Donegal Driving Route


The best of Donegal and it's Wild Atlantic Way in just three days

Whether you are traveling from Kerry Airport, Dublin Airport, Shannon Airport or any Irish Airport we would highly recommend you include a trip to Donegal while in Ireland. This beautiful county has a lot to offer, from old Irish ways to the stunning Wild Atlantic Way.

We would begin by suggesting you hire a car from Car Rental Ireland, this will give you the freedom to travel this route at your own pace and you won't have to rely on public transport.

When choosing a driving route through Donegal, you must ensure the route includes views of the beautiful Wild Atlantic Way. We have, of course, included the idyllic spot on our 3-day route. We would suggest you do this trip over three days, to really get the full experience of Donegal – it also allows you to spend a little extra time in each spot.

Day One Green Castle to Letterkenny

Starting in the little town of Muff, in County Donegal – which can be considered either the starting point or the finishing point of the Wild Atlantic Way touring route, depending on which direction you choose to travel it, in our case it is the starting Route. Take the R238 northwards along the western shoreline of Lough Foyle to Greencastle and follow the coast around to Kinnagoe Bay – make sure to enjoy the superb views of valleys, moorlands and of course the Atlantic Ocean as you pass through.

Continue driving in the rental car westwards towards Malin Head, which is the most northerly Signature Point on the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s most northerly point in general. Here you will see some spectacular headland views, have the camera out because these views aren’t to be missed.

Continue driving the hired car around the Malin Head coastline on the R242 and R238, enjoying the stunning Atlantic seascapes and views from Lough Swilly as you travel through the Gap of Mamore before entering Buncrana. I hope you still have your camera out...As this spectacular views are some of the more picture worthy views in Ireland. From Buncrana keep following the signs for Letterkenny. You will pass by a stunning little beach, Lisfannon Beach, if your travel time allows it, you should stop and take in the fresh sea and air and the calming views.

Sun Rise in Greencastle

Greencastle Sunrise
Credit: Andrew Hurley.

Day Two Letterkenny to Ardara

We suggest starting your morning with a stroll through Glenveagh National Park in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains, this beautiful park is a basin of views. This remote and hauntingly striking wilderness of rugged mountains and pristine lakes covers over 16,000 hectares, there are plenty of different walking routes around the 16,000 hectares, depending on your time and experience level.

From the National Park, travel through the breathtaking area, of Sheephaven Bay to the quaint town of Bloody Foreland. This charming area is part of the Gaeltacht region in Donegal, you will hear the traditional Irish language being spoken as part of daily life and the comforting homely aroma of burning local turf in the air. Little tip, in case you want to impress the locals, ‘Dia Duit’ (pronounced as Deeah Guhwitch) is Hello in Irish and Slan (pronounced as Slaun) is Goodbye.

Hop back into your rental car, and head towards Burtonport from where you can take in the outstanding views of Donegal’s Aran Islands and surrounding sea in the distance before continuing onwards to Ardara along the scenic coastline.

old mill in Letterkenny

Corn Mill Letterkenny
Credit: Dr Neil Clifton.

Day Three: Ardara to Donegal town
The final day of our trip. Drive down through Glengesh Pass on the R230 towards the village of Carrick and Silver Strand Beach at Malin Beag. This charming hidden gem is a golden horseshoe-shaped beach which gives the impression of the sand circling around the sea. On a nice day, when the sun is shining down on the beach – the sand sparkles around the glistening sea and the view can only be described as magical.

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 rental car in the car park, breathe the fresh Atlantic air and take in the terrific views panned out in front of you. If you are lucky you might be greeted with sightings of 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!

When you’ve taken in the views, head back to the rental car continue eastwards along the coast road stopping off at the stunning viewing points along the way before reaching journey’s end in Donegal town.

Maghera Caves ardara

Maghera Caves Ardara
Credit: Bart Whelan.

Some trips to add to your visit to Ireland’s beautiful Donegal are:

1. Visit Yeats County – Druncliffe, burial place of W.B. Yeats, Lissadell House, Glencar Waterfall.

2. Magees in Donegal Town, home of the famous Donegal Tweed.

3. Enjoy a day of local activity in Bundoran – from golf to surfing, fishing, hiking, cycling, or a pleasant stroll around the famous Rougey Walk, this seaside town has the views and the facilities to make a day in the outdoors very special.


Rougey Walk
Credit: Kenneth Allen.

If you want to keep traveling around Ireland, why not take take your rental car and have a look at our other suggested driving routes. If you have any questions regarding car hire, please take a look at our car rental guide.There is so much beauty around Ireland just waiting for you to capture it on your cameras. Don't forget to send in your pictures and review of any of the trips you've taken, we love getting feedback from our customers.