The Inishowen 100 drive (aka the Inishowen Peninsula Loop) is one of the most popular things to do in Donegal.
The route takes you around the magnificent Inishowen Peninsula to corners of the county that boast scenery that’ll knock you sideways.
In the guide below, you’ll find an Inishowen 100 map (one for the drive and one for the cycle) plus what to expect along the way.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Inishowen 100 drive and cycle
The Inishowen 100 route (Inis Eoghain 100 in Irish) can be tricky to follow at times. Take 20 seconds to read the bullet-points below as they’ll get you up-to-speed fast:
1. Start point
You can start the Inishowen 100 drive / cycle from wherever you like, really. If you’re staying in Buncrana, kick-it off from there. If you’re doing it from Derry… you get the picture. Personally, I like to start at Grianán of Aileach as the views from this ancient fort kick things off with a bang.
The Inishowen 100 route gets its name from its length – 100 long and lovely miles of coast, mountainous landscape and stunning scenery. The minimum you’ll want to give yourself to do this drive is 5 hours – the more time the better. I’ve popped a rough route in on Google Maps, and it estimates that it’d take 9.5 hours without stops.
3. The drive
The Inishowen 100 drive never fails to impress (you’ll find a Google Map with the route below). It’s scenic and there’s endless things to do in Inishowen that you’ll stop off at along the way, from beaches and coves to historical sites and plenty more.
4. The cycle
The Inishowen 100 cycle is tough going and you’ll need a good level of fitness to complete it (we’ve a Google Map below with the route). There’s a lot of steep ascents (Mamore Gap in particular) and the route is demanding, especially when the weather doesn’t play ball.
5. Where to stay
There’s some great hotels in Inishowen to tackle this route from. If it was me, I’d stay in Buncrana (in one of these hotels) as it’s at the start of the loop and it’s a nice spot to kick-it-off from (there’s also some great pubs for a post-adventure pint!).
The main stops along the Inishowen 100 route
I’ll give you a quick overview of the main stops on the Inishowen Peninsula Loop in the section below (you’ll find the maps towards the end of the guide).
Now, you don’t have to stop at all of these – the beauty of the Inishowen 100 route is you can simply spin by and admire places from afar or you can hop out and explore till your heart’s content.
1. Grianán of Aileach
Now, it’s worth noting that Grianán of Aileach isn’t a stop on the traditional Inishowen Peninsula Loop, but I think it’s worth adding in as it’s close by and the views are mighty.
If you can, try and angle it so you arrive here at sunrise. It’s a short walk from the car park and, if you rock up when the sun starts to say ‘Howaya’, you’ll be treated to a view and a half.
2. Lisfannon Beach
Next up is Lisfannon Beach near the town of Buncrana (there’s plenty of things to do in Buncrana, and it’s a great base to explore Inishowen from).
Lisfannon Beach’s arcing boomerang shape rewards visitors with wonderful panoramas of the surrounding coastline. Hop out here, suck down some fresh ocean air and then head off on your merry way.
3. Buncrana Beach
Buncrana Beach is another sandy stretch you’ll pass at the beginning of the route. If you’re in need of a caffeine fix, head over to Tank and Skinny’s.
The beach here is a nice spot to stretch the legs before you get into the Inishowen 100 route and there’s some glorious views when the weathers fine.
4. Fort Dunree
Keep hugging the coast and continue towards Buncrana and then on to Dunree Head. There’s plenty to see and do here.
You can hop out for a saunter along the sand at Dunree Beach or nip into Dunree Fort (a military museum) for a nosey around.
5. Mamore Gap
From Dunree, the drive moves inland to arguably the most impressive stretch of the Inishowen 100 route – Mamore Gap. The Mamore Gap is a twisty and narrow road that spins along the side of the beautiful Urris Hills.
There’s a ‘Discovery Point’ here (a handy place to stop and soak up the view). You’ll catch some serious views as you start to descend towards Leenan (pictured above).
6. Glenevin Waterfall
As you continue out towards Tullagh Strand, you’ve the option to take a little detour (3-minute drive/6-minute cycle) to see Glenevin Waterfall.
Make. This. Detour. Glenevin Waterfall is mighty. I’ve been here a handful of times over the last couple of years and we had the whole place to ourselves on both occasions.
It’s easy to miss the car park here but you’ll see it plotted on our Inishowen 100 map later in this guide.
7. Tullagh Strand
The picture-perfect Tullagh Strand is one of the more popular beaches in Donegal and it’s a great spot to head for a short ramble while sucking down some fresh sea air.
This horse-shoe-shaped beach is watched over by the 250m-high Binnon Hill and it stretches for a couple of km, so you’ve plenty of space to stroll.
8. Ballyliffin Beach
By the time you reach Ballyliffin Beach, you’ll have a good chunk of the Inishowen 100 drive / cycle complete. At 2.5km in length, this is another good option for a stroll if you fancy one.
If you don’t and if you’re in need of a bit of lunch, nip into Nancy’s Barn in Ballyliffin – the food here is insanely good.
9. Doagh Famine Village
If you’d like to get out of the car/off the bike for a bit, the Doagh Famine Village (note: they close for the winter) is well worth a visit.
Here you’ll get an insight into the story of Irish life from the Great Famine of the 1840s up until the present day. The reviews online for this place are excellent.
10. Five Finger Strand
Head out towards Five Finger Strand next. Now, although you can’t swim here due to dangerous rip tides, you can take a walk up along its sand while admiring the views that surround you.
If you visit outside of the busy summer months, you’ll often have this place all to yourself. There’s no real car park, however, you just park up along the road leading to it.
11. Knockamany viewpoint
When you leave Five Finger Strand head for the nearby Knockamany viewpoint (it’s plotted on our Inishowen 100 map below). There’s plenty of space to park here and the views are sensational.
Although it looks like the photo above was snapped from a drone, this is literally the view you’ll be treated to from up here. It really is incredible.
12. Malin Head
We’re off to the most northerly point in Ireland next – Malin Head (Banba’s Crown is actually the most northerly point here). Malin is known the island over for its rugged landscape and its often wild conditions.
There’s usually a little coffee van on-site and there’s decent toilets too. There’s a short, 50-minute walk you can do that’ll take you to many of the ‘main’ attractions, like the EIRE 80 sign.
13. Culdaff Beach
By the time you reach Culdaff Beach you’ll be on the home stretch of the Inishowen 100 cycle / drive. This is a good point for a break if you need it.
If you fancy a caffeine kick, head over to The Coffee Hub. You can then ramble to the beach and soak up the views for a bit.
14. Kinnagoe Bay
Kinnagoe Bay is like something you’d expect to see in southeast Asia. It’s the resting place of the Armada shipwreck, which took place in 1588 and it’s a glorious spot on a fine day.
Be very careful when you’re driving down to the car park – the road down is extremely narrow and you might meet someone walking or driving in the opposite direction.
15. Stroove Beach + Inishowen Lighthouse
The final stop on the Inishowen Peninsula Loop is Stroove Beach and Lighthouse. If you’re driving, you can start the Inishowen Head Walk from here, if you like.
Or, you can just park up and head for a ramble along the sand. Although it gets busy during summer, it’s nice and quiet throughout the year.
An Inishowen 100 map for drivers
The Inishowen Peninsula map above contains a rough overview of the route to follow along with each of the ‘main’ attractions plotted.
Now, one of the beauties of the Inishowen drive is that many of the best bits are the places and views you stumble upon along on the way.
Take a minute to familiarise yourself with the route and then head off on your merry way.
An Inishowen 100 cycle route map
We’ve been asked a lot in the past to make an Inishowen 100 cycle route map, but we’ve only just added the one above to this guide.
Now, please keep in mind that this is a rough overview of the route – we’ve done our best to map it out as accurately as we could, but there may well be inaccuracies.
When doing the Inishowen 100 cycle, please do take care and prepare adequately as it is a tough aul slog.
FAQs about the Inishowen Peninsula loop
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where does the Inishowen Peninsula Loop start?’ to ‘How hard is the Inishowen cycle?’.
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.
What is the best Inishowen 100 route?
In the guide above, you’ll see what I think is the best route to follow. It takes in Grianán of Aileach, which isn’t an ‘official’ stop, but it’s well worth adding.
Is there an Inishowen 100 map you can download?
I couldn’t find an Inishowen 100 map, so I made 2 Google Maps with the cycle and driving route (with the stops plotted) which you’ll find in this guide above.
Thursday 15th of December 2022
Fantastic!!!! We were thinking of going across to Scotland and trying to cram the NC500 into a week at Easter. Now that we have found this we are going to save ourselves a day either side travelling. So we are going to have a nice 3 day road trip taking our time doing this.
Friday 16th of December 2022
You're in for a treat Craig. The Inishowen 100 is one of those drives I'd happily do over and over. You tend to stumble upon something new every time. Safe driving! Keith
Sunday 4th of October 2020
OMG!! this was amazing, every corner we turned left us with "or wow" Highly recommend and loved the tourist signs everywhere so lots of unplanned stops and discoveries a plenty. Simply brilliant.