Donegal for the Holiday / Staycation – The Best Bits!!!
In the midst of one of the toughest years the world has encountered – most of us have given up the thought of foreign travel for 2021. I’m pretty sure most of you, like me – are tired, exhausted and struggling with the notion of another year of the unknown ahead. I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel to be away already and want to return here to see family and friends as so many of our returning customers do every year.
However over the past week my email and phone are reminding me daily that there is hope out there and peoples heads are ticking for Irish holiday ideas – The Staycation, Part 2 we hope is about to happen this summer. It may not be distant shores but Ireland is our home and what a beautiful oyster it is!!! Many of you are getting ready to travel again when it is safe to do so.
For those of you who have yet to discover Donegal you are in for treat. I thank my lucky stars every day when I awaken and look at the landscape that surrounds us in this idyllic County – Green fields, rolling hills, cliffs, mountains and long stretches of sandy beach. Winding country roads and amazing coastline views. Nothing does the heart and head better than walking barefoot on the beach listening as the waves lull and ebb your cares away.
At Wild Atlantic Wanderer – one of the major accommodation providers in the area, we decided we would make it easy for our guests to enjoy the top things during their stay. We have created a list of Donegal favourites here for you all to explore and do:
Accommodation ( High Quality Self Catering Options)
Wild Atlantic Wanderer offer a large selection of short term holiday homes for all groups sizes and budgets throughout Inishowen and Rathmullan. Stay with us and feel at home.
There are too many to mention. Just follow the shoreline around the County and expect nothing less than sandy beaches and spectacular sights. The “Wild Atlantic Way” route is a great way of viewing the coastlines best bits and “Atlantic Drive” near Fanad Head is pretty specatcular too! A swim can be really refreshing in the fresh saltwater during summer season.
In 2021, 12 Blue Flags were awarded to beaches at Bundoran, Rossnowlagh, Murvagh, Fintra, Narin (Portnoo), Carrickfinn, Killahoey (Dunfanaghy), Marblehill, Portsalon (Magherawarden), Shroove, Culdaff and Downings.
Donegal has a few hot spots where the surf is best enjoyed – mainly Tullagh Bay, Bundoran, Culdaff, Rossnowlagh and Murvagh. I would highly recommend taking instruction from some of the top surf schools in the area. Most arrive in their surf vans full of boards, wetsuits, beach shoes – everything you need. They choose the location based on the surf that day – they really do know best. A fun filled day for all the family.
Adventure One Surfschool have two locations – Fanad and Rathmullan; Dan Gallanagh covers Inishowen on the North Peninsula with Inishowen Surfschool and SurfWorld are one the companies that have Bundoran covered.
Sliabh Liag Cliffs
The fabulous Sliabh Liag Cliffs are situated in South West Donegal. Standing at 1972feet/601m they are known as the highest accessible cliffs in Europe. A visit to this spectacular landscape needs to go on your to do list while visiting Donegal. For any of you living here in this vast county that haven’t been – GO!!! A trip on Sliabh Liag Boat Trips with Paddy Byrne is always a fun thing to do while you are there too 🙂
Sliabh Liag Distillery
While in the Sliabh Liag area, why not visit the Sliabh Liag Distillery. It’s the first distilling company in the County for over 175 years. Home to both Dulaman Gin and the finest Silkie Irish Whiskey. Situated just outside the village of Carrick they have guided tours telling the story of the development of their drinks selection. A popular day out completed with tasting!
Fanad Lighthouse is a signature discovery point along the Wild Atlantic Way. Built in 1817 the lighthouse now houses a visitor centre, coffee shop and has dedicated tours aswell as accommodating overnight stays. Its panoramic backdrop setting is fabulous also.
For all of you outdoorsy, energetic people looking for a hike then Mount Errigal standing at 751m is the tallest peak of the Derryveagh Mountains and Donegals largest mountain. Its a bit of trek and a little stony on the way up but the views from the top are amazing and nothing beats the satisfaction of reaching the sumit!!! Close to Gweedore.
Ards Forest Park
Hike through beautiful woodlands enjoying coastal scenery and woodland trails, rivers, lakes and megalithic tombs in one of Irelands most beautiful woodland parks. Ards Forest Park is situated between the towns of Creeslough and Dunfanaghy. Its 1,200 acres are home to many plants and wildlife with nine signposted trails to suit all ages, picnic areas and a playground near the beach. Its a full day out if you want it to be!
Glenveagh National Park and Castle
One of Irelands six national parks, Glenveagh National Park has woodlands, walking trails, Castle with visitor centre and car park and Glenveagh Castle gardens. Glenveagh Castle is located in the middle of the park, on the edge of Lough Veagh. Their perfect resource is at Hunters Halt, where this late 19th-century house was built as a hunting lodge.
Lurgybrack Open Farm
Lurgybrack Farm is one of Donegals most popular family fun days out! An open farm for all the family! It has a host of farm animals that the families can meet face to face, an array of outdoor and indoor play areas! Tea room, outdoor picnic areas, parties for kids and no day is complete there without the tractor ride around the farm! Do not miss this if you are travelling with little ones!!!
Arena 7, Letterkenny
Arena 7 is a family run entertainment complex with fun for everyone – Bowling, Laser Quest, Kids Adventure Centre, Arcade, Pool Table, Restaurant and Diner all under one roof!
Oakfield Park is a privately owned estate set in Oakfield Desmene of Raphoe – the former deanery. Sitting in a lush landscape of parklands and mature woodlands, overlooking the distant Croaghan Mountain, the grounds include a traditional walled garden and kitchen garden.
A hugely popular feature of Oakfield Park is a wonderful miniature railway This railway is based on the now defunct Co. Donegal Railways. Over 4km of track has been laid and the narrow gauge railway has a miniature steam engine and carriages in the old CDR livery. The train winds around the lake and woodlands and offers an excellent opportunity to view the lower gardens in comfort. The kids will adore this!!!
Oakfield Park hosts many public functions throughout the year – its famous family picnics, Steam Sundays, Oakfest Festival during the summer months and the infamous Santa Express which is a huge Donegal favourite at Christmas.
Aura Leisure Centre, Letterkenny
The Aura Leisure Centre is a fabulous public leisure centre in Letterkenny which boasts a 25m Swimming Pool with flumes, Sauna, Steam Room, Jacuzzi, Learner Pool, Kiddies Pool, Gym, Astro Pitches, Sports Hall, Running Track, Playground and Skateboard Park.
Tropical World is a fully licensed zoo with an astonishing array of animals, from a dazzling display of butterflies to the world’s smallest monkeys alike.
Mini Zoo & Tropical Butterfly House – Fabulous Family Friendly Day Out Tropical World at Alcorn’s, Letterkenny, has best be described by patrons as both “Donegal’s hidden gem” and the “one must see attraction to visit in Donegal”.
Gartan Outdoor Activity Centre
Gartan Outdoor Activity Centre provide courses, training and adventure packages to families, groups or individuals. It hosts a range of activities for everyone to enjoy – Archery, Gorging, Canoeing, Rock climbing, Hillwalking, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Mud runs, Orienteering, Power Boating, Raft Building, Sailing, Surfing and Coasteering. Lots of activity fun for everyone!!!
DONEGAL INHABITED ISLANDS
Tory Island is an island 9 miles off the North West coast of Donegal. It is the most remote inhabited island of Ireland. It has a population of 200 people. Also known as Oilean Thorai. A foot passenger ferry links the island to Magheraroarty Pier all year round (subject to weather).
Arranmore Island is an island off the West coast of County Donegal. It is the largest inhibited island with a population of 469 people. Known in Irish as Arainn Mhor. A car ferry links the island to the village of Burtonport and is a lovely daytrip whilst exploring the Wild Atlantic Way.
Donegal Bay Waterbus
Most people visiting the county make their way to Donegal Town for a day out. The Donegal Bay Waterbus is an 80ft long pleasure boat with full bar, heating, air conditioning and toilets. It takes in amazing views of the bay, the town, the Bluestack Mountains and the amazing seal island with over 200 seals. A lovely enjoyable trip. There was even a sing song the last time I travelled on it!
When in Donegal Town a trip to the famous Donegal Magee 1866 should not be missed! Magee 1866 – a fifth-generation Irish family business with over 150 years’ experience in designing, weaving and tailoring luxurious fabrics and clothing in Donegal.
Lough Swilly Ferry
After a long day of adventures why not drive aboard the Lough Swilly Car Ferry which links Rathmullan to Buncrana on the Inishowen Peninsula. It takes both car and foot passengers and is a pleasant trip across the Lough Swilly which links to Ireland’s most Northernly point. If you are too tired you could always stop off at the lovely Rathmullan Village Apartments to spend the night before travelling onwards.
Inishowen is a fabulous area with so much to see and do that we have already dedicated a full blog to the peninsula alone!!! For further information click on our link here: The Best of Inishowen, Co. Donegal – Wild Atlantic Wanderer
Doagh Famine Village, Wild Ireland, Halfway Karting, The Wild Alpaca Way, Glenevin Waterfall, An Grianan of Aileach, Inch Level Wildfowl Reserve and Loop Walk, Fort Dunree Military Museum, Malin Head and Banbas Crown all lie awaiting the keen explorer.
Choose Donegal for your upcoming holiday trip or staycation. With so much to do and see aswell as fresh air, beautiful walks and scenery to die for – You won’t be disappointed!!!
For all your self catering accommodation needs contact us at www.wildatlanticwanderer.com
We have a large selection of homes for all group sizes and budgets.
****Our Peace Of Mind Booking Process during Covid-19****
A €100 non-refundable deposit secures your booking with the balance due 4 weeks before arrival. If travel restrictions are in place due to Covid-19 we will assist you with a change of dates.
“This is my homeland, The place I was born in,
No matter where I go, Its in my soul
My feet may wander a thousand places
But my heart will lead me back home to my Donegal”.
A follow up to our hugely popular Inishowen Guide, we have now created a whistle stop tour of some of wider Donegal's must see and dos during your visit.