My tips for visiting Donegal

At least once a week I get asked for tips and recommendations on where to stay in Donegal, here is an updated piece from what I did last year as there is now some new additions on our doorstep and some I forgot to add !

Basing yourself in Buncrana gives you great scope on getting in Inishowen but also if your here for a few days or up to a week you could visit some other beauty spots of Donegal and even get into Derry.

Places to stay ,

Inishowen gateway hotel

great family friendly hotel, swimming pool and soft play onsite , barfood and restaurant onsite . There’s also a spa in the hotel too if you fancy some pampering .

Lake of shadows hotel

Sister hotel of the Inishowen gateway, fab food , and if you are staying here you can use the pool amenities in the gateway.

Tullyarvan mill

Is a hostel on the crana river , hugely popular in the summer and for the kayaking festival “cranafest”

The Harbour inn

Great hotel and bar food as you come in towards Buncrana.

Buncrana town itself is wonderful to have a walk around with traditional shops and restraunts, boutiques, shops , delis and of course traditional pubs .

O Flahertys bar having a traditional music session every weds night if you have your babysitter with you it’s well worth checking out !

The surrounding area of Buncrana itself is stunning , with some fabulous shoreline walks that run through the historic O’Doherty castle and keep.

These walks are pram and kid friendly , my own kids take their bicycles on this route . Which takes you out to the amazing views from old military fort called Neds Fort .

Hop in your car and in ten mins your at the historic Dunree fort and military museum , with lunch in the ‘Coffee Cup’ or take a packed lunch and take in the views from the picnic benches .

On from dunree takes you over Mamore gap , this is a view worth driving for . An amazing corkscrew road below the gap leading you towards Clonmany , home of the famous “Clonmany festival” every summer .

You can’t go to Clonmany and not stop at “Glen house and waterfall” , a real hidden gem , great walk to the waterfall and family friendly , suitable for Prams too . Afternoon tea in Glen house beside it or ice creams from the most dotey little ice cream stand !

From Clonmay you head onto Ballyliffin home of the famous Ballyliffin golf course , that hosted the Irish open 2 years ago.

If you were breaking up your stay in Inishowen , I would reccomend staying at the “Ballyliffin Lodge “, again because of swimming pool and spa , but Ballyliffin has lots of hotels and B&Bs so you are spoilt for choice here too .

Theres also a great playpark close to hand and the award winning ” Nancy’s Barn” no trip to Ballyliffin would be complete without a bowl of their chowder .

No trip to inishowen would be complete without a run to Malin head , the most northerly tip of Ireland and now most famous for ‘star wars ‘ filming . Great walks and coffee to be got here .

Another attraction close to hand is Wild Ireland, a new wildlife conservation project about 20 minute drive from Buncrana. Rescued bears and wolves roam their enclosures with other wildlife such as Deer and ducks to

“lis na gra” woods in Muff is close by to this , squirrels are running around all over the place and the kids love seeing that .

From a base in Buncrana a day in Derry is a must ! The famous Derry walls and peace bridge is just an absolute fave of my kids with a fountain of knowledge and lots of upcoming family friendly events and festivals .

Halloween in particular is a massive deal in Derry , the effort that goes into this completely free festival is amazing!

Another big hit in our house is getting the ferry from Buncrana to Rathmullan .

This is a day trip that we do a couple times in the summer , an early ferry and playing on the beach and play park with again either a packed lunch or a famous cheese toastie with ‘scarpello’ sourdough bread from their pop-up cafe in the summer months .

When you get back to buncrana and eat at ‘tanks and skinnys seaside ‘ great food and drinks and right on the beach !

From Rathmullan you can drive on to portsalon beach , again around a 30 min drive from Rathmullan but well worth it for the views on the drive alone !


Alcorns tropical world is a fab day out , a butterfly tropical enclosure to walk through then an array of birds , meerkats ,owls to look at ,with a great covered over play centre. Bonus points for here as you can take a packed lunch for a picnic or there’s an onsite cafe !

Lurgybrack farm is a petting farm with great facilities . Walk around to see all the animals and take a run on the farmers tractor farm , again bring a packed lunch or the cafe onsite .

Oakfield park , great walk around and you can take a train around the park , always lots of days out organised from Easter time on . Picnic or the onsite restraunt ” Buffers” . Events are on all through the year such as “harry potter ” days and in particular “Santa’s Express”

Glenveagh national park

This is the year I’m gonna visit here properly, it has been years since I’ve been there , but from friends photos online and reccomendations from people it sounds definitely worth a visit .

We are onto east Donegal now .Before you come to Donegal town there are the fabulous “Harvey’s point hotel” and “Lough Eske hotel”, these are definitely on the luxe end of hotels but if you can get a chance even for afternoon tea or lunch they are amazing hotels in a fabulous setting . I’ve taken my girls there for afternoon teas for special occasions and they love it !

The historic town of Donegal town is a great base for this end of Donegal. Great hotels like the “Abbey Hotel ” to use . And “blas at the gateway ” I’ve had lunch here and the hotel looks amazing too . Donegal town is always busy with tourists so lots of shops filled with donegal tweed but lots more for girls weekend away shopping .

From here I would 100% go to

Slieve league cliffs

It’s been two years since I’ve been here , and it has since got a visitors centre and facilities . A new addition that I see for this year is a boat trip around the bottom of the cliffs, how fantastic would that be .It’s a fantastic walk and breathtaking views , to get to it you pass through Killybegs , a huge fishing port where if you are lucky you could see some of the biggest boats and cruiseliners .

There’s so much more to do in Donegal, it’s just one gorgeous beach and view after another , days filled with food and laughs xx

Shandon hotel

Is a firm favourite with me and my husband for a getaway , a fabulous spa onsite and the views of marble beach from the out door hot tub are something else , decadence ! Great hotel for families too as they also have lots of packages and activities at different times of the year . A swimming pool onsite if the weather is on the chilly side for sea swimming .

Theres so much to see this end of the Wild Atlantic Way , wild being the operative word in the beauty of the walks and beaches .

Nicola ,

For more tips on donegal check out


#donegal #swilly #inishowen

Published by mammyofsix

Hi name is nicola, im married to shaun and we have 6 kids! 5 girls and 1 boy . We live on a farm and life is wonderful except when its not ! Real life gets in our instalife projections...i feel more 'real' writing things down.

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