastal scenery.

At the very tip of the headland is Banbas Crown, home to the derelict Lloyds Signal Tower, built by British sometime in 1805 to guard against a possible French invasion.

You can also see some of Europe’s largest sand dunes from the coastal road heading towards Malin Head.

5. Knockamanny Bends

Five finger Strand donegal

Photo by shawnwil23/shutterstock.com

This really is one of the greatest views on the Inishowen Peninsula, if not in all of Donegal. Aim for Knockamanny Bends (here on Google Maps) where you will find a small parking area on your left.

From here, you will be able to see the highest sand dunes in Europe, the whole Trawbreaga Bay and across to the Isle of Doagh.

The views here really are sensational, and you’ll appreciate the true size of Five Finger Strand while watching the waves crash against it over and over.

6. Glenevin Waterfall

2 photos of Glenevin Waterfall

Photo left: By Pavel_Voitukovic. Photo right: By Michelle Holihan. (on shutterstock.com)

Located near Clonmany, a visit to Glenevin Waterfall makes you feel like you’ve reached the heart of the woodland’s ecosystem.

The walk to the waterfall takes around 25 minutes or so and it follows a nice flat path. There are also picnic areas available, a toilet on-site (in the car park) and a snack/coffee truck that’s there during the busier months.

7. Grianán of Aileach

Grianan of Aileach donegal

Photo left: Lukassek. Right: The Wild Eyed/Shutterstock

A visit to Grianán of Aileach is arguably one of the most unique things to do in Inishowen. It’s located 250m above sea level atop Greenan Mountain.

The views are breathtaking and you can see the waters of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly glistening away.

It is thought that the fort dates back to 1700 BC, a time when Tuatha de Danann (a supernatural race) invaded Ireland before the Celts, building strong stone forts on top of hills for defensive purposes.

They worshipped Dagda (one of the many Celtic Gods and Goddesses) who ordered the building of the fort as a burial monument for his deceased son.

8. Mamore Gap

mamore gap donegal

Photos by Ondrej Prochazka/Shutterstock

The mighty Mamore Gap is, along with the incredible Glengesh Pass, one of the most unique roads in Donegal.

Those that pass along Mamore Gap will be treated to fabulous views of Lough Swilly, Urris, the Fanad peninsula and north Inishowen.

The pass is located 14km north of Buncrana and 250m above sea level. Once you reach the top of the pass, you will be rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and hills on the other.

9. Doagh Famine Village

The Doagh Famine Village is another of the more popular things to do in Inishowen. Before the famine hit Ireland, the population was around 8.2 million and today it stands at just 4.9 million.

Thanks to people like Pat Doherty, who started Doagh Famine Village 20 years ago, we can educate people about one of the darkest times in Ireland.

Pat created the Famine Village to tell the story of how his family before him survived the famine from the 1840s until today. 

The guided tour shows what life was like before electricity or modern medicine, emphasising the importance of community, family and the Irish spirit.

10. Wild Alpaca Way

wild alpaca way

Photos via Wild Alpaca Way on Facebook

We’d argue that the brilliant Wild Alpaca Way is one of the best things to do in Inishowen with kids! Yes, you get to hike with alpacas!

You’ll take these gorgeous fluffy fellas on a lovely hill walk through some of the most stunning parts of the Wild Atlantic Way.

The trek takes just under 2 hours and there are plenty of photo opportunities as you travel with your very friendly new friend.

11. Wild Ireland

wild ireland donegal

Photo left: Canon Boy. Right: andamanec (shutterstock)

It’s crazy to think that some centuries ago, Ireland was akin to the Amazon in regards to rainforests but due to deforestation and destruction, many habitats were destroyed in the process. 

Now for the first time in thousands of years, Wild boar, Lynx, Wolves and Brown bears are finally back together in the Irish forest.

Wild Ireland is an animal sanctuary that focuses on recreating the natural habitats of many animals, allowing them a place to live freely.

12. Inishowen Maritime Museum & Planetarium

If you’re wondering what to do in Inishowen when it’s raining, the Inishowen Maritime Museum, which opened back in 1994, is worth checking out.

Exhibitions include a 19th-century rocket cart which was used to help survivors of wrecked ships, a Lough Foyle punt and there’s even a room dedicated to the infamous Spanish Armada, which sank back in 1588 off of the Irish coast. 

The museum also has a craft, coffee and souvenir shop, so you can leave with something to remember the trip there. There’s also a planetarium, which includes the only permanently-installed concert laser in Ireland.

13. The Inishowen Head Loop

Inishowen Head Loop

Photos via Shutterstock

The Inishowen Head Loop is one of the more popular walks in Donegal for good reason. The trail stretches for around 8km, has an ascent of 250 metres and is moderately difficult.

You can start it from a little car park near Inishowen Lighthouse (near Stroove Beach) and you’ll be treated to glorious coastal views throughout.

Our Inishowen Peninsula map with attractions

The above map of Inishowen is interactive and contains 40 or so different things to do in Inishowen, from historic sites to areas of natural beauty.

Now, we don’t recommend that you just pick up this map of Inishowen and visit the places at random (although you can, of course).

If you’re visiting the Inishowen Peninsula for a bit and you fancy seeing the best of its attractions on one, mighty road trip, keep scrolling – we’ve a ready-made 1-day itinerary for you to follow.

What to do in Inishowen: What have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant places to visit in Inishowen from the guide above.

If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

FAQs about visiting Inishowen in Donegal

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where can I find an Inishowen Peninsula map?’ to ‘What is there to do with kids?’.

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 the best things to do in Inishowen?

In our opinion, it’s hard to beat the Inishowen 100, as the route takes you to the most popular places to visit in Inishowen, like Mamore Gap and Malin Head.

What are unique things to do on the Inishowen Peninsula?

You won’t get much more unique than the tour of Wild Ireland. However, you can also walk with alpacas with the folks at Wild Alpaca Way.

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