A Mini Guide to Donegal.
A mini guide to North West Donegal – for beach lovers, doggo lovers and food lovers. With tips of where to park up in camper vans and some hidden gems to check out.
We took our camper van away to Donegal for a few days last week and had a wonderful time. Filled with sea swims, dog cuddles, Guinness, pizza and seafood! We have put it all together here, so if you are ever up that way you know where to head to. We got to Dunfanaghy, Falcarragh and Magheraroarty and have plenty of recommendations for you to check out.
We got to Dunfanaghy later than planned and parked up for the night on the pier. Unfortunately we were told to move on the next day. I’m not sure how but we managed to park on someone’s land, even though there were other vans there and we were the only ones asked to move on… May have been more ‘ownership’ than ownership.
If you are wanting to park up somewhere, there are about 15/20 spaces behind Patsy Dans, right by the water. They are free, quiet and quite lovely, but fill up fast. We were booked into the Rusty Oven for dinner, right behind Patsy Dan’s. Not only is it dog friendly, they also make the best pizzas (our favourite is the pear and walnut) and the atmosphere, music and staff make for an exceptional experience – every time. You can order pints at the table from Patsy Dans too, so we were happy out!
For coffee, we love Revive. Based on the main square, they serve great coffee, really delicious baked treats and have a class selection of antiques, furniture, art and curios. The Shack, down at Marble Hill is a great spot too. The beach is beaufiful, but unfortunately there are no dogs allowed between 11am and 6pm during the summer period. We are gutted about this as we are seeing this more and more. It is a real shame that all dog owners have to abide by this because of a small few who leave their mess behind.
Another worthy mention, although we didn’t get a chance to visit this time, is Emu View Brew Crew Coffee, up towards Hornhead. They have a class setup there, with great coffee and Emus! You can head over and say hello to them too. There are also adorable pigs and sheep running about too.
Hidden gems to check out:
Avoid the crowds at Marble Hill beach and head for the quiet end – just past the main entrance till you get to the next set of parking spaces. Great at low/mid tide otherwise it is a tiny beach.
The next night, we planned to head to the Olde Glen bar, but couldn’t be sure of a spot to park up, so we headed in the other direction towards Magheroarty. We can’t pass Falcarragh beach. It’s a stunner – a huge stretch of sandy beach, if you wanted a good walk to get the appetite up (with a fine collection of lovely stones – Joe). You could park up at the beach car park in a camper van (or there is space for a tent either). It is very secluded but exposed, and during the summer months you can find Mountain Melts parked up for all your toasted sandwich needs. The Batchin Falcarragh itself is our go-to for food in the area. This place does one of the best All Irish fry-ups. They have a great gourmet deli selection, shop and choice of wines on sale. They also have a gorgeous, leafy seating area out back to bring your four legged friends – always a welcome addition. Another very worthy mention is just down the road, just outside Dunfanaghy – Corcreggan Mill. An awesome array of accommodation, from a boat to old train carriages. They have wonderful food too, especially the super tasty fish tacos and a whole menu of tastiness.
Hidden gems to check out:
Ray Church – just before coming into the village from Dunfanaghy direction. A place with a brutal history and strong connections with St. Colmcille.
We spent the next two nights at Magheroarty beach carpark. They have services for camper vans to get drinkable water and dispose of ‘grey’ and ‘black’ water (ignore the sign saying out of order), as well as plenty of space to park up with incredible views. The beach itself is spactular with plenty of swimming locations as well as incredible surfing spots. For food we headed to Colls Bar. We can’t describe just how much we loved this place. The guys working there we so friendly and really professional (without formalities). The food was out of this world. We had a seafood feast, with oysters, mussels, fish tacos and fantastic Guinness. You could tell as soon as you walked in that it was very well run and even the folks arriving for their dinner were clearly excited to get their grub! We forgot to check if it was dog friendly but there are spaces outside to sit (with views over to the Islands).
Narosa Surf School have a gorgeous café down by the pier too, serving coffee and sweet treats. They have a fantastic reputation and offer first class surf lessons. I got a few myself a couple of years ago and loved every minute of it.
The beach is one of the cleanest we’ve been to and although some parts have great surfing waves, some parts are clearly not great for swimming as they look quite turbulent, luckily there are long clear stretches with perfectly calm water to jump in.
Hidden gems to check out:
The back beach that runs along the dunes is a gorgeous quiet walk with some incredible scenery. At high tide you will have water on both sides as this stretch of land is in fact a mini peninsula.
To Sum up
We adore Donegal and getting to see and explore it in a camper van is a whole new experience. We normally stay in Air BnBs – and will continue to – but the camper has opened up a whole new side to Donegal for us. We only scratched the surface, as ever there are 10 new places added to the list!
Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully inspired you to check out some of these wonderful places.
On a side note, we are in our last few days of the sale, so if you wanted to grab a candle bargin, jump on over to the website.
Michael and the Team