Get the layers on, the hiking boots out and go explore the best of Donegal on foot.

Donegal is a pretty special place, and when the conditions are right, there is really is no place we’d rather be. So get yourself there this weekend and take a walk on one of its waymarked ways, national looped walks, coastal paths, island loops or many mountains. Here are six of the best walks in Donegal.

1. Inishowen Peninsula Loop

Distance: 8km

OS Map: 3

Best walks in Donegal
Image: Tourism Ireland/Martin Fleming

The Inishowen Peninsula is often referred to as ‘Ireland in Miniature’ as it has so much to offer the outdoor enthusiast within the one area. This 8km coastal loop will take you two to three hours and you’ll travel along bog roads, laneways, rough tracks and minor roads. It starts at a car park at a World War II Lookout Tower on Inishowen Head.  You’ll pass the point where St Columba left Ireland on his way to Iona (Portkill) and, if you look closely, the west of Scotland is visible on good days. Simply follow the purple arrows and enjoy the sights on this hidden gem on Donegal’s coastline.

2. Muckish Mountain

OS Map: 2

Image: Tourism Ireland/Chris Hill

Muckish Mountain is a stunning table top mountain to rival Benbulben in Co Sligo. It’s steep sides and wide plateaued summit give it its name An Mhucais, the pig’s back. There is a choice of routes to the summit, one on the Falcarragh at Gleannaneor, and the other main route is called the Miners’ Path. If you’re after remoteness and some tranquillity then this is the ideal climb. When you get to the top, enjoy the views of Derryveagh, Creeslough, North Derry and Antrim.

3. The Bluestack Way

Distance: 65km

OS Map: 10 & 11

Best walks in Donegal
Image: Tourism Ireland/Chris Hill

The Bluestack Way is a 65km route through a stunning wilderness area of Co Donegal. The views as you cross the Bluestack Mountains and pass Lough Eske are well worth the effort your legs will make! Camp or bed down for the night in one of the many towns and villages along the route. You’ll get terrain of all sorts on this long-distance walking trail, from bog roads to moorlands, and quiet public roads. There are no significant climbs, but with an aggregate ascent over the route of 1,430m, it’s not flat either.

Things to do in Donegal: the complete guide for adventure lovers

4. Errigal Mountain and Mackoght Mountain Hiking Trail

Distance: 6km

OS Map: 1

Things to do in Donegal
Image: Tourism Ireland/Chris Hill

If you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge, why not climb 751m Errigal Mountain? Errigal Mountain and Mackoght Mountain Hiking Trail is a moderate to strenuous 6km loop walk that will take you three and a half hours. Errigal is Donegal’s highest and most iconic mountain situated east of Gweedore village. There are twin peaks to this summit and the ridgeline between them is a stunning and at times adrenaline-fuelled crossing! The round trip from the car park is only 6km so take a morning and go explore!

5. Sli Arainn Mhor

Distance: 14km

OS Map: Signposted

Best walks in Donegal
Image: Tourism Ireland/Chris Hill

Sli Arainn Mhor is a looped walk around the island of Arranmore (part of Bealach na Gaeltachta which is a national waymarked way). The walk begins and ends at the Ferry Port. We particularly love the wild and remote western side of the island where you will be wowed by the beautiful coastal scenery. The 14 km trail will take approximately four to five hours to complete.

6. The Pilgrims Path, Sliabh League Cliffs

Distance: 2-12km

OS Map: 10

Wild Atlantic Way Sliabh League
Image: Tourism Ireland/Alex Keys

While the masses gather at the Cliffs of Moher, let us let you in on a little secret; the sea cliffs of Slieve League are actually three times the height. Make your way up the narrow One Man’s Path and peer over the edge. There is no better place in the world than standing on the edge of a cliff, with seabirds flying overhead and nothing but roaring swell beneath you. Make sure to look out for two rocks nicknamed the ‘giant’s desk and chair’. There are plenty of car parks and routes to choose from, varying from 2km to 12km. Our favourite route is the Pilgrims Path.

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By Orla O'Muiri

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