13 Best Stops on the Inishowen 100 Drive

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by Maggie Turansky

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The Inishowen 100 drive doesn’t really get the same kind of hype as other Irish loops like the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula drive, however, it is no less worth doing.

Circling the Inishowen Peninsula in the northwest of Ireland in County Donegal, this is a gorgeous scenic drive and the perfect alternative for those looking to avoid large tourist crowds and to a little bit off the beaten path.

As the most northerly point of the island of Ireland, driving the Inishowen Peninsula is one of the highlights of visiting County Donegal. With an array of amazing stops on the drive, this guide is here to help you plan out the perfect route for your scenic drive.

Planning an Inishowen 100 Drive

There are several considerations to take in when planning an Inishowen Peninsula route. The first is which direction you choose to drive it in.

If you’re doing this drive as part of a longer County Donegal road trip, then the easiest way is to plan to spend the night somewhere near Letterkenny and follow the route in the order the stops are listed below.

However, you can also head directly to the Inishowen Peninsula from Northern Ireland and it’s easy to reach if you happen to be staying close to the Giant’s Causeway. If you’re keen to drive the whole thing, you can drive past the city of Derry and begin the drive in the town of Muff and do the stops in reverse.

There is also a car ferry that runs from Magiligan Point that will shave off some driving time. If the ferry is running on the day you plan, you can then start your drive from the Inishowen head lighthouse and do all of the stops in reverse.

The road quality on the Inishowen 100 is generally of a very good standard, however, there are some narrow country roads to make sure to drive with caution. There are also petrol stations in the larger towns, but it is generally a good idea to start your drive with a full tank to avoid any fuel stops.

The Inishowen 100 is also very well-signed, so it’s tough to get lost. Signs will include the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) logo along with “Inis Eoghain 100” followed by a spiral logo.

If you need to rent a car for your trip, you can browse Rentalcars.com which compares prices across companies.

If you don’t want to drive, it is also possible to take a full-day tour of the Inishowen Peninsula.

Views from the Inishowen Peninsula
Views from the Inishowen Peninsula

How Long is the Inishowen 100?

The Inishowen 100 is so-called because it is 100 miles (160km) long on a mostly coastal route. In practice, however, plan for the general drive time if you hit each attraction and site to be around 3 hours. This is not accounting for how long you spend at each stop, either.

Driving the Inishowen 100 is generally an all-day affair and it’s worth it to take your time and truly enjoy all of the beautiful stops along the way.

Inishowen 100 Sign
Inishowen 100 Signpost

Best Stops on the Inishowen 100 Drive

The stops on this drive are listed in order and assuming that you’re doing the Inishowen Peninsula drive in a clockwise manner. If you’re going anti-clockwise, then simply reverse the order of the stops.

Grianán of Aileach

Though not technically on the Inishowen 100, a great first is the Grianán of Aileach. This is a 9th-century fort set atop a high hill. From the top, you can get beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

You can also enter this unique, circular fortress and climb around it, as well. Entry is free of charge, as is parking, however, it does have varying opening hours depending on the season.

Grianan of Alleach
Grianán of Alleach

Lisfannon Beach

Now that we’re starting on the Inishowen 100, the first stop should be Lisfannon Beach just outside the village of Fahan.

County Donegal is no stranger to beautiful beaches and this certainly isn’t the only one you’ll visit on this scenic drive, however, it is a great starting-off point.

A stop on both the Wild Atlantic Way and the Inishowen 100, Lisfannon Beach is not the most jaw-dropping of beaches in the region but it has a nice stretch of soft sand and a wild beauty that’s worth taking in.

Lisfannon Beach
Lisfannon Beach

Fort Dunree

About 20 minutes north of Lisfannon Beach along the coast and driving past the town of Buncrana (the second-largest town in Donegal after Letterkenny) you will find Fort Dunree.

This is an 18th-century fortification that is beautifully perched over the sea and provides lovely views of the surrounding coastline and countryside.

Fort Dunree is also home to a military museum that can be interesting to visit for those who are keen to learn a bit more about the history of this strategic place. The museum has an entry fee, however, you can park and view the fort from the outside free of charge.

Fort Dunree
Fort Dunree

Gap of Mamore

If you’re looking for a scenic drive within this scenic drive, then don’t miss the incredible Mamore Gap. This is a beautiful route that winds you up the Urris Hills and provides gorgeous, panoramic views of the valley, Lough Swilly and of the peninsula itself.

There is a Wild Atlantic Way discovery point on this drive where you can easily park and take in all of the views. The scenery surrounding you is sure to take your breath away.

The entirety of the drive doesn’t really take longer than 10-15 minutes and it makes for a logical route to our next destination en route to the village of Leenan, so there is absolutely no reason to skip this drive.

Gap of Manmore Drive
Gap of Mamore

Glenevin Waterfall

There are a number of beautiful waterfalls in County Donegal, however, it’s worth saying that the Glenevin Waterfall is the favourite that we visited. It’s a lovely waterfall that is located a bit of a walk from the main car park but it is so worth it.

There is a small car park at the entrance to the waterfall – parking and entry is free. From the car park, there is a gentle, well-marked pathway that winds about 1km until you reach the waterfall. The stroll itself is pleasant and takes you along a beautiful stream. After about 10 minutes, you will reach the waterfall.

The falls are impressive and tranquil and very much worth visiting – especially if you love taking in the greenery and nature surrounding the area, as well.

Glenevin Waterfall
Glenevin Waterfall

Tullagh Strand

It’s only about a 3-minute drive from the Glenevin Waterfall car park to our next stop – the beautiful Tullagh Strang. As I’ve mentioned previously, there are going to be a few gorgeous beaches on this road trip and each is more spectacular than the last.

Tullagh Strand is a large beach tucked into a secluded bay outside the village of Ballyliffin making it one of the most striking in the area.

If the day is fine, there is plenty of room to find yourself a patch of sand and enjoy the views and vibes you can get here. Like most places on this road trip, parking is free.

Tullagh Strand
Tullagh Strand

Carrickabraghy Castle

This castle is another great stop to include when driving the Inishowen 100, though it’s best not to get your hopes up for a spectacular, fairytale-like castle before arriving. In fact, it’s more worth visiting here because of the wild beauty and the great views rather than the castle itself.

Carrickabraghy is a ruined castle and not much of it remains, however, you can see a few information placards explaining the history of this place. The scenery surrounding the castle is, however, stunning and really puts into perspective just how charming and rugged this peninsula is.

Carrickabraghy Castle
Carrickabraghy Castle

Doagh Famine Village

If you’re getting a bit tired of natural sites, then this living history museum is a great option for a stop while on the Inishowen 100. The Doagh Famine Village is an interesting place to get acquainted with Irish history from the time leading up to the mid-19th Century potato famine up through the 1980s.

Set in traditional thatched cottages, you can go on a guided tour here and really get to absorb all of the incredible history of the area and put some things into context. Because a good portion of the tour is under cover, this is also a great activity for rainy days.

Five Finger Strand

Of course, the next stop on this Inishowen 100 drive is another beautiful, white sand beach. This is one of the most interesting beaches to visit on the peninsula because not only is the beach itself absolutely stunning, but it has a lovely network of sand dunes that make for a striking place to visit.

Five Finger Strand is free to visit, however, it does have quite a small car park and it can be a bit difficult to find a space here even in less busy times.

However, it is very much worth visiting and can be worth it to park a few hundred metres away and walk to the beach just to take in the views.

Fiver Finger Strand
Five Finger Strand

Malin Head

Arguably the most iconic stop on the Inishowen 100 drive is Malin Head, which is the northernmost point of the island of Ireland. Here, you are surprisingly close to the Isle of Islay and the Kintyre Peninsula in Scotland and the scenery is absolutely stunning.

Like everywhere else on this road trip, parking at Malin Head is free and there are lots of spots available. There are also toilets on site for those who may need facilities!

There are a few walking paths around Malin Head that are very much worth embarking on – the main pathway is an easy ramble around the rocks and provides excellent views you won’t get from the car park. Allow for about 20-30 minutes to complete the route depending on your pace.

If you’re at the point where you’re looking for a lunch stop after visiting Malin Head, now is a good time to make a short detour from the Inishowen 100 to the town of Carndonagh. The Diamond Cafe has a lot of options (and great pastries!) for good prices.

Malin Head
Malin Head

Kinnagoe Bay Beach

After visiting Malin Head, it’s time to wind your way along the eastern side of the Inishowen Peninsula.

And the next stop should be Kinnagoe Bay Beach (unless you also want to stop at the beautiful Culdaff Beach about 12km north). Yes, this is another beach to visit, however, it may be the most spectacular on this drive.

Lining the charming Kinnagoe Bay, this beach stands out because of the beautiful green hills colliding with the golden sand. The water is crystal clear and the beach has a lovely, secluded feel to it making it one of the best places to stop on this scenic drive.

Kinnagoe Bay Beach
Kinnagoe Bay Beach

Inishowen Head Lighthouse

One of the final stops on this beautiful drive along the Inishowen Peninsula is the Inishowen Head Lighthouse. Though it’s not as famous as the Fanad Head Lighthouse on Co. Donegal’s Fanad Peninsula, this is just as beautiful and very much worth the stop.

Located on the northeastern point of the Inishowen Peninsula, this lighthouse has been here to guide boats sailing into Lough Foyle. If you drive up the winding roads above the lighthouse, you can get fantastic views of Lough Foyle, the Atlantic Ocean and of Northern Ireland in the distance.

For those looking to get a little bit active, then consider going on the Inishowen Head Loop walk to stretch your legs and get even more spectacular views of this gorgeous place.

Inishowen Head Lighthouse
Inishowen Head Lighthouse


The final stop on the Inishowen 100 and the beginning (or end depending on your direction) of the Wild Atlantic Way is the town of Muff.

Located right on the “border” with Northern Ireland, this little village on the southern banks of Lough Foyle is a great place to grab a pint or a bite to eat after a long day of driving and exploring.

From Muff, it’s about 30 minutes to reach Letterkenny, about 15 minutes to the city of Derry and about an hour to the town of Portrush – an excellent base if you’re visiting the Giant’s Causeway and the Antrim Coast as your next stop!

Where to Stay in Co. Donegal

Killererin House B&B – Located just outside of Letterkenny, this bed and breakfast is a great base for driving the Inishowen 100. They offer several lovely rooms and have a beautiful location to enjoy in the evenings. There is also a hearty breakfast available and free parking.

Woodview Bed & Breakfast – This is another great B&B to choose from if you’re looking for a base before taking on the Inishowen Peninsula drive. There are a range of comfortable rooms on offer along with a wonderful breakfast and friendly hosts.

Castle Grove Country House Hotel – If you’re after a luxury escape within easy reach of the Inishowen Peninsula, then this opulent estate might be just what you’re looking for! Located in a historic Georgian mansion, they have a range of beautiful rooms to choose from, lovely grounds to explore and a fantastic restaurant on site.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Letterkenny hotels!

Planning an Inishowen 100 scenic drive is one of the thrills of visiting County Donegal. With so many spectacular places to see and visit, you’re sure to fall in love with this part of Northwestern Ireland.

Are you driving the Inishowen 100 route? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

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