Downings Donegal: 8 Things to Enjoy in this Fantastic Gem of the Wild Atlantic Way
Updated On: July 27, 2022
I was lucky enough to spend summers and bank holidays during my adolescence in Downings Donegal. Even then it was an opportunity to get away from the stresses and rush of life at home. Downings is a truly magical place where you can embrace nature, enjoy Irish culture, and maybe try some new things. This article will give you tips on all the things you can enjoy during a trip to Downings.
Where is Downings Donegal?
Downings is located in the north of Ireland, County Donegal in the Rosguill peninsula. The village itself is situated in Sheephaven’s bay. Downings is located just off the Wild Atlantic Way and is filled with fantastic rural and coastal scenery.
What is there to do in Downings Donegal?
Situated in a cozy bay, Downings is the best place to try your hand at some water sports. You can rent or buy equiptment in town and give a range of water sports a go.
Check out the Jaws II Watersports store on the main street for equiptment or lessons booking. They offer SUP (Stand-up Paddleboarding), surfing, and kayaking in lessons and tours. You can also rent equiptment including wetsuits, SUP boards, body boards, surfboards, and kayaks. If you rent out a wetsuit and want a little adrenaline rush head down to Downings pier and enjoy some pier jumping.
The Downings Pier is a great location for shore fishing and, If you want to try crabbing, the pier is a great location for it.
For a great afternoon activity and chance to catch fresh seafood awaits as at low tide you can try picking your own mussels at Doe Castle. You can take them home and prepare them for a really fresh seafood experience. While at Doe Castle make sure to take a look at the grounds of this medieval stronghold and take in some of its interesting history.
Cycling/Walking/Driving The Atlantic Drive
A road that surrounds Downings named the ‘Atlantic Drive’ is a must see. Take in the sights of the Rosguill penninsula and see the best of the coastal views of Downings. You can drive it in under an hour but it can also be walked or cycled. Be aware that the beautiful trail is over 12km long so make sure you’re ready for a long trek. You can rent an electric bike to help you up the steeper hills from the Tramore Inn. As someone who has both cycled and walked this trail I wish I knew about the electric bikes sooner.
Beaches around Downings Donegal
While visiting Downings make sure to experience the stunningly beautiful beaches there are on offer. They are the perfect place to have a picnic, walk the dog, or spend time with family and friends.
Encircled by Downings town is the beautiful stretches of Downings Beach. This beach is the perfect place for swimming and water sports. This lovely spot is a short walk from the main street.
Tra Na Rossan
A short 10 minutes’ drive from Downings main street is Tra Na Rossan. A peaceful and idylic beach that is perfect for body boarding and other water sports. Also, a great place to let your dog run around as it is out of the way of roads.
Murder Hole Beach
Although, it has an unfortunate name, Murder Hole Beach is a lovely spot. You can enjoy a walk around the scenic beach and even slide down some sand dunes while there. However, Murder Hole is not the place for swimming or water sports due to rip-tides and dangerous currents.
There is a new trail opened in 2022 which allows easier access to the beach from Melmore, where there is a car park.
Pubs & Restaurants in Downings
After a long day exploring the beaches, enjoying the scenery or maybe even cycling Atlantic Drive you deserve some warm food and maybe even a pint or two. Lucky for you Downings is filled great places to eat and drink. Heres some of the best pubs and restaurants that Downings has to offer:
The Singing Pub Downings Donegal | An Síbín Ceoil
Tucked under the hills surrounding Downings is the thatched roof of The Singing Pub. This place is the perfect representation of the cozy Irish pub. You will find roaring fires, comfortable chairs, friendly staff and locals, and fantastic food to feed the soul. The Singing Pub offers music and entertainment on occasion but there will always be a warm welcome and a plate of hot food for you here. If you find yourself struggling to finish your walk of Atlantic Drive, The Singing Pub is the perfect place to take a load off on route. Grab a glass of Football Special or a pint of Guinness and relax!
Looking for a hearty meal from Irish breakfast to pizza and burgers? Try out The Galley, located on Downings main street. You can also get coffee’s and cakes to takeaway, perfect for a walk up the bay.
The Harbour Bar Downings Donegal
The best place to take in a sunset across the bay with great views, company, and drinks. Unwind after a busy day in this idylic location and take in the local atmostphere. If you are hungry, check out Fisk Seafood Bar right next door for some of the best sea food with sea views in Downings.
The Beach Hotel Bar
A great place for a drink and some live entertainment in the evenings. Weekends have live music here throughout the year but during the summer season there is live entertainment everynight. The atmostphere is bustling with great craic from locals and visitors alike. They also have a great restaurant serving up a range of delicious food.
A traditional pub with charm and a fantastic whiskey selection. They also have a pizzeria called Goose and Gander inside where you can grab a lovely stone baked pizza to soak up the pints. This is also the best place in Downings to grab a cocktail.
Shopping in Downings Donegal
The Old Sea Dog
This nautical themed shop is a great stop off for some artistic gifts or souvenirs from your trip to Downings. Check out their website to learn about their exhibitions and art available in the shop.
Donegal Crafts at McNutt’s
McNutt of Donegal is a textiles company that have been weaving in Donegal since 1953. They offer amazing woven creations from homewears to clothing. You can browse their collections and maybe pick up something warm to wear if the weather is cold or a gift to bring home.
The recently opened Fiffi’s coffee is also a great place to grab a hot drink and a sweet treat while you’re visiting. It is located just outside the mill.
Mickey Joes Country Store – for all the essentials you could possibly need.
If you are self-catering while in Downings then you can find everything you need for meals in Mickey Joes Country Store. Also, if you need hardware, candles, toys, snacks, newspapers, or nearly anything else you will find it at Mickey Joes. The people of Downings say if you can’t find it at Mickey Joes you didn’t need it. This general store contains a butchers, off-licence, newsagents, and grocery so you can find loads here.
Events in Downings Donegal
Downings Music Festival
If you are looking for somewhere to be this weekend (29th July – 1st August 2022) then you could see Downings at the height of their annual festival. The Downings Music Festival takes up the main street with a fun fair and packed schedule of live music. This is a yearly festival so if you miss it this year, its worth planning a trip to catch the next one.
Donegal Festival of Golf
Known for its expansive and beautiful golf course, Downings is hosting the Donegal Festival of Golf 2022. Taking place on the 20th of August with headliner Nathan Carter.
Just a five minute drive from Downings main street is Carrigart. This quaint village is a great place to grab a coffee, or do some gift shopping.
A 27 minute drive from Downings will take you to Dunfanaghy, another beautiful seaside town. It is filled with great restaurants and shops with a friendly bussel and great pubs to visit.
A highlight of Dunfanaghy hides behind the Patsy Dan’s pub, enter through the traditional pub and go out the back to find The Rusty Oven and some of the best pizza in Ireland. Check out their website for menu and bookings.
Where to stay in Downings Donegal?
You can also check out possible holiday lets on Airbnb for Downings.
Downings is a real gem of the Wild Atlantic Way and is the perfect place to get away from your stresses and reconnect with nature and a small village culture. Relax by cozy fires in pubs, walk through amazing scenery, and become part of Downings. This little place will take you in and steal a bit of your heart forever.