A weekend in Donegal – Beach lovers’ paradise

3 min read…

Yaay! We are back with our 14th travel blog post. Don’t forget to check our other travel posts.

Donegal, Ireland’s most northerly county is home to spectacular mountains, rivers, lakes, and countless beaches. With a rugged coastline and super-friendly people, Donegal is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland. In this guide, I’ve shared the 2-day itinerary and some pictures we took along the way.

I’d not reinvent the wheel. We simply followed this Donegal guide from The Irish Road Trip team. This guide gives you a 2+1-day plan and we chose the first two days for this trip. But, keep reading as you need to know a few important things that aren’t in the guide.

A beach is not open to visitors anymore, one place only accepts cash payment for the car park, and one particular tour was a waste of money. You can find out everything in this post.

Where to stay in Donegal?

There are many beautiful BNB’s in and around Donegal. We arrived on Friday night at Letterkenny, where we stayed for two nights. Letterkenny is a bustling town with great nightlife because of the student population. With everything from restaurants to hospitals, it’s a safe option.

Day 1

If you choose to stay in Letterkenny, look no further than MacDeli for a delicious breakfast. The staff are the most friendly, and they have a variety of options to choose from. Have a hearty meal because today, you’d be walking a LOT.

  1. Glengesh Pass
  2. Slieve League cliff walk
  3. Malin Beg (Silverstrand) beach
  4. Caves of Maghera
  5. Assaranca Waterfall

Glengesh Pass


Glengesh Pass is a stretch of very bendy road that connects the little towns of Glencolmcille to Ardara. In this scenic drive, you’ll encounter the quiet open countryside, plenty of green fields, and narrow-ish roads. Find Glengesh Viewing Point on Google maps and spend a few minutes at the top, before driving to Slieve League.

Slieve League

Upper car park: EUR 5 for 2 hours | Toilets and coffee shop available

Europe’s highest sea cliffs are truly magical. There’s nothing you can do but mesmerize at the landscape that opens up in front of you. Park in the “upper car park”, and begin walking. Aim to spend 1-2 hours exploring the cliffs.

PRO TIP: If you want to hike the Slieve league, there are 2 options. One is through the upper car park, the usual route. Two, Google “Slieve League pilgrims path”, we did it the last time and it’s a great hiking spot.

Malin Beg

Car park: FREE | Portable toilets available (not clean)

Personally, my most favourite beach in Ireland. You must get down a few steep stairs to get to this beach and the views are second to none. I don’t know if the photos will do justice, but you MUST get down to this place if you’re in Donegal.

Caves of Maghera

Parking: EUR 3 (Cash-only) | Toilets available – 50 cents.

The Maghera Caves are located beneath Slievetooey mountain and some are accessible at low tides from Maghera Beach.

WARNING: You can only visit the caves when the tides are low. So, please check the tide timetable and plan your visit.

Assaranca Waterfall


Situated just 1km away from Maghera caves, this is the best place to finish off your day.

Some more pointers –

We skipped Glencolmcille Folk Village. It’s worth visiting if you’re into history and museums. Also, if you decide to stay put in Letterkenny, I highly recommend dining in Warehouse bar & kitchen. They have a great range of cocktails and dinner options.

Day 2

  1. Glenveagh National Park
  2. Fanad Lighthouse tour
  3. Ballymastocker Bay

Glenveagh National Park

Parking: FREE | Optional bus service to the castle: EUR 1.5 pp (one-way) | Toilets available

This is another MUST VISIT in Donegal. Serene and Tranquil are the two words to describe Glenveagh NP. From the moment you reach, you feel a sense of calmness around the place. There are gardens, walking trails and a castle among other things.

You could easily spend half a day here. Their in-house Synge & Byrne restaurant‘s food was lip-smacking.

Fanad Lighthouse

Parking: FREE | Tower tour: EUR 10, Ground and exhibition: EUR 4 | Toilets available

The drive to-and-from the Fanad lighthouse is better than the lighthouse itself as you pass through the beautifully quaint countryside on the way. You could easily explore the surrounding without booking a tour. However, we recommend you to buy the 4 euro ticket that gives you access to the grounds, from where you get a beautiful view of the lighthouse.

WARNING: The tower tour literally lasted 5 minutes and wasn’t worth 10 euros. We strongly advise you against buying the tickets for that.

Due to lack of time, we skipped Ballymastocker Bay and returned to Dublin the same evening. Donegal is our second most favourite place in Ireland after Kerry. What do you feel? Share your thoughts as comments.

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