Ah glorious Donegal – where do we even start?! Voted the coolest place on the planet by National Geographic, and for good reason. I have explored the length and breadth of this wonderful county and I can easily say it is one of my absolute favorite places to go in Ireland. If you like your take-my-breath-away beaches, jagged wild coastlines and ancient epic landscapes, Donegal is the one for you. Get out your waterproofs and hiking boots, because you’ll want to visit these amazing places in Donegal. That’s right, here is your Ultimate Donegal Bucketlist.
Slieve League – One of the Absolute Best Things to do in Donegal
Now we all know that the Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most famous cliffs. BUT I think this should be revised. Because Slieve League cliffs are just something else! Although they are not a sheer drop, they are still incredibly impressive, standing at 596m making them the highest cliffs in the country. And they seem to stretch for miles off into the distance.
Stand and enjoy the views at Bunglas Viewpoint or hike right along the top of the cliffs. On a clear day, you will even spot Benbulbin across the waters in the distance. No Donegal bucket list would be complete without stopping off here.
Fanad Head Lighthouse
Fanad head lighthouse is perched at the edge of Fanad Head Peninsula and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful lighthouses in Ireland. In fact, it has been noted as one of the most beautiful in the world. Not only that, you might be lucky enough to spot a dolphin or some whales in the swirling waters below.
*Make sure you explore the whole Fanad Head Peninsula. From Ramelton right the way around. You’ll visit the most amazing beaches such as Ballymastocker Bay. This is for sure a must-do when in Donegal.
Assaranca Waterfall – Most beautiful Waterfall in Donegal
Assaranca Waterfall is perfectly located alongside a road, so it’s super convenient to get to for all yall lazy bones or anyone who has mobility issues. There’s none of that hiking or walking to get there. Just pull up, hop out, enjoy the sight and snap a pic before continuing on your journey again. Driving down this road and turning a corner to be met with this magical sight, what could be better!
Grianan of Aileach
This is one of those spots that you really only get the full effect of from above. Grianan of Aileach is a restored stone fort dating back to 1700BC. The fort was originally used for defense but now boasts spectacular 360 views over Lough Foyle, Donegal a total of 5 other counties.
Can’t do much more bragging about Donegal views but I can definitely give it another shot. Here, you can walk the feet off yourself visiting the castle, gardens, tea rooms, or some of the many trails. Or you can get on your bike, where you can enjoy the mountains, lakes, waterfalls and the gorgeous native oak woodlands.
Glengesh Pass – Best things to do in Donegal
Glengesh pass is something straight from an Ireland Postcard. Rolling hills split by a valley and a wicked windy road. This area was beautifully carved out by glaciers in the last ice age and what we have today is absolutely stunning. You will definitely wana make your way through this bendy pass.
This is one of my favourite drives in Ireland. For a full list of the most scenic drives in Ireland – I have a post coming soon
It seems Donegal is brimming with outstanding waterfalls. Glenevin waterfall is an impressive 30ft in Inishowen and is just a short walk along a path from a car park. But this 5-minute walk is very worth it as you are rewarded with this view of the falls crashing into the plunge pool below. There’s also paths above the waterfall too so you can see the area from different heights, and picnic spots a-plenty.
Beaches – The Must-Visit Beaches in Donegal
Murder Hole Beach
Yes, you read that right! An intimidating name for an equally intimidating beach. This beach is nothing other than awesome. Although it’s not known exactly where the unusual name came from, it’s more than likely due to the crazy violent waves that collide into the beach here every day. I stood in awe and watched as these massive swells rolled inland and hurled themselves at the shore. The noise in the air was incredible and just as aggressive as the water.
Access is through a farmer’s land so please be respectful and leave no trace. I do not advise swimming here. It is more the kind of place for standing back and appreciating the sheer power of nature
Kinagoe Bay – Beautiful Beach in Donegal
Driving through the windy roads of Donegal, you may be lucky enough to stumble across this magnificent sight. With soft gold sandy beaches, this secluded beach is normally pretty quiet and unusually clean. It has been named Inishowen’s best beach with panoramic views of the bay. There is also a shipwreck of the Spanish armada “La Trinidad Valencara” hidden beneath the waters. So get the snorkel and flippers out or have a picnic on this serene beach. Whichever you’re into.
Malin Bed / Slieve League
Another really standout Donegal Beach. Standing at the car park you get such expansive views over the sheltered beach, surrounded by cliffs. There’s a pretty dramatic staircase leading down to the golden sands at sea level. Someone has counted 174 steps down (not me, I was too busy gasping for breath).
If I was ever going to wash up on a beach, let it be one like this! If you don’t want to go down the steps just to trek back up to the top (but I highly suggest you do!), you can still appreciate the views from the top in the carpark.
*IMPORTANT* To go down to the beach you have to open a gate. Make sure you close it. Sheep roam free on the beach and cliffs.
There it is, your Donegal Bucketlist
So there you have it. My list of the best things to do in Donegal, and the best scenery. A complete Donegal Bucketlist if you will! This is by no means a complete list though. Donegal has endless possibilities and things to do. And I keep coming across more.
Don’t be shy! IF you have visited any of these spots, comment below and let us know what you thought. Or if you have any you want to visit in future, let me know your thoughts!
If you like my photography, be sure to check out my Instagram. All images are my own and subject to copyright.
For some even great things to do in Donegal, see some more options below:
Other MUST do things I haven’t done but are on my list:
- Climb Mount Errigal – a 751-metre (2,464 ft) mountain. You may have seen images on Instagram. It looks incredible.
- See the Northern Lights
- Wild Ireland – Although I don’t like to discuss places I’ve never been, I can’t not mention Wild Ireland. This is probably the most unique attraction in Donegal. Wild Ireland is an animal sanctuary in Inishowen that has seen the return of some of Ireland’s lost native species as well as other animals that were once here but have been hunted to extinction. From wolves to brown bears and even Lynxes. I can tell ya, it’s next on my list!
*Check back on this post, once I tick off each place above, I will add them to the post properly!