With its rugged coastal cliffs, golden sand beaches, and charming Irish towns, County Donegal in Ireland’s northwest offers visitors plenty of top-notch things to do. Feel your jaw drop at the majestic sea stacks and arches of Slieve League’s cliffs plunging into the frothy Atlantic.
In this article, we’re presenting a list of the best things to do in Donegal Ireland that will get nature enthusiasts, outdoor lovers, and everyone else incredibly excited.
Lace-up your boots for hearty hikes past brilliant blue lakes and the golden machair plains of Horn Head. Taste your way through traditional Irish food and music in miner’s cottage pubs in historic villages dotted across this remote Gaeltacht region.
Get your adrenaline fix with surfing, kayaking, and horseback riding along Donegal’s breathtaking shores. From seeking out ancient Celtic ruins tucked into the rolling green hills to snapping photos of the sheep-dotted landscape, Donegal offers exhilarating outdoor adventures, cultural immersion, and wild natural beauty waiting to be explored.
Let’s dive in!
Natural Landscapes and Outdoor Activities: Glenveagh National Park, Slieve League Cliffs, Ards Forest Park, and Narin-Portnoo Strand offer stunning natural landscapes and opportunities for outdoor activities in Donegal, Ireland.
Historical Landmarks and Cultural Experiences: Donegal Castle, Port’s Ghost Village, Folk Village Museum in Glencolmcille, and St. Eunan’s Cathedral provide historical and cultural experiences for visitors in Donegal.
Scenic Drives and Panoramic Views: The Wild Atlantic Way, Slieve League Cliffs, Inishowen Peninsula, and Griannan of Aileach Ancient Fort offer breathtaking scenic drives and panoramic views in Donegal.
Culinary Delights and Local Cuisine: Donegal is known for its local cuisine and authentic Irish cuisine, allowing visitors to indulge in the culinary delights of the region.
With its breathtaking landscapes and rich history, it’s a must-see for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike. As you explore the park, you’ll be greeted by lush greenery, serene lakes, and majestic mountains.
Take a leisurely stroll along the paths that wind through ancient woodlands or hike up to Mount Errigal for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Don’t forget to visit Glenveagh Castle, a picturesque Victorian mansion nestled within the park grounds.
Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply looking for a peaceful escape from city life, Glenveagh National Park offers something for everyone visiting Donegal.
2. Explore Slieve League Cliffs
Slieve League Cliffs, Donegal, Ireland
Located in Donegal, Ireland, you absolutely must explore the breathtaking Slieve League Cliffs. These magnificent cliffs are a sight to behold, towering high above the Atlantic Ocean.
As you stand at the edge of Slieve League, you’ll be captivated by the sheer beauty and grandeur of these natural wonders. The rugged cliffs stretch for an impressive 600 meters, making them some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe.
Take a leisurely stroll along the cliff edge and soak in the panoramic views of Donegal Bay and the Sligo Mountains in the distance. For those seeking a more adventurous experience, there are guided hikes available that will take you to even higher vantage points.
Don’t forget your camera – this is definitely a place that deserves to be captured forever in photographs! So come and explore Slieve League Cliffs – a true gem of Donegal, Ireland.
3. Wander Around Donegal Castle
After exploring the stunning Slieve League Cliffs, take some time to wander around Donegal Castle. This iconic landmark stands proudly in the heart of Donegal town and offers a glimpse into the region’s rich history.
As you approach the castle, you’ll be greeted by its imposing stone walls and majestic towers. Step inside and immerse yourself in a world of medieval grandeur. Marvel at the intricate tapestries adorning the walls, explore the ancient halls and chambers and imagine what life was like centuries ago.
Don’t forget to visit the stunning gardens surrounding the castle, where you can take a leisurely stroll and soak in the peaceful atmosphere. A visit to Donegal Castle is a must for anyone interested in history or simply seeking a magical experience in this enchanting part of Ireland.
4. Discover the Ghost Village of Port
Explore the eerie ghost village of Port and uncover its haunting secrets.
Nestled along the rugged coastline of Glencolmcille, this abandoned village offers a glimpse into Ireland’s fascinating past. As you wander through the deserted streets, you’ll feel a sense of mystery and intrigue surrounding every crumbling stone wall.
Take in breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean as it crashes against the nearby cliffs, adding to the wild beauty of this remote corner of Donegal.
The Glencolmcille Folk Village is just a short distance away, providing further insight into traditional Irish life. Immerse yourself in history as you explore these authentic thatched cottages and learn about the hardships faced by those who once called this place home.
Discover why Port remains an enduring symbol of resilience in the face of adversity, making it an essential stop on your journey through Donegal’s top attractions.
5. Visit the Folk Village Museum in Glencolmcille
When visiting Glencolmcille, don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in history at the Folk Village Museum. This unique museum showcases traditional thatched cottages and allows visitors to step back in time and experience what life was like in rural Ireland throughout the centuries.
Here are three things you must do when you visit the Folk Village Museum:
Explore authentic thatched cottages: Wander through the meticulously restored cottages and get a glimpse into the lives of past generations. Marvel at the intricate craftsmanship and imagine what it would have been like to live in these charming dwellings.
Interact with knowledgeable guides: The friendly staff at the museum are passionate about preserving Irish heritage and culture. They will gladly share fascinating stories, traditions, and customs, giving you a deeper understanding of local life.
Attend cultural events: The museum regularly hosts music sessions, storytelling evenings, and craft demonstrations where you can witness traditional Irish music, dance, and crafts being celebrated firsthand.
Visiting the Folk Village Museum is an unforgettable experience that offers a captivating journey into Donegal’s rich history and culture.
6. Stroll along Narin-Portnoo Strand
While in Glencolmcille, take some time to stroll along Narin-Portnoo Strand and enjoy the picturesque beauty of this stunning beach.
Nestled on the northwest coast of Donegal, Ireland, Narin-Portnoo Strand is a hidden gem that should not be missed.
As you amble along the pristine shoreline, feel the soft sand beneath your toes and breathe in the fresh sea air. The turquoise waters stretch out before you, inviting you for a refreshing swim or a leisurely paddle.
Take in the panoramic views of rolling hills and dramatic cliffs that frame this idyllic spot. Whether you’re seeking solitude or looking to build sandcastles with your family, Narin-Portnoo Strand offers something for everyone.
Don’t forget your camera – this is a place where memories are made and cherished forever. Make sure to add it to your list of top 25 things to do in Donegal, Ireland!
7. Experience the Inishowen Peninsula
The Inishowen Peninsula offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors. Located in County Donegal, this stunning peninsula is filled with natural beauty and rich history.
There are plenty of things to do and see on the Inishowen Peninsula, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler. From exploring ancient forts to hiking along rugged cliffs, there is something for everyone here. Don’t miss the chance to visit Malin Head, the northernmost point of Ireland, or take a scenic drive along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Discover picturesque villages like Moville and Greencastle, where you can immerse yourself in traditional Irish culture. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities or historical sites, the Inishowen Peninsula has it all.
So make sure to include this incredible experience in your itinerary when visiting Donegal!
8. Explore the Ards Forest Park
To fully experience the beauty of the Inishowen Peninsula, don’t forget to explore the breathtaking Ards Forest Park. Nestled on the rugged coastline of County Donegal, this enchanting park offers a truly immersive nature experience.
As you wander through its lush greenery and towering trees, you’ll feel a sense of tranquility wash over you. The park is home to an abundance of wildlife, from red squirrels darting between branches to majestic deer grazing in open meadows.
To make the most of your visit, be sure to check out these must-see attractions within Ards Forest Park:
The stunning Fairy Trail: Follow the whimsical trail through ancient woodland and discover hidden fairy houses along the way.
The picturesque beach: Take a leisurely stroll along its golden sands or simply sit back and soak up the breathtaking coastal views.
The tranquil waterfall: Find serenity as you listen to the soothing sounds of water cascading down moss-covered rocks.
So, whether you’re an avid hiker or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, exploring Ards Forest Park should be at the top of your list when visiting Ireland’s beautiful Inishowen Peninsula.
9. Indulge in Local Cuisine
After exploring the breathtaking Ards Forest Park, don’t forget to indulge in the delicious local cuisine of the Inishowen Peninsula. Donegal, Ireland is known for its mouthwatering dishes that will leave you wanting more.
From hearty Irish stews to fresh seafood caught straight from the Atlantic Ocean, there is something for everyone’s taste buds. Be sure to try traditional Irish fare like colcannon, a comforting dish made with mashed potatoes and cabbage, or boxty, a potato pancake filled with various fillings.
For dessert, treat yourself to a slice of apple tart or warm bread pudding. The local cuisine of Donegal truly captures the essence of Ireland’s rich culinary heritage.
So go ahead and indulge in this article section about the top 25 things to do in Donegal and satisfy your cravings for authentic Irish flavors.
10. Visit St. Eunan’s Cathedral
When visiting Donegal, one must definitely make time to visit St. Eunan’s Cathedral. This stunning architectural masterpiece is a must-see attraction in the heart of Donegal, Ireland.
As you step inside, you will be greeted by the awe-inspiring sight of the towering ceilings and intricate stained glass windows that fill the space with a warm and ethereal glow. The cathedral boasts a rich history dating back to its construction in 1901, and it remains an important place of worship for locals and visitors alike.
To fully immerse yourself in the experience, here are three things you should do when visiting St. Eunan’s Cathedral:
Take a guided tour: Learn about the fascinating history and intricate details of this magnificent building from knowledgeable guides who will bring its stories to life.
Attend Mass or a service: Join the local community in prayer and witness firsthand the spiritual significance of this sacred space.
Explore the grounds: Wander through the beautifully landscaped gardens surrounding the cathedral, taking in the peaceful ambiance and enjoying panoramic views of Donegal.
Visiting St. Eunan’s Cathedral is an unforgettable experience that allows you to appreciate both its architectural beauty and spiritual significance within Donegal, Ireland.
11. Take a Boat Trip to Tory Island
If you’re looking to explore more of Donegal, why not take a boat trip to Tory Island? This enchanting island, located nine miles off the coast, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
Jump aboard a boat and set sail towards adventure as you leave the mainland behind. As you approach Tory Island, be prepared to be captivated by its rugged beauty and rich history.
Step foot on this unique destination and immerse yourself in its vibrant culture and traditions. Explore ancient stone forts, visit the impressive lighthouse, and wander along picturesque cliffs that offer breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
As you disembark from your boat trip to Tory Island, make sure to take a moment and soak in the breathtaking beauty of Lough Eske. Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Donegal, Ireland, this stunning lake is a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
With its crystal-clear waters reflecting the surrounding mountains and forests, it’s no wonder that Lough Eske is often considered one of the most scenic spots in all of Ireland. As you stroll along its shores, you’ll be captivated by the tranquility and serenity that surrounds you.
Whether you choose to relax on a picnic blanket or explore the hiking trails that wind through the area, there is no doubt that you will thoroughly enjoy the scenery at Lough Eske.
Marvel at the mirror-like reflection of the mountains in the calm waters
Take a leisurely walk around the lake and breathe in the fresh mountain air
Pack a delicious picnic lunch and savor it while enjoying the peaceful surroundings
Capture stunning photographs of this natural gem to cherish forever
Explore nearby hiking trails for an even closer encounter with nature
13. Visit the Doagh Famine Village
After enjoying the stunning scenery at Lough Eske, make sure to visit the Doagh Famine Village in Donegal, Ireland. This unique attraction is a window into Ireland’s troubled past during the Great Famine. As you step into the village, you will be transported back to the 19th century and witness firsthand the harsh realities faced by those affected by famine.
The interactive exhibits and recreated dwellings provide a haunting glimpse into the lives of families who struggled to survive during this devastating time.
Walking through the village, you’ll learn about their daily struggles for food, shelter, and hope. The knowledgeable guides share stories of resilience and perseverance that will leave you with a deep appreciation for Ireland’s history. You’ll see authentic artifacts and hear tales of survival that are both heart-wrenching and inspiring.
Visiting the Doagh Famine Village is not only informative but also an opportunity to pay tribute to those who suffered through unimaginable hardship. It serves as a reminder of our shared humanity and the importance of compassion in times of crisis.
If you’re looking for an exhilarating adventure in County Donegal, then look no further than Bundoran Beach. This stunning stretch of sand is not only a haven for sunbathers and picnickers but also a mecca for surfers from around the world.
With its powerful waves and consistent swell, Bundoran Beach offers some of the best surfing conditions on the west coast of Ireland. Grab your board and paddle out into the wild Atlantic, feeling the rush of adrenaline as you ride the crest of a wave.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, there are plenty of surf schools and rental shops available to help you make the most of your time on the water.
So why not dive in and experience one of the top things to do in Donegal?
15. Admire the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre
Don’t miss the opportunity to admire the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre, where you can learn about the rich history of railways in this region. Located in Donegal town, this tourist attraction is a must-visit when exploring County Donegal.
Here are four reasons why you should add it to your itinerary:
Historical Exhibits: Step back in time as you explore fascinating exhibits that showcase the evolution of railways in Donegal. From vintage train models to photographs and artifacts, you’ll gain a deep understanding of their significance.
Interactive Displays: Get hands-on with interactive displays that allow you to operate miniature trains and experience what it was like to be a railway engineer. It’s a fun and educational activity for both adults and children.
Guided Tours: Take advantage of informative guided tours led by knowledgeable staff members who will share captivating stories and insights about the railway system’s impact on Donegal’s development.
Gift Shop: Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop before leaving! Browse through an array of railway-themed souvenirs, books, and memorabilia to take home as a memento of your visit.
Visiting the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre guarantees an enriching experience that highlights the vibrant history of railways in this beautiful county.
16. Explore the Islands of Aranmore and Gola
Make sure to explore the islands of Aranmore and Gola, which offer stunning natural beauty and a unique glimpse into the traditional island way of life.
These islands are located off the coast of Donegal and provide an unforgettable experience for nature lovers. Aranmore Island is known for its majestic cliffs, picturesque beaches, and rugged landscapes. You can take a boat tour from the mainland or even hop on the Donegal Bay Waterbus to reach this hidden gem.
On Gola Island, you can enjoy wild camping in Donegal and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this remote paradise. With its untouched beauty and peaceful atmosphere, Gola Island is a haven for those seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Don’t miss out on exploring these enchanting islands during your visit to Donegal!
17. Visit the Daniel O’Donnell Visitor Centre
When visiting Donegal, be sure to check out the Daniel O’Donnell Visitor Centre for a unique experience. Located in the heart of Donegal town, this attraction is a must-visit for fans of the famous Irish singer.
The visitor centre provides an insightful glimpse into Daniel O’Donnell’s life and career through interactive displays and exhibits. Learn about his humble beginnings in Kincasslagh and his rise to international fame. Explore memorabilia from his concerts and personal collection, including stage costumes and awards.
As you wander through the centre, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for Daniel’s impact on Irish music and culture.
After your visit, take some time to explore other nearby tourist attractions such as Donegal Castle and discover more places to visit in Donegal.
18. Enjoy the Murvagh Golf Course
If you’re looking for a break from the Daniel O’Donnell Visitor Centre, why not head over to the breathtaking Murvagh Golf Course?
Nestled in the stunning countryside of Donegal, this championship course offers an unforgettable golfing experience. As you make your way through the 18-hole course, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Glenveagh Castle, Sliabh Liag cliffs, Lough Eske Castle, and even glimpses of the Inishowen Peninsula.
The course itself is meticulously maintained and challenges both beginners and seasoned golfers alike. With its location on the Wild Atlantic Way, you can expect to feel the refreshing sea breeze as you tee off and soak in the natural beauty that surrounds you.
So grab your clubs and get ready for an exceptional round of golf at Murvagh Golf Course.
19. Visit the Donegal Craft Village
To fully immerse yourself in the local culture, don’t miss out on visiting the Donegal Craft Village. It is one of the best places to visit if you want to experience the unique things that County Donegal has to offer.
Located just outside Donegal Town, this charming village showcases the craftsmanship and creativity of local artisans. As you wander through the cobblestone streets, you’ll find a variety of workshops and studios where talented artists create beautiful handmade crafts. From pottery and glasswork to textiles and jewelry, there’s something for everyone here.
Take your time browsing through the shops, chatting with the artists, and maybe even picking up a one-of-a-kind souvenir or two. The Donegal Craft Village is truly a hidden gem that should not be missed when exploring this stunning part of Ireland.
20. Explore the Islands of Inishbofin and Inishdooey
Located off the coast of County Donegal, the islands of Inishbofin and Inishdooey offer a unique and unforgettable exploration experience. These hidden gems are a must-visit when you come to Ireland.
As you set foot on these pristine islands, you’ll be captivated by their untouched beauty and tranquil atmosphere. Here are three reasons why exploring Inishbofin and Inishdooey should be at the top of your itinerary:
Immerse yourself in nature: With stunning landscapes, rugged cliffs, and golden sandy beaches, these islands are a nature lover’s paradise. Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline or embark on a scenic hike to soak up the breathtaking views.
Discover rich history:From ancient ruins to traditional fishing villages, these islands have a fascinating history waiting to be explored. Learn about the local culture and heritage as you wander through charming settlements.
Experience island life:Escape from the hustle and bustle of mainland Ireland and embrace the peaceful island lifestyle. Interact with friendly locals, indulge in fresh seafood delicacies, and unwind amidst the serene surroundings.
Don’t miss out on this extraordinary adventure along Donegal Bay on your visit to Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way!
21. Wander Through the Glencar Waterfall
Now that you’ve explored the enchanting islands of Inishbofin and Inishdooey, it’s time to continue your breathtaking journey through Donegal, Ireland.
Get ready to be mesmerized as you wander through the captivating beauty of Glencar Waterfall. Located just a short drive from Malin Head, at the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way, this natural wonder will leave you in awe.
As you approach the waterfall, you’ll hear the roaring sound of water cascading down from a height of 50 feet, creating a picturesque scene that belongs in a fairytale. The surrounding lush greenery adds to its charm, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers and photographers alike.
Soak in the tranquility and let your worries melt away as you experience one of Donegal’s most iconic sights – Glencar Waterfall.
Step back in time as you explore the exhibits and learn about the life and legacy of Saint Colmcille, a revered figure in Irish history. The center offers a fascinating insight into his life, with displays showcasing ancient manuscripts, religious artifacts, and interactive multimedia presentations that bring his story to life.
Take a guided tour to fully appreciate the depth of knowledge offered by the knowledgeable staff. You’ll leave with a newfound appreciation for Donegal’s heritage and an understanding of how it shaped this beautiful part of Ireland.
23. Explore the Fort Dunree Military Museum
When you visit County Donegal, make sure to explore the Fort Dunree Military Museum. Situated on a picturesque peninsula overlooking Lough Swilly, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into Ireland’s military history. Here are three reasons why it should be at the top of your list:
Immerse yourself in history: Step back in time as you wander through the fort’s impressive exhibits and discover its rich heritage. From ancient artifacts to interactive displays, there’s something here for everyone.
Breathtaking views:As you explore the museum, take a moment to enjoy the stunning panoramic vistas of Lough Swilly and the surrounding countryside. The rugged beauty of Donegal is truly unmatched.
Unique insights:Gain an understanding of how Fort Dunree played a vital role in Ireland’s defense strategy throughout various conflicts. Learn about its significance during World War I and II, as well as its continued importance today.
Don’t miss out on this hidden gem while exploring the top 25 things to do in Donegal, Ireland!
24. Visit the Inishowen Maritime Museum & Planetarium
Make sure you visit the Inishowen Maritime Museum & Planetarium and explore its fascinating exhibits.
Located in Donegal, Ireland’s northernmost county, this museum is a must-visit for history and science enthusiasts alike.
Step inside and prepare to be captivated by the rich maritime heritage of the region. The museum showcases an impressive collection of artifacts, including shipwreck treasures, navigation instruments, and historical photographs.
Learn about the brave sailors who once navigated these treacherous waters and hear their captivating stories.
But that’s not all – the planetarium offers a unique opportunity to journey through space and explore the wonders of our universe. Sit back, relax, and let your imagination soar as you gaze up at the stars above.
A visit to the Inishowen Maritime Museum & Planetarium is an experience you won’t soon forget!
25. Check out the Griannan of Aileach Ancient Fort
Be sure to head over to the Griannan of Aileach Ancient Fort and discover its rich history and breathtaking views.
This ancient fort is situated on top of Greenan Mountain, overlooking the beautiful landscape of Donegal, Ireland. As you make your way up the winding road leading to the fort, you’ll be captivated by the stunning scenery that surrounds you.
Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Lough Swilly, Inch Island, and even as far as Derry City. The Griannan of Aileach has a fascinating history dating back thousands of years and was once a stronghold for Celtic chieftains.
Today, visitors can explore its stone walls and learn about its significance in Irish folklore and mythology. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience one of the top things to do in Donegal while driving along the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route or exploring the cliffs in Ireland.
Top Things to Do in Donegal Ireland – Final Thoughts
From spectacular seaside cliffs to remote offshore islands dotted with ancient stone circles, County Donegal truly offers an abundance of top-notch sites and activities.
As you traverse this rugged region perched along Ireland’s northern coast, take time to marvel at the crashing waves, breezy headlands, and emerald landscapes that make Donegal so unforgettably stunning.
Bid a fond slán go fóill (goodbye for now) to new friends met over pints of Guinness in cozy little thatched roof pubs. With memories made hiking across windswept beaches, browsing weavers’ wares at traditional markets, and learning legends in ancient fort ruins, Donegal will surely capture your heart with its wild beauty and warm hospitality.
So set your sights on the untouched majesty of this Irish county, where exhilarating adventures and cultural delights await around every bend.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get to Glenveagh National Park?
To get to Glenveagh National Park, you have a few options. If you prefer driving, take the N56 road from Letterkenny towards Dunlewey. The park is well-signposted along the way.
Alternatively, you can catch a bus from Letterkenny or Donegal Town that stops at the park entrance.
Once there, immerse yourself in stunning landscapes, walk scenic trails, and explore the enchanting castle and gardens. A must-visit for nature lovers!
Are there any guided tours available at Slieve League Cliffs?
Yes, there are guided tours available at Slieve League Cliffs. These tours provide an informative and engaging experience as you explore one of Ireland’s most breathtaking natural wonders.
Led by knowledgeable guides, you’ll learn about the fascinating history and geology of the cliffs while enjoying stunning panoramic views. With their expertise, they’ll ensure you don’t miss any hidden gems or interesting facts along the way.
Don’t miss out on this unforgettable adventure!
What is the best time of year to visit Donegal Castle?
The best time of year to visit Donegal Castle is during the summer months, from June to August. This is when the weather is mild and you can fully enjoy exploring the castle and its beautiful gardens.
The castle also hosts various events and exhibitions during this time, giving you a chance to immerse yourself in history and culture.
Don’t forget your camera, as the stunning views of the surrounding countryside are not to be missed!
How do I get to the Ghost Village of Port?
To get to the ghost village of Port, head towards County Donegal in Ireland. Once you arrive, take a scenic drive along the Wild Atlantic Way until you reach Maghera Beach.
From there, follow the signs that lead you to Port. As you navigate the winding roads and breathtaking scenery, prepare to be immersed in the eerie atmosphere of this abandoned village.
Don’t forget your camera – this hauntingly beautiful place is worth capturing.
Is there a fee to enter the Folk Village Museum in Glencolmcille?
No, there is no fee to enter the Folk Village Museum in Glencolmcille. You’ll be able to explore this unique outdoor museum without reaching for your wallet.
Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of Donegal as you wander through the authentic thatched cottages and traditional buildings. Get a glimpse into Irish life from centuries ago and marvel at the craftsmanship on display.
It’s a must-visit attraction that won’t cost you a penny!
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