Northern Headlands

Muff to Donegal Town

3 Days
  • Beaches
  • Coastal Views
  • Food & Drink
  • Malin Head
  • Grianán of Aileach
  • Fanad Head Lighthouse
Must-see

Begin your tour along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way by weaving along Ireland’s most northerly point, County Donegal.

Maritime history, golden beaches, spectacular clifftops, big waves and sublime golf challenges lie in wait, as you work your way from the border town of Muff, to historic Donegal Town.

As your drive progresses, you’ll take in some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland, as you pass popular attractions like Malin Head (Ireland’s most Northern point), Fanad Head Slieve League, Mount Errigal, as well as the popular urban centre of Letterkenny and the stunning Inishowen Peninsula.

Donegal provides opportunities for coastal walks, long hikes, bird-watching and has also become a popular destination for surfing and water sports in more recent times, with the popular seaside resort of Bundoran attracting visitors throughout the year. Check out our recommended itinerary below for things to do and places to see, as you take in the stunning views of Donegal’s coastline.

Day 1

Muff to Letterkenny

Begin your Donegal road trip in the town of Muff and take in the stunning Inishowen Peninsula on your first day.

With beauty spots on almost every turn, and areas of outstanding natural beauty dotted throughout your trip, it’s easy to see why North Donegal is among the most popular places in Ireland. Here are just some of the highlights for you to check out on your trip from Muff to Letterkenny.

Make your way to Malin Head

From Muff, make your way to the most northerly point in Ireland, Malin Head, and stand in awe at this stunningly rugged coastline. Be sure to visit Bamba’s Crown and Lloyds Signal Tower for some of the best views in this most northern part of Ireland. Malin Head offers a great vantage point for bird-watching, while nearby Malin Beach is perfect for horse-riding or an evening stroll.

Explore the Inishowen Peninsula

One of the most popular areas of Donegal, the Inishowen Peninsula includes the popular coastal towns of Ballyliffin, Buncrana, Moville and Letterkenny. With a wealth of water based activities, stunning golf courses, peaceful roads for cycling and rugged coastline for walking, hiking and rock climbing, Inishowen has something for everyone.  Take some time getting to know the area of Inishowen.

Last stop, Letterkenny

As you make your way from Buncrana to Letterkenny, go off route slightly to take in the wonder that is Burt Castle and Grianan of Aileach. This restored prehistoric fort of Grianan of Aileach provides stunning views as it sits atop a 255m hill, and is stepped in ancient Irish myth and legend, just waiting to be explored.

Malin Head

Malin Head

Cycle through Ireland and you will be rewarded with incredible views of vast and varied landscapes.

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Ballyliffin Golf Club

Ballyliffin Golf Club

One of the leading Donegal Golf Courses and a leading destination for links golf in Ireland.

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Grianán of Aileach

Grianán of Aileach

Take a step back in time to Grianán of Aileach and over 3,000 years of Irish history

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Day 2

Letterkenny to Bunbeg

As you leave Letterkenny, you head north again towards Fanad Head, passing popular areas like Doagh, Dunfanaghy and Meenlaragh as you make your way down to the picturesque Bunbeg.

Give yourself plenty of time and schedule in a trip to Tory Island, one of Donegal’s most popular islands.

Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park is the second largest in Ireland, so as you leave Letterkenny, make a small detour to take sights and sounds of Glenveagh. A wide range of walks and trails lie in wait, with great views of Derryveagh Mountains and Mount Errigal (Donegal’s highest peak). Give yourself plenty of time if you want to scale Mount Errigal although Glenveagh will give you plenty of options for outdoor excursions.

Fanad Head

On your way to Fanad Head be sure to stop by the historic village of Rathmullan for a quick photo of the John Behan sculpture commemorating the historic Flight of the Earls in 1607. From Rathmullan, make your way along the famous Knockalla Coast until you come to Fanad Head and take some time to take everything that this wonderfully exposed headland has to offer. A Donegal treasure, Fanad Head is a haven for wildlife like seals and seabirds, and is also home to one of Ireland’s oldest lighthouse, Fanad Head Lighthouse which has been shining a light at sea since 1817.

Visit one of the world’s best beaches at Ballymastocker

If the weather is kind to you (and even if it’s not), take time to stop by Ballymastocker Beach voted the second most beautiful beach in the world by readers of the Observer. For the best views of the beach as you drive, stop by the viewpoint on Knockalla Coast as you drive from Rathmullan to Portsalon.

Quick stop at Horn Head before reaching Bunbeg

As you leave the Knockalla Coast, head towards the village of Dunfanaghy and loop up towards Horn Head and The Ross. Take a quick break here and enjoy the views to this 200m clifftop as the wave’s crash against it. With thousands of perches, Horn Head is home to lots of wildlife and birds including guillemots, gulls and puffins, providing lots of great photo opportunities for the bird watchers among you.

Fanad Head Lighthouse

Fanad Head Lighthouse

Discover over 200 years of Irish history at Fanad Head Lighthouse.

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Mount Errigal, Donegal

Mount Errigal, Donegal

Scale Donegal's highest peak and marvel at the spectacular panoramic views that await you.

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Tory Island

Tory Island

Enjoy peace and tranquility as you explore the popular Tory Island.

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Day 3

Bunbeg to Donegal Town

As you head south from Bunbeg to Donegal Town, a busy day lies ahead as you’ll take in the sites and sounds of Dungloe, Ardara and Killybegs, along with the spectacular Slieve League Cliffs. Here’s just some of the highlights you’ll come across as you make the 160km trip out of Donegal towards Sligo.

Daniel O’Donnell’s Visitor Centre

His music has divided many in Ireland over the years, but there’s no doubting the popularity of Daniel O’Donnell in his native Donegal where he’s a bit of a treasure. Head for the town of Dungloe and stop by the visitor centre on the Main Street, where you’ll be able to get exclusive memorabilia, check out some of his favourite stage outfits and listen to his best tunes with fellow fans.

Visit the heritage town of Ardara

As you leave Dungloe and head towards Ardara, you’ll come across some wonderful lakes providing great fishing points and the opportunity to once again, sit back and just take in the sites and sounds around you.

Glencolmcille Folk Village

As you leave Ardara, try to set aside some time to visit Glencolmcille and in particular the Glencolmcille Folk Village. Here you’ll get an interesting insight to Ireland’s past, and the area itself is dotted with ancient dwellings and megalithic tombs; a beautiful and mysterious place.

Head to Teelin and Slieve League

As you make your way to Donegal Town on the final day of your road trip in Donegal, one place that needs to be on your list is the impressive Slieve League. At almost 2,000ft, it’s one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe, and twice the height of the Cliffs of Moher, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore this natural beauty.

With some of the finest views you’ll see on the island of Ireland, you can easily spend hours marvelling at the cliffs of Slieve League, and with refreshments and archaeological tours available at the Slieve League Cliffs Centre, there’s plenty to keep you occupied on this final leg of your trip along the Northern Headlands.

Killybegs to Donegal Town

As you leave Teelin, head for the popular town of Killybegs and stop by Killybegs Harbour. The stretch of coastline at Killybegs overlooks Donegal Bay and you’ll even see Ben Bulben in Sligo in the distance.  Recognised as Ireland’s number one fishing port, Killybegs is a great area to spend the afternoon, and you can even explore the towns famous past at the Maritime and Heritage Centre.

Finish your Donegal adventure by heading east towards Donegal Town where you’ll be able to visit attractions like Donegal Castle and the Franciscan Friary ruins. Donegal Town has lots of quaint craft shops selling local goods, so this is the perfect location to end your drive around rugged Donegal. Take some time to explore Donegal Bay by waterbus (with Donegal Bay Waterbus), and take in the views of Seal Island and the Bluestack Mountains. Relax in one of the many friendly bars and popular restaurants in Donegal Bay, and call it a night before your next trek along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Killybegs Harbour

Killybegs Harbour

Visit Ireland's largest fishing port at the stunning Killybegs Harbour

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Slieve League

Slieve League

At over 600m above sea level, set foot on one of Europe's highest marine cliffs and marvel at the amazing panoramic views of Slieve League.

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