When you think of Cliffs in Ireland, I bet the Cliffs of Moher are what comes to mind. But I have to tell you that the Slieve League Cliffs in Donegal are equally as impressive. They are located much further north, in Donegal near Ardara and Donegal town. Although not a clean sheer drop like the cliffs of Moher, these vast cliffs expand out into the Atlantic towards the horizon and are actually taller, at a whopping 601 m above sea level.
Accompanied by the beautiful backdrop of the Wild Atlantic Way, these rugged cliffs are surging in popularity in recent years. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll from the car park to Bunglas Viewpoint or if you want to push yourself, you can trek right along the cliff top too.
*Slieve League is also known as Sliabh Liag – the original Irish name.
Where are the Slieve League Cliffs? Slieve League Cliff Walk Donegal
The Slieve League cliffs are on the western coast of Donegal.
Where is the nearest town:
Donegal town is just 49 Km (57 minutes) drive away while they are also 28 km (42 minutes) from Ardara. another nearby town is the fishing village of Killybegs.
How to get to Slieve League?
From Donegal town, you will be heading west on the N56. Once you reach a junction for Ardara, take the R263 to Killybegs and on to the village of Carrick where there is a left turn and a sign from the cliffs.
From Ardara- go south on the N56 to the same junction where this time you’ll be taking the right turn to Killybegs and on to the cliffs following the same route.
As always though, check google maps on the way if you can.
Can you drive up to the Slieve League Cliffs?
When you get to the site, there is a big car park free of charge (last time I visited). From there, walk the narrow road to the cliffs and the viewpoint. This can take up to 45 minutes to walk.
There is a gate which must be kept closed – there are sheep along the route. If you open the gate and drive through, there is a VERY SMALL car park at the cliffs. I mean small. It fits about 5 cars. Chances are this will be full, especially if you’re going in the summer so I don’t really recommend driving to this point. It is a narrow road along the cliff edge with nowhere to really pull in if you meet oncoming cars. Not ideal! Better to stick to the large car park unless you get there for the crack of dawn!
How long does it take to walk the Slieve League Cliffs? Slieve League Walk
The Walk to Bunlas Viewpoint
At Slieve League, you have two options, you can enjoy the walk from the car park to the cliffs. And you also have the cliff walk.
The car park to the viewpoint is a full-on walk for most people (including me). It is almost 2 km and takes roughly 45 minutes depending on your speed. How much time are you going to stop along the route to take some pictures of the cliffs and no doubt the sheep? A LONG time if you’re me (they are just so cute!).
Finally, after struggling up the hills and dips in the road, the cliffs themselves come into view, stretching out across the landscape. Ok, it’s not that difficult I am just incredibly unfit with short little legs.
The viewpoint is a great place to appreciate Slieve League Cliffs from and head back again. In the summer, there are normally food trucks. You might as well reward yourself at the ice cream van before turning back!
Slieve League Cliff Walk – Hiking at Slieve League
If you’ve not had enough yet, you can start the hike along the cliff-top right from Bunglas Viewpoint. Recently, the route has been paved. Thank you to the souls who had to do this work for our benefit. It has made the hike so much easier!! The mountain path was made using rocks from the nearby hillside. This has been done to protect the environment but also to make it a little easier to navigate.
It is a serious hike and takes a number of hours. But you can turn back whenever you like.
There are also two other paths:
- Pilgrim’s Path is 3 km and goes from the village of Teelin up to the cliffs from the other side and back. This will take a few hours.
- One Man’s Path – this is not for the faint of heart. This connects the walk from Bunglas Viewpoint to Pilgrim’s path. It is a 400m edge with a sheer drop on each side. Just wide enough for one person. Definitely not for everyone!
My Experience doing the Cliff Walk:
I visited the cliffs in 2018 but didn’t dare start the cliff walk. This summer (2020), Eoghan and I took a wack at it. We started early in the morning at around 10.30 am. It was so lovely out and we were the only ones there (Probably pandemic related). We had a DIY breakfast at Bunglas Viewpoint. About an hour in, walking up and over the stone steps we didn’t feel like we had made it too far.
We decided to make our way back to the car and come back another time when we had more time. And more prepared (more snacks needed, sneaky breakfast roll in your bag anyone?).
While I haven’t reached the end, it was great and the views over the Atlantic and the rest of Donegal are fantastic. We could see rain clouds heading inland from the ocean. Seeing the misty rain pouring down and the eerie shadows on the ocean below was so cool. But not so cool as it moved closer to the land! We made it back to the car before the rain though! It looked incredible.
Slieve League Tours? Can you get a guided tour of the cliffs?
Tours to Bunglas Viewpoint:
Sliabh Liag Tours offer a shuttle service to the viewpoint and back from the village and carrick. Where you can enjoy the scenery to the viewpoint while sitting, and pity all the poor souls dragging their feet along the path from the car park. For more info check their website.
Slieve League Boat Tours:
Sliabh Liag Boat Trips allow small groups to sail from the village of Teelin to the cliffs. Click Here for the website. A pretty unique way to experience the cliffs if you ask me!
Slieve League VS the Cliffs of Moher
Both of these locations are incredibly impressive but for different reasons. One is a sheer drop looking as though a giant sliced through the countries edge with a blade. I think this is what gives the Cliffs of Moher the “wow” factor. The other is impressive in a completely different way. But the Slieve League cliffs are actually the highest sea cliffs in the country at a height of 601 m.
Slieve League is a much quieter attraction that has been less commercialised up to now which I love. There are no barriers up along the cliff edges though so be careful! Both are worth visiting, don’t make me choose!
Benefits of visiting Slieve League over the Cliffs of Moher:
- The car park is free (any of the times I visited)
- You have options – walk to the point or take on the amazing cliff walk
- A lot less busy than the Cliffs of Moher
- Less commercialised – not as many amenities for this reason
But on the other side of things, here’s “5 Reasons You Need to Visit the Cliffs of Moher“.
If you want to visit the Cliffs of Moher be sure to check out my post: Visiting the Cliffs of Moher Honest Guide | Do you have to pay to see the Cliffs of Moher?
The Weather at Slieve League – How to dress
Along the Atlantic, the weather is always unpredictable. Wind is a certainty and rain is never far away. So for visiting Bunglas Point, even if it’s sunny, be prepared!
If you’re doing the full-on hike, make sure to have a light waterproof jacket and trousers. As well as comfortable walking shoes with support.
Where to stay near? Hotels near Slieve League
This is just to name a few. There are so many B&Bs in the area too.
Restaurants near Slieve League?
Remember you’re in rural Donegal so there won’t be a huge number of choices here.
- The Rusty Mackerel
- Kellys Kitchen at the Slieve League Lodge
- Ti Linn – Cafe beside the Slieve League Visitor Centre
What are the highest sea cliffs in Ireland
The Slieve League Cliffs / Slieve Liag at 601 m / 1,972 feet
How high are the Slieve League Cliffs
The Slieve League Cliffs are 601 m / 1,972 feet above sea level
What does Slieve League mean?
Sliabh Liag is the original Irish name for Slieve League. It translates to “Grey Mountain”
Can you do a guided tour of Slieve League?
Yes, there are tours. See my dedicated section above.
Final thoughts on Sliabh Liag – Slieve League
I’ve been a couple of times, and I’d like to go a couple more. For one spot, there is so much to enjoy. Take a nice relaxing stroll and sit along the grass at the viewpoint to just enjoy where you are. Or walk the cliff top. Personally, I really want to go back and to the full hike, but also to do the boat tour.
Not only that there is soooo much to do in Donegal, so you might as well make a full trip of it! I’ll leave some nearby things to do down below.
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If you are vising Donegal be sure to check out these other posts: