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A Guide To The Mighty Malin Head In Donegal (Things To Do, Walks + More)

A Guide To The Mighty Malin Head In Donegal (Things To Do, Walks + More)

Malin Head on the magnificent Inishowen Peninsula is one of the most popular places to visit in Donegal.

It’s also the most northerly point in Ireland! However, despite this, many that visit are left disappointed, as it’s often hard to know what to do when you get there.

In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from things to do at Malin Head and the Star Wars link to where to visit close by.

Some quick need-to-knows about Malin Head

malin head ireland

Photo by shawnwil23/shutterstock

So, it’s easy to arrive at Malin Head and become quickly frustrated, as there’s no clear signage around what there is to see and do. Take 30 seconds to read the bullets below to get you started:

1. Location

You’ll find Malin Head at the tip of the Inishowen Peninsula. It’s a 30-minute drive from Ballyliffen and a 40-minute drive from both Greencastle and Buncrana.

2. Parking, toilets + coffee

There’s a decent bit of parking at Malin Head (here on Google Maps). It’s relatively quiet throughout the year, but crowds swell during summer. There’s toilets at the car park and a coffee truck (Caffe Banba) not far from the tower.

3. Ireland’s most northerly point

Malin is Ireland’s most northerly point while Mizen Head in Cork is Ireland’s most southerly. When you visit, you often get a feeling that you’ve just stepped into another word, as the wild, rugged landscape opens up before you and the wind and waves whistle and crash in your ears.

4. The walks

There are several walks at Malin Head but the most popular is arguably the Malin Head Trail (0.9km – takes around 1 hour). It kicks off at the car park and is relatively easy going (find a map below).

5. The Northern Lights

Due to the peak in the sun’s activity, Malin Head is often a great place to witness the Northern Lights in Ireland. If the conditions are right (info here), you can catch a glimpse of the dancing lights in the night sky above the peninsula. The best months to see the Northern Lights at Malin Head are during the cold winter months.

6. Star Wars link

We get countless emails every month asking about the Malin Head Star Wars link. Yes, Malin Head featured in the Star Wars film. Scenes from the film (The Last Jedi) were filmed at Malin Head over three days in 2016. The iconic Millennium Falcon was built on the edge of the coastline in Malin Head and locals recall the actors popping into Farren’s Bar for refreshments. 

About Malin Head

malin head

Malin Head: Photo by Lukassek (Shutterstock)

Malin Head is the most northerly point in Ireland and you’ll find it located right at the tip of the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal.

The dramatic coastline is characterised by rugged beauty and stunning views. The northernmost tip is around 16km north of the village of Malin, with an accessible car park and walking trails for visitors to easily explore the area.

Malin Head is also of historical and ecological importance. It has several remains of signal stations and lookout posts strewn across the area, as well as sunken ships off its coast.

You’ll also find a variety of unique flora and fauna, including sea life and birds. There are plenty of opportunities to go fishing, swimming and walking around the point with hiking trails and notable sights to see along the way. 

The Malin Head walk

malin head walk

Map courtesy of Sport Ireland

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 0.9km
  • Length: 1 hour
  • Start point: Car park
  • Signs: Brown with white text

If you’re looking for things to do at Malin Head, this walk is a good place to start. It kicks off at the car park and gives you a good look at the areas main points of interest.

Keep an eye out for the brown signs with the white text that’ll help guide you as you stroll. It’ll take you up to Lloyds Signal Tower, first, before giving you an eyeful of the EIRE 80 sign.

You’ll then continue along the coast, passing Hells Hole, and treating you to glorious coastal views in the process.

More things to do at Malin Head

Cafe Banba at Malin Head

Photos via Cafe Banba on Facebook

If you’re planning a visit to Malin Head in Donegal and you’re not sure what to look out for, the section below will help.

It’s easy to visit Malin Head and end up aimlessly wandering around, unsure of where to go, so take note of the points below.

1. Kick-start your visit with something hot at Caffe Banba

You’ll want to start your visit to Malin Head at Ireland’s most northerly bakery and café. Caffe Banba is located at the main car park area of Malin Head so you can conveniently grab a coffee before you start exploring the area.

2. Keep an eye out for the Eire Signs

Eire signs were navigational markers placed around the country to alert WWII pilots they were flying over neutral Ireland. Although many are in disrepair, the Eire 80 sign at Malin Head has been restored so you can see the sign etched into the ground with white stones.

3. See Banba’s Crown

Banba’s Crown marks the northernmost point at Malin Head in Donegal. The old lookout and tower was originally built in 1805 to help defend against a potential French attack but was soon turned into a signal tower. It was named after a mythical Irish queen and is known more locally as simply “the tower”.

4. Take a moment to appreciate the battles that took place here between boat and wave

Malin Head is considered one of the best places in Europe to wreck dive. There are more ocean liners and German U-boats sunk off this particular stretch of coast than anywhere else in the world. With some very clear water, it’s the perfect place to explore underwater if you’re an experienced diver.

5. Keep an eye out for Ballyhillin Beach and Inishtrahull Island

You can also spot Inishtrahull Island several miles off the coast of Malin Head. This island is composed of the oldest rock in Ireland which is said to date back around 1.7 billion years. Another ecological wonder to look out for is Ballyhillin Beach, just along the coast from Banba’s Crown. This unique, raised beach is a clear demonstration of the higher sea levels from thousands of years ago. 

6. Check out Hell’s Hole

If you follow the Malin Head walk we mentioned above, you’ll come across deep ravines on the coast which is known as Hells’ Hole. You’ll hear Hell’s Hole before you even see it with the tide exploding into the cavern with incredible natural force.

8. Warm your bones at Farren’s Bar

Farren’s Bar is the most northerly pub in Ireland and a great place to warm yourself up with a pint after exploring the area. You’ll be in good company, as even Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) popped into the bar for refreshments during the filming of The Last Jedi.

Things to do near Malin Head

Malin Head is part of the Inishowen 100 scenic drive, so it’s close to endless places to see and things to do.

Below, you’ll find things to do near Malin Head that are within a reasonable driving distance away.

1. Five Finger Strand (15-minute drive)

Five finger Strand donegal

Photo by shawnwil23/

The Inishowen Peninsula is home to many of the best beaches in Donegal. One of our favourites, Fiver Finger Strand, is a handy 17-minute drive away. You can head for a walk along the sand or you can get a magnificent aerial view of the beach if you visit Wild Alpaca Way at Knockamany Bends.

2. Glenevin Waterfall (35-minute drive)

Glenevin Waterfall

Photo left: By Pavel_Voitukovic. Photo right: By Michelle Holihan. (on

Next up is Glenevin Waterfall and there’s a lovely walk from the car park into the waterfall (20 – 25 minute). There’s also a little coffee truck on-site, if you happen to visit during the busier summer months.

3. Doagh Famine Village (35-minute drive)

Doagh Famine Village donegal

Photo via Doagh Famine Village on Facebook

Doagh Famine Village (35-minute drive) is a museum like no other. This place offers an insight into the bitter-sweet story of how a community living on the edge struggled and survived from the 1800s to the present day.

4. More Inishowen magic (35-minute + drive)

kinnagoe bat donegal

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

There’s plenty of other things to do on the Inishowen Peninsula. From Kinnagoe Bay and Culdaff Beach to Fort Dunree, Mamore Gap and the Inishowen Head Loop, you’ve plenty to keep you occupied.

FAQs About Visiting Malin Head in Donegal

Since starting The Irish Road Trip many years ago, we’ve had endless questions from people thinking about visiting Malin Head.

Below, I’ve attempted to answer the most FAQs that we’ve received. Have a question that we haven’t tackled? Let me know below!

Is Malin Head worth visiting?

Malin Head is often considered one of the must-see places in Ireland. The incredibly stunning views from the peninsula and opportunities for walking, fishing and swimming make it a popular destination.

What is Malin Head famous for?

Malin Head is famous for being the most northerly point of Ireland’s mainland. The area is characterised by its dramatic coastal landscape and historical sites.

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Michael Sheehan

Thursday 30th of September 2021

Thank you. Very informative. I walked the trail on Malin head today and was not disappointed by the incredible scenery. After Hells hole about 1.1 miles along the well maintained track, you can pass the stone stacks on a loose track and get to see even more extraordinary seascapes. Definitely with the hike.

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