If you’re in search of the best things to do in Letterkenny in Donegal, you’ve landed in the right place.
For those of you that haven’t visited Letterkenny, you’re in for a treat.
There’s plenty of things to do in Letterkenny Town and it’s also a stone’s throw from many of the best places to visit in Donegal.
It’s the largest town in the county, situated at the southern end of Lough Swilly and it’s surrounded by breathtaking scenery and packed with historic attractions.
Below, you’ll discover what to do in Letterkenny (without leaving the town) and where to visit nearby (without having to drive too far).
The best things to do in Letterkenny
In the section below, you’ll find what we think are the best things to do in Letterkenny for families, couples and everyone in between, with everything from walks and food to tours and trad bars.
In the second section of the guide, you’ll find endless things to do near Letterkenny, like Ards Forest Park and some of the many beaches near Letterkenny.
1. Donegal County Museum
Those in search of things to do in Letterkenny Town when it’s raining should take note of Donegal County Museum – a fine place to whittle away a rainy day!
Appropriately located in a former workhouse that dates to 1845, the museum is packed with 8,000 fascinating artefacts recording the history and heritage of Donegal from prehistory to the present.
Displays include archaeological discoveries, pottery, artworks, photos, film archives and other items adding to the story of this historic county.
The permanent displays are complemented by ever-changing temporary exhibitions. For kids there’s an Activity Trail and the Donegal Museum Detective.
2. Glebe House and Gallery
Glebe House was once the home and studio of English painter Derek Hill. Nearby Lough Gartan was an endless source of inspiration until he donated both the house and art collection to the Irish State in 1981.
Now Glebe House and its beautiful antique furnishings, gardens, tea room and lough vistas are open for all to enjoy!
Decorated with William Morris textiles, the house and gallery contain over 300 artworks by renowned international artists including Picasso and Kokoshka.
A visit here is one of the best things to do in Letterkenny for any history lovers along with anyone who appreciates woodland gardens and beautiful scenery.
3. St. Eunan’s Cathedral
St. Eunan’s Cathedral is Letterkenny’s most notable landmark and it was built between 1890 and 1900. It was designed by architect William Hauge from Dublin and it overlooks Letterkenny Town.
The cathedral is impressive from the outside but it’s what’s inside that really leaves an imprint upon your memory.
Those that walk through its doors can expect stunning stained glass windows, a solid silver sanctuary lamp, magnificent ceilings and a great arch.
4. Mighty trad bars
If you read our guide to the best pubs in Letterkenny, you’ll already know that the town is jam-packed with excellent trad bars.
Our go-to in the town is The Cottage Bar – it’s a fine spot at any time of the year but it’s hard to beat when the fires roaring on a cold winters afternoon.
Another unique spot is Blake’s – it feels like your stepping into someone’s living room, and I mean that in the best sense possible!
5. Tropical World
Described as “Donegal’s hidden gem”, a visit to Tropical World is one of the most popular things to do in Letterkenny for families.
This is a fully licensed animal attraction for getting up close to wildlife in a climate-controlled environment.
Immerse yourself in a rainforest setting in the Butterfly House watching hundreds of bright butterflies hatching, flitting and feeding all around you.
This family-friendly attraction in Letterkenny has designated areas for viewing reptiles, marmosets, exotic birds and a pet area. Perfect for enjoying a day with your own “little monkeys”.
6. An Grianan Theatre
Home to the prominent Earagail Arts Festival, the An Grianan Theatre is a hub for the arts in Letterkenny.
It hosts events by local and visiting theatre companies and it provides a fantastic repertoire of performances in comedy, drama, live music and world-class productions.
Opened in 1999, the theatre has 383 seats with space for workshops and drama classes. It lives up to its name (meaning “sunny place”) with a glass facade that floods the interior with natural light.
Check out the forthcoming performances and book yourself a great night of culture. This is another one for those of you wondering what to do in Letterkenny at night!
7. Newmills Corn and Flax Mills
The whitewashed Newmills Corn and Flax Mills,just 5km from Letterkenny, features one of the largest operating waterwheels in Ireland with a 1km-long millrace fed by the River Swilly.
Dating back over 400 years, the mill complex provides a fascinating insight into 19th century life during the Industrial Revolution.
Along with the flax mill serving the Irish linen industry, there’s a corn mill. Later the complex opened a pub and a forge.
See the engine house with its belts and gears and explore the Exhibition Centre to learn more about Ulster’s industrial heritage.
8. A bustling food scene
If you’re looking for things to do in Letterkenny for couples, kick back in one of the many highly reviewed restaurants in Letterkenny.
Fresh and zesty, the Lemon Tree Restaurant is a family-run gem in the heart of Letterkenny’s Courtyard Shopping Centre since 1999.
It’s the ideal stop for a hearty calorie boost when exploring the Wild Atlantic Way. This award-winning restaurant for “Best Emerging Irish Cuisine” is open from 5pm daily and is listed in the Michelin 2020 and McKennas Guides.
9. Arena 7 Entertainment Complex
If you’re wondering what to do in Letterkenny Town with the kids when it’s lashing down, give this next place a go.
There’s everything from 10-pin bowling, air hockey, snooker, video games and more at the Arena 7 Entertainment Complex along with TVs, a coffee dock and fast food cafe.
Located on the Ballyraine Industrial Estate in Letterkenny, this complex has something for everyone including laser tag, karaoke a bar and plenty more.
Related read: Check out our guide to 15 of the best things to do in Donegal for families (there’s a mix of family walks, indoor attractions and very unique tours)
10. Letterkenny Karting Centre
If you’re in search of fun things to do in Letterkenny for families (this is an activity for the older ones!), Letterkenny Karting Centre should be right up your street.
There’s more competitive fun at the Letterkenny Karting Centre with up to 20 karts at a time lapping the 900-metre course – one of the largest in Ireland.
There are pacer karts for under 7s, full training and safety equipment.
Book a 15, 20 or 30 minute practice session or sign up for the Grand Prix with a guaranteed minimum of 7 races, plus quarter, semi and finals.
11. Lurgybrack Open Farm
One of the newer things to do in Letterkenny for families is the Lurgybrack Open Farm – a petting farm and home to ducks, birds, rabbits, chipmunks, guinea pigs, goats and other furry friends.
While kids enjoy the indoor and outdoor play areas, bouncy castle, zipline and tyre slide, parents can head for the tea room.
Finish off the visit with a stroll along the riverside. With pocket-friendly family tickets, it’s the perfect day out.
Things to do near Letterkenny
So, as you’ve hopefully gathered, there’s plenty of fun things to do in Letterkenny Town to keep you occupied until the cows come home.
However, there’s endless things to do near Letterkenny, which is why the town is such a great base to explore from.
1. Glenveagh National Park (25-minute drive)
Just 25 minutes from the bustle of Letterkenny Town, Glenveagh National Park is a spectacular area of natural beauty with signposted trails for hikers and mountain bikers.
Start your trip at the Visitor Centre which has a wildlife museum, cycle hire and cafe.
Free to visit, there’s a lake, plenty of mountain scenery, impressive Glenveagh Castle, stunning walled gardens and more.
2. Ards Forest Park (30-minute drive)
A visit to Ards Forest Park is another of the more popular things to do near Letterkenny and it’s here that you’ll find 480 hectares of forest and beach.
There’s a mix of woodland trails at Ards that range from handy to hard. Arguably the highlight of the park is the beautiful beaches that seem to pop up out of nowhere.
There’s also a playground, some picnic areas and an abundance of nature and wildlife.
If you’ve ticked off the various things to do in Letterkenny, put Ards at the top of your to-do list.
3. Grianan of Aileach (30-minute drive)
Dating back to 1700BC, it was pretty old by the time that St Patrick visited in the 5th century.
The round stone fort has three terraces and the remains of Iron/Bronze Age ramparts, said to be where the Giants of Inishowen are sleeping.
Restored in the 1870s, this amazing site has commanding views across the peninsula including Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly.
Related read: Check out our guide to 10 of the best hotels in Letterkenny (from pricy accommodation to budget stays)
4. The Inishowen Peninsula (30-minute drive)
Whether you’re exploring on foot, on two wheels or four, the Inishowen Peninsula is arguably best explored via the Inishowen 100 route.
You’ll want to allow at least 1/2 a day for this spin and at least a whole day if you plan on tackling one of the longer walks.
5. Rosguill Peninsula (35-minute drive)
The Rosguill Peninsula is another great spot for a day trip from Letterkenny. It’s arguably best explored on what’s known as the ‘Atlantic Drive’ which takes in the peninsula’s top attractions.
Boyeeghter Bay used to be tricky to get to but there’s now a car park along with an easy-to-follow trail that you can tackle.
6. The Fanad Peninsula (30-minute+ drive)
The Fanad Peninsula is a remote and rugged peninsula that boasts breathtaking landscapes, picturesque coastal views and a handful of great places to visit.
7. Derry (40-minute drive)
You probably didn’t expect to see ‘Visit Derry’ in a guide to the best things to do in Letterkenny Town, but here we are.
Derry City, also known as Londonderry, offers a rich cultural and historical experience. Here are some of the best things to do in Derry:
- Explore the 17th century Derry City Walls
- Visit the Museum of Free Derry
- Explore the Guildhall
- Ramble along the Peace Bridge
What places to visit in Letterkenny have we missed?
“I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant Letterkenny tourist attractions from the guide above.
If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!”
FAQs about what to do in Letterkenny Town
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are some fun things to do in Letterkenny for couples?’ to ‘Where’s good to see nearby?’.
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 Letterkenny?
There’s St. Eunan’s Cathedral, Glebe House and Gallery, Donegal County Museum and there’s heaps of things to do near Letterkenny, like Glenveagh.
What are some things to see in Letterkenny when it rains?
St. Eunan’s Cathedral, Glebe House and Gallery, Donegal County Museum are good rainy day options. You could also do the scenic Inishowen 100 drive.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.