The 2020 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

The most detailed itinerary we've created

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

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

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

horn head walk
Photo by Martin Fleming

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.

horn head drive
Photo by Martin Fleming

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.

Killahoey Beach donegal
Photo by Martin Fleming

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.

49 COMMENTS

  1. Keith absolutly amazing as usual, you need a medal or a freedom of ireland one for all this, but think you already have that lol

  2. Simply amazing! My fingers hurt for you. ?

    I’ve been researching and plotting our trip to Ireland for months. It’s a lot of work! I can’t thank you enough for sharing all of the suggestions and information that you have. You’ve helped me and yet have also added to my to-do list because now I have to rearrange my plans to include a lot of your suggestions. ?

    We’re planning on staying for 4-6 weeks and I’ve been looking for a road trip that was longer. I was so excited to find yours. We probably won’t do as many of the hikes that you have listed because I don’t think we would survive all of them, but definitely will fit in a few.

    Thank you again!

      • Yes, first trip over. We’re planning September 2020. And when I just saw your newest itinerary for 4 weeks… WHOA! Thank you, thank you! It’s perfect! I can’t tell you how much researching you’ve saved me. We’d like to do a bit of meandering around and getting lost, but it’s nice to have an outline to follow for those days that we want to accomplish something specific. I do appreciate your awesome efforts and if I do book anything that you’ve listed links for, I’ll be sure to use them!

        • Ah, cheers Terri – appreciated you taking the time to comment!

          A lot goes into creating these guides, so it’s brilliant to get feedback like this.

          Thanks a million and feel free to give me a shout if you need any help with the planning!

          Cheers,

          Keith

  3. Filled with so much needed information, thank you!!!!
    My 2 cousins and I are planning a 6-7 day road trip in October and will definitely be pulling many of your suggestions to build our itinerary. We can’t wait.
    I will check back afterwards and let you know how it all worked out. I’m sure it will be amazing.
    I have enjoyed all your articles. They are simple, clear and informative.
    Again thank you!

    • Thanks for the kind words Darlene.

      I’m glad it was useful.

      Enjoy the trip and definitely let me know how you got on!

      Cheers,

      Keith

  4. This is fantastic!!!!! Thank you for all your work! I can see we will be making use of your suggestions when we go over to The Emerald Isle soon.
    Kathy

  5. Amazing !!! As I could see, you need to rent a car to do this 25 days road trip around Ireland, otherwise you will need to get transport tips as well.

    Regards Keith. I will visit Ireland soon.

    • Hi Arturo – yep, a car is needed for this one.

      We’ve a getting around Ireland without a car guide in the works!

    • Hi Bridget,

      I’ll be completely honest with you – I’ve no idea.

      It’ll completely depend on what you do, where you stay, and where you eat.

      Personally (I live in Ireland) I find that my biggest costs on trips here are food and accommodation.

      I know this doesn’t in any way answer your question!

  6. Fantastic, having just done the Scottish NC500 we really want to visit Ireland and this is just what I’ve been looking for. It will prob be 2021 before we are able to do an Ireland trip but we wanted to take 3-4 weeks over it and this will be a huge help, many thanks for all your hard work & research.

  7. This is unbelievable. I’ve loved your website for ages. Living in Mayo and loving all your tips – and the way you deliver them – for planning a few days away to places I never heard of before not so far from me! I shared your giant road trip link just now in two groups I’m in – Ireland -Tips for Travellers and Ireland Travel tips … hope that’s okay with you. Your website is an incomparable resource I think they will all visit and love. Best of luck to you Keith. What you’re doing is brilliant.

    • Hi Siobhan!

      Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the guide.

      Writing and researching this one nearly killed me!

      Thanks a million for sharing. Much appreciated.

      I hope you’re getting the sun in Mayo.

      Keith

  8. Thank you for your hard work in researching and writing this guide. I’ve made one trip to Ireland already (on a tour) but plan to return next year with my family (no tour). Your guide will help immensely on what to do and see.

  9. Hi Keith!
    I’ve been following your newsletters since the beginning of this year. Simply indescribably good! Simply best!
    Your descriptions are at least as good as scones, Irish breakfast and Guiness, no – even better, the good taste lasts much longer! We love Ireland!
    We spent 12 days on roadtrip in Co Cork and Kerry in April and will be back in October for 7-10 days, but we still don’t agree on where to go. The ideas are many, either Dingle and Killarney or Connemara / Achill Island or Northern Ireland/Donegal or Wicklow incl. Wexford / Waterford. Do you have a tip regarding the usual weather conditions during this period?

    Kind regards from Berlin!
    Andreas

    • Hey!

      Sorry – I’ve been away on holidays for the past week and I’m only catching messages here now.

      Thanks for the kind words. Glad they’re proving to be useful!

      October is my favourite time of the year to travel around Ireland.

      There’s orange leaves scattered across the trees, the air is cool and crisp, and there’s far less crowds of tourists milling about the place. Accommodation is also generally cheaper than the months leading up to it.

      The one thing you can never really predict is the weather. The days are shorter in October and you could have clear, crisp days or wild and wet ones. It’s the luck of the draw on that side of things.

      Where to go is a tough one.

      If it was me, I’d start in Galway and work down along the coast and around to Cork.

      You can easily veer off and drop into the likes of Limerick as you work your way South.

      What route did you do during your visit in April?

      Cheers,

      Keith

  10. Hi Keith, what an incredible job you have done! I have only just come across your website and it is fantastic! It will certainly make planning our upcoming road trip much easier.
    Having only just started browsing, I can see that you have included approximate travel times from/to each place, which is great. Looking at the 4 Week Guide, is there an approximate average driving time each day, (eg 3-4 hours) or does the driving time vary considerably each day? Many thanks in advance. Diane

    • Hi Diane,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and for the kind words!

      So, in the 4 week guide there isn’t an approx driving time.

      It’s something that would definitely be useful adding, so I’ll pop it onto the to-do list.

      The driving time definitely varies quite a bit over the 4 weeks.

      If you’re the type of traveller that prefers to base themselves from one spot for several days and explore what’s around them, you could chop and change it a bit to suit.

      If there’s anything in particular you need help with, shout!

      Cheers,

      Keith

    • Deadly! Thanks for taking the time to comment, Tony.

      I did a spin out to West Cork with the aul lad last summer.

      Lough Hyne, Brow Head and Mizen were the highlights. Serious spot altogether!

      Enjoy the trip!

      Keith

  11. Hi Keith,

    Thank you so much! Amazing tips for road tripping in Ireland!!! I will definitely be copying majority of your trip, it looks incredible!

    Quick question, how much roughly did you spend on petrol in the 4 weeks? For those of us that want to make sure we’re budgeting more than enough for an awesome trip.

    I’m from Australia, and have never been to Ireland… I’m looking at doing a 4-5 week road trip through Ireland & Northern Ireland in August/September next year, so your notes are just an incredible help!

    Thanks again.
    Katies

    • Hi Katie,

      Apologies – I’m only seeing this message now!

      So, I didn’t actually do this journey in its entiriety – it’s more of a guide for people that are here for 4 weeks and that need a hand with the route, where to stay, etc.

      I couldn’t even give you an estimate on how much fuel for the 4 weeks would cost, sorry! I know that’s not much help!

      Very jealous of your trip. That’s a lovely chunk of time to play with. You’ll be able to see loads.

  12. I just wanted to say thank you thank you thank you! Its very apparent how much work went into sharing your travels with us and I must say this is by far the most through blog and itineraries I’ve found! Reading all of your suggestions and specifics on details has made it so much easier and less stressful planning my trip. Thank you again! <3

    • Ah, cheers Mallory! Appreciate you taking the time to stop by and pop in a comment.

      My hand is still cramped from writing this one 😉

  13. Hi Keith
    Firstly, what an amazing site and SO much information! Thank you for the incredible amount of work you done to produce it ☺
    We are planning our trip in May June 2020 and are hiring a motorhome. We are in our 60’s and retired farmers in Australia. We had our first trip to Ireland 3 years ago and did ‘the full circle’ on organised coach tours. It was a fantastic trip and we loved it so much we want to come back and do ‘our own thing’.
    We will have 3 weeks in the motorhome and we are mainly interested in scenery and old pubs, also hoping to do a few days on a gypsy caravan tour. My biggest concerns are taking the motorhome on the many narrow roads and also finding places for overnight stops – we call it free camping. Can you give us some advice please

    • Hi Gaye,

      Thanks for the kind words – I’m glad you’ve found it useful!

      I’m afraid I’m a complete novice when it comes to all things motorhomes/motor camping, but I’ll try my best.

      There are roads in Ireland where you simply won’t be able to fit a motorhome down them (the Torr Head Scenic Route in Antrim, for example). I wouldn’t worry too much about this, as signage tends to be good (but that’s arguably a sweeping statement).

      As far as finding places to park overnight goes, I’ve seen plenty of campers parked up near beaches (Keem Bay in Mayo was the most recent) and in parking areas in villages and towns.

      Once you use sound judgement, I’m sure you’ll be fine!

      Have a fantastic trip.

      Keith

  14. Hi Keith,

    Love what you’ve done.
    I like you’re 28 day itinerary but am wondering if this is do-able without changing accommodation quite so much and perhaps staying 3 or 4 days in a region and doing road trips from those bases.
    If so, any ideas as to how to go about this?

  15. Hello,
    I am looking to go to Ireland for about 4 weeks but do not want to do any driving. What would you suggest if this is the case?

    Linda

    • Hi Linda – we haven’t actually published any guides to getting around Ireland without a car as of yet. They’re in the works, though. I’d recommend you use rome2rio to understand how to get from point A to point B.

      It’s a great site for linking numerous modes of transport together. You’ll need to use public transport and avail of organised tours, at times, which shouldn’t be an issue.

      It’s worth noting that a good few of the places in this guide won’t be reachable by public transport and many tour providers won’t include them on their itinerary.

      Have a great trip.

      Keith

  16. To Keith,
    We really want to do your 4 week trip and even though you are very thorough and detailed, I am STILL confused about how best to divide the trip so we can perhaps do this and not stay in 20 different accommodations.
    Is it at all possible to break it down into perhaps 3 and 4 day stays at a time. I’m sorry but I’ve been stuck on this for days.
    Erika

  17. Hi,
    Thank you so much for all this useful info. I am planning a trip on 5/7-5/16, leaving from Dublin, I think we are going to focus on Kerry and Clare. We will most likely leave Dublin Airport around 1PM (if all goes as planned) and want to stop in Kilkenny and Rock of Cashel, staying overnight in Cork. Will we be able to get there before nightfall?
    Thanks, Natalie

    • Hi Natalie,

      It depends on a couple of things: where in Cork are you staying and will you be driving or using public transport?

      Cheers,

      Keith

  18. Keith,
    I will be driving, and not sure where in Cork, we just wanted to get down towards Co. Kerry. Thanks for responding.
    Natalie

  19. Thank you for such a great guide. My husband and I have a week in Ireland in August and your site has really been helpful. There is so much to see and do. Your site is helping me figure out what we have to see and what we will plan to see on a future visit.

  20. Keith,my husband and I are planning a 4 to 6 week trip to Ireland in May/June of 2020. I viewed your itinerary and was very excited. Will you be able to send me a copy.
    Thank you,
    Mary

  21. Thanks very much for this, planning a month in Ireland this summer and this seems to have done all the hard work of planning for us.

  22. Hi Keith! We are hoping to visit for a month this coming November. Hoping vaccines will be done and travel is allowed. If we wanted to spend more time in each place say 3 to 4 days what would be the absolute places to visit scaling back from your list? Your recommendation will be appreciated. Thanks!!

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