The Sliabh Liag Cliffs (aka ‘Slieve League’) in Donegal are arguably the best cliffs to visit on the island of Ireland.
Now, this statement is likely to anger a few people (in particular those that have only ever visited certain cliffs in Clare), but bear with me.
When people hear the words ‘cliff’ and ‘Ireland’ mentioned in the same sentence, they tend to think of Moher, as they’re the most visited cliffs in Ireland and have a solid bit of worldwide fame.
While the Cliffs of Moher are well worth the visit, there are plenty of other great cliffs to visit during your Ireland road trip.
Today, we’re taking you to a corner of Donegal to show you the Sliabh Liag Cliffs, in the hope that you’ll visit them while you explore Donegal.
Here’s a map of where you’ll find Sliabh Liag in Donegal.
The Sliabh Liag Cliffs
You’ll find the Sliabh Liag Cliffs on the glorious south west coast of County Donegal.
I’ve been here 5 or 6 times now, yet each time I visit feels like the first time all over again.
A trip here shocks the senses in every way imaginable.
In winter (and during summer, at times) harsh wind batters your body from every angle while the delightfully fresh aroma of the ocean fills your nostrils.
Throw in the constant crash from waves bashing against jagged cliff face and you’ve a pretty damn special experience on your hands.
From the top of the Sliabh Liag Cliffs you’ll be treated to views out across Donegal Bay all the way to Sligo and beyond.
Now, let me emphasise something – this is what you’ll be treated to if you arrive on a clear day.
Visibility was poor the last time I was here (see above). If you arrive on a day similar to the one that I experienced, you can wait it out and see if it lifts, or… well… you can head off home. Not ideal, but sure that’s nature for you.
You’ll encounter a number of lakes on your way to the summit, and at the base there’s a little beach of pure white sand that’s only approachable by boat.
To the right hand side of the beach there’s a large cave where seals sometimes retreat to.
During the second world war, the south of Ireland had certain agreements with The Allies.
One of these agreements allowed allied aircraft fly through the Donegal Corridor, a narrow strip of airspace that linked Lough Erne to the Atlantic Ocean.
The word Éire was placed in stone on headlands around Donegal (you can see another at Malin Head), to act as navigation aid for those flying above.
You can still see this Éire sing at the Sliabh Liag Cliffs – it’s next to the viewing point car park.
Sliabh Liag was also an ancient pilgrimage site.
High on the slopes of the mountain you’ll find remains of an early Christian monastic site. Keep an eye our for a chapel, beehive huts and ancient stone remains.
You’ll also find an old signal tower at Carrigan Head that dates back to the Napoleonic wars. This tower was used by the British, who occupied Ireland at the time, to keep lookout for a possible French invasion.
Sliabh Liag Walk Options
There are several different walks that’ll treat you to excellent views throughout.
The Pilgrims Path Walk
The only walk I can recommend
I’m deliberately hesitant to recommend hikes that I’ve never done myself.
Often, websites create guides to, at times, potentially dangerous hikes that they’ve never completed themselves, using second hand information scraped together from multiple sources.
There’s ample room for error here.
While there are handy walks at Sliab Liag like the one I’m about to tell you about, there are also ones that take you to One Man’s Path (watch the video above…).
The walk from the first car park
I’ve done this walk several times now.
It treats you to some incredible scenery and gets you up close with some of Donegal’s wild countryside.
When you reach the viewing point you’ll be treated to a magnificent view of the cliffs.
From here, you can walk up some makeshift steps that’ll provide you with some more views – be careful, though. Like most cliffs in Ireland, they remain as nature intended.
Don’t get too close to the edge and be careful with children.
The Slieve League Cliffs Centre
The Slieve League Cliffs Centre in Teelin will immerse you in local culture, food and crafts.
Visit the centre if you’re in search of:
- A hiking experience with a difference
- A heritage tour
- A boat trip under the cliffs
- Kayaking round the coast
There’s car and coach parking available on-site along with a bus service to the Slieve League viewing point.
Where to eat near the cliffs
There’s a couple of great food options near the Sliab Liag Cliffs.
The first is the Rusty Mackrel. If you read our guide to the best things to do in Donegal (contains a full road trip itinerary!), you’ll recognise this place.
There’s also a lovely spot in Teelin Village called Tí Linn. A friend was here a couple of months back and he raved about the soup and sandwiches.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve taken the most frequently asked questions from across the web to help you plan your trip. If there’s a question that hasn’t been covered, just pop a comment in the comments section at the end of this article and we’ll respond ASAP.
Where to stay
For those of you wondering where to stay near Slieve League, here’s a handful of options:
Slieve League vs Cliffs of Moher
While both are great, they offer very different experiences.
There are a couple of things to take into account when debating which to visit:
The biggest factor in deciding which to visit should be where your Ireland itinerary is taking you.
If you’re touring the north of Ireland, stick to Slieve League. If you’re visiting the west, visit Moher.
If you’ve ample time to explore the Wild Atlantic Way, visit both.
The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most visited attractions in Ireland. They’re absolutely incredible, yes, but they tend to be packed.
If you’re in search of a cliff-side experience that’s ever so slightly off the beaten path, visit Donegal.
The Slieve League Cliffs are significantly quieter than the Cliffs of Moher.
That’s a wrap, folks. If you’ve any questions or comments, pop them into the comments section below and we’ll get back to you shortly.