Hi I’m Nicola aka mammyof_six, I live in Inishowen , just outside of Buncrana. I’m going to concentrate on the more Inishowen area for tips on a trip to Donegal.
Basing yourself in Buncrana gives you great scope on getting to Inishowen but also if you’re here for a few days, or up to a week, you could visit some other beauty spots of Donegal and even get into Derry.
Places to Stay
Inishowen Gateway Hotel – great family friendly hotel, swimming pool and soft play onsite , barfood and restaurant onsite . There’s also a spa in the hotel too if you fancy some pampering .
Lake of Shadows Hotel – sister hotel of the Inishowen gateway, fab food , and if you are staying here you can use the pool amenities in the Gateway.
There’s also The Harbour Hotel and lots of lovely B&Bs.
Buncrana Town itself is wonderful to have a walk around with traditional shops and restraunts, boutiques, shops , delis and of course traditional pubs. O’Flahertys Bar have a traditional music session every Wednesday night – if you have your babysitter with you it’s well worth checking out !
The surrounding area of Buncrana itself is stunning , with some fabulous shoreline walks that run through the historic O’Doherty castle and keep.
These walks are pram and kid friendly. My own kids take their bicycles on this route which takes you out to the amazing views of the old military fort called Neds Fort .
Hop in your car and in ten mins you’re at the historic Dunree fort and Military Museum – with lunch in the ‘Coffee Cup’ or take a packed lunch and take in the views from the picnic benches .
On from Dunree takes you over Mamore Gap – this is a view worth driving for . An amazing corkscrew road below the gap leading you towards Clonmany , home of the famous “Clonmany festival” every summer . This year it’s running from the 4th of August.
You can’t go to Clonmany and not stop at Glen House and Waterfall , a real hidden gem , great walk to the waterfall and family friendly , suitable for Prams too . Afternoon tea in Glen House beside it or ice creams from the most dotey little ice cream stand !
From Clonmay you head onto Ballyliffen, home of the famous Ballyliffen Golf Course that hosted the Irish Open last year . It has fab beaches and a play park and of course a stop in award winning ‘Nancy’s Barn’ for fuelling up!
If you were breaking up your stay in Inishowen , I would reccomend staying at the Ballyliffen Lodge, again because of swimming pool and spa , but Ballyliffen has lots of hotels and B&Bs so you are spoilt for choice here too .
No trip to Inishowen would be complete without a run to Malin Head , the most northerly tip of Ireland and now most famous for Star Wars filming . Great walks and coffee to be had here .
People don’t realise that Donegal is quite so big! My coverage is just half of Inishowen as it’s my favourite days out with kids.
There’s also Greencastle, Moville and Muff. In particular Lis na Gra Woods in Muff where squirrels are running around all over the place and the kids love seeing that .
From a base in Buncrana a day in Derry is a must ! The famous Derry Walls and Peace Bridge is just an absolute fave of my kids with www.visitderry.com a fountain of knowledge and lots of upcoming family friendly events and festivals .
Another big hit in our house is getting the ferry from Buncrana to Rathmullan . This is a day trip that we do a couple of times in the summer – an early ferry and playing on the beach and play park with again either a packed lunch or a famous cheese toastie with ‘scarpello’ sourdough bread from their pop-up cafe in the summer months . When you get back to Buncrana, eat at Tanks and Skinnys Seaside – great food and drinks and right on the beach !
From Rathmullan you can drive on to Portsalon Beach , again around a 30 min drive from Rathmullan but well worth it for the views on the drive alone !
Alcorns Tropical World is a fab day out. A butterfly tropical enclosure to walk through and then an array of birds , meerkats and owls to look at with a great covered over play centre. Bonus points for here as you can take a packed lunch for a picnic or there’s an onsite cafe !
Lurgybrack Farm is a petting farm with great facilities . Walk around to see all the animals and take a run on the farmers tractor farm . Again bring a packed lunch or the cafe onsite .
Oakfield Park is a great walk around and you can take a train around the park. Always lots of days out organised from Easter time on . Picnic or the onsite restraunt ” Buffers” .
Glenveagh National Park This is the year I’m gonna visit here properly. It has been years since I’ve been there , but from friends photos online and reccomendations from people it sounds definitely worth a visit .
East Donegal We are onto east Donegal now. Before you come to Donegal Town there are the fabulous Harvey’s Point Hotel” and Lough Eske Hotel. These are definitely on the luxe end of hotels but if you can get a chance, even for afternoon tea or lunch, they are amazing hotels in a fabulous setting . I’ve taken my girls for afternoon teas for special occasions and they love it !
The historic town of Donegal town is a great base for this end of Donegal. Great hotels like the Abbey Hotel. From here I would 100% go to ..
Slieve League Cliffs – It’s been two years since I’ve been here , and it has since got a visitors centre and facilities . It’s a fantastic walk and breathtaking views. To get to it you pass through Killybegs , a huge fishing port where if you are lucky you could see some of the biggest boats and cruiseliners .
There’s so much more to do in Donegal, it’s just one gorgeous beach and view after another , days filled with food and laughs!
The Shandon Hotel is a firm favourite with me and my husband for a getaway , a fabulous spa onsite and the views of Marble Beach from the out door hot tub are something else , decadence ! Great hotel for families too but with lots of activities and a swimming pool if the weather is on the chilly side for sea swimming .
Hope you enjoyed reading my little snippet of what’s to offer
Nicola , aka mammyof_six