Here are ten of the best ways to experience County Donegal.
Blow away the cobwebs with a visit to some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe at Slieve League (Sliabh Liag). This holy mountain was a Christian pilgrimage site for over 1000 years and it's easy to see why it was regarded as a sacred place.
Rising 600m above the waves, enjoy unrivalled views of the Donegal and Sligo coastlines. Or hop on board at Teelin pier to experience the cliffs from the sea on a bracing voyage with Sliabh Boat Tours. Local favourite, the Rusty Mackerel, is the perfect spot to warm up after.
One of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world, a visit to Fanad Lighthouse is a perfect way to finish off a trip to scenic Fanad Head. Perched on a rocky outcrop at the mouth of Lough Swilly, the lighthouse has helped seafarers to negotiate the local waters since 1817. Take a tour to follow in the footsteps of light-keepers past and climb the 76 granite steps to the top of the tower.
Steeped in ancient myths and legends, Tory Island is a magical place with a rich heritage, deep culture and a real sense of community. The island's remote location has probably helped the locals to preserve old Gaelic customs, such as the appointment of an island king. From its renowned trad musicians to the catch-your-breath scenery, a trip to Tory is a chance to experience a unique way of life.
With over 481 hectares of woodland and beaches, the lush green reserve at Ards Forest Park is a perfect place for a romantic walk or a fun day out with the family. This biodiverse park offers a rare combination of landscapes and habitats teeming with all sorts of local wildlife. There are lots of relaxing walks to choose from and plenty of picnic and play areas in this oasis of tranquillity.
A visit to the Doagh Famine Village is a chance to step back in time and to get a real sense of what life was like in Donegal from the Famine up until a couple of generations ago. Using historical artefacts, an authentic thatched cottage and newer reconstructions, it transports you into a bygone age and tells the story of who we used to be. The village is open daily during spring and summer.
One of Ireland’s most distinctive megalithic sites, the stone ringfort of Grianán of Aileach dates back to 1700BC and it's said to have been built by the Tuatha de Danann. The hilltop structure has been very well-preserved, and you can climb up on its walls to take in glorious, panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Close to the Gaeltacht area of Gaoth Dobhair, the tallest peak in County Donegal is one of the county's most recognisable landmarks. Climbing the magnificent Errigal is a rite of passage for Donegal natives and visitors can join their ranks with a couple of hours of effort.
The narrow pass that connects its twin summits might test your head for heights but once on top, you'll be rewarded with incredible views of Dunlewey Lough (or Lough Dunlewy) and across the Poisoned Glen.
In the shadow of Errigal deep in the Derryveagh Mountains, the 16,000 hectares of Glenveagh National Park are a haven for wildlife and visitors should keep an eye out for its large herd of red deer. The huge park takes in mountains, lakes, valleys and woods and you can explore it on foot or bike.
Don't forget to take a tour of Glenveagh Castle, with its famous gardens full of meticulously planned arrangements that are in stark contrast to the wilder surrounds.
Where else but Donegal would you find such a ravishing coastline as the one at Narin-Portnoo? This beautiful beach is manned by a lifeguard from June to August so it's a great place to take the family on a warm summer's day. This super-sized, white sand beach seems to go on forever and it's just as spectacular in the winter.
Combining the peace of its outdoor attractions with a buzzing nightlife, the Gaeltacht island of Arranmore near Burtonport Harbour is the largest inhabited island in Donegal. A trip to Arranmore is a chance to immerse yourself in local culture and relax at a different pace in nature. From diving and dolphin watching to angling or simply enjoying an impromptu trad session in one of its local pubs, there are so many reasons to visit Arranmore.
Once you get a taste for life in Donegal, you’ll want to keep coming back. The good news is that picking ten totally different things to do here on your next visit is never a problem. From towering sea cliffs to incredible islands, our Donegal destination page includes even more inspiration for the places you just have to see.
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