Hiking Slieve League Donegal Ireland

Cool Things To Do In Donegal Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way

Cool things to do in Donegal Ireland span the rugged Wild Atlantic Way and explore unique hidden gems of the “Coolest Place on Earth”. Surf and ride at beautiful beaches, hike dramatic cliffs, sip tea in a castle, and travel a less-visited side of Ireland.

After the 2017 TBEX travel conference, Donegal Tourism hosted us for four wonderful days. We visited many attractions, restaurants and pubs, and hotels in the northwest section of Ireland, called the Coolest Place on Earth. Please enjoy this McCool Travel look at some cool things do in Donegal Ireland and along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Cool Things To Do in Donegal Ireland

Sliabh Liag (Slieve League)

Perhaps the natural highlight of Donegal Ireland is the sea cliffs at Sliabh Liag (Slieve League). These cliffs are three times taller than the uber-popular Cliffs of Moher, further south along the Wild Atlantic Way. McCool Travel tip: Go Visit Donegal!

3x taller than Cliffs of Moher. So why do more people not visit? Mystery.Go Visit DonegalWild Atlantic WayTourism Ireland

Posted by Charles McCool on Sunday, October 8, 2017


Glencolmcille Folk Village

Glencolmcille Folk Village has reconstructed typical Irish buildings from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Very cool, especially since I have traced some McCool family history to the 1660s. Nice to see how ancestors (and all people, of course) would have lived during those time periods.

Love the folk Village of Glencolmcille. Depicts Irish life and culture in 1700s to 1900s.Go Visit DonegalWild Atlantic WayTourism IrelandGlen Folk Village

Posted by Charles McCool on Sunday, October 8, 2017


Nancy’s Barn

This cute place with the very non-Irish name, Nancy’s Barn in Ballyliffin, is not a barn (well, it may have been) and has no one there answering to the name Nancy. Owner/chef Kieran Duey won the World Chowder Cookoff in 2017 in Newport, Rhode Island so you know that seafood chowder is amazing (it was!).

A fabulous day ends with a bowl of yum from the Seafood Chowder Champions 2017 at Nancy's Barn Ballyliffin. Donegal Tourism CLGFailte IrelandWild Atlantic WayTBEX

Posted by Julie Bingham McCool on Monday, October 9, 2017


Glenveagh National Park

The Glenveagh Castle is one highlight of the remote wilderness of Glenveagh National Park in County Donegal Ireland. The property was formerly owned by a Harvard University professor. After strolling the trails, visit the tearoom for some of the yummiest sweet treats I had on our 25 day Ireland trip.

cool things to do in Donegal Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Glenveagh Castle: things to do in Donegal Ireland

Would you?Glenveagh CastleTourism IrelandWild Atlantic WayGo Visit Donegal#tbexireland #travel #wildatlanticway #donegal

Posted by McCool Travel on Monday, October 9, 2017



With a name of Fin McCool’s you know it must be amazing. The patient and enthusiastic surf instructor at Fin McCool’s Surf School in Rossnowlagh taught four of us how to navigate the powerful waves and pretend to surf for a minute. So much fun!

Surfing Donegal Ireland

Surfing Donegal Ireland

Horse Ride on the Beach

The small family operated Tullagh Bay Equestrian Centre provided an excellent horse riding experience on a Donegal beach.

cool things to do in Donegal Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

things to do in Donegal Ireland: horse riding on the beach

Gorgeous Views

The rugged coastline of Donegal Ireland inspires countless photo opportunities.

cool things to do in Donegal Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

cottage along the Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal Ireland

Cliche. Horse, Ireland, view, epic.Go Visit Donegal

Posted by Charles McCool on Sunday, October 8, 2017

My travel writer friends and I had some fun at Grianan of Aileach, a fort dating back to before the 7th century. Click on the below image to play the video. What do you think?

Creevy Pier Hotel

After surfing with Fin McCool’s Surf School, this was a great stop. Delicious and hot seafood chowder and yummy fish & chips. With a splendid view.

Fish and chips with a side order of epic Donegal view. Coolest place on Earth they call it. Where is coolest place you have been?Creevy Pier HotelDonegal Tourism CLGTourism IrelandFáilte Ireland

Posted by Charles McCool on Saturday, October 7, 2017


Wild Atlantic Way

The entire Wild Atlantic Way traverses 2,500 km through 9 counties of Ireland. While I wish I had time to travel the entire route, I was thrilled to see most of the Donegal portion. Experts say it is the coolest and most rugged.

cool things to do in Donegal Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Wild Atlantic Way sign: Things to do in Donegal Ireland

Yeats Grave, Sligo

On the way into Donegal, stop and see the grave of W. B. Yeats just north of Sligo. I loved these swan door handles to enter the church where his grandfather was pastor.

Posted by Charles McCool on Saturday, October 7, 2017


Where to Stay in Donegal, Ireland

Harvey’s Point was named the #1 hotel in Ireland by TripAdvisor (5th year in a row). Wow. Definitely one of the most luxurious bathrooms I have seen. For an insider look at Harvey’s Point Hotel, view my video.

So, this is my shower head. This will be fun. See my Live video for more amazingness from Harvey's Point.Tourism IrelandGo Visit Donegal

Posted by Charles McCool on Saturday, October 7, 2017

Waterfront Hotel, Dungloe

Inishgowen Gateway Hotel, Buncara

What are some of your favorite things to do in Donegal Ireland?

Note: Go Visit Donegal hosted us—Julie at FuninFairfaxVA.com and I—so that we can discover and explore things to do in Donegal Ireland and share findings with our network.

For more information about things to do in Donegal:

Go Visit Donegal | Facebook | Twitter

Wild Atlantic Way | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

For more information on things to do in Ireland:

Fun Things To Do in Dublin

Ireland Luxury Lodging: Where to Stay in Ireland

Visit Donegal, Ireland for a lot of Craic

8 Great Places to Visit in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland: In the Footsteps of Finn McCool

Genealogy Travel: McCool homestead in Northern Ireland

Follow McCool Travel on FacebookTwitterInstagram, FlipboardPinterestStumbleUpon, and Bloglovin.

Ireland travel. Donegal Ireland and Wild Atlantic Way. Cool things to do in Donegal Ireland span the rugged Wild Atlantic Way and explore unique hidden gems of "the Coolest Place on Earth".

Cool Things To Do in Donegal Ireland published on 13 October 2017.

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41 Responses to “Cool Things To Do In Donegal Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way”

  1. Gerry November 3, 2017 at 11:56 pm #

    I’ve been to Ireland twice. The first time on a 14 day tour with Globus Tours. The second time with a friend and we drove all over Ireland. Plus I met my relatives who live in Sligo. We were there for about 18 days. We also stayed in London for about 12 days and too side trips. I didn’t like driving there. Who or what company would you suggest to get a driver to do the driving. I so much enjoyed my ancestral home of Ireland.

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) November 5, 2017 at 1:51 am #

      Hiring a driver is something I have heard of groups doing but I do not have direct experience. Sorry. I have done my own driving. Jody Halsted at Ireland Family Vacations is a great source for everything Ireland, esp. for USA travelers to Ireland.

  2. Michelle Adserias November 3, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

    Donegal was, without a doubt, our favorite place in Ireland. We’d recommend a tour of the Donegal Carpets factory in Killybegs… fascinating! Then spend the night enjoying live music at the Reel Inn in downtown Donegal. And yes, Slieve League is amazing!

    • Charles R. Malec November 3, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

      We there in 2014 and also took a tour of the carpet factory. My wife got to work one of the machines. Very cool. I don’t know if we’ll ever go back, but it would be to Donegal.

      • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) November 5, 2017 at 1:48 am #

        Thank you, Charles. I would also love to return to Donegal. So much more to explore and experience.

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) November 5, 2017 at 1:49 am #

      I missed the carpet factory, for this trip. The Reel Inn, though, I went there! Absolutely a treat.

  3. Tim Boland November 2, 2017 at 3:38 pm #

    The best part of Ireland is the people. If you just hang out and let Ireland come to you, you will not be disappointed. Everyone will have very different experiences and they will all be fantastic. Spending three hours with Eddie Doherty in his tweed shop in Ardara, seeing the reflections of the buildings in the early morning still of the harbor in Bunbeg or negotiating the bogs while climbing Donegal,s highest peak, Errigal are all days I will never forget. The people we encountered along the way are the true gems.

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) November 3, 2017 at 12:18 am #

      Love that, Tim. I have a few of these encounters also.

    • John Shiel November 4, 2017 at 9:06 am #

      Ardara — must be something in the place, for conversational craic. Eddie Doherty was businesslike at his shop, but still did a marvelously proud presentation of his handwoven “rugs” (enabling me to select the perfect one for my castle back home). But a diminutive old fellow whom I encountered on the streets throughout one day was my conduit into the heartbeat of Donegal. Crossed paths with him late afternoon in a pub, where I sought info about lodging. He was sole customer. Had to have one with him; had to be done. After talking awhile, he said he’d buy the next round. “No, you don’t have to do that.” He straightened up and looked perplexed, maybe even offended. “Wouldn’t be right'” he sputtered. So, of course…

  4. Laura November 2, 2017 at 9:31 am #

    Loved staying at Lough Eske Castle, Studio Donegal in Kilcar for a spinning/weaving/sewing demo and great shopping, and a quick side trip to the Belleek factory and showroom!

  5. erinklema October 20, 2017 at 11:06 pm #

    I didn’t make it to Donegal while in Ireland for TBEX, but I think you’ve convinced me to make it happen on my next visit to the Emerald Isle. I don’t think you’d catch me surfing when it’s only in the mid-50s, but I’ll take the fish and chips!

  6. Tonya October 19, 2017 at 8:33 am #

    I’ve not been to Ireland but a road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way has been on my bucket list. Now I have a few more things to add to it.

  7. Lara Dunning October 18, 2017 at 10:22 pm #

    I love Donegal. I left Ireland a week ago and started missing it before my plane took off. I want to go back and do some more small town exploring and check out some of the places you stopped at as they were not there when I toured Ireland 15 years ago.

  8. Tam Warner Minton October 18, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

    I know where to go when I visit Ireland now!!!

  9. wyldfamilytravel October 18, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

    Looks like some amazing experience to be had here. The rugged coastline looks beautiful and i can imagine riding horse’s on the beach would be a lasting memory.

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) November 2, 2017 at 9:55 am #

      Horse riding on the beach was glorious. Wish I was an experienced rider to really take advantage of the moment.

  10. Liz K October 18, 2017 at 10:45 am #

    Very much considering my next trip being to Ireland… thanks for sharing! Some good ideas here that definitely make me want to settle on Ireland!

  11. knycx October 16, 2017 at 6:12 am #

    Thanks for the introduction and you have good list of things to do from quiet to active! For me, I would love to visit the Glenveigh Castle and definitely I would go surfing there (which I won’t think of surfing there hadn’t you mentioned about it!) @ knycx.journeying

  12. Sandy N Vyjay October 15, 2017 at 10:34 pm #

    Quite an interesting and exciting time in Donegal. I loved the cliffs and was really fascinated by the Glencolmcille Folk Village, it looks so intriguing and fascinating to think how the village was in the ancient times. And it is really cool to see that you have traced your family history back in time and can relate to the place.

  13. Rhonda Albom October 15, 2017 at 6:03 pm #

    By the time we visited Ireland we only had a week for the whole country and unfortunately had to miss Donegal, but I’d love to return one day and see the rest. Those horses you got to ride along the beach look so fluffy.

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) October 16, 2017 at 4:55 pm #

      I missed Donegal on my first visit and was thrilled to be able to visit on my latest trip. Very special and cool place.

  14. Anneklien Meanne October 15, 2017 at 1:24 am #

    Aww just recently visited Ireland but have not had a chance to visit Donegal, just in Killarney-Dublin-Belfast. Ireland has got stunnings views and great road trips. Done the Ring of Kerry drive but didnt really complete the coastal way. Its a good excuse to visit Donegal I would say!

  15. Mark October 14, 2017 at 3:16 am #

    Certainly seems to be some amazing sights in this section of Ireland. Always wondered about how cold the water temp is in Ireland. Is Ireland known for its surfing?

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) October 16, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

      There are a few surf shops along Ireland’s coast. The water really was not that cold. I guess because of the Gulf Stream. We did wear wet suits, because it was cold enough.

  16. Paula Schuck October 13, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

    Well I never made it to Donegal but I did see Killarney and Ring of Kerry and Dingle and Dublin and it’s a tossup for me which place is the coolest. They were all amazing and impressive. I felt like Trinity College at night was one of the coolest buildings I have ever seen

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) October 14, 2017 at 5:04 am #

      Ireland has so many great places, right? Do you want to return to Ireland some time?

      • oneperfectdayin October 16, 2017 at 6:24 am #

        Definitely want to return! This was my 3rd trip to Ireland, and thanks to meeting all the cool TBEX folks and Ireland’s wonderful travel and tourism supporters, it was my best trip yet. Can’t wait to get back to learn and share more stories about this amazing country!

      • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) October 16, 2017 at 2:23 pm #

        Echo! I am leaving tomorrow after 25 days in Ireland but feel like there is so much more to explore and discover.


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