Ireland’s largest and most isolated county is a patchwork of deserted golden beaches, wave-lashed cliffs and heathery hills dotted with charming little rural hamlets. Looking for spellbinding scenery and off-the-beaten-track adventure? A short break to Donegal from Glasgow Airport is a perfect choice.
The county’s walking trails are among the wildest and most beautiful in Ireland. Tackle the tough but rewarding climb to the summit of Mount Errigal at 725m, tramp the Donegal section of the 2,400km Wild Atlantic Way, or enjoy a relaxing family romp around the Glenevin Waterfall Walk. If you prefer to admire the stellar views from the comfort of your car, signposted drives such as the Inishowen 100 and the Columbian Heritage Trail take in the scenic and historic highlights of the county in style.
With over 1,100km of cliffs and coves, Donegal has the longest coastline in Ireland. In good weather, the beaches here rival any tropical paradise you choose to mention. Discover powdery white sands and sheltered swimming at Culdaff, Downings and Fintragh blue flag beaches, spot rare birds on LisfannonBeach, or visit Bundoran beach to try your hand at surfing. Feeling adventurous? Jump on a ferry at Machaire Gathlan and explore the beautiful remote island of Gola, with its array of birdlife and world-class rock climbing; or island-hop between unspoiled Inishbofin, Arranmore and Owey.
Castles and culture
You don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to fall under the spell of Donegal. The county is dotted with historic buildings and ancient monuments, from 15th-century Donegal castle (Bridge Street, Donegal town) to Grianán of Aileách stone fort. Dip a toe into the area’s turbulent history at the CountyMuseum (High Road, Letterkenny), see a show at the Balor Arts Centre (Main Street, Ballybofey), or browse local art at the Stephen Bennett Studio Gallery (Carn Adara). There are also several cultural festivals throughout the year, including Earagail Arts Festival (July) and Culture Night (September).