Ultimate Guide to Things to Do: Inishowen Peninsula Donegal

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 ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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. You’ll find the Inishowen Peninsula in the north of County Donegal. It’s a 40-minute drive from Derry, a 55-minute drive from Letterkenny and a 1.5-hour drive from Donegal Town where I live.

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.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Things to Do on the Inishowen Peninsula

What are the top 10 things to do in Inishowen Peninsula, Donegal, Ireland?

When visiting Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal, Ireland, be sure to explore popular attractions such as Inishowen Maritime Museum, Fort Dunree Military Museum, Wild Alpaca Way, Malin Head, Culdaff Beach, Fanad Head, Fanad Lighthouse, Inishowen 100 and Doagh Famine Village.

Where is the Inishowen Peninsula located?

The Inishowen Peninsula is situated in County Donegal, Ireland. It is known for its stunning beaches, beautiful scenic views, and rich history.

What are the must-see attractions on the Inishowen Peninsula?

Some of the must-see attractions on the Inishowen Peninsula include Malin Head, Fort Dunree Military Museum, Doagh Famine Village, Lough Foyle, and Culdaff Beach. These locations offer a mix of history, natural beauty, and cultural experiences.

Is there a lighthouse to visit on the Inishowen Peninsula?

Yes, visitors to the Inishowen Peninsula can explore the lighthouses at Fanad. This historic structure offer stunning views of the coastline and are great spots for photography.

What activities are available for families with kids on the Inishowen Peninsula?

The Inishowen Peninsula caters to families with kids with attractions such as Wild Alpaca Way, Doagh Famine Village, and beach areas like Culdaff Beach, Tullagh Strand and Kinnagoe Bay.

How to get to the Inishowen Peninsula Donegal 2024

Visit Inishowen from Derry

If you’re in Northern Ireland and touring the Causeway Coastal Route and heading onto travelling the Wild Atlantic Way and going 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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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.

BestThings to do in Inishowen all the attractions in Inishowen Peninsula

Inishowen Peninsula Loop

This spectacular walk on Ireland’s most northerly point 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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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 ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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.

Wild Alpaca Way

A family run business and home to over 37 Alpacas the Wild Alpaca Way is a rare treat to walk these beautiful animals amidst the scenic location of Malin Head along private walkways and trails.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

Nancy’s Barn Ballyliffin, Clonmany, County Donegal

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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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.

Celebrating all things Star Wars in Ireland

Glenevin Waterfall

1.2km west of Clonmany village on the road to Urris/Gap of Mamore you can walk to the waterfall Glenevin through a wooded stream valley. The walk ends at Glenevin Waterfall which is one of Inishowen’s most spectacular natural attractions. The walk is virtually level and follows well prepared and maintained gravel paths.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen
©Neuköllner, CC BY-SA 4.0

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’.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in 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.

Fort Dunree, Inishowen Peninsula - County Donegal, Ireland.

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. The museum also hosts one of the best collections of coast artillery guns in the world.

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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

McGrory’s in Culdaff, offers free traditional music sessions every Saturday and a great Irish breakfast when staying at the hotel.

Culdaff Beach

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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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.

Bocan Stone Circle, an ancient ring of stones found in Donegal on the Inishowen peninsula.

12 Ancient Ring forts in Ireland to visit

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.

Aerial view of Kinnagoe bay in County Donegal, Ireland.

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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

Visit Fanad Head And Fanad 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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

Lough Swilly

Lough Swilly or the Lake of Shadows as its name means is the sea inlet that stretches for 45 kilometres between the peninsulas of Inishowen and Fanad all the way to the town of Letterkenny. Here you can partake of many outdoor activities including kids’ kayaking camps, adult kayak tours, hill walking, rock climbing, coasteering, and abseiling. You can also take a ferry which operates between Rathmullan and Buncrana throughout July and August.

Lough Swilly Coastal path between Buncrana in County Donegal and the life boat Station. a pathway leads around the Lough with a runner on the trails

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 ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen
©By Andreas F. Borchert, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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. The village tells the story of an Irish family from the 18th century right up to the present day.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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.

This is the ruins of the old lookout at Horn Head in Donegal Ireland


 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

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.

This is the old stone bridge that leads up to Buncrana Castle in Donegal Ireland

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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

Perched on a hilltop, Grianan Ailigh offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, Lough Foyle, and the Derry skyline.

Grianan of Aileach ring fort, Donegal - Ireland.

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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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 ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen
©Maritime Museum and Planetarium

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.  

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

Visit Fahan

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.  

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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 ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen
©Andreas F. Borchert, CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen

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.

Culdaff beach, Inishowen Peninsula. County Donegal - Ireland

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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The ultimate guide to Things to do in Inishowen


  • Faith was born in Ireland raised in Canada and has lived in over 10 countries in Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Wales, along with Mexico, Antigua, the US and has slow travelled to over 40 countries around the world. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies Faith is a student of history, culture, community and food and has written about these topics for over 40 years.

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