Surf Coast

Donegal Town to Belmullet

2 Days
  • Beaches
  • Food & Drink
  • Coastal Views
  • History & Heritage
  • Downpatrick Head
  • Strandhill Beach
  • Céide Fields
Must-see

The second driving route from the Wild Atlantic Way takes you from Donegal Town, through Sligo and into Belmullet in County Mayo. This route is better known as Surf Coast due to the spectacular waves that can be found along this coastal stretch of Ireland. Indeed, the Donegal and Sligo coastline attract some of the world’s best surfers across the year, with Bundoran, Strandhill, Enniscrone and Easkey particular hotspots.

Taking in 4 counties (Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo and Mayo), other highlights as you travel along Surf Coast include Glencar Waterfall, Mullaghmore Head, Downpatrick Head and Ballycroy National Park. As you reach Belmullet, you will be well placed to continue south exploring the counties of Galway, Clare and Limerick. Belmullet

Day 1

Donegal Town to Sligo Town

Leaving Donegal Town, you’ll drive through some of Ireland’s surfing hotspots in Bundoran and Strandhill before arriving in Sligo Town for the night. Passing Mullaghmore Head and the stunning Glencar Waterfall in Leitrim on your way, Surf Coast allows you to embrace adventure as you can try your hand at a number of outdoor and watersports along the way. The famous Sligo food trial is also a must do for the foodie fans among you.

Get your surf on!

From Donegal Town, make the popular seaside town of Bundoran your first stop. Recognised as the surfing capital of Ireland, you’ll likely see groups of people ‘hitting the waves’. The Bundoran Surf Co provides surfing classes for all abilities, and is a great way to get introduced to surfing in Ireland.

Another popular surf retreat along this route is Strandhill Beach in Sligo, up there with Bundoran as one of the best surfing beaches in Ireland. Here you’ll find surfers of all abilities taking to the waves, so if you fancy trying out something adventurous on your drive stop by one of the surf schools in these towns and try your hand at surfing.

Mullaghmore Head

As you make your way towards Mullaghmore Head, you’ll pass through Ireland’s smallest county, Leitrim. With just over 4km of Leitrim located on the Irish coast (between the rivers Duff and Drowse – excellent fishing spots), take some time to explore this ever-verdant county, being sure to visit Glencar Waterfall as you go.

From here make your way along to another surfing paradise, Mullaghmore Head, and enjoy a relaxing seaweed bath with Voya Seaweed Baths. While here why not take time exploring the iconic Ben Bulben with the 4km looped walk before taking time to visit Classiebawn Castle, one of Sligo’s most instantly recognisable attractions.

Last stop, Sligo Town

The county of Sligo (known as Yeats Country) stakes a strong claim for the adventure capital of Ireland, and while you’ve plenty of choice from surfing and other watersports to hiking and cycling, your biggest problem could be fitting it all in over 1 – 2 days.

From Mullaghmore, make your way to Sligo Town where you can enjoy some refreshments in this friendly, bustling town. Sligo Town is a great place to stop off for the night if you want an extended break in Yeats County, and be sure to check out the tour of the town, which takes approx. two and half hours, taking in sites like Douglas Hyde Bridge, Sligo Abbey, City Hall and WB Yeats statue.

Get a real taste for the flavour of Sligo by exploring the Sligo Food Trail. From town markets and gastro pubs to local food and craft beer producers, the town of Sligo and surrounding area is making a big impression on the Irish culinary map.

Surfing in Bundoran

Surfing in Bundoran

The surf capital of Ireland, once you've surfed at Bundoran, you'll want to keep coming back.

View more
Glencar Waterfall

Glencar Waterfall

Make a detour into Leitrim and marvel at the wonderful Glencar Waterfall.

View more
Strandhill Beach

Strandhill Beach

Marvel at one of Ireland's top surfing destinations

View more
Sligo Food Trail

Sligo Food Trail

A food lovers paradise, embrace your inner foodie with the popular Sligo Food Trail.

View more
Day 2

Downpatrick Head to Belmullet

From Sligo Town your next stop takes you west to one of the most Western points of Ireland, the town of Belmullet. Located on the Erris Peninsula, this drive will bring tranquillity to your journey as you get to explore rural Ireland at its finest. If you’re visiting during the summer months, be sure to give yourself some time to explore the tiny island of Inishkea.

First up, Downpatrick Head

From Sligo Town, make your way through Aughris and Ballina until you come face to face with the staggering Downpatrick Head, which stands on its lonesome in the Atlantic Ocean at an impressive 126ft above sea. Downpatrick Head is a pilgrimage site for St Patrick (whom the large rock is named after), with mass held here on the last Sunday in July each year.

The Neolithic Céide Fields

As you venture west from Downpatrick Head make Céide Fields your next stop. This is the location of the first settlers in Mayo some 5,000 years ago. The Neolithic fields at Céide Fields are the oldest in Europe, and if you’re visiting between Easter and September the visitor centre will be open allowing you to find out more about the history and ecology of this bogland. If you’re feeling energetic, you can also take one of the guided walking tours where you’ll find out a little more about the deep history of this land.

Ballycroy National Park

As you leave Céide Fields, head south towards Ballycroy National Park before arriving at your final destination of Belmullet. Ballycroy National Park is the newest National Park in Ireland and lies in the Nephin Beg mountain range. Indeed, the Wild Nephin wilderness experience is Ireland’s first designated wilderness area, all 11,000 hectares of it. The mountainous terrain, lakes and rivers make this a perfect area for hiking, running, cycling and other activities like fishing.

Belmullet

Your final stop on Surf Coast is the town of Belmullet, a coastal Gaeltacht town on the Mullet Peninsula. Belmullet is a small town set in the unspoilt Mullet Peninsula that attracts golfers (Carne Golf Links), sea anglers and divers, while the Peninsula (sometimes known as Erris Peninsula) is great for long walks, runs and cycles.

With some of the most unspoilt beaches in Ireland and a great choice of pubs, shops and restaurants, Belmullet is the perfect place to stop over for the night and recharge the batteries to prepare you for the next stage of The Wild Atlantic Way. If the weather is kind to you, be sure to make the small trip to the neighbouring Inishkea Island.

Downpatrick Head

Downpatrick Head

Famous for its ties with St Patrick, Downpatrick Head has to be seen to be belived.

View more
Céide Fields

Céide Fields

With over 6,000 years of history, Céide Fields is the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world.

View more
Nephin Mountains

Nephin Mountains

Scale Connacht's second highest peak as you explore 'Wild Nephin'.

View more