Lisfannon Beach (aka Fahan Beach) is a fine spot for a ramble.
With its naturally deep waters allowing boat entry and a history of smuggling, Lough Swilly in County Donegal has seen a fair amount of action over the years!
But those days are in the past and Lisfannon Beach is a place to relax and admire beautiful views of islands, hills and shores.
In the guide below you’ll find info on everything from parking and swimming to what to expect when you get there.
Some quick need-to-knows about Lisfannon Beach
Although a visit to Lisfannon Beach is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
You’ll find Lisfannon Beach about midway down Lough Swilly on its eastern side in the southwest of the Inishowen Peninsula. It’s a 10-minute drive from Buncrana, a 25-minute drive from Derry and a 50-minute drive from Malin Head.
The Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point is found at the very north of the beach and this is where you’ll find some handy parking (here on Google Maps). Look out for the Wild Atlantic Way signs on the R238 and once you pull in you’ll see that you’re almost on the beach itself!
Although we tried, we couldn’t find any official info online in regards to swimming at Fahan Beach. So, if you fancy a dip, we’d recommend checking locally about the conditions here.
4. Part of the Inishowen 100
Scenic drives are one of the best ways to see a location in a short space of time and the Inishowen 100 is no exception! With some beautiful sights on the way around the Inishowen Peninsula, it’s a great journey with Lisfannon’s picturesque spot on Lough Swilly one of the many gorgeous stops.
5. Water safety (please read)
About Lisfannon Beach
Sitting at the heart of Lough Swilly, you’ll be greeted with some wonderful views of the surrounding scenery from Lisfannon Beach. From the nearby Inch Island to the distant village of Rathmullan across the lough and the rising quartzite shape of Knockalla Mountain, there’s loads here to feast your eyes on!
Along with Inch Island, the area is a key wetlands site for birds and an important natural heritage area. Along with tons of waterfowl, you’ll also get a glimpse of lots of bird species including Lapwings, Smiles, Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers, Chaffinches, Robins and gulls.
Fahan Beach tends to be one of the busier beaches in Donegal during the summer due to it’s proximity to Derry City (25-minute drive).
Things to do at Lisfannon Beach
There’s a handful of things to do in and around Fahan Beach if you’re looking to make an afternoon of it. Here’s a handful of suggestions for you:
1. Head for a ramble and soak up the views
Gently curving around Gollan Hill, Lisfannon is a large beach and there’s plenty of room for heading out for a morning or afternoon ramble. The car park location means you’ll start on the northern end of the beach, so take your time strolling south towards Inch Island and enjoy the soft golden sands.
Perhaps kick off your shoes and go for a little paddle? The views here are properly panoramic thanks to the shape of the beach so just soak it all up!
And make sure to keep an eye out for all that wildlife the closer you get to Inch Island!
2. Followed up with food at The Railway Tavern
Filled with rail paraphernalia and housed inside a former station house on the ‘Swilly Line’ (as it was affectionately named), The Railway Tavern is one of the most romantic pubs in the area (especially if you like trains!).
Located just around the southern corner of Lisfannon Beach, this is a deadly place to come for a feed once you’ve finished at the strand.
Get settled into a booth and check out a menu full of mouthwatering steaks and classic mains such as Haddock and chips and a supreme of Irish chicken. If you’re around in the evening, they also craft colourful cocktails for when you want to let your hair down.
Places to visit near Lisfannon Beach
One of the beauties of Fahan Beach is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Donegal.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Fahan!
1. Grianan Of Aileach (15-minute drive)
The Neolithic hillside fort of Grianan Of Aileach dates back to 1700 BC and it was once the seat of the High Kings of the Aileach kingdom for around seven centuries.
These days the circular fort is one of the most unique spots in the country and at 244 metres high gives off some seriously spectacular views across three counties and over the sea inlets of the Inishowen Peninsula!
2. Wild Ireland (15-minute drive)
It might be hard to believe, but Ireland was once a land of rainforest a few thousand years ago and was full of long since forgotten animals.
Wild Ireland brings back a slice of that past life and you can visit and enjoy seeing animals up close like brown bears, wolves, lynx, wild boar, monkeys and deer.
3. Mamore Gap (20-minute drive)
Showcasing amazing vistas down towards Dunaff Head from 800ft up, the Mamore Gap is one of the coolest and most unique stretches of road in Ireland!
Park up near the holy shrine (yes, there’s also a holy shrine!) and take plenty of time to fully appreciate the tumbling views down to the coast.
4. Glenevin Waterfall (25-minute drive)
The magical Glenevin Waterfall tumbles from 40ft high over shimmering black rocks and is one of the most beautiful non-coastal spots in the region.
The soothing sound of the cascading mountain water is one of several reasons to head to this enchanting spot and the 25-minute drive from Lisfannon Beach is well worth it.
FAQs about Fahan Beach
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is parking a hassle?’ to ‘When’s high tide?’.
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.
Is Lisfannon Beach worth visiting?
If you’re passing by, it’s worth hopping out here for a ramble along the sand and to soak up the views, however, we wouldn’t be travelling miles to see it.
Can you swim at Lisfannon / Fahan Beach?
Despite trying, we can’t find any official information online regarding swimming at Fahan Beach, so your best bet is to ask around locally.