The Top Things to Do in Donegal Ireland

By Bridget Castner

Donegal is a beautiful destination to visit during any Ireland vacation. Filled with unique sights to see from beaches and caves to castles, ruins, and lighthouses, Donegal is certainly a place you don’t want to miss. If you're able to make it to this scenic town, here are some of the top things to do in Donegal!

Donegal Castle

This once run-down 15th-century castle was fully restored in the early 1990s, and has since been deemed as one of the most exquisite Gaelic castles in Ireland. Visitors can explore the history room located on the top floor of the castle that displays interesting facts about the previous occupants, the O'Donnell family. Once of the best highlights here is The Old Trip Stairs, which is a 543 year old staircase built unevenly as an attempt to confuse unsuspecting invaders. Other things to admire about the castle include the mast and sail from an old ship, and the banquet hall.

Fanad Lighthouse

Fanad Lighthouse has been voted one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world. The lighthouse has been standing since 1817, having been lit for the first time on Saint Patrick’s Day. It stands between Lough Swilly and Mulroy Bay, offering some of the most stunning views Ireland has to offer. The area is known to be frequented by dolphins and whales, so keep an eye out for these creatures of the sea! You can also check out the Visitor’s Center for more information on this historic place.

Glenveagh National Park

As one of the wildest and most scenic places in the country, Glenveagh National Park should be high on anybody's Ireland vacation itinerary. The park is filled with walking/hiking trails where you can find some incredible landmarks like Glenveagh Castle grounds, Lough Veagh, the Poisoned Glen, and more. Glenveagh National Park is the second largest National Park in Ireland, covering over 16,000 hectares of places to explore.

Lough Eske Castle

The Lough Eske Castle dates back to the 15th-century and has an important history with the O'Donnell Clan, who were the founders of Donegal. It's one of the best castle hotels to stay in Ireland, boasting 5-star services and upscale accommodations. If you're just visiting though, you can simply walk around to admire the gorgeous grounds of the castle which rests upon Lough Eske.

Magher Beach and Caves

Maghera Beach is considered to be one of the best beaches in Ireland. It runs 5 km long and is full of warm white sand, deep blue seas, and sand dunes. The Maghera Caves that reside on the beach are a magnificent sight to see, but make sure you only enter the caves during low tide. The tide can come in quickly, and the caves become flooded. However, if you can catch low tide, it's an incredible experience to witness. With over 20 caves total, you'll be able to view 5 tunnels and 8 arches as well!

Assaranca Waterfall

This glistening waterfall is a short 2-minute drive from Maghera Beach and Caves. With the crash of the falls and the sweet sounds of nature surrounding it, you're guaranteed a serene experience from nature. The falls are located right next to the road, so you are able to park right next to them and walk right up. Rainy day? No problem! Pull over and just enjoy the waterfall from your car.

Poisoned Glen

There are many stories as to why this gorgeous sight is called Poisoned Glen. Some say that the King of Troy's daughter was kidnapped and brought to Magheroarty, where the King went to rescue her. He ended up killing the kidnapper with a giant stone from the entrance of Poisoned Glen, and was said to be the "poisoned eye" of the King... Another (more likely) scenario is that the correct name is actually "Heavenly Glen" which is the result of a mistranslation from Irish to English. Regardless, when you visit this natural wonder, you can climb the mountains and be one with nature. There are still standing ruins of an old church built in 1830 that you can admire, and if you follow the right bank of the Owenabhainn River (right next to the church) it will take you right into Poisoned Glen.

Now that you know some fun things to do in Donegal, are you ready for a trip to Ireland?

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