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Self-Drive Coastal Donegal

Enjoy a three-day drive across County Donegal's idyllic coastline, taking in Ireland's northernmost point Malin Head, Sliabh Liag Cliffs and the scenic spot Fanad Head.

Day 1: Greencastle to Letterkenny

Starting in Muff, County Donegal - the start/finish point of the Wild Atlantic Way touring route, depending on which direction you choose to travel it - take the R238 northwards along the western shoreline of Lough Foyle to Greencastle and follow the coast around to Kinnagoe Bay enjoying the superb views of valleys, moorlands and the Atlantic Ocean as you go.

Continue westward to Malin Head, the most northerly Signature Point on the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s most northerly point overall. This spectacular headland is also known as Banba’s Crown. For the adventurous walker nearby are the ‘wee house of Malin’ and also the rock formation known as ‘hell's hole’. 

Drive on around the Malin Head coastline on the R242 and R238, enjoying the stunning Atlantic seascapes and views from Lough Swilly to Fanad Head, another Signature Point, as you travel southwards through the Gap of Mamore before entering Buncrana. Form Buncrana follow the sign for Letterkenny but be sure to stop off at beautiful Lisfannon Beach if time allows. 

Day 2: Letterkenny to Ardara

Departing Letterkenny consider starting your day with a visit to Glenveagh National Park in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains. This remote and hauntingly beautiful wilderness of rugged mountains and pristine lakes covers over 16,000 hectares in three areas, the largest of which is the former Glenveagh Estate, which includes most of the Derryveagh Mountains. 

From the National Park travel north to breathtaking Sheephaven Bay and then west and south along the coastline on the H56 and R257 to Bloody Foreland and the Gaeltacht region where you will hear the Irish language being spoken as part of daily life and the comforting aroma of burning local turf in the air. Take the R259 to Burtonport from where you call see Donegal’s Aran Island out to sea in the distance before continuing southward to Ardara along the coast via Dungloe.

Day 3: Ardara to Donegal Town

Drive down through Glengesh Pass on the R230 first to Glencolmcille Head and then onward towards the village of Carrick and Silver Strand Beach at Malin Beag. This spectacular hidden gem is a golden horseshoe-shaped beach which gives the impression of the sand circling the sea like a golden torc. 

Travel on to the spectacular Sliabh Liag Cliffs, another Signature Point on the Wild Atlantic Way with some of the highest and finest marine cliffs in Europe. Leave the car in the car park, breathe the fresh Atlantic air and take in the terrific views laid out before you with the possibility of sighting seals or dolphins and, in May and June, basking sharks feeding on the plankton offshore. Take a stroll along the stunning Pilgrim’s Path up along the Sliabh Liag Cliffs but don’t forget your camera!

Back in the car continue eastwards along the coast road (R263) stopping off at the stunning viewing points along the way at Fintra Bay and Killybegs before reaching journey’s end in Donegal town.