Things To Do in Donegal: A Guide to the Best Landmarks, Experiences and Activities
Updated On: May 12, 2023
County Donegal resides in the Northwest of Ireland and is well known for its stunning landscapes, rugged coastline, and rich cultural heritage. When you spend time here, you’ll be impressed with the range of activities and experiences on offer.
In this article, we have collated a guide for touring the county, providing you with a list of things to do in Donegal that you can tailor to your own individual interests and hobbies. Whether you want to escape into the picturesque rural landscapes or feel transported into the traditional Irish lifestyle, you find it all here when you visit County Donegal.
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Things to do in Donegal Ireland
Donegal boasts a plethora of stunning natural landmarks, coastal scenes, and historic and cultural landmarks. Visiting these locations makes for a truly worthwhile experience and one that will be hard to forget.
Check out our recommendations for places to visit and things to do in Donegal below:
Glenveagh National Park
Explore Ireland’s second-largest national park, Glenveagh National Park, which covers more than 14,000 acres of mountains, lakes, and woodlands. The Derryveagh mountain ranges form the backbone of the awe-inspiring park and it also encompasses the Glenveagh Castle and the surrounding Castle Gardens.
When you visit here, you’ll have a range of activities to pick from, whether you fancy adventurous mountain biking, idly walking trails or a fishing venture in the neighbouring Lough Veagh, you can find it all here at Glenveagh National Park.
If you’re lucky (and quiet enough) you might even get the chance to spot the rare inhabiting wildlife of Red Deer, Golden Eagles and Peregrine Falcons.
The Derryveagh Mountains are a rugged and scenic mountain range located in County Donegal. These mountains are characterized by their dramatic peaks, deep glens, and remote valleys.
The Derryveagh Mountains are a popular destination for hiking, hillwalking, and nature enthusiasts due to their natural beauty and diverse wildlife. Points of interest in these mountain ranges include Mount Errigal, which is the highest peak of the mountain range (752m) and The Poisoned Glen.
The Poisoned Glen features a cascading waterfall that is surrounded by lush and green vegetation. It is thought to have gotten its name from a mistranslation of what was supposed to be “heavenly glen.”
Slieve League Cliffs
Marvel at some of Europe’s highest sea cliffs, which tower over the Atlantic Ocean. The Slieve League Cliffs offer breathtaking views and several walking trails, ranging from easy to challenging. The views of these cliff faces are unparalleled, and most should most definitely be on your list of things to do in Donegal.
A notable feature of the Glenveagh National Park is the Glenveagh Castle which is absolutely mesmeric and jaw-dropping once you see it in real life – as the pictures simply do not do it justice.
It is perfectly shrouded by mature trees and looks over the shimmering lake below. You can also take an idly stroll around the Castle Gardens which is split into two main parts; the Pleasure Gardens and the Walled Garden, both of which date back to the 1880s and still hold much of their Victorian Era design.
Grianan of Aileach
Grianan of Aileach is an ancient hilltop stone fort that resides on the summit of Greenan Mountain. It offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including Lough Foyle, Lough Swilly, and the Inishowen Peninsula.
This is an important historical and archaeological site. measuring approximately 23 meters (75 feet) in diameter and 5 meters (16 feet) in height. It features three terraces and has walls that are up to 4 meters (13 feet) thick.
The Grianan of Aileach dates back to the early Iron Age, around 800 BCE. The structure was primarily built using dry stone masonry and was supposedly used to seat the rulers of the ancient kingdom of Aileach.
Things to do in Donegal for families
Donegal provides many experiences and activities to enjoy with your family, from castles to beaches to forest parks and dramatic coastal paths, there is something here for everyone, ensuring a brilliant family trip that you will cherish for years to come.
Explore this 15th-century castle, that was once the stronghold of the O’Donnell clan. The castle has benefitted from a well-preserved interior and the exterior has been beautifully restored. Guided tours are also available to provide insights into its long-standing history and amazing architecture.
Check out this article to find more Irish Castles you can visit.
Glencolmcille Folk Village
Step back in time at this open-air museum, which showcases traditional Irish life through a series of restored thatched cottages and exhibits on local history and culture. It’s a great way to immerse the whole family in history and encourage the younger ones to appreciate the life of ancestors past.
Downings is a small coastal village in the Rosguill peninsula of County Donegal. It encompasses the mesmeric scenery of the coast and boasts stunning beaches where you can take part in water activities or fishing ventures.
Downings is also full of traditional Irish bars and restaurants that serve up delicious dishes made with fresh seasonal produce. And with a range of unique shops that sell handmade gifts and iconic Donegal tweed – Downings is just the perfect place with something for everyone.
Bundoran is another great place to escape to with your family. It boasts picturesque sandy beaches and is full of great family-friendly activities such as Waterworld, an indoor water park and the amusements where you can also play arcade games or a round of bowling.if youre feeling particularly brave you can also join the Surf School and cruise along the crashing waves of Bundoran.
Letterkenny is the largest town in County Donegal, Ireland, and serves as the main commercial, cultural, and urban centre of the county. It is situated along the banks of the River Swilly and offers a range of attractions and activities for visitors.
Points of interest in Letterkenny include; St. Eunan’s Cathedral, a 19th-century Roman Catholic cathedral of neo-Gothic architecture, Glebe House and Gallery, Donegal County Museum and the An Grianán Theatre.
Things to do in Donegal for couples
Donegal is a great place for escaping on a romantic rendezvous. Whisk your loved one away and feel wrapped up in your own world together, with only the picturesque surroundings to keep you both company.
Main Head rests at the top of Banba’s Crown and offers dramatic coastal scenery that simply leaves you awe-struck. This viewpoint boasts unspoilt landscapes and although it is a little isolated in location, it is well worth the visit for its stargazing and birdwatching possibilities. A truly romantic venture that is bound to bring you closer to one another.
Fanad Head Lighthouse
Explore this iconic lighthouse, which has been guiding ships along the rugged Donegal coastline since 1817. The Fanad Head Lighthouse also offers guided tours and stunning views of the surrounding coastal area.
Check out this article to explore more famous Irish Lighthouses.
Murder Hole Beach
Don’t let the violent name put you off having a romantic stroll on this pleasurable sandy beach. The waves lap up onto the cliff edges and it makes for a truly stunning scene. Although, it is not suitable for swimming or water-based activities due to the dangerous currents underwater.
Take a ferry to this remote island just of Donegal. Here you’ll find a unique community steeped in Irish culture and tradition, explore the island’s rugged landscapes, ancient archaeological sites, and thriving seabird colonies. It the perfect escape for a couple on an adventure.
A Donegal Visit You’ll Never Forget
Donegal is one of the most idyllic parts of Ireland, boasting awe-inspiring coastal views and dramatic landscapes that are unlike anywhere else on Earth. If you want to explore more of Irish culture, check out this article on Irish blessings.
There are a lot more things to do in Donegal than what we have mentioned above, but the best way to get to know the County is to book a Donegal Visit and soak up the culture and scenes yourself.
If you plan on seeing more of the Emerald Isle, be sure to check out the following articles:
Things to do in Mayo | Things to do in Antrim | Things to do in Derry | Things to do in Fermanagh | Things to do in Armagh | Things to do in County Down | Things to do in Tyrone | Things to do in Monaghan | Things to do in Roscommon | Things to do in Northern Ireland for Couples | Things to do in Northern Ireland for Families | Things to do in Sligo | Things to do in Leitrim | Things to do in Louth | Things to do in Cavan.