Irelands north western corner might not have been quite as wild as I hoped it would be, with loads of holiday homes dispersed through the beautiful landscape. Nevertheless I found some beautiful spots to walk, swim and relax. Here are some of my favourites:
1. Mullaghmore Head
A beautiful costal road takes you around Mullaghmore Head and lots of pull-outs invite you to stop and explore the rugged coastline. Added perk: If conditions are right, join the locals swimming adventurously in the tide pool while waves crash over the rocks.
2. “Foam” at Bundoran
Stop in Bundoran to experience a bit of Irish surf culture. Don’t miss “Foam”, with its Scandinavic minimalist interiour, for super yummy grilled sandwiches, one of the best coffees on the west coast and all sorts of stylish gifts.
3. Sliabh Liag Sea Cliffs
Cliffs as impressive but not as crowded as the Cliffs of Moher further souths. If you stay at “Slieve League B&B” you can easily hike up to the cliffs (45min) and thus experience the beauty of this place after all the tourist busses have left. For fueling up stop at “Ti Linn Cafe and Gallery”.
4. Malinbeg Beach and Glencolumbcille
One of the most beautiful little secluded beaches can be found in Malinbeg. Park your car in the car park on top of the cliffs and take the 60 steps of the narrow, steep stairs down to the quiet beach: An ideal place to swim in the cold atlantic.
Also: Make sure to stop at the folk village in Glencolumbcille, not least for their cosy café and gift shop.
5. Horn Head and Dunfanaghy
The cute little town of Dunfanaghy offers many cosy cafés and small gift shops and is well worth a visit. For those into surfing, pay a visit to “Narosa Surf Shop” and their café. Driving up to Horn Head you get amazing ocean views and a lot of coastal trails to explore. You get a great view from the WWII lookout just 150 meters from the car park. Alternatively you can walk some 1.5 km to the front of the peninusula for a true lost in the middle of nowhere experience. Close-by beach Marblehill is not only popular for surfing, but also has a fun little coffee shack called “The Shack”.
6. Rosguill Peninsula
Rosguill Peninsulas main attraction is beautifully wild Tra Na Rossan beach. It is the perfect spot to bodyboard or surf, but also a great starting point for walks along the coastal cliffs. A beautiful place to stay is Fishermen’s Village Lodge, a B&B that offers accomodation in beautifully restored old cottages. For culinary treats head to Downings a little down the road: “Fisk” offers great seafood but also yummy vegetarian treats and “Gander and Goose” has artisan pizza on the menu.
The easiest way to explore Irelands north west is by rental car. Following the road signs “Wild Atlantic Way” takes you along the most beautiful and spectacular roads.
I used the “Lonely Planet Ireland” and the “I love the Seaside: UK and Irleand” guidebooks to find good coffee, surf culture and best beaches.