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The 2022 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

The 2022 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

Day 20 (Donegal) – Sunrise on Marble Hill Beach, One of the best views in Donegal and plenty more

Day 20 is packed with some of the best things to do in Donegal.

We’ll be getting up early to catch the sunrise, and then heading out to soak up more of what this corner of Donegal has to offer.

1 – Sunrise on Marble Hill Beach 

marble hill beach donegal

Marble Hill Beach

Set the alarm for just before sunrise.

When you’re up and ready to rock, take the 5-minute stroll to Marble Hill Beach.

On the day that I visited, the sun rose at around 06:25, and I had the whole place to myself.

2 – Horn Head

horn head donegal

Photo by Eimantas Juskevicius/shutterstock

// The Shandon to Horn Head – 20-minute drive (arrive for 09:00) //

Our first stop of Day 20 takes us up to Horn Head.

On this trip, we’ll be driving up to Horn Head and admiring the view (hopefully it’s a clear day), but you can also head off on a walk if you fancy.

For those that want to walk it, John O’Dwyer provides a fantastic guide in the Irish Times here.

There are two viewing points where you can get out at and admire the scenery that surrounds you;

  • The first is on the north side and here cliffs and glorious sea views dominate.
  • The second overlooks Dunfanaghy and you’ll be treated to a view of the Muckish and Derryveagh mountains

3 – Killahoey Beach

// Horn Head to Killahoey Beach – 15-minute drive (arrive for 10:00) //

You’ll hear Killahoey Beach often referred to as Dunfanaghy beach.

It’s a gorgeous Blue Flag beach that’s popular for water sports.

Stop off here, take the shoes and socks off and get a lungful of Atlantic air as you trudge along the shore.

4 – The Loop around Tra Na Rossan

// Killahoey Beach to Downings – 30-minute drive / Downings to Tra Na Rossan – 10-minute drive //

The drive we’re about to head off on is called the Atlantic Drive (thanks Frances-anne Gallagher for pointing it out in our guide to the best things to do in Donegal).

Tra Na Rossan ireland road trip

Photo by Chris Hill

This drive really is out of this world.

Pull in to the first safe spot you find at the side of the road and just soak up the view.

5 – Lunch at the Singing Pub

// Tra na Rossan view to the Singing Pub – 5-minute drive (arrive for around 13:00) //

If you land here on a sunny day, perch yourself on one of the seats outside and admire the view.

Fuel up and chill for a bit.

6 – Fanad Head Lighthouse

// The Singing Pub to Fanad Head – 30-minute drive (arrive for 15:00) //

fanad lighthouse donegal

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Fanad Head Lighthouse is likely to be one of the highlights of your Ireland Road Trip.

It’s a special place.

The drive to Fanad Lighthouse is worth the trip alone, as you pass through the seemingly endless beautifully quaint countryside that leads to it.

fanad lighthouse ireland

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The whole craggy coastal area that surrounds the lighthouse is just out of this world.

Sit up on the stone wall to the left of the lighthouse and switch off for a while. Soak up the sounds of the ocean and bask in the beauty of one Ireland’s most spectacular corners.

7 – Ballymastocker Bay

// Fanad Head to Ballymastocker Bay – 20-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //

Ballymastocker Bay is another one of Donegal’s incredible Blue Flag beaches.

Once voted the 2nd most beautiful beach in the world by the Observer Magazine, it offers tremendous views out towards the Inishowen Peninsula.

Ballymastocker Bay

Photo by Chris Hill

Get out and head for a ramble.

This is out last stop for the day.

8 – Glamping by the Beach

// Ballymastocker Bay to Portsalon Luxury Glamping //

Before you check in, head to the Pier Restaurant (7-minute drive from where you’re staying) and then get back to enjoy your unique bed for the night.

glamping in donegal

Photo via Portsalon Luxury Camping

Tonight, you’re glamping in Portsalon Luxury Camping, which is nestled on a hillside and enjoys spectacular views of Lough Swilly, Mulroy Bay, Knockalla mountain and the Inishowen Peninsula.

Kick-back in a hammock and listen to the crackle of the fire from your wood-burning stove.

Discover more: check out our guide to the most unique places to stay in Ireland.

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Monday 13th of March 2023

Keith, this is an extraordinary itinerary and so detailed. Thank you


Thursday 9th of March 2023

the link to the mailing list sign up isnt working...can I have you send me the document by email? it sounds amazing through quick page hopping! thought this morning that we might go this late Sept/early October for 3ish weeks.


Monday 6th of March 2023

Hi Keith, we’re looking at visiting Ireland September 2023, for four weeks, coming from Canada. Thankfully I found your guide, it is fantastic, you put in a great deal of work organizing this. Thank you. I have a couple tours books to cipher through as well, but it is painstaking slow. I need to get an itinerary put together fast, I see accommodations are filling up quickly for September. One question I have is, is it possible or wise to do your road trip in reverse? We’re not used to driving on the left side, haha, will it be safer doing the trip in reverse?

Suzanne Sullivan

Saturday 18th of February 2023

Do you have a PDF of the whole list that we could buy/download with links? We were planning to do the reverse of this in October 2023 (34 days)---but, rethinking after seeing yours!

David Ward

Wednesday 18th of January 2023

This itinerary will be the basis of our upcoming trip this year. We prefer to base ourselves in a place for maybe a week and explore the surrounding areas. We will be picking up a car in Belfast on 26 May and have it for almost 6 weeks. We are unsure of our direction of travel, but leaning towards anti-clockwise. Excluding Dublin, can you suggest 5 or 6 "bases" for exploration. Small towns with a bit of character ideally.

Keep up the good work.

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