Donegal’s home to more stunning beaches than you can count, but few are as glorious as Tra Na Rossan Beach!
Sandwiched between two green hills with a penchant for spectacular sunsets, it’s easy to see why photographers love this spot so much.
One of the more popular stops on the Atlantic Drive, this beach gets very little footfall during the autumn and winter, but it comes alive during the warmer months.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on parking, the hike to Boyeeghter Bay and plenty more. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about Tra Na Rossan Beach
Although a visit to Tra Na Rossan is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
You’ll find Tra Na Rossan in one of County Donegal’s more remote spots, near the northern end of the Rosguill Peninsula on Donegal’s north coast. It’s a 10-minute drive from Downings, a 30-minute drive from Dunfanaghy and a 40-minute drive from Letterkenny.
There’s a reasonably-sized car park (considering its location!) at the end of the nearest road leading up to the beach (here on Google Maps). Just keep in mind that this is one of the more popular beaches in Donegal during the summer months, so the car park fills up fast.
Although we’ve tried (trust me!), we can’t find any official information about whether or not it’s safe to swim at Tra Na Rossan Beach. It appears that there’s no lifeguards on duty, though. So, either keep your feet on dry land or ask around locally.
About Tra Na Rossan Beach
Thanks to its unique location between those imposing rocky hills on either side, Tra Na Rossan has its own character and looks a little different to Donegal’s more popular beaches.
On the slopes of these hills grow lush green fern, wildflowers & purple bloom heather, while the sand is soft and golden.
Tra Na Rossan looks out towards a small island in the bay, but beyond that, it’s just the wild expanse of the North Atlantic Ocean.
In fact, due to its remoteness, northern location and lack of light pollution, you might even get a glimpse of the Northern Lights in Ireland while you’re there!
Things to do at Tra Na Rossan Beach
So, there’s a handful of things to do in and around Tra Na Rossan Beach, including one of our favourite walks in Donegal. Here’s some suggestions for you:
1. Admire it from above, first
I’ve talked a bit about this beach’s unique composition, so how about taking a bird’s eye look at Tra Na Rossan before you head down to its soft sands?
There’s a tiny place to pull in (here on Google Maps) but you need to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL. There’s space for one car but it’s right at a bend, so park here at your own risk.
There’s some stunning views of Tra Na Rossan Beach from here.
2. Then experience one of Ireland’s finest beaches for yourself
Once you’ve got your fill of spectacular scenery, head back down the R248, pass through Altaheeran and swing a left towards the car park.
Walk in from the car park on the boardwalk through the marram grass and onto the gentle sands of Tra Na Rossan where you’ll (hopefully!) see the stunning surroundings that make it so well regarded.
If you fancy getting your feet wet then kick off your shoes and go for a little paddle (but follow our advice above on swimming).
If you’re lucky to be here on a clear day as the sun goes down, then you’ll be treated to a fabulous sunset with shades of emerald and turquoise.
3. Or take the hike over to see Murder Hole Beach
If you’re in the mood for getting your hiking boots, then you could head north to see the famous Murder Hole Beach. While the official name of the beach is Boyeeghter Strand, rumour has it that the Murder Hole Beach name originates from the 19th-century, when a young woman reputedly fell from a cliff near the beach.
Located on the Melmore Head peninsula, this hidden beach is spectacular and used to be tricky to access. However, they’ve just opened a new car park and trail over at Melmore.
Places to visit near Tra Na Rossan Beach
One of the beauties of Tra Na Rossan is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Donegal.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Tra Na Rossan!
1. Downings Beach (10-minute drive)
With a similar horseshoe shape as Tra Na Rossan, Downings Beach boasts gorgeous golden sand and beautiful scenery make it almost as pretty. The difference here is that there’s a great little town situated right behind Downings Beach, making it perfect for grabbing a coffee or a quick feed.
2. Ards Forest Park (30-minute drive)
With sand dunes, woodlands, wildlife, salt marshes and up to nine different trails to take on, you can easily spend a whole day rambling around Ards Forest Park! Cross the other side of Sheephaven Bay and find the 1200-acre park on the N56 between the charming towns of Creeslough and Dunfanaghy.
3. Glenveagh National Park (35-minute drive)
Glenveagh National Park is the second biggest park in Ireland and it’s crammed with forests, pristine lakes, cascading waterfalls, rugged mountains and even a castle. And as you can imagine, there are plenty of invigorating walks here that’ll stretch your legs! Check out the Garden Trail if you just want a leisurely walk with some cracking scenery.
4. Mount Errigal (40-minute drive)
The tallest and steepest of Donegal’s Seven Sisters mountain range, Errigal soars up to an impressive 2,464 ft and can be seen for miles around! It’s a stunning mountain to see in person, but if you’re planning on climbing it then be prepared for a 2-3 hour hike, so make all the right preparations beforehand.
FAQs about Tra Na Rossan
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Can you swim there?’ to ‘When’s high tide?’.
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.
Can you swim at Tra Na Rossan Beach?
We can’t find any official information online about swimming here, which means your best bet is to ask locally or keep your feet on dry land.
Is Tra Na Rossan worth a visit?
Yes! See it from the viewing point above, first, and then head down for a saunter along the sand. It’s quiet during the year but gets mobbed during summer.