Top Five places to go in Donegal

donegal

County Donegal is a region bordering the Atlantic Ocean in northwestern Ireland. It is made up of castles, rugged coastline and mountains such as the quartzite Mount Errigal.

There is so much beauty in Donegal, that looks untouched in the rugged landscape.

Donegal has been named as no.1 on the Cool List for 2017 by The National Geographic:

“With a weather-nibbled coast spotted with sea stacks, Blue Flag beaches and offshore islands, Donegal is a land that feels undiscovered. Last summer, scenes for Star Wars: Episode VIII were filmed on the Inishowen Peninsula. But this area of Ireland is also expecting 2017 to be a big year; there’s an array of reasons to visit, from surfing beaches in Magheraroarty and Ballyhiernan Bay to Horn Head — a driving, walking or cycling loop that squeezes the 1,600-mile Wild Atlantic Way into a 4.5-mile nutshell.” National Geographic

Here is a list of some of the most spectacular thins to do, in no particular order; 

No. 1 Slieve League

Standing at the top of the magnificent Slieve League Cliffs, it feels like you’re at the very edge of the world.

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(Credit: Irish Central)
They are the highest accessible seacliffs in Europe reaching a height of 1,972 feet/601 meters, is almost twice as high as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and nearly three times the height of the more famous Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.
From the top, you can look out across Donegal Bay all the way to County Sligo and beyond. There are a number of lakes on the way to the summit, and at the base, there is a small beach of pure white sand. The beach is only approachable by boat. To the right-hand side of the beach, there is a fairly large cave where seals sometimes take time out of the water to shade themselves at the edge of the cave or sun themselves on the beach.
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(Credit: @instaireland)

No.2 Glenveagh National Park and Castle

Glenveagh (from Irish Gleann Bheatha, meaning ‘glen of the birches’) is the second largest national park in Ireland. Glenveagh National Park, once a private estate, encompasses forests, lakes and bogland in the Derryveagh Mountains.

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(Credit: grassroutes.ie)

Glenveagh National Park is a remote and hauntingly beautiful wilderness of rugged mountains, pristine lakes, tumbling waterfalls and enchanted native oak woodland in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains in the north-west of County Donegal.

At the centre of the Park on the edge of Lough Veagh is Glenveagh Castle, a late 19th-century castellated mansion, built as a hunting lodge.

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(Credit: Ireland’s Hidden Gems)

The park is home to the largest herd of red deer in Ireland and the formerly extirpated golden eagle was reintroduced into the park in 2000.

From beautiful lakeside walks, hikes and cycling trails there is so much to do and see in Glenveagh. Visit the beautiful and vibrant gardens before stopping by the cafe for some tasty homemade treats!

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(Credit: npws.ie)

No. 3 Fanad Lighthouse 

Standing between idyllic Lough Swilly and sandy Mulroy Bay, Fanad Head Lighthouse has been voted one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world. Building commenced in 1815.  The light was first lit on St. Patrick’s day 17th March 1817.

Fanad Head lies on the north coast of County Donegal between Lough Swilly and Mulroy Bay. Its claims to fame include one of the world’s most beautiful lighthouses and the famous Flight of the Earls, which took place here in 1607. To reach the headland, travel along Knockalla Coast Road, a route with some seriously stunning panoramas. Along the way, you’ll take in views of the Inishowen Peninsula and the Atlantic Ocean, and as the road ascends, you’ll look down upon Portsalon and Ballymastocker Bay. From this vantage point, it’s easy to see why the beach was once voted the second most beautiful in the world.

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(credit: @deirbhileuna)

“Join us on one of our popular and unforgettable Fanad Lighthouse Tours. An amazing journey of discovery awaits you on Donegal’s Wild Atlantic Way. Learn about the light and aids to navigation past and present. Step back in time and hear stories about light-keepers in days gone by and climb to the top of the tower for spectacular views of land and sea.” –  Fanad Lighthouse visitor centre

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(Credit: Shane Ray – Flickr)

No. 4 Griannán of Aileach –

The Grianan of Aileach (Irish: Grianán Ailigh) is a hill fort atop the 244 metres (801 ft) high Greenan Mountain at Inishowen in County Donegal, Ireland. The main structure is a stone ringfort, thought to have been built by the Northern Uí Néill, in the sixth or seventh century AD; although there is evidence that the site had been in use before the fort was built. It has been identified as the seat of the Kingdom of Ailech and one of the royal sites of Gaelic Ireland.

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(Credit: ancient-origins.net)

The view from Aileach is breathtaking. The glistening waters of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly are clear, as is the form of the entire peninsula. A windy and exposed place, Grianán has been a silent witness to the history of Ireland.

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(Credit: irelands-hidden-gems.com)

No. 5 Ard’s Friary & Lucky Shell beach

Ards Friary is quite simply a stunningly beautiful place to visit.

The peace and serenity of Ards Friary are not to be missed. It is located adjoining Ards Forest Park, and the walks through the Friary grounds extend into the Forest Park, allowing you to wander and explore for miles! The coastal walk from the Shell beach at Ards Friary round into the Forest Park offers some of the most beautiful views in the country.

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(Credit: Jason Harron – Trover.com)

There are several beaches along the walk, the most beautiful being Lucky Shell beach. When we get some sunshine this beach looks like the Mediterranean, with turquoise blue water and sailboats anchored by the shore.

Tucked between 2 headlands with a backdrop of Ards forest, the beach is sheltered and the sea here is safe for swimming. Famous for its beautiful shells, you will find it impossible not to go home with a few in your pocket.

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(Credit Hive Mind – Flickr)

There is so much to do and see in Donegal, and with bus routes from all over Ireland, its a trip worth doing!

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