The Inishowen 100: One Of The Most Breath-Takingly Scenic Drives In Donegal

One of the finest drives in Ireland

inishowen scenic drive
Photos via Shutterstock

The Inishowen 100 is one of my favourite things to do in Donegal.

And, in my opinion, it’s one of the most scenic drives in Ireland (it’s also a great route to cycle, if you’ve a solid level of fitness).

Taking place on, unsurprisingly enough, the gorgeous Inishowen Peninsula, this Inishowen 100 is a route that takes in a plethora of incredible sights, scenery and attractions.

In the guide below, you’ll find an Inishowen 100 map (with the stops laid out) and info on where to stop and where to grab some mighty views.

Some quick need-to-knows before heading off on the Inishowen 100 drive

mamore gap donegal
Photos by Ondrej Prochazka/Shutterstock

If you don’t have a clear route set out, the Inishowen 100 can be tricky to follow, so you need to do a little bit of planning in advance.

Below, you’ll find some quick-need-to-knows to get you ready for your adventure around Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula.

1. Location

Unsurprisingly enough, the Inishowen 100 takes drivers, walkers and cyclists around the breath-taking Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal.

2. Start/finish point

You can start the drive on either side of the peninsula but, based on experience, I’d recommend that you start it from Burnfoot and then head up in the direction of Buncrana.

3. Distance/time to drive

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.

Inishowen 100 map (with the stop’s)

The Inishowen 100 map above shows the different stops on the route. Now, are there other places to visit on the Inishowen Peninsula? Absolutely!

To discover every where to visit in the area hop into our guide to the best things to do in Inishowen (there’s also info on some great places to stay).

Inishowen 100 route (my favourite)

So, in the map above you’ll see what is, in my opinion, the best Inishowen 100 route – you can chop and change this whatever way you fancy to include or leave out certain stops.

If I was doing the drive tomorrow, this is where I’d go and where I’d stop, based on a visit last summer with friends which, aside from the restrictions, was incredible!

Below, I’ll go into a bit more detail around what there is to see at each place on the Inishowen 100 route above. So, g’wan – dive on in!

1. Grianán of Aileach

Grianan of Aileach donegal
Photo left: Lukassek. Right: The Wild Eyed/Shutterstock

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 closeby 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

Lisfannon beach buncrana
Photo by Hemi Photography/shutterstock

Next up is Lisfannon Beach not far from 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. Fort Dunree

dunree fort military museum
Photo left: Lukassek. Right: Lucky Team Studio/shutterstock

Keep hugging the coast and continue towards Buncrana Town 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.

4.  Mamore Gap

inishowen scenic drive
Photo by Paul Shiels/shutterstock.com

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).

5. Glenevin Waterfall

Glenevin Waterfall donegal
Photos by The Irish Road Trip

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 occassions.

6. Ballyfinn Strand and/or Doagh Famine Village

Ballyliffin beach
Photo by Ballygally View Images/shutterstock.com

When you leave Glenevin Waterfall you’re a handy spin away from Ballyfinn Strand. This is another fine spot to hop out and gulp down a bit of sea air.

If you fancy getting out of the car/off the bike for a bit, the nearby 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.

7. Five Finger Strand and Knockamany Viewpoint

Five finger Strand donegal
Photo by shawnwil23/shutterstock.com

Head out towards Five Finger Strand next. This is one of the best beaches in Donegal and it’s a fine stop to stretch your legs for a bit.

Maybe it’s down to how secluded the beach is. Or it could be the views out to the mountains off in the distance. All I know is that you’ll remember your visit here long after you leave Donegal.

8. Knockamany Viewpoint

Five finger Strand donegal
Photo by shawnwil23/shutterstock.com

When you leave Five Finger Strand head for the nearby Knockamany Viewpoint (Wild Alpaca Way on maps). 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.

9. Malin Head

malin head donegal
Photo left: RonanmcLaughlin. Right: Lukassek/shutterstock

We’re off to the most northerly point in Ireland next – Malin Head (Banba’s Crown is the most northerly point here).

Malin is known the island over for its rugged landscape. This is the perfect point to hop out for a walk (there are some great walks here – see our guide to the best hikes in Ireland for more info). 

If you’re heading for a walk here during the colder months, come prepared – it gets wild around Malin!

10. Kinnagoe Bay

kinnagoe bay donegal
Photo by Chris Hill via Failte Ireland

When you leave Malin Head, continue along the coast to the magnificent Kinnagoe Bay. There’s a gorgeous viewpoint here where you can soak up the view above.

Aside from its immense beauty, Kinnagoe is known as being the location of the Armada shipwreck, which took place in 1588.

Places like Kinnagoe Bay make me question why I live in Dublin. Imagine having a place like this on your doorstep?!

From here the Inishowen scenic drive continues on to Greencastle, Quigley’s Point and then on to the town of Muff.

Where to stay if you’re doing the Inishowen Peninsula loop

There’s plenty of great places to stay if you’d rather do the Inishowen 100 scenic drive over the course of a few days.

Below, you’ll find some our favourite accommodation on Inishowen, from Airbnbs and B&Bs to boutique guesthouses and some of the best hotels in Donegal.

1. Hotels

redcastle hotel donegal
Photo via the Redcastle Hotel

There’s several incredible hotels in Inishowen, many of which are located right on the beach/right next to the sea.

These range from the highly reviewd Inishowen Gateway Hotel to some lesser known spa hotels in Donegal that call this corner of the county home.

2. Airbnbs

donegal cottages to rent
Photos via Mamore Cottages Donegal

If you hop into our Inishowen Peninsula guide you’ll find some brilliant Airbnbs in the area that 1, have great reviews and 2, are nice and unique.

You’ll find some gorgeous traditional Donegal holiday homes, like the one above, to unique Donegal Airbnbs that’ll treat you to a night you’ll remember.

FAQs about the Inishowen Peninsula drive

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to find an Inishowen 100 map to which route to follow.

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 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 one, so I made the two maps in the guide above: while these don’t cover every single things to see and do on the peninsula, they cover the highlights, in my opinion.

How long do you need to do the drive?

The absolute minimum time need if you want to rush around the peninsula is 5 hours, however, you’d be missing out on much needed time for exploring the stops. A day or two would be ideal.

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!

1 COMMENT

  1. 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.

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