49 Best Things To Do In Donegal In 2020 (Hidden Gems And Tourist Favourites)

best things to do in Donegal
Photo left: Chris Hill. Right: Fergus Coyle (Shutterstock)

There are that many things to do in Donegal that you could spend a month exploring and you’d have only scratched the surface.

From cliffs and historical sites to hidden waterfalls and islands, Donegal is home to some of the best things to do in Ireland.

In the guide below, you’ll find heaps of places to visit in Donegal on a staycation in 2020 or during your trip to Ireland!

Sidenote: If you’re planning on spending a few days in Donegal, hop into our 48-hours in Donegal road trip guide.

Table of Contents

The best things to do in Donegal

  1. Visit the Slieve League Cliffs (Sliabh Liag)
  2. Soak up a view of Muckross Head
  3. Head off on the Glen Loop walk
  4. Sping along the road at Glengesh Pass
  5. Take a ferry to Arranmore Island
  6. Head for a ramble in Glenveagh National Park
  7. Walk along Marble Hill Strand at sunset
  8. Have a nosey around Doon Fort
  9. Gaze out at the waves from the Tra Na Rossan viewpoint
  10. Visit Ballymastocker Bay – one of the best beaches in Ireland

1. The Sliabh Liag Cliffs

donegal cliffs
Photo by Paul Lindsay

You’ll often see the mighty Sliabh Liag Cliffs reign supreme in many guides to the best things to do in Donegal, and it’s no surprise why – they’re out of this world!

The cliffs reach a height of 1,972 feet/601 meters, which makes them nearly 3 times higher than the Cliffs of Moher and almost twice the height of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Pretty damn impressive. From the top of the Sliabh Liag Cliffs, you’ll be treated to views out across Donegal Bay and all the way to Sligo and beyond.

2. Muckross Head (one of my favourite places to visit in Donegal!)

muckross head
Photo by Pavel_Voitukovic (Shutterstock)

You’ll find the little peninsula known as Muckross Head 2km from Kilcar village and 10km from the fishing town of Killybegs.

This is one of the many places to visit in Donegal that doesn’t get half the credit or the attention that it deserves.

You’ve two options here. You can either drive onto the peninsula, park up for a bit and head for a ramble along the sand or you can admire the beach from above.

If you fancy seeing it from above, there’s a little bit of space to pull in along Towney Road. Just ensure that you pull in safely and that you don’t obstruct the road.

3. The Glen Loop Walk

Glencolmbcille cliffs
Photo by the gent that is Gareth Wray (you can buy a print here)

If you’re in search of things to do in Donegal that’ll get you out and about and that’ll treat you to some incredible views, this walk should tickle your fancy.

I first heard of the Glen Loop Walk from a bloke in a B&B in Newport in County Mayo. He described it as ‘The finest coastal trail in Ireland’.

I’ve been itching to give it a go since then! This is a 3 – 4-hour walk that’ll treat you to magnificent coastal views throughout. Here’s a guide to the walk that you can follow.

A post-walk feed: When you finish your ramble, head to An Chistin – a brilliant little cafe in Glencolumbkille village – and make your belly happy! 

4. Doon Fort

doo fort in donegal
Photos by Lukassek/shutterstock

Doon Fort is arguably the most unique fort in Ireland. That’s saying a lot, considering the hefty competition from the likes of Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór

You’ll find the fort finely plonked on an island in the centre of Loughadoon, not far from the little coastal villages of Narin and Portnoo and the buzzy town of Ardara.

It’s thought that the fort was once the residence of the O’Boyle Chieftains. Read more about the history of the fort and how to get to it in our guide to Doon Fort.

4. Knockamany Bens

Knockamany Bens
Photo via Google Street View

If you’re looking for things to do in Donegal when the weather is sh*te, get yourself to the magnificent Inishowen Peninsula.

There are plenty of different places where you can admire a view without leaving the car. One of those places can be found on the Lagg road that leads to Malin Head.

When the road along the coast starts to rise around the Knockamany Bens, you’ll get the chance to pull in and soak up the view above.

There’s a nice little viewing point where you can park up and gaze out at the view. You’ll get an eyeful of everything from Five Fingers Strand to Tory Island on a clear day.

5. Fanad Lighthouse

fanad lighthouse
Photo by shawnwil23 (Shutterstock)

You’ll see Fanad Head Lighthouse dominate many guides to the best things to do in Donegal. There’s no real mystery why – it’s a special place.

The drive to and from Fanad Lighthouse is worth the trip alone, as you pass through the beautifully quaint countryside that surrounds it.

Standing proudly between Lough Swilly and sandy Mulroy Bay, Fanad Head Lighthouse has been voted one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world.

Sit up on the stone wall to the left of the lighthouse and soak up the sounds of the ocean and bask in the beauty of the most spectacular corners of Ireland.

6. Ballymastocker Bay

Ballymastocker Bay Donegal
Photo by Martin Flemming

If you’re wondering what to do in Donegal with a person with limited mobility, take them to the viewing point up near Ballymastocker Bay.

They won’t have to hop out of the car and the view is out of this world! Ballymastocker Bay is a superb Blue Flag beach that was once voted the 2nd most beautiful beach in the world by the Observer Magazine.

If you arrive on a clear day, you’ll be treated to tremendous views out towards the Inishowen Peninsula. When you’re finished admiring it from above, ramble down for a stroll on the sand.

7. Malin Head (one of the best places to see in Donegal according to Tripadvisor)

malin head
Photo by Lukassek (Shutterstock)

A visit to Malin Head tends to top most guides to the best things to do in Donegal. This is one of those places that’ll make you really appreciated Ireland’s beauty.

There’s no messing and no fancy visitor centres – just Ireland in all its glory Malin Head is the most northerly point on the island of Ireland.

I visited here recently and the one thing that hit me (literally…) was the sheer power of mother nature.

As I stood and gazed out at the jagged rocks that jutted out of the water nearby, I was half deafened from the whistle of the gales that whipped over the Atlantic coupled with the sound of water crashing against rock.

8. Silver Strand Beach

Silver Strand Beach
Photo by Milosz Maslanka (Shutterstock)

Silver Strand Beach is another of the many Donegal attractions that doesn’t get half the credit that it deserves. This is hands-down one of the best beaches in Ireland.

Silver Strand is an unspoiled horseshoe-shaped beach that can be found a stone’s throw from the little town of Glencolmcille. 

Whether you’re sitting on the grass above and gazing down, or walking along the sandy shore and listening to the waves crash, this beach is guaranteed to delight.

9. A pint with a view 

Beachcomber bar Donegal
Photo by @daverooney

Donegal is home to many a mighty pub. One of my favourites is the Beachcomber Bar in Rathmullen in Donegal, a handy 20-minute drive from the glorious Ballymastocker Beach.

The Beachcomber Bar offers those that visit panoramic views over Lough Swilly towards Inch Island and the Inishowen Peninsula. 

If you enjoy kicking back with a pint (or an Irish coffee) with a view that’ll knock you sideways, this places is worth nipping into!

10. The Inishowen 100

inishowen scenic drive
Photo by Paul Shiels/shutterstock.com

The Inishowen 100 is arguably one of the most scenic drives in Ireland. This is a 160km scenic drive that loops around the windswept Inishowen Peninsula.

The route takes in many of popular Donegal attractions (like Mamore Gap) and it’ll have you ooohing and ahhing from start to finish. 

You’ll want to allow at least 4 to 5 hours to complete the Inishowen scenic drive as you’ll be hopping out often.

11. Spend a night having the buzz in Ardara

Ardara village
Photo by Martin Fleming via Failte Ireland

There’s no end to the number of brilliant little villages in Donegal where you could happily spend a night or five. One of the best, in my opinion, is Ardara. 

I spent a random night with a friend here about 3 years ago. It was one of those nights that was never planned.

We had spent the day doing some of the things to do in Donegal listed above and below and then ended up staying in Nancy’s Bar for about 5 hours longer than initially intended.

If you’re wondering what to do in Donegal with a group of friends, I can’t recommend pairing a day of hiking with a night in Ardara enough. A great little spot.

12. Horn Head 

horn head walk
Photo by Martin Fleming

Horn Head is one of those places that tends to make you feel like the world has momentarily slipped off of its axis. 

The views (especially if you head off on one of the walks), the fresh Atlantic air and the roar of the wind and waves combine to shock the senses all at once.

If you don’t fancy a ramble, there’s a nice looped drive from Dunfanaghy that’ll take you up to the viewing point above.

Horn Head is another of the many places to visit in Donegal that often gets missed. Grab a coffee and a bit of lunch in Dunfanaghy and tip up to the viewing point above after.

13. Glengesh Pass

Glengesh Pass donegal
Photo by Lukassek/shutterstock.com

The bendy road at Glengesh Pass is one of the most unique roads in Ireland. The road here swivels and twists through the mountains near Ardara. 

The road at Glengesh Pass is a little bit mental. And that’s what makes it so brilliant, regardless of whether you’re travelling on foot or by bike or car.

14. Arranmore Island

arranmore island
Photo by Patrick Mangan (Shutterstock)

Ireland’s home to many a hidden gem and Arranmore Island is most definitely one of them. You’ll find the wild and remote Arranmore Island around 5 km off the Donegal coast.

You can explore the island by day and chill by an open turf fire and listen to some traditional Irish music in one of the island’s lively pubs by night.

If you’re looking for slightly off-the-beaten-track things to do in Donegal, take a ferry over to Arranmore and spend a day exploring the island.

15. Soak up a view from a hot tub

hot tub at the shandon spa
The Canadian hot tub at the Shandon

If you’re planning a trip to Donegal and you’re looking to carve out some chill time, pop the Shandon on your to-sleep-in list.

The hotel has been recently renovated, it has a beautiful beach on its doorstep and it’s home to a hot tub with a view that’ll knock you on your arse.

16. Or bring the beach to you with a night in an Airbnb by the sea

Donegal Airbnb

Fancy kicking-back in a cosy little cottage that comes with its own private beach?  This lovely little spot in Donegal can work out as cheap as €52 per-person per-night.

You’ll find it in Dooey in Lettermacaward, between Dungloe and Glenties. As you can see from the snaps above, you’re literally within spitting distance of the water.

It’s also dog-friendly, for those of you travelling with your pooch. This place ranked high in our guide to the most unique places to stay in Ireland.

17. Glenevin Waterfall

Glenevin Waterfall donegal
Photo via Failte Ireland

I’ve always thought that Glenevin Waterfall is a little bit like something you’d expect to find on some remote island off the coast of Thailand. 

There’s a tropical and almost prehistoric feel to it and I mean that in the best possible sense. You’ll find the waterfall on the Inishowen Peninsula, not far from the village of Clonmany.

To get to it you need to walk through Glenevin Valley (the walk to the waterfall is handy and is around 1 km). This place is well worth adding to your Ireland itinerary.

18. Keep an eye out for the Northern Lights

malin head northern lights
Photo By Michael Gill

OK, so a lot of different factors need to come into play in order for you to be able to see the Northern Lights in Ireland. You can’t just rock up there tomorrow and expect to see them.

There are several places in Ireland where you can, when the conditions are right, see the Northern Lights shine bright. One of those places is County Donegal. 

In the photo above you’ll see the lights shining bright at Malin Head a couple of years back. This is definitely one of the more unique things to do in Donegal to add to your bucket list.

19. Kinnagoe Bay

kinnagoe bay donegal
Photo by Chris Hill via Failte Ireland

If you’re wondering what to do in Donegal on a rare warm and sunny day, get yourself down to the gorgeous Kinnagoe Bay.

This is a secluded beach on the Inishowen Peninsula that’s backed by a steep green hill, making it look like something from a far more tropical climate.

If you don’t fancy heading down to the beach itself, you can always grab a fine view from the road (pull in safely) above.

20. Glencolmcille Folk Village

Glencolmcille Folk Village
Photo by Martin Fleming

The Folk Village in Glencolmcille is a thatched-roof replica of a rural Irish village that offers a glimpse into what daily life was like in Ireland in years gone.

Each of the cottages in the village is an exact replica of a dwelling from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. You can wander through the village at your leisure or take a guided tour.

There’s also a beach nearby if you fancy stretching the legs and sucking down some ocean air.

21. Murder Hole Beach

murder hole beach
Photo by RR Photo (Shutterstock)

You’ll often hear Boyeeghter Strand near Melmore Head referred to as ‘Murder Hole Beach’. Very sinister altogether!

This is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland. When the tide is out, as is the case in the photo above, there are two beaches which then turn into one when the tide rolls back in.

Now, Murder Hole Beach comes with a catch – getting to it is a bit of a grey area. The main route to the beach is via private land.

Now, personally, I’m not going to recommend that you take this route. I’ve heard of too many farmers in the past that have had fences and land damaged by careless people. 

However, many people, including Tourism Ireland (see here) seem to say that it’s OK to walk through this field, once you do so respectfully.  

22. Donegal’s ‘Hidden’ Waterfall

hidden waterfall donegal
Photo by John Cahalin (Shutterstock)

The ‘secret’ waterfall in Donegal, as it’s often referred to as, is another of the Donegal attractions that you need to use private land to access.

Not ideal! You’ll find the hidden waterfall on the Slieve League peninsula on the coast at Largy village, between Killybegs and Kilcar.

I’m going to recommend that, if you plan on visiting the waterfall, you make an effort to get in touch with the person that owns the land to ensure that you have permission to cross it.

Before you attempt to visit Donegal’s ‘hidden’ waterfall, take a minute to read this guide. Visiting the waterfall can be extremely dangerous and you need to be very sure of tide times.

23. Narin/Portnoo Beach

portnoo donegal
Photo by Lukassek/shutterstock.com

The beach at Narin/Portnoo is a Blue Flag beach, which makes it the perfect place for a very chilly swim when the weathers half-decent.

There’s a lifeguard on duty at Narin/Portnoo during the warmer summer months and you’ll find toilets, parking and places to eat and drink nearby.

24. The Mount Errigal Loop

the summit of errigal in donegal
Photo by Mark Carthy/Shutterstock.com

Mount Errigal is the highest peak in the magnificent Derryveagh mountain range. There’s a walk here which you’ll recognise if you read our guide to 88 of the best hikes in Ireland.

It can take between 2.5 to 3 hours and it treats walkers to unbeatable views of the Derryveagh Mountains and the rolling Donegal countryside from the top.

If you’re looking for places to visit in Donegal that tend to be void of flocks of tourists, get yourself up Errigal (make sure to prepare appropriately for the climb).

25. Carrickfinn Beach

carrickfinn beacj
Photo by Spumador (Shutterstock)

Carrickfinn Beach shot to fame a few years ago when a video of a plane landing in the nearby Donegal Airport went viral.

In a nutshell, you can see this gorgeous little beach when you’re coming into land. If you’re after a place for an early morning ramble, try and get here for sunrise.

The last couple of times that I was here nice and early I pretty much had the entire beach to myself. 

26. Dunlewey Church

dunlewey Church
Photo by Lukassek (Shutterstock)

The Church of the Sacred Heart in Dunlewey (a handy 15-minute spin from Glenveagh) looks a little bit like something whipped from a fairytale.

You’ll find it on the shores on Lough Dunlewey… and at the foot of the tallest peak in Donegal, Mount Errigal. Very scenic altogether.

27. Assaranca Waterfall

Assaranca in Donegal
Photo by Monicami/shutterstock.com

Next up is Assaranca Waterfall. You’ll find this hidden gem just past the little village of Leaconnell. This is a handy one to pair up with a visit to Maghera Beach, as it’s only 1km away.

The first time that I visited Assaranca it was by complete fluke – it was lashing rain and we just stumbled upon it while looking for our B&B.

There’s a handy little area to pull in right next to the waterfall, which should make it ideal for those of you travelling with someone that has limited mobility.

28. The Caves of Maghera and Maghera Strand

Maghera Strand
Photo by Lukassek (Shutterstock)

Maghera Strand is wild – 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.

29. Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park
Photo by Chris Hill

Glenveagh National Park tops TripAdvisor’s list of the best things to do in Donegal, and I can’t see many arguing with them. 

I love Glenveagh. It’s here that you’ll find 16,000 hectares of perfection. For those looking to get a lungful of fresh air, there are several walks you can choose from.

My favourite hike here is the Derrylahan Nature Trail – it’s short enough (takes a little under an hour to complete) and it offers brilliant views of the beautiful Glenveagh Valley.

30. The Rosguill Peninsula

Tra Na Rossan
Photo by Chris Hill

If you’re wondering what to do in Donegal that’ll take you a little off-the-beaten-path, get yourself to the Rosguill Peninsula and take the Atlantic Drive.

This is a beautiful 12km route that’ll take you around the peninsula and that’ll offer you magnificent views throughout.

I did a trip around Donegal a few months ago and this, for me, was the highlight. The sun was blazing, the roads were quiet, and around every narrow bend some new, unexpected piece of scenery slapped me in the face.

You’ll catch the view above at ‘Tra Na Rossan view’ (it’s marked out on Google Maps). There’s very limited space to pull in so be careful.

31. Grianan of Aileach

Grianan of Aileach donegal
Photo by Tom Archer

The Grianan of Aileach is a hillfort that sits on top of the 801 ft high Greenan Mountain on the Inishowen Peninsula.

According to these lads, this stone fort dates back to the 1st century and it’s situated on the site of an early Iron Age multivallate hillfort.

The drive up to Grianan of Aileach is worth the trip alone. When you reach the top you’ll be treated to a magnificent 360 view that takes in everywhere from Lough Swilly to Lough Foyle.

32. Spend a night in a castle

lough eske castle donegal
Photo via Lough Eske

Lough Eske is one of the few castle hotels in Ireland that I’ve spent a night in… and it was class! If you’re looking for a very unique place to stay, give this place a crack!

Now, you don’t have to stay in Lough Eske to have a ramble around inside. You could head in for a bite to eat (there are starters for between €8 and €10). Or you could just nip in for a coffee and a have a nosey around.

33. Dunree Fort and Dunree Head

Dunree Head donegal
Photo by Martin Fleming

Dunree Fort and its military museum is the perfect spot to absorb some history along with a serious bit of scenery.

The museum is positioned in a wonderful setting that overlooks Lough Swilly on the Inishowen Peninsula.

There are several weather-beaten barracks that you can have a gander at and, if you fancy, you can listen/watch an audiovisual presentation.

Tip: There’s a lovely little cafe here (the Coffee Cup Dunree) that’s perfect for those of you in need of a pick-me-up.

34. Mamore Gap

mamore gap in donegal
Photo via Failte Ireland

Spinning along Mamore Gap is another one of my favourite things to do in Donegal. If you’ve never visited Mamore Gap before, then you’re in for a treat.

This immensely scenic drive twists and turns through the gap along a steep route. The view from the top is one of those scenes that paints itself upon your mind forever.

Wild. Remote. Unspoiled. Mamore Gap will take your breath away. Cycle this if you can. If you can’t, make sure to pull in safely, hop out of the car and bask in its brilliance. 

35. Head for a walk on Rossnowlagh beach and then enjoy food with a view

one of my favourite things to do in Donegal
Photo by @Taratuite

You’ll find our next beach, Rossnowlagh, a handy 8 kilometres from the buzzy Donegal Town. The beach here stretches from the craggy cliffs at Coolmore to the rocky outcrop at Carrickfad.

Known and loved by surfers the country over, Rossnowlagh Beach is a fine spot for a swim, a walk or a bit of surfing (it was awarded the coveted Blue Flag award in 2019).

When you’ve finished your ramble, head on up to Smugglers Creek Inn. You can grab a bit of food (or a pint…) and enjoy an incredible view out over the beach below.

36. Culdaff Beach

culdaff beach
Photo by shawnwil23 (Shutterstock)

Culdaff is a very hidden gem. You’ll find it on the Inishowen Peninsula in one of the most scenic corners on our little island.

There are two beaches at Culdaff – a small beach and a big beach. The two are separated by rocky headlands and, if you visit during the colder months, you’ll find both reasonably quiet.

In the warmer months, the Culdaff is a popular spot for swimmers and watersports. The beach is a handy saunter away from the village and it’s only a 25-minute drive from the magnificent Malin Head.

37. Walk with Alpacas at Ireland’s most northerly point

hiking with alpacas

If you’re wondering what to do in Donegal with kids (or with animal lovers), this next activity should tickle your fancy. 

Yes, you can go walking with alpacas up around Malin Head. Those that head off on the Wild Atlantic Alpaca tour can navigate the hills of Donegal with their very own alpaca as a guide.

You’ll get to marvel at the spectacular Malin Head, soak up views of Glashedy Rock and the Isle of Doagh and do some in the company of a friendly (and fluffy!) alpaca.

38. Wild Ireland (one of the most unique things to do in Donegal)

brown bears ireland

You’ll find ‘Wild Ireland‘ in Burnfoot in Donegal, a handy 15-minute drive from Derry City and less than an hour from the mighty Malin Head.

The sanctuary is one of the newest tourist attractions in Donegal, having only opened its doors to the public in 2019.

It’s here that you’ll find an ancient woodland that’s inhabited by some very exotic and wildlife, like brown bears, wolves, red deer, monkeys, wild boar and lynx.

39. Ards Forest Park 

ards forest park donegal
Photo by Martin Fleming

Ards Forest Park is another one of those places to visit in Donegal that tends to get overlooked quite a bit, which is a shame.

Why? Well, there’s 9 (yes, 9!) different trails here to ramble along. Over the course of your stroll, you’ll find:

  • Sand dunes
  • Beaches
  • Salt marshes
  • Saltwater lakes
  • Rock face and, of course, lots of gorgeous woodland

40. Killahoey Beach

Killahoey Beach donegal
Photo by Martin Fleming

You’ll often hear Killahoey Beach often referred to as Dunfanaghy beach. This is a gorgeous Blue Flag beach that’s popular for watersports.

Stop off here, take the shoes and socks off and get a lungful of Atlantic air into you as you trudge along the shore.

41. Tory Island

unique places to visit in Donegal
Photo by 4H4 Photography (Shutterstock)

If you’re in search of unique things to do in Donegal, a visit out to Tory Island, the most remote inhabited island in Ireland, is a must.

You’ll find Tory Island 14.5 km off the coast of Donegal where it’s home to a rugged landscape along with a number of archaeological and monastic sites.

The island’s remoteness has ensured that many of its ancient Irish traditions have remained intact. The most notable of these traditions is the appointment of a king of the island (also known as ‘Rí Thoraí’).

Those that visit can have a nosey around ancient sites, like the round tower that was used by monks to stay safe from Viking raids and explore the wild and beautiful landscape. 

42. Marble Hill

what to do in donegal
Photo by the Irish Road Trip

Marble Hill Beach is simply mighty. I spent a couple of nights in the Shandon Hotel last April and Marble Hill was on its doorstep.

When I was checking into the hotel, the chap at reception mentioned that if I could drag myself out of bed early enough, the sunrise on Marble Hill would be one that I’d remember for a long time to come. He hit the nail on the head.

During the warmer months, the beach here is popular with swimmers and surfers. On the chilly morning that I was here, I had the whole place to myself.

43. Visit Donegal castle (one of the best things to do in Donegal, according to TripAdvisor)

Donegal castle
Photo by David Soanes (Shutterstock)

According to Tripadvisor reviews, a visit to Donegal Castle is one of the (2nd at the time of writing) best things to do in Donegal, based on 533 reviews.

Donegal Castle was constructed by the O’Donnell chieftains during the 15th Century. Then it was burnt to the ground and rebuilt in the 16th century by Sir Basil Brooke.

If you fancy having a look around inside, tours leave every hour and they last for 30 minutes. Tickets range from €3 for kids to €13 for a family.

44. Surfing in Bundoran

bundoran donegal
Photo by MNStudio/shutterstock.com

The lively little seaside town of Bundoran is known and loved by surfers the island over. If you fancy trying your hand at surfing, you can take to the waves with a number of surfing schools in the area that’ll show you the ropes.

If you just fancy a stroll, grab a coffee from the town and then head for a saunter along Tullan Strand. This a lovely little spot (if the weather isn’t mental) to stretch the legs.

45. Stroove beach and Lighthouse

Stroove Beach and Lighthouse
Photo by shawnwil23 (Shutterstock)

You’ll find Stroove Beach and its lighthouse on the Inishowen Peninsula, not far from the little village of Greencastle.

There’s a gorgeous little sandy beach here that’s perfect for a picnic if you visit on a fine day… or if you’re hardy and not bothered by the cold!

The beach here was awarded an International Blue Flag award in 2019, which means it’s also a fine spot for a swim.

46. Lough Salt 

Lough Salt Donegal
Photo by Mark McColl (Shutterstock)

Lough Salt is a small mountain lake located at the base of Lough Salt Mountain. Keep driving until you come to the little parking area that’ll be on your left/right depending on which side you approach from.

From here, you can check out the lake to your left. When you’ve had your fill, take a look around to your right and you’ll see a small grassy hill.

Cross the road and climb up it. The 360 view you’ll be treated to is just out of this world. On the day that I visited, I took a book with me and flaked out for an hour or so. 

48. Fintra Beach

Fintra beach killybegs
Photo by grafxart (Shutterstock)

Fintra Beach is a handy option for those of you looking for things to do in Donegal near the Slieve League Cliffs.

You’ll find the beach a stone’s throw from the buzzy little fishing village of Killybegs. Fintra is gorgeous and it tends to be pretty quiet. Park up and head out for a ramble.

49. Walk the Bluestack Way

Bluestack mountains
Photo by ianmitchinson (Shutterstock)

If you’re looking for a long aul ramble (5 to 6 days), the Bluestack Way awaits. This is 65km long route that starts in Donegal Town and finishes in Ardara.

The route takes walkers across the Bluestacks, though a very unspoiled slice of Donegal. The route can be broken up into chunks (here’s a full guide to follow):

  • Lough Eske to Disert
  • Disert to Glenties
  • Glenties to Ardara

Wondering what to do in Donegal? Use this map!

The map above is packed with 45+ things to do in Donegal. You can use it to zoom in on where you are to discover things around you worth doing.

Are there places to visit in Donegal that we’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll add them to the map! 

Frequently Asked Questions about things to do in Donegal

I get a lot of emails from people planning a visit to Donegal. I’m going to try and tackle the most frequently asked below.

if you have a question that isn’t covered, pop and comment into the comments section below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

What things to do in Letterkenny can you recommend?

If you’re planning on staying in Letterkenny, here’s 6 things to do to keep you occupied.

  • Visit Donegal County Museum
  • Have a ramble around Glebe House and Gallery
  • Check out the largest waterwheel in Ireland at Newmills Corn And Flax Mills
  • Learn about the life of St Colmcille at the Colmcille Heritage Centre
  • Watch a show at An Grianan Theatre
  • Take a tour of Derryveagh Crystal

What are some things to do in Donegal town that’ll keep the kids entertained?

If you’re visiting Donegal Town, this ones for you. Here’s some stuff to do that’ll keep the kids happy.

  • Visit the Donegal Craft Village
  • Have a ramble around the 15th century Donegal Castle
  • Spend some time at the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre
  • Head out on the water on the Donegal Bay Waterbus

I’m looking for places to see in Donegal that’ll get me away from the crowds

If you’re in search of places to see in Donegal that tourists tend to miss, get yourself to an island.

Arranmore Island, in particular, is a proper hidden gem. You can take a ferry there and the scenery that you’ll be treated to is out of this world.

What to do in Donegal: My 7 Favourite Spots

If you’re planning a trip, or just curious, here are the best things to do in Donegal (in my opinion) that’ll leave many a happy memory.

  1. Grab one of the best views in Donegal at Sliabh Liag
  2. Take the ferry to Arranmore Island
  3. Spend a night having the buzz in Ardara
  4. Let time stand still at Horn Head
  5. Spin along the bendy road at Glengesh
  6. Listen to the water crash at Glenevin Waterfall
  7. Experience Mother Nature at her finest at Malin Head

Have any other places to visit in Donegal that you’d recommend?

If there are other things to visit in Donegal (or pubs or restaurants that you’d recommend) let me know in the comments below.

Cheers!

This guide was last updated on Jun 3, 2020.

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

28 COMMENTS

  1. Hey ? so me and 5 other friends are leaving for Sligo (sorry I said Donegal in the other message ?). I’d appreciate if you could give us some advice on what we should see. Thank you in advance! I love your account!!

    • Hey,

      Sorry, I was away for a few nights – just catching this now.

      There’s a load of different things to do in Sligo, especially if you’re happy enough to get out and about and do a bit of walking and hiking.

      Here’s a guide I wrote a few weeks back to the best things to do in Sligo.

      If you get the weather for it, the Queen Maeve Trail, in particular, is incredible.

      Have a great trip.

      Keith

  2. The loop round Rosguill peninsula from Downings is (maybe not very imaginatively) called the Atlantic Drive. My sister’s reaction when I took her there was ‘So. Much. Scenery!’

  3. Hello Keith,

    I would like to do a 3 day road trip in Donegal in mid october. Is it possible because i am afraid of the weather. Could you advise me please? Thank you so much

    • Hi Lucie,

      It’s absolutely possible.

      Autumn is hands-down my favourite season to explore Ireland.

      The leaves are orange, the air is crisp, there’s less tourists milling about the place, and accommodation tends to be a little bit cheaper.

      You’ll have shorter days (i.e. it’ll get brighter later in the morning and darker earlier in the evening) and the weather will, naturally enough, be cooler than the previous month.

      That being said, there’s no reason that you can’t have a great trip in October.

      I hope this helps.

      Keith

  4. Hi Keith, just back from a 6 day road trip in Donegal, inspired mainly by your 3 day road trip! I would recommend everyone visit Donegal, its a well kept secret. All their tourism seems to come from northern ireland, we hardly heard 1 southerner at all!!! Keep up the great work, would love a similar trip in west cork or Kerry.

    • Hi Mags!

      Sorry – I’m only catching this comment now. Glad you enjoyed the trip!

      It’s a serious spot. I must try and carve out some time to visit before the winter sinks its teeth in!

  5. Hi Keith,

    Always have loved reading your posts and use them all the time for my own explorations, this time is no different as I’m heading to the north west this saturday for a week and love your suggestions.

    Much appreciated

  6. I did 2 days in Donegal in August and hope to go back again on my next trip over. Unfortunately the two days I was there were very rainy days so i did not see all I wanted. I stayed in Ardara (loved it!), had been looking so forward to Glengesh and I did it but visibility was very poor. Wound up not taking the drive up to Fanad Head or Malin Head because of the weather – if I was going to make those drives I wanted to be sure I’d be able to see and as as the day was gray and a constant miss I was advised by my lovely B&B host to try Glenveagh Castle instead. Anyway, I had driven from Kerry with nights spent in Galway, Mayo and Sligo and this was not my first time driving in Ireland but two days I spent driving in Donegal my knuckles were white on the steering wheel most of the time. The roads in Donegal make Connor Pass pale in comparison. (And more stressful still for me was the road to Keem Beach on Achill Island – visibility was so bad my heart was in my throat!) Sorry for going on but I’ve been to some gorgeous places thanks to your guides so Thank You! Loved Donegal – need to go back and base myself there for a week!

  7. Hi – this is great – but I’m sorry to see little here in South Donegal – there is much to be explored in Ballyshannon and Bundoran, and a surfing lesson in Bundoran should be on one of the options- also, The Fairy Bridges, the ruins of Kilbarron Castle, Catsby Cave, Tullan Strand, ….

    • And I was only in Ballyshannon recently!

      Thanks for this, John – you’re right, there are several ommissions.

      I’ve put this on the ever-growing to-do list. It’ll be updated over the next week to include some of the above!

      Cheers,

      Keith

  8. Hi Keith, Thanks for the great post. Any thoughts on visiting the area in mid-March? Is the weather stormy or just light misty rains? Thanks, Marsha.

  9. Hi! My fiance and I planning to elope in August. I was wondering if Donegal might be a good spot, staying at Lough Eske Castle, and taking a long day trip of adventure site seeing (with photos.) If you had to pack in 2-3 places in 6 hours, where would you recommend? I do really appreciate the Slieve League Cliffs… any ideas or tips you have would be tremendously appreciated!

  10. I like reading your posts/trips but – tá ceist agam – why do you never point out Oideas Gael in your Donegal trips? It is a lovely place to spend a weekend (or week) learning Irish. Go raibh maith agat agus tá súil agam go bhfuil lá iontach agat!

  11. heya keith
    love your website and guides they are so straight to the point and useful. Just wanted to ask yourself or anyone if its true the roads in donegal are abit dodgy? My cousin had passed her driving test a few months back and her and a friend want to go next month, just wondering if they should wait till shes a bit more confident.
    xx

  12. No Oakfield Park either! One of the most visited and beautiful places in Donegal and open now unlike many of the places above.

  13. The Fintown railway or ‘An Mhuc Dubh’ is A lovely scenic attraction along Lough Finn with running commentary in the history and folklore of the area. The only railway left in Donegal! 🚂

  14. Keith Really good one of the best things is An Port just outside Ardara. I think there is also a sea / coastal walk towards Slieve League. I think it was on 10 of the best walks in Ireland on lonely planet

  15. Some great information there Keith!! North West Hiking and Hill Walking Tours does a guided hike up to the lakes in the Urris hills. Mamore Gap is in the Urris hills. It has the most spectacular views from the top. I did it last week and have some great photos 👌

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