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A Guide To Pollan Bay / Ballyliffin Beach In Donegal

A Guide To Pollan Bay / Ballyliffin Beach In Donegal

Situated near the head of the Inishowen Peninsula, Pollan Bay is one of the most northerly beaches in Ireland.

It’s also one of the most picturesque! There’s some fine beaches in Donegal, but this long strand is right up there and there’s some stunning scenery nearby to explore too.

Below, you’ll find info on everything from surfing and parking to where to visit a short spin away. Dive on in!

Some quick need-to-knows about Pollan Bay / Ballyliffin Beach

Ballyliffin beach

Photo by Ballygally View Images/

Although a visit to Ballyliffin Beach is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

Pollan Bay looks out towards the Atlantic Ocean on the northwestern side of the Inishowen Peninsula, near the charming village of Ballyliffin. It’s a 20-minute drive from Buncrana and a 30-minute drive from both Malin Head and Greencastle.

2. Parking

You’ll find parking for Pollan Bay right at the very southern tip of the strand (here on Google Maps). It’s a pretty large car park so you shouldn’t have much difficulty finding a spot, but obviously if you’re here in the summer then it’s probably a good shout to arrive a little earlier to secure a space. 

3. Swimming

There’s dangerous rip-currents here and signs at the beach warn against swimming. So, please keep your feet on dry land.

4. Part of the Inishowen 100

The Inishowen 100 is a scenic drive around the lush landscape of the Inishowen Peninsula (it gets its name from the length – 100 miles!). Pollan Bay’s long expanse is part of that cinematic jaunt and we’d definitely recommend seeing the rest of the drive as this part of Ireland is gorgeous.

About Pollan Bay

pollan bay donegal

Photo via Shutterstock

The first thing to know about Pollan Bay is that at 2.5km it’s a seriously long beach! And with the car park at the very southern end of the beach, there’s plenty of room for adults to roam and kids to play. 

The views here are great too and you’ll be able to enjoy cracking vistas of Malin Head, Glashedy Island and the Isle of Doagh. 

I mentioned earlier that the beach is totally exposed to the Atlantic and that makes it perfect for water sports like windsurfing, in particular. And if you’re a golfer, then you’re in luck as the famous Ballyliffin Golf Course is situated right behind the strand.

Things to do at Ballyliffin Beach / Pollan Bay

Ballyliffin Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s a handful of things to do in and around Ballyliffin Beach if you fancy making a morning of it. Here’s a few suggestions for you:

1. Grab a coffee to go from Bean and Scone

With such a large beach to explore, you’re gonna need a bit of fuel and the perfectly placed Bean and Scone are just the guys to help! Conveniently located in the corner of the car park, they offer a bunch of great coffees to give you that caffeine kick before head off for a saunter. 

If the weather’s warm, then don’t hesitate to jump on one of their iced coffees or cold drinks. And if you really want to treat yourself, then treat yourself to one of their delightfully tempting sweet treats such as cakes, muffins, eclairs….you get the picture!

2. Then tackle the Pollan Bay Walk

As I’ve probably alluded to already, Pollan Bay is a mighty fine spot for a walk! And if you want to see every inch of this stunning strand then grab your coffee and take on the Pollan Bay Walk.

The walk is easy enough and virtually flat all the way across sand and gravel. Simply head north from the car park across the sandy Pollan Beach to the townland of Carrickabraghy on the Isle of Doagh.

Admire the beautiful views from here before turning and heading back down the beach to the car park. At a total of 5km, the walk should take around two hours to complete.

Places to visit near Pollan Bay

One of the beauties of Ballyliffin Beach is that it’s a short spin away from many of Donegal’s top attractions.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Ballyliffin (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Carrickabraghy Castle (10-minute walk)

Carrickabraghy Castle donegal

Photo by shawnwil23 on

A small stone castle that’s undeniably charming, Carrickabraghy Castle sits on a rocky outcrop just north of Pollan Bay and you can actually see it from the beach! It also dates back around 500 years, but the history of the settlement at this spot actually goes back to pre-Viking times.

2. Doagh Famine Village (10-minute drive)

Doagh Famine Village donegal

Photo via Doagh Famine Village on Facebook

A thought-provoking and occasionally humorous look at Irish life, the Doagh Famine Village tells the story of Irish life from the Great Famine of the 1840s through to the present day. Showcasing their storytelling and life-size exhibits, it’s one of those unique museums that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else (so visit while you can!). 

3. Tullagh Strand (20-minute drive)

Tullagh Beach

Photo via Shutterstock

If you’d prefer a beach that’s a little more sheltered, then make the 20-minute drive over to Tullagh Bay to the southwest of Pollan Bay. This lovely horseshoe-shaped beach offers crystal clear water, beautiful views and soft sand perfect for a ramble. 

4. Glenevin Waterfall (20-minute drive)

Glenevin Waterfall donegal

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

One of a number of magical spots in the area, the picturesque Glenevin Waterfall cascades over black rocks from a height of 40ft. A handy 20-minute drive from Pollan Bay, the soothing sound of the tumbling mountain water is one of many reasons to head to this enchanting spot.

FAQs about Ballyliffin Beach

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Can you swim here?’ to ‘Is parking much hassle during summer?’.

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.

Can you swim at Pollan Strand?

Although we’ve tried, we can’t find any official information about swimming a Pollan Beach. So, your best bet is to ask locally or to keep your feet on dry land.

Is parking a pain at Pollan Beach?

During the summer it can be, as people flock to this sandy stretch. However, you’ll find it reasonably quiet throughout the year.

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Eleanor McAlister

Friday 4th of November 2022

There is a sign up at Pollan Bay warning against swimming there. There are rip currents and strong waves and no life guard. Swimming is not advised.

Keith O'Hara

Saturday 5th of November 2022

Thanks Eleanor - I'll get this added now!

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