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Looking for the best Donegal road trip? This scenic route has cliffs, beaches and waterfalls

Take a drive with us through Donegal and discover these unmissable hidden gems.

Journal Media Studio / YouTube

The Journal is partnering with Allianz Insurance for this series that showcases the most beautiful drives in Ireland. For our next installment, we’re packing up the car and heading to the Wild Atlantic Way as we explore the rugged coastline and breathtaking landscapes of Donegal. 

It’s hard to argue with content creator, Marius Monaghan, when he labels Donegal one of the, “most naturally beautiful places in Ireland”. Boasting Ireland’s longest coastline, with over 100 beaches and Europe’s highest cliffs, Donegal offers unique travel experiences for local and international tourists alike. If you want to get to know your island more and be blown away by what’s on offer, we’ve compiled a road-trip that encompasses the best beaches, cliffs, mountainscapes and hidden gems along the way. 

  • Where: Co Donegal.
  • The route: Starting from Killybegs, swing by Fintra beach before traveling north to Assaranca Waterfall. Next, we head to Glencolumcille Folk Village before moving along the Wild Atlantic Way towards Malin Beg for a quick dip. We finish up with a trip to The Rusty Mackerel nestled in the foothills of the Sliabh Liag Cliffs.
  • Photo opportunities: Every single stop on this route will have you reaching for your camera, our personal favourite photo ops are the incomparable Assaranca Waterfall, the Silver-Strand at Malin Beg. 
  • Pitstops: Ardara village is as quaint as it comes and is the perfect place to stop for some pub grub and to sample some of the local shops. Another hidden gem is the Muckross coastal road. Sitting at the base of Muckross Hill, Muckross Head is best known for its stunning scenery, twin beaches and sea cliffs, a viewpoint not to be overlooked. 
  • Something different: Glencolumcille Folk Village, pop into the tea rooms for their daily soup and sambo combo, it doesn’t disappoint! 

Kicking things off in Killybegs, the largest fishing port in the county, we recommend you swing by Fintra beach to feast your eyes on a stunningly secluded sandy beach. This blue flag beach is approached by a steep road down to it which offers fabulous vistas of both the beach and Donegal Bay as far as Benbulben mountain in County Sligo. After a quick pitstop and an obligatory paddle you’ll travel north for the next stop on your trip, Assaranca Waterfall.

The waterfall is a must-see for road trippers to Donegal, you have the ability to drive right up to the waterfall and as weather isn’t always on our side in Ireland, you don’t even have to get out of the car to witness the beauty of Assaranca. There’s plenty of free parking so if the weather allows we recommend taking a pit-stop for a photo and a picnic by the falls. 

We’re taking a trip back in time next as you head to Glencolumcille to visit the Folk Village. One for the history buffs – the original artefacts and period thatched cottages on display are a sight to behold. With guided tours available from the Folk Village Museum, you’re transported back to  experience life as it was in the 1700’s, 1800′s and 1900’s. 

Your next stop is a breathtaking beach on the Wild Atlantic Way. About thirty kilometres West of Killybegs, you’ll arrive at Malin Beg. The so-called Silver Strand is nestled in a horseshoe-shaped bay and just 174 steps leads you down to an unforgettable dip in the Atlantic Ocean.

Moving onto the home stretch and having worked up quite the appetite, you’ll finish up the road-trip by sampling the seafood on offer in the shadows of the Sliabh Liag cliffs at The Rusty Mackerel. This award-winning spot offers guests a catalogue of activities including fishing, scuba diving, and boat trips. As well as the food which is much celebrated, if you stay at The Rusty Mackerel you’re merely feet away from all the natural beauty that Ireland has to offer. 

Insure your next road trip with Allianz and get 15% off car insurance online. *

Allianz p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Standard acceptance criteria, terms & conditions apply. A minimum premium of €284 applies.