Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Inishowen
Nestled in the ‘coolest place on earth’ according to Nat Geo the Inishowen Peninsula of Donegal beckons travellers with its breathtaking landscapes, rich heritage, and warm hospitality.
Inishowen Ireland is a hidden gem, and offers a captivating blend of untamed beauty and cultural treasures, making it an ideal destination for those seeking an authentic Irish experience. From the majestic cliffs of Malin Head to the ancient fortresses and picturesque beaches, Inishowen has something for everyone.
The Inishowen is a massive peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic and it has a scenic route called the Inishowen 100 (kilometres) that runs through the area.
Inishowen in County Donegal is one of the largest peninsulas in the world jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean in Northern Ireland Donegal. A scenic route called the Inishowen 100 (km) is one of the most enchanting drives in Ireland.
- Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Inishowen
- How to get to the Inishowen Peninsula
- 25 Things to do in Inishowen
- Inishowen Peninsula Loop
- Visit Malin Head
- Where to stay in Malin Head
- Visit Hell’s Hole Ineuran Bay
- Warm up at Farren’s Ireland
- Drive the Inishowen 100
- Fort Dunree Military Museum
- Enjoy a pint at McGrory’s
- Culdaff Beach
- Bocan Stone Circle
- Discover Kinnagoe Bay
- Five Finger Strand
- Visit Fanad Head And Lighthouse
- Explore Doe Castle
- The Isle of Doagh
- Visit Doagh Famine Village
- Horn Head – Dunfanaghy
- Buncrana Castle
- Grianan of Aileach
- Go hiking in the Inishowen Hills
- Go birdwatching at Inch Wildfowl Reserve
- Visit the Inishowen Maritime Museum and Planetarium
- Explore the town of Moville
- Visit Fahan
- The Northern Lights from Inishowen
How to get to the Inishowen Peninsula
Inishowen from Derry
If you’re on the West Coast travelling the Wild Atlantic Way and heading North you will venture towards Letterkenny, follow signs for Moville and enjoy the coastal drive along the Lough Foyle and continue on to Greencastle where you’ll find the Lough Foyle Ferry waiting to cross to Magilligan Point.
Maybe you’ve travelled along the Causeway Coast from Ballycastle or Rathlin Island? Take your time past the Giant’s Causeway into Portrush and drive towards Castlerock. After you’ve visited Downhill and Mussenden Temple drive towards Magilligan Point where the Lough Foyle Ferry will transport you into Inishowen.
Sailing begins in April and continues throughout the summer months until mid-September. Fares for cars start at €20 euros per car and go up to €50.00.
Inishowen from Dublin
You can fly from Dublin or Belfast to Donegal or into Derry where you can rent a car for your Inishowen adventure. Dublin is about a 3.5-hour drive and Belfast is around 2 hours.
25 Things to do in Inishowen
Inishowen Peninsula Loop
This spectacular walk follows a route through some of Donegal’s most impressive coastal scenery. Within a relatively short distance from the trailhead, the walker is in a remote county with wonderful coastal views of Lough Foyle, the north coast of Inishowen and Scotland on a fine day.
This is a 2-3 hour walk that begins around 4km northeast of Greencastle and on the western shore of Lough Foyle on a trail with National Waymarked Trails arrows.
Visit Malin Head
Explore the northernmost point of Ireland, known for its stunning coastal scenery, cliffs, and the iconic “Banba’s Crown” viewpoint.
A visit to Inishowen is incomplete without venturing to Malin Head, the jewel in the crown of Northern Donegal. Known as Ireland’s northernmost point, this breathtaking coastal area offers a symphony of natural beauty.
The rugged cliffs, pounded by the Atlantic Ocean, provide a dramatic backdrop for panoramic views. Take a stroll along the cliff-edge path to reach Banba’s Crown, where a weathered tower stands sentinel over the roaring sea. On a clear day, you may even catch a glimpse of Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre.
Malin Head is also a stop on a Star Wars in Ireland tour or the last. It was here, that scenes featuring Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Rey (Daisy Ridley) and the Millennium Falcon were shot here in early 2016.
Where to stay in Malin Head
You will really be able to see Donegal’s motto “It’s different up here”. In Malin Head, you will want to stay at the Ballyliffen Lodge and Spa Hotel which is superb. Spectacular views over Malin Head and located a short drive away from Ireland’s most famous golf course Ballyliffen Golf Club, the Lodge is ideally suited for a little luxury during your stay for the Star Wars Festival.
In Ballyliffen, you need to grab a bite at Nancy’s Barn it’s located in a converted barn and has won many awards not the least of which is one for its brilliant seafood chowder.
You must check out Cafe Banba, which is Ireland’s most northerly bakery and coffee shop. A family-run business they have two coffee vans, which can be found at Banba’s Crown and Ballyhillion.
Visit Hell’s Hole Ineuran Bay
Filming was centred around a deep chasm known as Hell’s Hole, which has been carved into the rock over millions of years. This is where Rey and Chewbacca land the Millennium Falcon on a rocky outcrop on AHCH-TO. The site is located in Ineuran Bay. You can park at the viewpoint parking lot and then go to the small beach in front of you and walk along the water’s edge. The location of the Millennium Falcon is the rocky outcrop further to the right.
Warm up at Farren’s Ireland
When you need to warm up with a pint of the black stuff head to Malin Village and visit Farren’s, Ireland’s most northerly pub which has a Yoda mural and inside a notice from Management that strictly forbids the use of the ‘Force’.
Drive the Inishowen 100
Embark on an awe-inspiring journey along the Inishowen 100, a scenic driving route that encircles the peninsula and unveils its hidden treasures. This 100-mile (160 km) route promises captivating vistas at every turn, showcasing the rugged beauty of Inishowen.
Traverse winding coastal roads, pass through quaint villages, and marvel at the unspoiled countryside. Highlights include Mamore Gap, the Grianan of Aileach, Fort Dunree, Buncrana and Carndonagh.
Fort Dunree Military Museum
The Napoleonic Military Fort itself was built completely without mortar, the inside of the Fort has three terraces and it is believed that wooden structures were built around these to provide living areas. Legend has it that the Giants of Inishowen lie sleeping below the fort and that when the sacred sword is removed they will come back to life and reclaim their ancient lands.
You can also browse through an interesting exhibit on the history of the fort, and admire the period cannons and the military camp where the soldiers were stationed.
Enjoy a pint at McGrory’s
McGrory’s is a lovely small Irish hotel with superb service and An ideal base for touring Inishowen, Donegal, and the Causeway Coast, and is located in the village of Culdaff and is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
McGrory’s in Culdaff, offers free traditional music sessions every Saturday and a great Irish breakfast when staying at the hotel.
Located close to the village of Culdaff, Culdaff Beach provides a sandy stretch for walking and water activities alongside rock coves for exploration. A Blue Flag beach this is perfectly safe for swimming and water sports.
There are lifeguards on duty in the summer months and you can walk the beach and explore the neighbouring rock coves, or visit the children’s play area.
Bocan Stone Circle
2km from Culdaff on the way to Moville look for the Bocan Stone Circle. Situated on the hill of Bocan with magnificent views from Sliabh Sneacht to Trawbreaga Bay right to Glengad you will find the Bocan Stone. Many of the stones (originally numbering 30 in all) were removed during land development the remaining stones are up to 7ft tall and it is easy to imagine sacred rites being performed.
Discover Kinnagoe Bay
Kinnagoe Bay is where the Spanish ship La Trinidad Valencera was sunk in 1588. Part of the Spanish Armada many of Donegal’s citizens trace their ancestry back to the sailors that were saved by the locals. Kinnagoe is one of Donegal’s most beautiful secluded bays and it is near the town of Inishowen. Artefacts from the wreck are on display at the Tower Museum in Derry.
Five Finger Strand
One of Ireland’s most unspoiled beaches Five Finger Strand – the name comes from five narrow sea stacks that protrude from the water on the north side of the beach which allude to fingers. This beach will give you unimaginable views of Inishowen with virtually nobody around. This is not a swimming beach so don’t get your feet wet.
Visit Fanad Head And Lighthouse
Fanad Head and the lighthouse that marks the head is a photographer’s dream. If you want to you can also stay in one of the 3 lightkeepers cottages beside the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse tour itself costs around €10 euros and it’s a climb to the top of 76 steps but provides stunning views. These tours are all conducted by locals who will give you insight into the people of Donegal and the culture.
Explore Doe Castle
Located near the absolutely stunning Sheepshead Bay this is one of Ireland’s few remaining, fortified, Gaelic tower houses. Dating back to the 1420’s Doe was home to the McSweeney Clan for nearly 200 years. Admission to the grounds is free and for €3 euro, you can take a guided tour. If you need a break there is a little cafe on the grounds as well.
The Isle of Doagh
The Isle of Doagh hasn’t been an entire island since the end of the last Ice Age. It is now a smaller peninsula within the Inishowen peninsula, bounded in the west by Pollan Bay on the Atlantic Ocean and Trawbrega Bay in the west.
On a large rock, named Friars Rock to the northern end of Pollan Bay, stands the ruins of Carraickabraghy Castle. It is believed that the castle was built around 1600 by Phelemy Brasleigh O’Doherty.
Visit Doagh Famine Village
A replica of a picturesque Irish Village Doagh Famine Village is around an hour north of Letterkenny and costs €10 per adult. I have to admit I’ve been a few times and it is a beautiful location. You can visit replicas of historic Irish houses, taste poteen brewed in the village and learn about the famine and Irish history.
Horn Head – Dunfanaghy
From Dunfanaghy take the Horn Head drive where you will have a 360-degree panoramic view of County Donegal from the lookout post. Look out to sea to Tory Island, in the distance to the right is the most northerly point of Ireland, Malin Head. Turning clockwise, you see the Rosguil Peninsula, beaches, then the mountains, Muckish and Errigal, The New Lake, Tramore, and back round to Tory Island.
Buncrana sits along the shores of Lough Swilly in the Inishowen Peninsula. These are a few examples of the cultural & historical interests in and around Buncrana. O’Doherty Castle, Buncrana Castle, Inch Castle, Burt Castle, Grianán Aileach and Fort Dunree.
Buncrana Castle is on the original site of the town of Buncrana, which was re-sited across the Crana River by Sir George Vaughan. The Castle was said to have held captive Theobald Wolfe Tone, a founding member of the United Irishmen, subsequent to his capture by the British Navy from the French warship La Hoche, as part of a French expedition force, off Buncrana in October 1798.
You cannot visit the Castle but you can take photos from the old stone bridge to the Castle.
Grianan of Aileach
Donegal is famous throughout Ireland for Grianán Ailigh. The origins of this ancient Ring Fort date back to around 1700 BC. It has always been connected to the Tuatha de Danann who invaded Ireland before the Celts and built stone forts on top of strategic hills. They worshipped Dagda (the Good God) and he too is associated with the origins of Aileach.
Perched on a hilltop, Grianan Ailigh offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, Lough Foyle, and the Derry skyline.
Go hiking in the Inishowen Hills
Enjoy the great outdoors by hiking through the picturesque hills of Inishowen, such as Slieve Snaght or Scalp Mountain, which offer stunning views of the peninsula and beyond.
Go birdwatching at Inch Wildfowl Reserve
This nature reserve near Inch Island is a haven for bird enthusiasts, offering opportunities to spot a variety of migratory and resident bird species in their natural habitat.
Visit the Inishowen Maritime Museum and Planetarium
The Maritime Museum & Planetarium was founded in 1994 by maritime history buffs who raised the money to buy the Old Coast Guard Station on Greencastle Harbor.
The museum includes photographs and artefacts, and a planetarium is housed in an extension built to the museum. A memorial to all those from the Inishowen Peninsula who have been lost at sea was erected in front of the Museum.
Explore the town of Moville
Wander through this charming coastal town, known for its colourful buildings, lively pubs, and scenic walks along the Moville Shore Path. Stop into Rosados for live music on Saturday nights and fantastic food every day.
Stay at the Admiralty House with views of Lough Foyle, Admiralty House offers elegant accommodation within a 10-minute walk into Moville.
Fahan is located on Lough Swilly around 8 miles from Derry and is the perfect base for exploring the Inishowen Peninsula. Here you will find a hidden gem A unique feature of Fahan is a finely carved cross-slab to the east of the modern church which dates from the 7th-9th century. The only Greek inscription known from early Christian Ireland is on one face and reads “Glory and honour to the Father Son and Holy Spirit”. Another cross-slab is set into the wall outside the cemetery.
Stay at the Sea Vista Hotel a lovely boutique hotel for adults only with stunning sea views. Check out Harry’s Bar and Restaurant in Bridgend for some of the area’s finest seafood and great steaks and veggies grown in their walled garden.
Fahan is home to one of the largest and best-equipped marinas on the North Coast, making this an ideal destination for sailing and boating enthusiasts. And, of course, Fahan is amply provided with safe sandy bathing beaches on the northern end of the village, and on Inch Island.
The monastic site at Fahan was founded by St Mura in the 6th century. Originally the monastery was known as “Othan Mor”, but after St Mura’s death became known as “Fahan Mura”. The greatest point of interest at this site today is the beautifully decorated 7th-century cross slab located in the graveyard.
The Northern Lights from Inishowen
There are several locations where you can view the Northern Lights from in Donegal. Malin Head is probably the best location as it is closer to the North Pole. There is a parking lot at Banba’s Crown where you can leave your car and look for the lights on the beach of Ballyhillion.
You could also try along the Marmore Gap which has complete blackout conditions – word of advice take a good flashlight with you. There’s also viewing from Dunree Fort and Inishowen Head which both have a good level of dark skies.
Nestled in the northern reaches of County Donegal, the Inishowen Peninsula beckons with its enchanting landscapes, rich heritage, and warm hospitality. Offering a unique blend of natural wonders, historical sites, and cultural experiences, Inishowen is a haven for those seeking an authentic Irish adventure.
From the dramatic cliffs of Malin Head to the picturesque beaches and charming towns, this article invites you on a captivating journey through Northern Donegal’s crown jewel, Inishowen Peninsula. Whether you’re an avid hiker, history buff, nature lover, or simply looking to immerse yourself in Irish culture, Inishowen promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you yearning to return.
The Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal is a land of wonder and discovery. Its rugged beauty, rich heritage, and warm hospitality leave an indelible mark on every visitor. Whether you find yourself standing at the edge of Malin Head, gazing out at the vast Atlantic Ocean, or exploring the ancient ruins of Grianan of Aileach, you will be immersed in the unique charm of this corner of Ireland.
From the scenic drives along the Inishowen 100 to the tranquil beaches and invigorating hiking trails, Inishowen offers a wealth of outdoor adventures. And as you wander through its towns and villages, engaging with the locals, indulging in traditional cuisine, and enjoying the live music sessions, you will discover the heart and soul of Inishowen.
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