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A Guide To The Very Scenic Time Saver That Is The Lough Foyle Ferry

A Guide To The Very Scenic Time Saver That Is The Lough Foyle Ferry

The Lough Foyle Ferry (aka the Magilligan Ferry or the Greencastle Ferry) is a very scenic time-saver.

It connects the Inishowen Peninsula with the Causeway Coastal Route and takes just 15 minutes (the drive takes 1.5 hours).

It’s perfect for those of you exploring this corner of Ireland with limited time and it’s also an enjoyable way to see the surrounding coastline from the sea.

Below, you’ll find info on everything from prices and what to do near each ferry terminal to the sailing times.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Lough Foyle Ferry

lough foyle ferry timetable

Photos via the Lough Foyle Ferry on FB

Although getting the Greencastle Ferry is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Departure Points

The Lough Foyle Ferry sails between Greencastle in County Donegal and Magilligan Point in County Derry. It connects the Wild Atlantic Way and Causeway Coastal Route scenic drives across the iconic waterway.

2. Prices

The ferry takes a range of vehicles (including motorhomes, campervans, caravans, minibuses, cars, bicycles and motorbikes) along with those travelling on foot. Here’s a quick overview (note: prices may change):

  • For a car with passengers, tickets start from €16
  • For cyclists and motorbike riders, it’s €2.50
  • For campervans, motorhomes and caravans, it’s between €20 and €30 depending on the vehicle

3. Timetable

The Lough Foyle Ferry timetable is nice and straightforward. The ferry runs every day from May until September. It operates on a continuous shuttle service, from 9am until 8.15pm, so you never have to wait too long.

4. A very scenic time saver

If you avoid the ferry, then the drive from Greencastle to Magilligan Point would be 1.5 hours, whereas the ferry just takes 15 minutes. Not only does it save you driving time, but the trip is also much more scenic with incredible views across the water.

About the Lough Foyle Ferry

The Lough Foyle Ferry Company was founded in 2002 to provide a summer service to and from the Inishowen Peninsula. It significantly reduced the transport time between Derry and Donegal from 1.5 hours to 15 minutes.

The route itself takes what is known as the Colombian Corridor, which was an important trade route across the peninsula. By sailing across, you’ll be following in the wake of saints, traders and scholars from centuries before.

What’s it like on the ferry

While it’s not an incredibly luxurious sailing boat or anything like that, the Magilligan Ferry is still a comfortable ride. It also has a great upper deck area where you can take in the panoramic views of the water and surrounding coastline. 

Once you park your car, van or motorbike in the open lower deck area, you can head up to enjoy the view from the viewing platforms… when the weather’s playing ball, that is!

Some of the highlights of taking the ferry

The Greencastle Ferry is a wonderfully scenic way of getting from Greencastle to Magilligan Point. On the way across you can enjoy the sights, including of Martello Tower, Benevenagh Mountain, Northburgh Castle and the Harbour as you sail towards Greencastle. 

The points of departure are also within a short drive of some incredible things to do in and around the coastline of Donegal and Londonderry, making it a very convenient place for some sightseeing.

Things to do close to the Greencastle arrival point for the Lough Foyle Ferry

If you’re taking the Magilligan Ferry over to Greencastle, you’ve endless things to see and do a short spin away.

From stunning viewpoints and glorious walks to hikes, coastal drives and more, you’ll be kept nicely occupied. Here are some suggestions!

1. Magilligan Point View (8-minute drive)

Magilligan Point View

Photos via Google Maps

Just an 8-minute drive up Drumaweir Road from the arrival point of the ferry, you can stop to enjoy this incredible viewpoint. There’s a parking area off the side of the road, with a sign indicating that you’ve reached the spot.

You can see right over the town and ferry route across to the other side of Lough Foyle. It’s definitely worth a stop, especially in the late afternoon for the golden light.

2. Stroove Beach (8-minute drive)

Stroove Beach and Lighthouse

Photo by shawnwil23 (Shutterstock)

Just further up the coastline from Greencastle is Stroove Beach. A Blue Flag Beach on the east coast of the Inishowen Peninsula, it’s adjacent to two different lighthouses.

While it’s a relatively small beach, it’s much quieter than others in Donegal, making it a perfect place for a stroll or picnic when the weather is nice. 

3. Inishowen Head Loop (10-minute drive)

Inishowen Head Loop

Photos via Shutterstock

The Inishowen Head Loop is a 8.5km circuit walk offering some of the most incredible views of the coast. Just a 10-minute drive from the ferry terminal, there is a car park at Inishowen Head where you can follow the signposted trail.

The loop crosses some wild and remote parts of the coastline with views across even as far as Scotland on a clear day. The moderate walk should take around 3 hours to complete.

4. Kinnagoe Bay (10-minute drive)

kinnagoe bat donegal

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

Around further from Inishowen Head, you’ll find this incredibly stunning secluded beach on Kinnagoe Bay. It’s arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal and it gives off some tropical Thailand or Bali vibes. 

Tucked beneath craggy cliffs, this small golden beach is a slice of paradise in Donegal. You can find some parking at the bottom of a steep and winding road, but you’ll probably want to snap a photo from the top of the cliffs before you head down for the best view.

5. The Inishowen 100 Drive (start it from the pier)

mamore gap donegal

Photos by Ondrej Prochazka/Shutterstock

The Inishowen 100 route is one of the most scenic drives in Ireland and it’s popular amongst drivers and cyclists alike. While there’s various places you could start the drive from, if you’re taking the ferry, it’s convenient to begin right from the pier at Greencastle.

The name is taken from the approximate distance in miles of the circuit route which takes you around the Inishowen Peninsula. There’s plenty of stops you can make on the way, including Malin Head and the glorious Mamore Gap.

Things to do close to the Magilligan Point arrival point for the Lough Foyle Ferry

If you’re taking the Greencastle Ferry over to Magilligan Point, you’ve endless things to see and do a short spin away.

From stunning viewpoints and glorious walks to hikes, coastal drives and more, you’ll be kept nicely occupied. Here are some suggestions!

1. Beaches galore (10-minute drive)

Portstewart beach

Photo by Ballygally View Images (Shutterstock)

There’s plenty of beaches to explore on this side of the water, including the spectacular Benone Beach, which stretches from Magilligan Point towards Downhill. With seven miles of golden sand, it’s been the recipient of multiple Blue Flag Awards. 

Further along the coast, you also have Castlerock Beach (15-minute drive), Downhill Strand (20-minute drive) and Portstewart Strand (30-minute drive), which make up an incredible stretch of coastline perfect for water sports, walking, picnicking and fishing.

2. Mussenden Temple (12-minute drive)

mussenden temple walk

Photo by silvester kalcik (Shutterstock)

Located in Downhill, just 12-minutes away from the ferry departure point, Musseden Temple is a historical landmark right on the coast. Built in 1785 as an estate library, the small building has a unique design, similar to Rome’s Temple of Vesta.

Commanding an incredible location right on the edge overlooking the beaches below, it offers spectacular views. You can enjoy a cliff walk around the temple, as you can’t actually go inside, but the vista makes it a worthwhile visit.

4. Gortmore Viewpoint (15-minute drive)

Gortmore Viewpoint

Photos via Google Maps

On Bishops Road up on a hill above the coast, Gortmore Viewpoint is a well known spot to stop and soak up a glorious panoramic view. There are plenty of spots to park along the side of the road, from where you can take a short walk up to the viewpoint and three picnic benches.

It provides a stunning view down to Lough Foyle and the incredible coastline. However, be prepared, it’s usually quite windy up there!

5. The Binevenagh Hike (20-minute drive)

binevenagh derry

Photo by shawnwil23/shutterstock.com

Dominating the skyline near Magilligan Point is Binevenagh, a beautiful mountain with an incredible vantage point overlooking Lough Foyle. There are quite a few options for walking in the area, including around the base and up to the summit.

The walk takes you through coniferous forest, with a steep final climb up to the top for panoramic views of the coast. You can park up on Leighery Road, from where there’s a waymarked trail into the forest.

6. Dunluce Castle (35-minute drive)

dunluce castle antrim

Photos via Shutterstock

If you drive past Portrush, keep an eye our for Dunluce Castle (35 minutes away from the ferry dock). The stunning medieval fortress is one of the most beautiful in Ireland, with an imposing location right on the edge of the coast.

The current ruins date back to the 16th and 17th century and was inhabited by both the feuding McQuillan and MacDonnell clans. There are guided tours through the castle ruins with the admission price around €5.65 per adult.

FAQs about getting the Lough Foyle Ferry

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘How long does the Magilligan Ferry take?’ to ‘When does the Greencastle Ferry leave?’.

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.

How long does the Lough Foyle Ferry take?

The Magilligan / Greencastle Ferry takes just 15 minutes. If you were to drive between the two points it’d take you 1.5 hours.

How much is the Lough Foyle Ferry?

Prices for the Greencastle / Magilligan Ferry vary depending on vehicle. For example, for cyclists and pedestrians, it’s €2.50 while for a car with passengers, tickets start from €16.

How often does Lough Foyle ferry sail?

The ferry runs over 100 times per day from Monday to Sunday. They tend to leave every 10 to 15 minutes from either side.

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Heather

Thursday 26th of May 2022

Thank you! Very informative!

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