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A Guide To The Best Things To Do In Buncrana (Beaches, Drives, Breakfast + More)

A Guide To The Best Things To Do In Buncrana (Beaches, Drives, Breakfast + More)

There’s some mighty things to do in Buncrana in Donegal.

In fact, there are few corners of Ireland as finely situated for a weekend of adventure as this scenic little town.

Sitting on the lapping shores of Lough Swilly on the Inishowen Peninsula and gazing off towards the hazy hills of the Fanad Peninsula, Buncrana is an excellent spot for a weekend escape.

In the guide below, you’ll discover a heap of things to do in Buncrana and plenty more places to visit nearby!

Our favourite things to do in Buncrana

fort dunree military museum

Photo by Ballygally View Images/shutterstock

So, just a quick note, although the first few things listed below are in Buncrana itself, many of the others aren’t, which is why you’ll see ‘X minutes from Buncrana’ written.

There are several brilliant things to do in Buncrana, but there are endless places to visit within easy reach of the town, which is why this is a combo of the two!

1. Kick-start your visit with coffee and something tasty from Tank & Skinny’s

frank and skinny's buncrana donegal

Photo via Tank & Skinny’s on FB

If you’re looking for things to do in Buncrana to kick-start your day with a very tasty bang, get yourself to Tank and Skinny’s!

Located just a stone’s throw from the shores of Lough Swilly on Swilly Road, Tank and Skinny’s is a bright and stylish café/bistro with gorgeous views of the landscape beyond.

Treat yourself to a fluffy pancake or an indulgent breakfast burrito. Or whatever that thing is on the right in the photo above!

2. Then head off on the scenic stroll

Buncrana Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s a nice walkway (hat-tip to Deirdre Doherty in the comments section!) that leads from Buncrana Beach (Ladies Bay) out to the castle bridge via Swan Park.

You can also loop around the river or head out past Buncrana Castle near Ned’s Point. From there, you’re out to Porthaw Beach, Father Hegarty’s Rock and Stragill Beach.

There’s glorious scenery along the way and it’s a nice, active way to see the town and its surrounds.

3. Kick-start the Inishowen 100 from the town

mamore gap donegal

Photos by Ondrej Prochazka/Shutterstock

Want to really get to know the Inishowen Peninsula? Taking its name from its approximate distance in miles, the Inishowen 100 is a scenic drive around its outer edges.

Passing through a clutch of gorgeous spots – including the wild coast of Malin Head and Mamore Gap’s stunning alpine views – this is a real treat for first time visitors.

You can start the drive from Buncrana and drive it clockwise (see this map). Just keep in mind you’ll miss out on An Grianan of Aileach which is around a 20-minute spin in the opposite direction.

4. Visit the very unique Wild Ireland

wild ireland Donegal

Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re staying in Buncrana and looking for things to do in Donegal for families, head out to Wild Ireland (20-minute drive from Buncrana).

This is a brilliantly run animal sanctuary that’s called home by some very exotic animals that once roamed the island of Ireland.

Visitors here can see brown bears, wolves, lynx, moneys, deer and wild boar. A visit here is an educational experience that’ll delight young and old alike.

Related read: Check out our guide to 7 of the best places to stay in Buncrana (hotels with pools, boutique stays + cosy B&Bs)

5. Or head for a stroll at Lisfannon or nearby Inch Wildfowl Reserve

Lisfannon Beach Fahan

Photos via Shutterstock

A ramble along Lisfannon Beach (5-minute drive) regularly tops guides to the best things to do in Buncrana, and for good reason – a sunrise or sunset stroll here is the bees-knees!

Located south of Buncrana in Donegal, Lisfannon Beach’s arcing boomerang shape rewards visitors with wonderful panoramas of a unique setting.

Another good option is Inch Wildfowl Reserve (15-minute drive). There’s an 8km looped path to set off on here and plenty of wildlife to have a nosey at.

Mighty things to do near Buncrana in Donegal

mamore gap magic road

Photo via Shutterstock

Now that we have our favourite things to do in Buncrana out of the way, it’s time to see what else this corner of Donegal has to offer.

Below, you’ll find one of our favourite walks in Donegal, some breath-taking beaches along with some very unique things to do near Buncrana in Donegal.

1. Step back in time at Fort Dunree (15-minute drive)

dunree fort military museum

Photo left: Lukassek. Right: Lucky Team Studio/shutterstock

Forts don’t come much more picturesque than this. Just a short 15-minute drive from Buncrana, Fort Dunree is perched on a rocky promontory overlooking Lough Swilly.

It was initially built to guard against potential French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars. These days it serves as a museum, housing an enthralling display of military memorabilia, artefacts and large 20th Century coastal artillery.

If you’re in search of interesting things to do in Buncrana, take a tour of the fort and then head for a stroll – the views from here on a clear day are excellent! 

2. Soak up the views at Mamore Gap (15-minute drive)

mamore gap magic road

Photo via Shutterstock

You’ll come to Mamore Gap if you’re doing the Inishowen 100. This is a towering mountain pass that can look intimidating as you drive towards it.

When you reach the brow of the hill, you’ll find an area to pull in (near the grotto) and soak up the views out over the surrounding countryside.

This is one of the more impressive things to do near Buncrana, but keep in mind the views will be covered in misty weather.

3. Visit some of Donegal’s finest beaches (10-minute+ drive)

kinnagoe bat donegal

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

You’ll find some of the best beaches in Donegal a short drive away from Buncrana. Here’s a handful of our favourites:

4. Tackle the Glenevin Waterfall walk (20-minute drive)

Glenevin

Photos via Shutterstock

One of a number of magical spots in the area, the spectacular Glenevin Waterfall cascades over black rock from a height of 40ft.

Just a 20-minute drive from Buncrana, the soothing sound of the tumbling fresh mountain water is just one reason to head here.

The meandering walk through the Glenevin Waterfall Park is lovely too, with lots of scenic spots along the way. 

5. Take a tour of Doagh Famine Village (30-minute drive)

Doagh Famine Village donegal

Photo via Doagh Famine Village on Facebook

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Buncrana, discover a thought-provoking window into the past at Doagh Famine Village.

Built around their original thatched dwellings, the walkthrough museum takes you to 1840’s Ireland and depicts the hardships of life with honesty and humour.

Less than 30 minutes from Buncrana, it’s well worth a visit, if not just to appreciate how far we’ve come.

6. Grab a coffee at Banba Cafe and explore Malin Head (40-minute drive)

Cafe Banba at Malin Head

Photos via Cafe Banba on Facebook

Just a 40-minute drive from Buncrana, Malin Head is Ireland’s most northernly point – straight away a pretty cool thing to say you’ve done!

Rugged and unspoilt, it’s also a mighty spot for views and contains a bunch of interesting caves, coves and historical points to explore.

Grab a coffee from Café Banba’s mobile espresso bar and get on your way. There’s also a toilet and parking on-site.

7. Conquer the Inishowen Head Loop (40-minute drive)

Inishowen Head Loop

Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re in search of walks near Buncrana in Donegal, the Inishowen Head Loop is well worth doing (moderate fitness needed).

It starts over near Stroove Beach and takes you along some of the peninsula’s most impressive coastline.

The trail takes 2.5 to 3 hours to complete and you’ll be treated to stunning views throughout.

What to do in Buncrana: Where have we missed?

I’m sure that we’ve unintentionally missed out on some brilliant things to do in Buncrana in Donegal. If you have a place to recommend, let us know in the comments section below.

And, don’t forget, if you fancy staying in the area, hop into our guide to Buncrana hotels and accommodation for central places to stay with great reviews!

FAQs about things to see in Buncrana

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where’s good when it’s raining?’ to ‘What is there to do around Buncrana?’.

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 are the best things to do in Buncrana?

Kick-start your visit with coffee from Tank and Skinny’s and then tackle the town’s scenic walk. Then, the world’s your oyster – the peninsula is home to endless attractions.

What are good things to do near Buncrana?

You’ve An Grianan of Aileach, the Inishowen 100, Mamore Gap, Glenevin Waterfall, a bounty of beaches, Malin Head, Five Finger Strand and so much more.

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Ro D

Wednesday 25th of May 2022

Reel Irish Music Tour, a traditional Irish music bus tour to take you to a few music sessions in varied locations. Great craic agus ceol for a day out !

Deirdre Doherty

Friday 6th of May 2022

Walkway from the Buncrana beach (Ladies bay) to the castle bridge, through either swan park in a loop around the river or over the bridge past Buncrana Castle towards Ned's point ( fort) then onto Porthaw beach, father Hegarty's rock, Stragill beach and Linsfort beach if the tides out! Beautiful scenery all the way!

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