An Unforgettable 18-Day Road Trip That’s Packed With The Best Places to Visit in Ireland

Day #13 – Exploring Donegal

The next couple of days are dedicated to Donegal.

Set the bar high in your head – they’re going to be a mind blowing 48 hours as we make our way around on of the most breath-taking corners of our little island.

You’ll have gotten to bead early the previous night, so get up for 7, eat, and take a little stroll to check out Benbulben.

You need to be on the road for 8:30 – we’ve a long, wonderful day ahead.

Here’s everything you need to know about day 13!

What we'll be doingWhere we'll be sleepingWhat you'll need
    • A stroll around the Slieve League Cliffs
    • Moseying along the shores of Malin Beg
    • Tipping on down to Glencolmcille Folk Village
    • A spin along one of the most beautiful roads in Ireland
    • A waterfall
    • Caves
    • Lunch in Ardara
    • Glenveagh National Park
An Chuirt, Gweedore Court Hotel
  • Rain gear
  • Water

Day 13 Stop #1 – Slieve League

Benbulben Farmhouse to Slieve League – 1 hour and 45-minute drive (leave the b&b at 7:00, arrive for 8:45)

We’re having our earliest start of the whole trip this morning, but it’ll be worth it.

The first stop of the day takes us to the Slieve League Cliffs.

slieve league cliffs donegal
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Towering above the ocean at 2000 foot (Twice the height of the Cliffs of Moher), the Slieve League Cliffs are an adventurers dream.

On a clear day the cliffs offer breath-taking views across Donegal Bay, Sligo and Mayo, and they’re perfect for those that may be unable to partake in any strenuous activity (you can drive right the way up to them) or for those looking to stretch the legs and get the heart rate up with a more vigorous climb.

slieve league cliffs

Grab a coffee or an ice cream from the little cart at the base of the steps and sit back and absorb the mighty sight in front of you.

Day 13 Stop #2– Malin Beg and Silver Strand Beach

Slieve League to Malin Beg – 37-minute drive (leave Slieve League at 10:00, arrive for 10:37)

Silver Strand Beach is one of those places that makes me question why I’m living in Dublin.

Malin Beg in donegal
Photo via Failte Ireland

Whether you’re sitting on the grass above and gazing down at it, or walking along the sandy shores and listening to the waves crash, this horse-shoe shaped beach is an unspoiled gem.

Take your time here and bask in the brilliance that surrounds you.

Day 13 Stop #3– Glencolmcille Folk Village and/or beach

Malin Beg to Glencolmcille – 15 minute drive (leave Malin Beg at 11:20, arrive to Glencolmcille for 11:35)

Our next stop is the Folk Village in Glencolmcille.

This is thatched-roof replica of a rural village offers a glimpse into what daily life was like in years past.

Each cottage is an exact replica of a dwelling used by locals in each of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Glencolmcille Folk Village
Photo by Martin Fleming

Wander through the village at your leisure or take a guided tour if it tickles your fancy.

If the Silver Strand gave you a lust for sea air, you can also take a stroll along Glencolmcille beach.

Day 13 Stop #4 – Spin along the Glengesh Pass

Glencolmcille to Glengesh – 27-minute drive (leave Glencolmcille at for 12:15, arrive to Glengesh for 12:45)

The chances of encountering another road like the one at the Glengesh Pass is slim to none.

gelngesh pass donegal
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

It meanders through the seemingly endless mountainous terrain that connects Glencolmcille to Ardara, with more twists and turns than my stomach cares to remember.

Pro tip: as you approach Glengesh from the Glencolmcille side, you’ll come across a little van selling coffee, with a bench close by. Stop off here and you’ll get some great views of the valley below.

Day 13 Stop #5 – Assaranca Waterfall

Glengesh to Assaranca Waterfall – 16-minute drive (leave Glengesh at for 13:15, arrive to the waterfall for 13:31)

The first time I visited here, we found it by complete fluke.

We had just driven along Glengesh and had managed to get semi lost. We kept driving away hoping that we’d happen upon something interesting and BANG!

Assaranca Waterfall.

Assaranca Waterfall donegal
Photo via Tourism Ireland

What I love about this place is that it’s literally at the side of the road, so if it’s raining away you can kick back in your car, lower the window a tad and soak up the sights and the sounds.

A lovely little surprise.

Day 13 Stop #6 – The Caves of Maghera and Maghera Strand

Assaranca Waterfall to Maghera Strand – 4-minute drive (leave the waterfall at 13:55, arrive to the strand for 14:00)

Our next stop is just one kilometer from Assaranca Waterfall – Maghera Strand.

Maghera Strand is wild. That’s the only way to describe it.

But wild in the best possible sense – it’s exactly as nature intended. Pure raw natural beauty.

You’ll find the Maghera Caves beneath Slievetooey mountain and some of the 20 caves are accessible when tides are low from Maghera Strand.

Note: you need to be extremely careful of tides and strong currents – check locally regarding the best time to visit.

Day 13 Stop #7 – A Late Lunch in Ardara

Maghera Strand to Ardara – 17-minute drive (leave the strand at 14:40, arrive to Ardara for 14:57)

By this stage you’re probably starving, so we’ll stop for a bit of food not far from Maghera Strand.

I’ve eaten in Sheila’s Coffee and Cream in Ardara twice now and on both occasions, it was brilliant.

If the weather is good, grab a seat outside and watch the world pass you by.

Fuel up and get read for a busy afternoon and evening.

Day 13 Stop #8 – Glenveagh National Park

Ardara to Glenveagh National Park – 1 hour and 2-minute drive (leave Ardara at 15:50, arrive to Glenveagh for 16:52)

Spanning an impressive 16,000 hectares, Glenveagh encompasses most of the Derryveagh Mountains, the Poisoned Glen and part of Errigal Mountain.

Glenveagh National Park
Photo by Chris Hill

For those looking to get a lungful of fresh air, there are several walks you can choose from.

We’re going to do the View Point Trail (takes 1-hour) on this trip. Here’s how the folks at Glenveagh describe it;

‘The View Point Trail is perhaps the best short walk option in the Park. It leads to an ideal vantage point for enjoying views of the rugged scenery, with magnificent perspectives of the castle below, Lough Veagh and the surrounding landscapes.

Glenveagh National Park walk
Photo by Chris Hill

This circular 1.5Km trail starts and ends at the castle, taking from 50-60 min at a leisurely pace. The surface is good at all stages and very steep for several short distances. Follow the direction of the road behind the castle, taking the path uphill just outside the garden gates. The route is signposted from here.’

Walk at your leisure and soak up the sights, smells and sounds.

Day 13 Stop #9 – Gweedore for the night

Glenveagh to Gweedore – 20-minute drive (leave the park at 18:00 and arrive for 18:20)

Tonight we’ll be staying in Gweedore – I’m going to recommend An Chuirt, Gweedore Court Hotel (#NotAnAd), but you can stay wherever tickles your fancy based on your budget.

Check into your room and chill for an hour or two.

For dinner, drive to Leo’s Tavern – it’s is a leisurely 9-minute spin from the hotel.

Get an early night and bask in the happiness that accompanies a day of exploring like the one you’ve just had.

Where the road trip will take us on day 14 (Cliffs, Caves and Glamping by the sea)

The route on the map below looks a little bit crazy, but you’ll love every minute of it – I promise!

Our 14th day on the road sees us travel from Gweedore to Portsalon, absorbing every adventure opportunity that we can physically squeeze into the day.

Move onto page 15 below and lets get cracking!