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Visiting The Slieve League Cliffs In Donegal: Parking, Walks And Viewpoint

Visiting The Slieve League Cliffs In Donegal: Parking, Walks And Viewpoint

The Slieve League Cliffs really are spectacular. And, despite the recent car park controversy, they’re still well worth a visit.

Standing at a whopping 1,972 feet/601 meters, the Slieve League Cliffs are nearly 3 times the height of the Cliffs of Moher and they’re almost twice the height of the Eiffel Tower.

They’re one of the most impressive natural attractions in Donegal and the scenery you can soak up from the Slieve League viewpoint is out of this world.

Below, you’ll find info on everything from the Slieve League walk / hike to the new parking charges and restrictions.

Some quick need-to-knows before visiting the Slieve League Cliffs / Sliab Liag

Slieve League Cliffs

Photos via Shutterstock

A visit to the Sliabh Liag Cliffs was nice and handy up until last year. But there’s new restrictions in place now that add a layer of complexity to a visit. Take 30 seconds to read the below:

1. Location

The Slieve League Cliffs (Sliabh Liag) are located on the stunning south west coast of Donegal. They’re a 15-minute drive from Carrick, a 20-minute drive from Glencolmcille, a 30-minute drive from Killybegs and a 55-minute drive from Donegal Town.

2. There are 2 car parks

So, there’s 2 places to park at the cliffs – the lower car park and the upper car park. The lower requires you to make a 45-minute+ moderately strenuous walk to the viewing point while the upper car park is right next to the viewing platform. We’ve heard that, unless you have mobility issues, you won’t be let through the gate to park in the upper car park (this may be just the case for peak season).

3. Paid parking / restrictions

Up until recently, the Slieve League car park was free. However, you now need to pay €5 for 2 hours or €15 for the day. Our issue with this is that 2 hours isn’t really enough time to visit if you’re made to park in the lower car park (45-minute walk up, 1 hour at the cliffs and 30-minute walk back), so you’re nearly forced to pay the full €15, which is a disgrace, in our opinion.

3. Weather

The weather at the Slieve League Cliffs plays a huge part in your experience here, and I’m not talking about the rain. It can get very misty here, at times. If you arrive when there’s mist, the chances are a good chunk of the cliffs will be covered. If you arrive on a day like this you’ll need to try and wait it out or come back another time.

4. Safety

The Slieve League Cliffs are unfenced in the majority of places, so please be careful and never go too close to the edge. The drive from the lower to upper car park needs to be taken with extreme care, as there are plenty of bends and blind spots and a lot of people walk here.

5. The viewpoint

If you’re visiting the Slieve League Cliffs in Donegal with someone that has limited mobility, you can, quite literally, drive right up next to the viewing area which is right next to the upper car park.

6. Shuttle bus and visitor centre

If you don’t fancy the walk, you can park at the Slieve League Visitor Centre for free and then pay to take the shuttle bus. This costs (prices may change) €6 per adult, €5 for OAPs / Students, €4 for kids or €18 for a family ticket (2 adults and 2 or more children).

About the Slieve League Cliffs

Slieve league hike

Photo taken by MNStudio (shutterstock)

Although we’re used to hearing about the Slieve League Cliffs, Sliabh Liag itself is actually a mountain and it’s finely nestled right along the wild Atlantic coast.

The cliffs here are the highest accessible sea cliffs in Ireland (the title of the highest sea cliffs goes to Croaghaun on Achill) and they’re said to be some of the highest in Europe.

One of the beauties of the Slieve League Cliffs is that, if you visit outside of the busy summer season, the chances are you’ll find them nice and quiet.

We’ve visited in autumn and spring and met only a handful of people rambling around. Combine this with the fact that they’re just as impressive as Moher (and about 50 times quieter!) and you’re in for a treat.

Things to see and do at the Sliabh Liag Cliffs

Slieve League parking

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s a handful of things to see and do around the cliffs, from boat tours and ancient sites to the now-famous Éire sign.

Below, you’ll find some bits and bobs to do while you’re there. If you fancy a ramble, scroll down to our Slieve League walk section.

1. The viewpoint

The viewpoint (Bunglass Point) is located right next to the upper Slieve League car park. From here, you’ll be treated to views out across Donegal Bay all the way to Sligo and beyond.

While you’re stood here, keep an eye out for the little beach of pure white sand (only approachable by boat).

To the right hand side of the beach there’s a large cave where seals sometimes retreat to (don’t get too close to the edge when looking for this!).

2. The Éire sign

During the second world war, 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 sign at the Sliabh Liag Cliffs – it’s situated right next to the viewing point car park.

3. An ancient pilgrimage site

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.

4. The boat tour

If you’re looking for unique things to do at the Sliabh Liag, climb aboard this boat tour (affiliate link) and see the Donegal coastline like never before from just €30 per person.

The cruise leaves from nearby Killybegs and runs for just under 3 hours. Over the course of the journey it takes in everything from the stunning Slieve League Cliffs to lighthouses, beaches and plenty more.

Slieve League walk options

There are several different Slieve League walk options, ranging from reasonably handy to pretty damn long and pretty damn hard.

The first walk mentioned below is the easiest of the two. The second is longer and requires hiking and navigational experience.

1. The walk from the lower car park

The first Slieve League walk is arguably the most popular. This trail kicks-off from the lower car park and talks you up steep hills for 45 minutes before eventually climaxing at the Bunglass Point viewing area.

This walk shouldn’t be too taxing for most, however, if you have a low level of fitness you may find the steep inclines troublesome.

2. The Pilgrims’ Path

The Pilgrams Path is another popular Slieve League hike, but it should only be attempted by those with hiking experience and should never be attempted when foggy.

If you pop ‘Pilgrim’s Path’ into Google Maps you’ll find the start point (it’s near Teelin and not far from the Rusty Mackerel pub). This walk starts out pretty easy, as you ramble along a sandy/stony trail that soon becomes rocky.

It then gets steepish, but will be manageable for those with moderate fitness levels. You can walk up to the viewing area and then go back the way you came (2 hours each way).

We’d recommend against this Slieve League walk unless you have good hiking experience – the weather here is very changeable and it’s the last place you want to be with zero navigational experience when heavy mist rolls in.

3. One Man’s Pass

There’s an extremely narrow pathway called ‘One Man’s Pass’ at Slieve League that should be avoided by all but experienced hikers.

And it should be avoided by everyone during bad weather or if you’re in any way bad with heights/are unsteady on your feet. This is dangerous. 

One Man’s Pass is an extension to the Pilgrims’ Path. This knife-edge like path is hundred of metres above the Atlantic below and poses a real risk.

Places to visit near the Slieve League Cliffs

One of the beauties of visiting the Sliabh Liag Cliffs is that they’re a handy spin of some of the best places to visit in Donegal.

From waterfalls and breath-taking beaches to places to grab a bite to eat and more, there’s plenty more to do after you conquer the Slieve League walk.

1. Donegal’s ‘Hidden Waterfall’ (20-minute drive)

hidden waterfall donegal

Photo by John Cahalin (Shutterstock)

Located near Largy, Donegal’s Secret Waterfall is a site of immense natural beauty. However, as you’ll discover in this guide, it’s not easily reached.

2. Malin Beg (30-minute drive)

Silver Strand Beach near ardara

Photo by Milosz Maslanka (Shutterstock)

Malin Beg aka Silver Strand Beach is a bit of a hidden gem. It’s known and loved by those in the know, but many that visit Donegal tend to overlook it. Another peach of a beach nearby is Maghera Caves and Beach (35-minute drive).

3. Glencolmcille Folk Village (20-minute drive)

Glencolmcille Folk Village Donegal

Photo left: Christy Nicholas. Right: Glencolmcille Folk Village

Perched overlooking Glen Bay Beach, Glencolmcille Folk Village is a replica of how villages in Ireland looked many years ago.

4. Assaranca Waterfall (40-minute drive)

ardara waterfall donegal

Photo by Yevhen Nosulko/shutterstock

Much easier to reach than the previously mentioned ‘Secret Waterfall’, the mighty Assaranca Waterfall is a spectacular sight that’s right next to the road. This is just down the road from Ardara – a little village that’s home to plenty of places to eat, sleep and drink.

FAQs about visiting the Slieve League Cliffs in Donegal

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Which Slieve League Cliffs walk is the easiest?’ to ‘How much is the car park?’.

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.

Is Slieve League hard to climb?

There are several different Slieve League walks and they range from moderately challenging to difficult, with one requiring extensive hiking experience.

What’s the story with the Slieve League car park?

 The Slieve League car park now costs €5 for 2 hours or €15 for the day which, if you read the guide above, isn’t reasonably in our opinion.

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Nicole

Sunday 11th of September 2022

Hi, visited Slieve League this weekend; we parked in the free lot by the visitor center and took the shuttle, cost 5euro per adult. Shuttles run every 40 minutes. Hike was great on a clear sunny day, only mildly crowded. Thanks for your site for helping guide our trip!

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 14th of September 2022

Hey Nicole! Glad you enjoyed the trip to Slieve League and thanks for the kind words!

Alison Powell

Monday 6th of June 2022

I think the parking charges are a bit extreme. So is the courtesy bus at €6 when you think the giants Causeway only charge £1 each way, down and back up. Needs a rethink.

Bernie McGarry

Wednesday 8th of September 2021

Hi, i was at slieve League today. You can't drive up to the upper car park anymore, unless maybe you had a wheelchair. You pay for parking now. There is a shuttle bus from the visitor centre that you come to before the lower car park. I don't know what the cost is as I didn't use it.

Allan Wilson

Monday 7th of September 2020

Is it possible to just drive then to the viewing point next to the second car park? That sounds like a fair trek from the 1st car park.

Keith O'Hara

Monday 7th of September 2020

Hi Allan - you can drive up to the viewing point (there's a little gate you'll need to open and close after the first car park).

I've heard people say that the road up to the viewing point is now in bits, so just be careful.

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