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If you're planning a trip to County Donegal and want to get a flavour of what awaits you in this stunning county, here’s a few suggestions…
Tory Island sits exposed in the sea, 14.5 kilometres off the north-west coast of County Donegal. Tory Island has the remarkable claim to fame for being the most remote inhabited island of Ireland. The language thrives here, so it's good to learn your le do thoil (please) and go raibh maith agat (thank you) before you go. The island is also known for excellent traditional music and culture, so the pubs will usually have a tune or two playing when you take a seat!
From mountain skills days to coastal climbs and children's' lessons, whether it's your first day on the crag or your 100th there are plenty of climbing tour guides who will take you out and find the perfect route for you to send. As far as things to do in County Donegal go, why not bust out of your comfort zone and make your trip truly memorable!
Tours to the Sliabh Liag Cliffs, the highest sea cliffs in Europe standing at 600 metres (1972 feet) tall, run in the summer season from April to October. With two boats carrying a total 24 passengers the tour will feel personal and you'll get to know the crew. The one-and-a-half-hour trip takes in many wonderful sights, often dolphins, whales and seals will join the excursion! Guests are also invited to go for a swim in the crystal-clear waters near Sliabh Liag (wetsuits provided - or grin and 'bare' it!).
This village is a bit of a drive to reach but those who make the journey are glad they did and the drive into Port in stunning. Historians believe it was probably the first maritime port in County Donegal and was once a thriving village. It is thought to have been abandoned during The Famine (1845-52) after which the houses were just left to the elements, however much of the homes built from local stone still stand proudly in the village.
Take advantage of the wide-open space of County Donegal - on horseback! There are many riding stables who will offer trail riding excursions from an hour upwards, but if you have time head out for a day to really get a taste of the countryside here and the unique view you get from the saddle.
This excellent bay sits around 7 kilometres north of Buncrana in Inishowen (and is close to the military museum of Dunree Fort as a potential add-on for your day). Those who rise early and are looking for rewarding things to do in County Donegal will often have the beach to themselves. Walking in the surrounding areas gives you access to many different views of the Bay and every step on this coast reveals even more magnificence.
Carrickfinn Blue Flag Beach is located close to Annagry on the western coast of County Donegal and is one of Donegal's finest beaches. This broad sandy beach is accented with tall sweeping sand dunes. At times the beach can feel a little exposed due to the rising and falling tide, but no matter what time you catch the tide the views will take your breath away.
With Portnoo and Narin holiday villages sitting above these two beaches there are plenty of amenities for the day tripper and plenty of places to stay if you want to spend the night. It's also home to a large golf course with the sea on one side and Clooney Lake on the other creating an incredible vista. Peninsulas and hills line the background of these large sister beaches, kick your shoes off, feel the sand between your toes and immerse yourself in the beauty of it all.
Rossnowlagh is a seaside village in south County Donegal, about 8.5 kilometres north of Ballyshannon and 16 kilometres southwest of Donegal Town. The 3-kilometre long beach is popular with families and those who like a coastal adventure! There are often excellent conditions for surfers, windsurfers and kite-surfers. When the water is tamer it's an ideal swimming spot.
A popular seaside resort, tourism has been at the lifeblood of the local economy since 1777 and 240 years of tourists must be onto something! Bundoran is a world-renowned surfing area and was listed by National Geographic magazine in 2012 as one of the World's Top 20 Surf Towns. With the Sligo-Leitrim mountains behind Bundoran beach and the hills of Donegal across the bay to the north, there are views for days and hours of fun to be had.
Burtonport is an important fishing village, more salmon are landed here than at any port in Ireland or Britain! A popular centre for boating trips departing to Arranmore Island (the largest inhabited island in County Donegal) 5 kilometres offshore and has striking cliff scenery and some interesting marine caves for the explorer. The freshwater aquatic life is also impressive Lough Shure is home to a thriving community of rainbow trout.
This often-misnamed castle - correctly called O'Donnells Castle, is found in Donegal Town. The 15th-century castle was fully restored in 1996 and is one of the most popular things to do in County Donegal. The O'Donnells family who owned the estate had another castle nearby - Lough Eske castle. The castle ruins lie to the northeast of Lough Eske castle and are now a five-star hotel. Lough Eske has some spooky features, there is a tiny island on which the ruins of a prison the O'Donnells kept their prisoners in can be found.
A truly remarkable peak, this beautiful mountain towers near Gweedore in County Donegal. Mount Errigal is the tallest of the Derryveagh Mountains and of all the peaks in County Donegalm it is also the most southerly, steepest and tallest of the proud mountain chain, called the “Seven Sisters”.
Poised gracefully amid the fertile lands of the Lagan Valley in East Donegal, near the banks of the River Foyle, approximately 8 kilometres from the historical city of Derry/ Londonderry you will find the Monreagh Irish Heritage & Education Centre. In the tranquil settings of a beautifully restored 19th-century mansion, enjoy the journey back in time, exploring the rich heritage of the local area and giving you a taste of how things used to be here in County Donegal.
Quite simply an amazing structure in an amazing place. Join the guides at the lighthouse for a tour and explore the Visitors' Centre to discover the stories of the brave people who kept the light going through dark nights and raging storms.
One of Donegal's best-loved attractions, these award-winning gardens and parks are worthy of many hours to properly get to know them, so be sure to make a day of it! Whether you're discovering Oakfield while on a Wild Atlantic Way adventure or it's your first-time in Donegal, there's so much to see and explore. Don't take our word for it - Oakfield was crowned one of the top five parks in the whole of Ireland in the Irish Times’ "Best Day Out".
Glenveagh is the second largest national park in Ireland. The 16,000 hectares of Glenveagh includes most of the Derryveagh Mountains, the Poisoned Glen and part of Errigal Mountain. With so many trails to choose from (and many scenic driving routes as well) the park reaches out over much of north Donegal and there is free access to roam from all points. Hillwalking in Glenveagh National Park can be challenging for the beginner, but there's something for everyone in the Park. Find some routes here.
Within Glenveagh lays the Poisoned Glen, resting at the foot of Errigal (Donegal's highest mountain). Whether you reach the Glen from above - looking down into the valley and over Lough Dunlewey, or below looking upwards to Errigal mountain, the views are breath-taking. The Poisoned Glen is one of the best sights to see in County Donegal and it's also one of the best places to capture the profound wild spirit of the county.
The Slieve League Cliffs are ranked Number 1 attraction on TripAdvisor for County Donegal and they are well deserving of that prestigious place. Climbing to the top of these cliffs and looking down is a truly memorable experience as the views are splendid, but make sure to bring your camera, of all the things to do in County Donegal this is the best one to capture a breath-taking holiday snap. The views are unrivalled and the climb to the top of the cliffs will take your breath away in more way than one!
Visit one of the most beautiful natural features of the West Atlantic Way. Due to very particular rock formations in the area, a series of natural "blow" or "puffing" holes occur, which causes seawater to crash up into the blowholes, throwing water powerfully upwards when the tides hit just right. It is said that as far back as the 1700s locals thought these blow holes to be haunted fairies who are the namesake of this brilliant spot.