County Donegal is located in the north west corner of Ireland. It’s a county that boasts a raw natural beauty with its jagged coastline, blanket bogs, mountains, cliffs, lakes and stunning golden beaches. Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head, extends into the Atlantic Ocean on the Inishowen peninsula.
Donegal has two inhabited offshore islands (Arranmore Island and Tory Island), a national park (Glenveagh National Park) and a number of historical attractions. The Slieve League Cliffs are the highest sea cliffs in Europe.
County Donegal is a haven for outdoor activities so take the time to enjoy a round of golf, a spot of fishing, hiking, horseriding or surfing.
The best way to explore Donegal is by car: There are lots of driving routes in County Donegal with the most popular probably being a scenic drive around the Inishowen peninsula.
Top Attractions in County Donegal
Donegal Castle – Donegal Town – A 15th century castle in Donegal town.
Fort Dunree Military Museum – Shores of Lough Swilly, North of Buncrana, Buncrana – Fort Dunree is a military museum with special emphasis on coastal artillery and the military history of the North West.
Glenveagh National Park and Castle – Glenveagh –
Grianan Ailigh Visitor Centre – Burt, Speenogue – The centre, housed in a 150 year old stone church, tells the story of the ancient ring fort of the Ui Neill High Kings of Ireland.
Ionad Cois Locha – Dunlewey – A Lakeside Centre, Dunlewey is an award-winning centre at the foot of Mount Errigal. Demonstrations in carding, spinning and weaving of wool.
Newmills Corn and Flax Mills – Churchill Road, Letterkenny, Churchill – Newmills Corn and Flax Mills is a grain mill near Letterkenny in Co. Donegal. One of the largest working waterwheels in Ireland can be found here, driving the machinery of the mill, some of which is housed in buildings dating back up to 400 years.
The Donegal Railway Heritage Centre – The Old Station House, Tyrconnell Street, Donegal Town – Visit the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre and find out just what it was like to travel on the narrow gauge railways of County Donegal.
Tory Island – North County Donegal, Tory Island – Ruins of the monastery founded by St. Colmcille
Ulster Cultural Institute – Glencolmcille – The Ulster Cultural Institute offers a choice to the visitor which ranges from an archaeological exhibition, traditional music archive, tapestry weaving exhibition, art gallery and library.
Events and Festivals in County Donegal
Main Destinations in County Donegal
Donegal Town was founded by the Vikings, Dun an nGall means ‘fortress of the foreigners’. Donegal Abbey and Donegal Castle were built in the 15th century by Nuala O’Brien and her husband, Red Hugh O’Donnell, the last prince of Tyrconnel.
Letterkenny is the county’s principal town is an ideal place to explore north Donegal as well as having a wide range of amenities in the town itself.
Other Towns and Villages in County Donegal
Ardara is a picturesque village, set in the valley by the Owentocher River. Visitors can see the weaving centres where the world famous Donegal tweed is spun, and enjoy other crafts such as hand-knitting and embroidery.
Buncrana is a popular seaside resort on the east side of Lough Swilly. There is a strong local tradition that it was to Buncrana Castle that Wolfe Tone was taken when he was captured in 1798 after the Anglo-French Naval encounter in Lough Swilley.
Killybegs was granted Borough status in 1616 by King James but it looks very much like a late Victorian village built around a good harbour which is now a major fishing port. It is a major centre for the Irish fishing industry.
Popular locations to stay in Co. Donegal are Ardara (7 places to stay), Ballybofey (1), Ballyliffin (3), Ballyshannon (4), Bridgend (1), Bunbeg (1), Buncrana (9), Bundoran (10), Burnfoot (3), Carndonagh (2), Carrick (2), Carrigans (1), Carrigart (1), Culdaff (2), Donegal Town (18), Doochary (1), Downings (2), Dunfanaghy (1), Dungloe (6), Fahan (1), Fintown (1), Glencolmcille (1), Glenties (4), Gortahork (1), Greencastle (3), Kilcar (1), Killybegs (2), Kincasslagh (2), Letterkenny (11), Lettermacaward (1), Lough Eske (1), Malin (3), Moville (6), Portnablagh (1), Portnoo (1), Ramelton (2), Redcastle (2), Rossnowlagh (2), Teelin (1).
Other towns include Annagry, Arranmore Island, Barnesmore Gap, Brinlack, Burt, Burtonport, Churchill, Clonmany, Creeslough, Crolly, Cruit, Derrybeg, Drimarone, Dunkineely, Dunlewey, Falcarragh, Frosses, Glenveagh, Gweedore, Inishowen, Inver, Kerrykeel, Killygordon, Kindrum, Laghey, Laghy, Lifford, Manorcunningham, Marble Hill, Milford, Mountcharles, Muff, Newtowncunningham, Pettigo, Portsalon, Raphoe, Rathmullan, Speenogue, Stranorlar, Termon, Tory Island.
Getting Here and Around
Donegal has its own airport at Carrickfinn with very limited services to Ireland and Britain. Aside from the airport, the nearest ferryports are at Belfast and Larne; and better air services are available at Ireland West Airport Knock, Belfast, and Dublin. There are no railway lines in Donegal. There are bus services to Sligo, Galway, and Dublin; as well as to Derry and Belfast in Northern Ireland. Details on getting around Donegal, and of the nearest air- and seaports can be found in our Co. Donegal Transport Guide.