Top 78 attractions to explore in County Donegal
County Donegal is a county of Ireland in the province of Ulster. From the hills of Donegal to the Wild Atlantic Way Coastline. You will be spoiled for choice of Adventure, good food and much more. The vast Derryveagh Mountains rule the raw landscape, explore its walking trails and visit the shores of Lough Eske. Find some of Ireland's best beaches here and make time for the white sand of Portsalon Beach.
The park covers approximately 480 hectares (1200 acres) and includes a variety of habitats, among them sand dunes, beaches, salt marshes, salt water lakes, rock face and, of course, coniferous and deciduous woodlands. In the forest, you will find a range of archeological features and national monuments, and these are all documented in the guide booklet produced by Coillte, and available at most tourist information centres.
A majesitc irish waterfall located 8km from Ardara. The waterfall, named Eas a’ Ranca in Irish, is set in idyllic surroundings close to Maghera Beach and is one of the real gems in County Donegal. Even during periods of beautiful weather the waterfall continues to flow but it is on a rainy day that the true beauty of Assaracana Waterfall comes to light.
The Wild Atlantic Way on Ireland’s west coast leads you through one of the world’s most dramatic coastal landscapes, a landscape on the edge of Europe that has shaped the development of its people, communities and settlements. It’s a place to experience nature at its wildest, a place to explore the history of the Gaels and their religion; a place to experience great events, great food and drink, great music and the craic.
Bád Eddie or Eddie’s boat are the names given to the old wreck at Magherclogher beach, Bunbeg Donegal. Cara Na Mara is the official title of the abandoned fishing vessel ran into trouble during stormy seas in the early 1970s. The boat featured in the 1985 Clanad and Bono video. Eddie’s boat was the reason for the one hour journey from where we were staying and it was certainly worth the effort.
A beautiful sandy beach on the western shore of Lough Swilly. It stretches from Portsalon to the Knockalla Hills. It is certainly one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland and was once voted as the second most beautiful in the world – beaten to the top spot by a beach in the Seychelles.
Barnesmore Gap is that big opening between Croaghconnelagh and Croaghonagh mountains . Here in this very fine mountain pass the traveller is absolutely shut in between these two great hills as he wends his way along a really excellent road that traverses the gap. It is an area of complex geology, but its main feature is granite formed in the Devonian period, 400million ears ago. The gap held glaciers in the Last Glacial Period flowing to the Atlantic through what is now Donegal Bay.
A bronze age stone circle dates from circa 2100-700 BC. overlooks the now destroyed passage tomb complex at Kilmonaster and Beltany is dominated by Croghan Hill to the east on the summit of which there sits a Neolithic mound most likely a passage tomb. Today Beltany has 64 stones of varying height and width enclosing an earthen platform.
Bluestack Mountains, also called the Croaghgorms, are the major mountain range in the south of County Donegal, Ireland. They provide a barrier between the south of the county, such as Donegal Town and Ballyshannon, and the towns to the north and west such as Dungloe and Letterkenny. The road between the two parts of the county goes through the Barnesmore Gap. It is one of the iconic attraction in this area and also offers beautiful views too.
One of Donegal's best known castles due to its prominent location along the Derry-Letterkenny road. It was built around 1560 and was one in a network of castles around Inishowen owned by the O’Dohertys. The structure had three stories, two circular watchtowers, a small vaulted chamber, and openings for muskets. It is now one of the iconic attraction in this area.
A majestic castle built in the 16th century on a rocky promontory with spectacular views of the Donegal hills and headlands, this O’Doherty stronghold stands on the site of a pre-Viking settlement recorded in the Annals. It was strategically positioned atop a rocky outcrop defending the Ó Dochartaighs' remote Isle of Doagh in the far north of Inishowen.
The Maghera Caves are located beneath Slievetooey mountain and some are accessible at low tides from Maghera Strand. Maghera Beach stretches out into the bay. Access to the beach is via a car park and a short 200 metre walk to the caves. There are over 20 caves, 8 arches and 5 tunnels which can be visited, ideally by Kayak or other small craft, and would be enough to sate the appetite of any explorer.
This is a winding section of road which links Glencolmcille to our beautiful Ardara. The route is a very popular road to take on your way back from Slieve League. If you’re in search of scenic drives while visiting Donegal, you’ve found a mighty one here. Over the course of your spin, you’ll encounter quiet open countryside, plenty of green fields, narrowish roads and sheep.
The Colmcille Heritage Centre is situated on a very scenic lakeside site with walks along the lakeside. It endeavours to give an appreciation of a period in Irish and European history at the end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Medieval period.
Cruit Island is one of the main islands of the Rosses, now joined to the mainland near Kincasslagh. The island resembles a harp just enough to allow the more poetically minded to opt for that derviation. Cruit is one of only two inhabited islands in the Rosses, the other being Arranmore, a big change from the time, just a generation ago, when most of the islands of any size were populated.
This is an outdoor museum that tells the story of life in the area from the Famine back in the 1840s, through the 1900s to the present day. Different to any other tourist attraction in Ireland the Famine Village depicts life in Ireland as it was, uncommercialised,interdenominational interspersed with humorous anecdotes of Irish life. It contains a wide selection of actual size attractions, including some original dwellings which were still inhabited up to 20 years ago.
Donegal Castle was once one of the most important strongholds for one of Ireland’s most powerful clans. The castle consists of a 15th-century rectangular keep with a later Jacobean style wing. The complex is sited on a bend in the River Eske, near the mouth of Donegal Bay, and is surrounded by a 17th-century boundary wall. There is a small gatehouse at its entrance mirroring the design of the keep.
Donegal County Museum is a county museum in County Donegal in Ireland. Located on the High Road in Letterkenny, the museum building first opened to the public in 1845 as the Warden's House of the Letterkenny Workhouse. The purpose of Donegal County Museum is to "collect, record, preserve, and display the material evidence and associated information of the History and Heritage of County Donegal. The museum holds a collection of original artefacts that have a connection to County Donegal.
Donegal Railway Heritage Centre is considered one of the county’s hidden gems andToday, it operates as a visitor attraction comprising a museum, information centre and shop. This fascinating museum which has just been refurbished, celebrating Donegal’s railway heritage, is based in one of the few remaining original station houses, which opened in 1889.
A hidden gem of a beach that is easy to miss travelling from Glenties to Dungloe in Co Donegal. Long sandy beach with sand dunes. There is a surf school here called Wild Atlantic Surf School.A blue flag beach at the heart of Donegal. Nearly 2km of golden sand, sand dunes of special significance, safe for swimming, surfing and bathing.
Map of attractions in County Donegal