Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way has become a go-to for international visitors searching for a real Irish experience. So much so, Donegal - the epicenter of the Irish wild - was voted as the coolest place in the world in 2017 by the National Geographic. The award was given to 17 spots that are considered culture capitals and wild escapes and with Blue flag beaches and offshore islands it's not surprising that Donegal was chosen. The county is not only home to some breathtaking views, Star Wars: Episode VII was filmed on the Inishowen Peninsula. We've compiled an exhaustive list of reasons why you need a road trip to the forgotten county, here are 7 reasons to visit Donegal:
1. The Slieve League Cliffs
A hike like no other, you haven't been outdoors until you climb the Slieve League cliffs. If you fancy experiencing the Wild Atlantic Way by foot then rent bikes and cycle for four miles and pretend you did the entire 1,600.
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A different perspective on the #slieveleague #cliffs than you normally see on #instagram . In the distance is Bunglass point which is about as far as most people visiting #slieveleaguecliffs will go! I highly recommend #hiking the length of these #seacliffs (and back) if you're able! You can traverse the squeakybum "onemanspath" section or #climb on cool #geological features like this rock stack! 😁 #donegal #countydonegal #ireland #ireland🍀 #ireland_gram #inspireland_ #hikingadventures #gohiking #optoutside #getoutdoors #osmaps #thegreatoutdoors #wildatlanticway #goingcoastal #stunningview #rawireland #visitdonegal #insta_donegal #insta_ireland #ireland_gram #visitireland #atlanticocean
The second largest national park in Ireland, you can roam the Castle grounds or swim in Lough Veagh. If you love wildlife the park is home to the biggest population of red deer in Ireland and if you're lucky you might spot a golden eagle.
3. Carrick Finn Beach
Did someone say outdoor brunch? Surfing is a big deal in Donegal but without the giant waves, Carrick Finn beach is a less populated beach that's perfect for a chill down in the sunshine.
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"Oileán Na Marbh" - Isle of the Dead I have visited some strange places across Ireland throughout my years, although recently I was unexpectedly contacted by a gentleman with information regarding the strangest location I would ever visit…. "Oilean Na Marbh" an Island of the Dead. Initially I believed this may be a joke or an old urban legend tale or something. Although my doubts soon lifted & my heart broke into pieces when I started to research into this island’s almost unbelievable history. This little Island you see in my photo may look like a normal lump of rocky ground on a beach in Donegal. Little do we know that this island is resting ground to over 500 stillborn & famine babies! All buried here in what was once a very secret burial ground ? These children were born between the 18th and 19th centuries. These poor little souls could not be buried on consecrated ground simply because they had not been baptised before passing away. This was common practice across Ireland for hundreds of years & many children were buried just outside of consecrated grounds such as graveyards & churches etc. The closer to holy ground the better because those children were not allowed within the actual boundary walls. However, the community of Carrickfinn instead chose this now sacred island for their unbaptised burials right up until its last burial in 1912. It has been kept this small communities secret until only recent times. The poor parents would have carried their child in a small wooden box across this beach at low tide to this island during the cover of night. They buried the children here & left this island forever in hope that nobody would ever find out. Back in those times it was seen as a shameful deed here in Ireland to have given birth outside of marriage or if your child had passed away before being baptised. In my personal opinion this was an utter disgrace ? I’m pleased that religion has stopped these dated practices & finally moved forward with the times. RIP to all these once lost but now found souls on "Oilean Na Marbh"….
Not only is Bundoran full of slot machines and general craic, the town is known for being a place where you can spoil yourself with a spa treatment or try kitesurfing for the first time. Rent bikes and do a stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way while you're here.
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I remember trying to squeeze every last moment out of our trip in Ireland, with this coastline being the last we visited. Took some tiny winding roads to get out here not really knowing what we would find. As we drove down the hill the sunset burst through ahead of us, and faded by the time we made it out the car. That didn’t stop us stumbling over the moorland, passing a monument, some sheep, getting wet feet and sliding down muddy slopes. All with the aim of reaching a distant & dramatic looking cliff pinnacle lurking above the horizon. Every time we thought we would get a view of the cliff another mound of moorland seemed to rise up unexpectedly. As the light faded even further we made a slow return to the car and made do with these views. A safe and steady drive later we got to our accommodation where we were not expected. So we headed out for a curry in Bundoran while some beds were thrown together. #bundoran #portdonegal #discoverireland #ireland #visitireland
5. Tory Island
Forget about the Aran Islands, Tory Island is a quaint and picturesque island off the coast of Donegal that's home to Ireland's last king. The Islanders elect a King of the island who greets visitors who step off the boat when they arrive on the island. The cliff views of the island are incredibly stunning.
6. Mount Errigal
Like something out of Lord of the Rings, Mount Errigal is the perfect adventure for those of you looking to hike or rock climb.
7. Muff Festival
No town name makes people snigger as much as Muff. If you fancy getting stuck in and becoming part of the Muff crew then head down for the Muff Festival, a festival that's running nearly 40 years. The festival is held in over a weekend in August and full of quirky events like lorry pulling and the 'wife carrying' race.