The magnificent Rossnowlagh Beach is arguably one of the best beaches in Donegal.
Situated some eight kilometres south of Donegal Town, Rossnowlagh Beach will take your breath away (literally, at times!).
This popular surfers’ destination has a 3.2km long beach that’s perfect for long walks or, if you’re feeling hardy, a quick dip!
Below, you’ll find info on everything from parking and surfing to where to visit a short spin away.
Some quick need-to-knows about Rossnowlagh Beach in Donegal
Although a visit to Rossnowlagh Beach is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
You’ll find the beach in the town of Rossnowlagh, 10 minutes from Ballyshannon, 20 minutes from Donegal Town and a 30-minute spin from Mullaghmore in Sligo.
Rossnowlagh Beach is one of very few beaches in the county that cars can drive onto (this may change, so check it’s still valid when you arrive). There’s also parking next to the beach (here on Google Maps), but keep in mind that it gets busy during summer.
3. Via public transport
The beach is reasonably well serviced by public transport. The line 292 bus goes from Donegal Town to Rossnowlagh, costs around €2 and takes 25 minutes.
Rossnowlagh is a Blue Flag beach and it’s a popular spot for a swim. This award is given to beaches that meet ‘stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria’. Lifeguards are on duty between 12pm-6.30pm from June until September (note: times may change).
5. Water safety (please read)
Understanding water safety is absolutely crucial when visiting beaches in Ireland. Please take a minute to read these water safety tips. Cheers!
About Rossnowlagh Beach
‘Ros Neamlach’ in Irish means heavenly headland, and it’s easy to see how the seaside village of Rossnowlagh earned its name.
The nearby beach stretches from the Coolmore cliffs in the south to the rocky outcrop at Carrickfad, which juts out from the headland and is visible at low tide.
Rossnowlagh is a Blue Flagged beach, awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education. This ‘gold standard’ for beaches ensures there is no industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges and that the beach is kept clean.
The beach’s soft golden sands and exceptional views prove enormously popular in the summer months when locals and visitors flock there to surf, swim, walk and relax.
Ideal surf conditions
The slow rising beach faces west into the Atlantic Ocean and Donegal Bay and is funnel-shaped, which will be music to the ears of seasoned surfers.
These two factors tend to result in larger waves, especially in winter. In the past waves of up to 7 metres high have been recorded at Rossnowlagh.
Rossnowlagh Tide Times
If you’re planning on visiting but you want to suss out the Rossnowlagh tide times first, MagicSeaweed is a good resource (the also do a handy Rossnowlagh Surf Report).
Or, if you’d prefer some local knowledge, drop into one of the surf schools or give them a ring – they’ll be able to give you invaluable information.
Things to do in Rossnowlagh
There’s a handful of things to do in Rossnowlagh for those of you that fancy making a day out of your visit. Here’s a few suggestions for you:
1. Saunter along the sand
This sounds like an obvious one, but you can stroll for a good three kilometres here along Rossnowlagh’s wide sandy shores.
If you arrive on a cool day, nip over the Brew Box and grab a coffee and a sweet treat to keep you going.
2. Give surfing a bash
Rossnowlagh Beach is one of the most popular spots for surfing in Donegal. If you haven’t hit the waves before, don’t worry – there are several surf schools operating in the area.
Both Rossnowlagh Surf School and Fin McCool Surf School & Surf Shop have rave reviews online and are well worth checking out.
3. Have a pint with a view at Smugglers Creek Inn
The mighty Smugglers Creek Inn is one of the best pubs in the land. It’s been on the go since the early 1900s and it’s finely located at a point that overlooks Donegal Bay.
If you fancy kicking-back with a pint-with-a-view, get yourself here.
Places to visit near Rossnowlagh Beach
One of the beauties of Rossnowlagh 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 Rossnowlagh!
1. Bundoran (15-minute drive)
The seaside town of Bundoran is a short spin away. There’s plenty of things to do in Bundoran, from coastal walks and surfing to food and more. If you haven’t had your fill of beaches, Murvagh Beach is also a 15-minute spin away.
2. Donegal Town (20-minute drive)
If you’re looking to soak up some history, head to Donegal Castle. If you fancy a bite, there’s heaps of restaurants in Donegal Town. There’s also the Waterbus, walking tours and plenty of other things to do in Donegal Town.
3. Classiebawn (30-minute drive)
You’ll find the mighty Classiebawn Castle on the Mullaghmore Peninsula in Sligo. You can drive along the coast, tackle the loop walk or watch the surfers on Mullaghmore Beach.
FAQs about visiting Rossnowlagh in Donegal
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Can you swim here?’ to ‘What surf school is best?’.
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 drive onto Rossnowlagh Beach?
At the time of typing, we believe (emphasis on ‘believe’) that you can drive onto Rossnowlagh. However, your best bet is to suss it out when you arrive.
Can you swim at Rossnowlagh?
Yes, this is a blue flag beach so you can swim once you’re a capable swimmer. Note that lifeguards are only on duty during the summer months.