Top 5 Places to Visit in Donegal This Summer

Discover the breathtaking beauty of the rugged county

Top places to visit in Donegalphoto: Leighton Smith

Words by Conor Ward
June 19th, 2019

Whether you’re looking for a fancy and exhilarating outdoor adventure or a relaxing getaway in stunning surrounds, the Northern Headlands of Donegal is by far one of the best holiday destination choices in Ireland. As one of the leading tourist hubs, Donegal makes for an exciting, enjoyable, and of course, memorable trip away.

With golden beaches, a beautiful array of wildlife, breathtaking scenery, and rugged islands, this northern – virgin lands – stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way is a perfect holiday destination, any time of the year. It’s no wonder National Geographic Traveller named Donegal the ‘Coolest Place on the Planet for 2017’; it’s one of the most beautiful and adventurous counties in the Emerald Isle. So, without further ado, let’s look at the top 5 places to visit in Donegal.

photo: K. Mitch Hodge
Glenveagh National Park

1. Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park is a beautiful national park located in the Northwest of Co. Donegal, covering about 16,000 hectares in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains. These lands of such a vast wilderness are the home of many exotic plants and animals. Once managed as a private deer forest, it became a national park in 1975. Then, in 1986, Glenveagh National Park was officially opened to the public. It is now a fabulous place to visit and our favourite in County Donegal.

2. The Slieve League Cliffs

On TripAdvisor, these cliffs are ranked the number one tourist attraction for Co. Donegal, and for good reason. The views from the top are splendid; climbing all the way up and looking down is a truly memorable experience. Do not leave Donegal without giving this site a visit first.

photo: Heather Mount
Slieve League

3. Tory Island

You will find an exceptional and beautiful place, the mythical Tory Island, 14km off the Donegal coast. Steeped in folklore and history, it is one of Donegal’s several Gaeltacht areas where the locals speak Irish, so you can learn cúpla focal or brush up on what you already know. Continuing the island’s mythical legacy, these locals, most of them artists, elect a ‘king’ who becomes the spokesperson of the community. A friendly fellow, he greets every passenger ferry that lands and personally welcomes all visitors.

Today, given the locals’ passion for traditional culture and music, you are likely to find a lively and exciting session or two taking place in the local pubs! You can use a ferry to access the Island throughout the year but if you spend the night on Tory, you will get more time to explore this authentic and stunning hideaway.

4. Glenevin Waterfall (Clonmany)

You will find this magnificent waterfall at the top of a short 2km walk through the woods in Clonmany. The newly installed picnic area situated on the way to the waterfall offers the perfect opportunity to take a break and enjoy lunch outdoors, surrounded by the beautiful natural landscape. Toward the waterfall, you’ll find footbridges along the track that visitors use as stepping stones to crisscross the stream.

photo: Heather Mount

5. Donegal Tweed

Donegal is renowned for its crafts, and therefore, ensure you go for a spot of retail therapy when you visit the area. Donegal tweed and knitwear is a globally recognised tourist attraction, with local producers developing great creativity from the area’s awe-inspiring natural surroundings to make these luxurious items, whether it’s the wild waves of the Atlantic or the curve of the hills. Buy a piece so that you leave with a unique keepsake of Donegal.

If you are planning to visit Donegal for a holiday any time soon, check out Donegal Thatched Cottages for rental holiday homes located right on the seafront/beach on The Wild Atlantic Way.