The most picturesque towns and villages in Donegal

Ballyliffin golf couse, photo by easylocum on Flickr

The northernmost county of Ireland is a place apart, almost like a different country entirely. When Ulster became Northern Ireland, Donegal became somewhat cut off from the rest of the Republic of Ireland, and its fierce pride and independence coupled with a bit of disdain on the part of Ireland’s more central parts created a unique place that is neither here nor there. Donegal is blessed with immense natural beauty that can be somewhat unforgiving – the strong winds coming from the Atlantic and the craggy coasts can seem inhospitable at first. But once you venture into the county, you will discover some of the most beautiful rural landscapes anywhere in Ireland. Donegal Town is a major tourist center, but the smaller villages around the countryside are equally delightful. Here are some of the most picturesque towns and villages in Donegal.


For the Irish, Ballyliffin is famous for being a golf haven – it has a beautiful old links course, as well as a new and modern course that draws golfers from all over the world. However, the true potential of Ballyliffin lies in its quaint and quiet atmosphere, and the stark natural scenery surrounding it. Ballyliffin is nestled between Pollan Strand, Binion hill and Crockaughrim hill.


Carndonagh, photo by Kenneth Allen

Carndonagh on Inishowen Peninsula has been a very close-knit market town for centuries, the type of small place where everyone knows everyone and the community is very tight. The town is close to the northernmost point of the Republic of Ireland, and of course that there are many beautiful natural places nearby. The town is small but it has several pubs and shops, a nightclub and a community of artists and writers.


The pretty Gaeltacht town of Dungloe is one of the most important tourist destinations in Donegal, especially in summer during the Mary from Dungloe Festival, a great Irish music festival. The town itself is very scenic in a quiet, unassuming way, and there are many beautiful natural spots in its vicinity, like Magery and Carrickfin beaches, Mount Errigle or Dungloe Bay.


Mountcharles, photo by sludgegulper on Flickr

The very tiny village of Mountcharles hardly has more than one main street, but it has more than enough to be proud of. There are quite a few nice pubs which serve drinks and excellent food, and a 18th century Hall Demesne, a former noble residence.


Ballintra has only two pubs, a couple of shops, a hairdresser’s and four churches, and yet this village definitely cannot miss from a list of the most picturesque towns and villages in Donegal. Ballintra is one of the greatest sporting towns in Donegal, and it is famous for the Ballintra Races which take place every August.

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