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We’re all looking a bit closer to home for our getaways this year, and we might be bias, but Donegal really does have it all. Voted ‘Coolest Place on the Planet’ by National Geographic in 2017, whether you’re looking for adventurous outdoor pursuits, a bit of luxury or breathtaking scenery, there is something here for you.

Here are some of our family’s top tips for things to see and do on a three-day staycation in Donegal.

Stay

Base yourself at the Lough Eske Castle Hotel, this 5-star award winning hotel and spa is nestled at the foot of the Blue Stack Mountains just five miles from Donegal Town. From Cedars Restaurant you can take in sweeping views of the castle gardens and surrounding woodland while enjoying simple, exquisitely fresh ingredients prepared to perfection.

Day 1

After you get settled at the hotel, take the short, 10-minute drive into Donegal Town – a lively spot all year round. The epic Donegal Castle, built in 1474 sits on the banks of the River Eske and was the stronghold of the O’Donnell clan, one of the most powerful Gaelic families in Ireland. Pop over the bridge and you’ll find the start of the Donegal Bank Trail, a pleasant scenic stroll along the river that takes you out to Donegal Bay and back.

The Diamond is the main hub of Donegal Town, surrounded by café’s and restaurants and our Magee of Donegal shop, which stands on the site of the original drapers shop, founded in 1866. Here we specialise in Magee men’s and women’s wear and accessories – designed and made in Ireland. Other brands include – Barbour, Dubarry, Seasalt and luxury Irish made gifts including Newbridge Silver. Call ahead to arrange a weaving demonstration in our heritage room or take a break at the Weaver’s Loft café where we focus on a seasonal menu and home baking.

Day 2

Time to explore the Wild Atlantic Way. Just up the coast is Mountcharles Pier, stop for a coffee at the small café there, and have a splash in the ocean if you feel up for it. After enjoying the views across the bay, head to Salthill Gardens, built within old stone walls, this contemporary garden is bursting with flowers, shrubs and vegetables. Wander the paths, peer through rod iron garden gates, and feel as if you’ve stepped into the pages of The Secret Garden. (Open 1 May to 30 September 2020).

Continuing along the coast you will find Killybegs, Ireland’s largest fishing port. Just in time for lunch, The Seafood Shack  will not disappoint. Famous for their seafood chowder (winner of Ireland’s Best Chowder at the 9th All Ireland Chowder Cook Off in Kinsale in 2019) the rest of their offering is delicious too, freshly prepared local seafood all to be enjoyed al fresco accompanied by views of the sea and busy fishing boats.

Onward to Sliabh Liag , the highest sea cliffs in Europe. Stretching to over 600m above sea level, the views are unmissable. Drive to the top of the cliffs, or park and enjoy the hike.

Take the loop back through the winding Glengesh Pass to the heritage town of Ardara, a must for fans of traditional Irish music and also a town steeped in the wool trade. A busy market town, in the late 19th century our founder John Magee would visit the market in Ardara to buy and sell handwoven tweeds. On your return, treat yourself to a delicious dinner at the Lakeside Restaurant at Harvey’s Point Hotel on Lough Eske. Their seven-course tasting dinner is the perfect way to enjoy the best of Irish produce.

Day 3

Head north to Glenveagh National Park, the second largest national park in Ireland covering 170 square kilometres of hillside above Glenveagh Castle on the shore of Lough Veagh. The park hosts a variety of walking trails to suit everyone from the novice to experienced hiker. The fresh air and stunning views are guaranteed to blow away all your cobwebs. If hiking isn’t your thing, cycling and fishing are also on offer as well as a relaxed stroll through the castle’s walled Victorian gardens.

We hope you enjoy your trip through our home county and the landscapes that have inspired our talented weavers and designers for more than 150 years.


From the dramatic rise of black sea cliffs over the Atlantic to wide, sandy beaches; from taking the scenic route along winding country roads to exploring vibrant local towns, it’s no wonder we say Donegal has it all. An absolute haven for those of us who love the outdoors, Donegal also offers plenty in the way of relaxation and luxury. If you’re planning a weekend, let us help!

Spend your first day near Donegal Town, which is a lively spot all year round.

TAKE YOUR TIME AT MOUNTCHARLES & SALTHILL GARDENS

In the morning, take a five-kilometre spin down the road to Mountcharles Pier. Stop for a coffee at the small café there, and have a splash in the ocean if you feel up for it!

After enjoying the views across the bay, head to Salthill Gardens just up the road, 200m from the sea. Built within old stone walls, this contemporary garden is bursting with flowers, shrubs and vegetables. Wander the paths, peer through rod iron garden gates, and feel as if you’ve stepped into the pages of The Secret Garden.

ENJOY AFTERNOON TEA AT LOUGH ESKE CASTLE

Served from 12pm to 5pm, a luxurious afternoon tea at Lough Eske Castle Hotel is the perfect place to whet your appetite. Explore the lovely grounds of the castle hotel and then sit down to indulge in home-baked treats, savoury sandwiches, and a glass of bubbly.

EXPLORE DONEGAL TOWN

For a town that many would consider remote, Donegal is absolutely bubbling with life. We often get to enjoy music from talented buskers in the town square, and if the sun is shining be sure to get an ice cream cone from Little Mamma’s ice cream shop. For a bit of history, pop into Donegal Castle for a tour.

Of course no trip to Donegal would be complete without a visit to Magee of Donegal (if we do say so ourselves!). The shop has been in that same location since 1866, when we began as drapers shop and traded genuine Donegal tweed. Ask for a demonstration of handweaving, which dominated the tweed market for centuries. Have a peruse of our clothing collections, which features fabrics designed and woven at our working weaving mill just down the road.

STAY AT HARVEY’S POINT

Situated on the banks of Lough Eske, Harvey’s Point offers a relaxed getaway for your weekend. If the sun is shining, sit out at the Harvey’s Point Bar & Terrace and enjoy the view. Alternatively, treat yourself to a delicious dinner at the Restaurant. Their seven-course tasting dinner is the perfect way to enjoy the best of Irish produce. Retire to a luxuriously comfortable room, furnished and fitted with complete attention to detail – and even fresh-baked cookies delivered to the door! 

On your second day in Donegal, head out the coast road and enjoy the coastline that Donegal is famous for.

TAKE A SCENIC SPIN ALONG THE COAST

In the morning, take your time enjoying the coastal road that brings you from Donegal Town to Sliabh Liag cliffs. Be sure to head toward Muckross for the spectacular views across the bay. There’s a beautiful sandy inlet there surrounded by green fields, well worth stopping the car to get out and stretch the legs.

EXPERIENCE IRELAND’S HIGHEST SEA CLIFFS

Sliabh Liag (alternatively Slieve League) are the highest sea cliffs in Europe, reaching over 600m above sea level, and unmissable on a trip to Donegal. You can choose to drive your car up nearly to the top of the cliffs, or park and enjoy the hike (and the views!). It’s a few miles, and it’s the best way to fully enjoy the spectacle of the area.

For the adventurous and experienced walkers, a One Man’s Pass loops around onto the Pilgrim’s Path, offering a strenuous but rewarding walk. It can be dangerous, especially in adverse weather conditions, so proceed with caution!

STOP AT KILLYBEGS SEAFOOD SHACK

The Seafood Shack captialises on Killybeg’s position as a working harbour town. Their seafood chowder won Ireland’s Best Chowder in 2019 at the 9th All Ireland Chowder Cook Off in Kinsale, so you definitely won’t want to miss it. Their box of fried seafood is another option you won’t want to pass up; it’s freshly made and full of local seafood. The place is literally a shack (although a very nice shack), so don’t expect fine dining – but with views of the sea, we promise you won’t mind.

HEAD TO A LOCAL PUB

What trip would be complete without a pint of Guinness and some music? Donegal Town has plenty to offer in the way of pubs, from small locals to lively bars brimming with music and energy. McCafferty’s Bar has music seven nights a week if you’re looking for a place to pass an evening!

On your third day in Donegal, it’s time to head north into the country.

VISIT GLENVEAGH NATIONAL PARK

It’s just over an hour from Donegal Town, but Glenveagh is certain to be one of the highlights of the trip. Given the distance and the amount to do in the area, we’d recommend spending the day. 

Park your car for free, and then a free shuttle bus will take you up to the castle. The tour of the castle will take you through the history of the area. The surrounding gardens are built on the banks of Lough Beagh, offering a relaxing stroll with lovely views.

The café on site offers delicious, affordable food for your lunch. Fully fortified, we recommend taking a hike through the national park, following the trails. You’ll see Mount Errigal and other breath-taking views as you go. If hiking isn’t your favourite pastime, it’s still worth hopping in the car and taking a leisurely drive around the lough to fully appreciate the beauty of the area.

If you’re on the lookout for more to do, don’t miss the Poisoned Glen at the foot of Mount Errigal, just west of the National Park.

As always, we hope you enjoy your visit to our beautiful county and come away saying, as we do… Donegal has it all! 

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