Bundoran is the perfect location from which to explore Donegal – a county that possesses a unique and stunning beauty, but one that remains to this day relatively untouched. Indeed few other parts of Ireland offer such solitude and the chance to immerse yourself completely in nature and recharge your batteries.
Donegal is where you’ll find the longest mainland shoreline in the country, along with Ireland’s largest Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) community. It includes Ireland’s most northerly point - Malin Head.
All along Donegal’s Wild Atlantic Way coastline, from windswept Horn Head to the alluring Blue Flag surfing beach at Rossnowlagh, you’ll find places to visit and things to see and do that will stir the soul and arouse the senses. It’s not for nothing visitors return to Donegal time and time again enchanted by its unique character and stunning beauty.
Here are some tourist sites near Bundoran, just click the links for more information.
You simply can’t visit Bundoran without walking Tullan Strand. Here you have a 360-degree panoramic view encompassing Mullaghmore, Sligo and across Donegal Bay, to the magical Slieve League Cliffs. On a sunny day it’s stunning and just a five minute drive from the centre of Bundoran. This is Bundoran’s discovery point on the Wild Atlantic Way. If you have a bought a Wild Atlantic Way passport, you can get it stamped at Bundoran Post Office.
The Fairy Bridges and the Wishing Chair
Due to the peculiar rock formations around Tullan Strand, a series of natural blow holes exist. These cause the sea water to crash through the rock and blow water upwards in a dramatic fashion. For hundreds of years these have been rumoured to be haunted and the work of the fairies. They’re known locally as The Fairy Bridges. Also to be found at Tullan Strand is the Wishing Chair. This is a manmade chair, carved from local standing stone – O’Flaherty’s stone. It’s believed to mark the grave of a local chieftain known as O‘ Flaherty. It is thought that the chieftain himself sat here to contemplate and survey his land. You make a wish when sitting in the chair but it must be kept private.
Mullaghmore and Classiebawn Castle
Classiebawn Castle, a stunning period building dating back to 1874, on the Mullaghmore peninsula in Sligo, is well worth a visit and is just 15 minutes drive away from Bundoran. This beautiful building was formerly owned by Louis Mountbatten, a member of the British royal family, who was assassinated close by in 1979. The grounds surrounding it, with views of the Ben Bulben mountain range in the background, are breathtakingly beautiful.
The breathtaking Glencar Waterfall and lake are just 34 minutes drive away from Bundoran and well worth seeing. The waterfall is particularly impressive after rain and can be viewed from a lovely wooded walk. There are more waterfalls visible from the road. You will find a car park, a picnic area, a playground and tea rooms on site.
Beleek Pottery Visitor Centre
Beleek pottery is famous around the world and it’s headquarters are to be found in Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, a 15 minute drive away from Bundoran. Here, you can hear the complete history of Beleek Pottery, with guided tours around the centre and the opportunity to purchase pieces of this unique porcelain craftwork. Started in 1857, the company now employs more than 600 people and has an annual turnover of around £30 million.
Fans the Yeats will know that he’s buried in the churchyard at Drumcliffe in County Sligo, just under the Ben Bulben Mountains. This is just a 20-minute drive from Bundoran. The graveyard has the remains of a round tower and a high cross dating back to the 11th century. The Drumcliffe Tea House and Craft Shop offers mouth-watering home-made cakes and desserts, and a fine selection of local crafts.
The historic Lissadell House welcomes visitors during the summer season.
Lissadell is famous as the childhood home of Constance Markievicz who was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, and the first woman to be elected to Dáil Eireann. In recent years, the house and grounds have been extensively restored. It’s just a 25-minute drive from Bundoran.
Benbulben is a large flat-topped rock formation in County Sligo. It’s part of the Dartry Mountains, in an area also known as ‘Yeats’ Country’. It’s possible to climb the stately mountain but it’s advised that you have a guide. It also makes me for a lovely scenic 24-minute drive from Bundoran.
Queen Maeve’s Grave
Built high on the Strandhill peninsula, four miles from Sligo, Queen Maeve’s Grave is a megalithic tomb at the summit of the Knocknarea Mountain. It is Ireland's most imposing Neolithic monument and of great archaeological significance. You can walk around the summit of Knockarea in approximately an hour. It’s a fairly easy walk, providing beautiful panoramic for 40 to 60 km in all directions. You can reach Queen Maeve’s Grave by car in 45 minutes from Bundoran.
Magees Clothing Store
Best known for its manufacture of Donegal tweed, Magee of Donegal also manufactures clothing and home interior items made from linen, wool and other materials. The company traces its origins to 1866, when the founder, John Magee, opened a clothing shop in Donegal Town. These days the Magee brand is known around the world. Get there from Bundoran in just 25 minutes.
Glenveigh National Park
Deep in the Derryveagh Mountains, Glenveagh National Park is a haven for wildlife and one of the best places in Donegal to reconnect with nature. Officially opened to the public in 1986, this beautiful park covers the 16,000 hectares. It can be reached from Bundoran in 1 hour, 22 minutes by car.
Blow away the cobwebs with a visit to stunning Slieve League. This mountain, for over a thousand years a Christian pilgrimage site, rises 600 metres above the waves, offering arresting views over the Sligo Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Just an hour and a half away from Bundoran, it makes for a great day trip.
Glencolmcille Folk Village
This thatched-roof replica of a rural village in Donegal offers a fascinating glimpse into times gone by.
A cluster of several small cottages, perched on a hillside overlooking Glen Bay Beach, it’s one of Ireland's best living-history museums. You can get to Glencolmcille in approximately one hour and 15 minutes from Bundoran.
Killybegs Fishing Port
The picturesque fishing village of Killybegs, is just a 50-minute drive from Bundoran and makes for a lovely day out. Start with a tour of the Donegal fishing village. The Killybegs heritage trail will fill you in on its history. Stop for a cup of tea and a freshly baked scone at Ahoy café on the Shore Road. Afterwards some freshly caught seafood at The Turntable Restaurant, overlooking Killybegs Harbour.
The Ulster American Folk Park
The Ulster American Folk Park is an open-air museum just outside Omagh in County Tyrone. Here you can wander through thatched cottages and meet costumed characters who will bring another ear back to life. You can also board a full scale emigrant ship. The Ulster American Folk Park can be reached from Bundoran in just over an hour and is a trip all the family will enjoy.
The Donegal Waterbus
Cruise around Donegal Bay in the Donegal Waterbus, a 160-seater ship with a full bar and a cabaret stage. View the seal colony on Seal Island, the beautiful Bluestack Mountains and the many islands off the coast of Donegal, with full commentary provided. The Donegal Waterbus sets sail from the pier in Donegal Town up to three times daily. Donegal town can be reached from Bundoran by car in approximately half an hour.
Shopping in Sligo Town
Want to do some shopping while on holidays? Sligo town is a great option. With four shopping centres and retail parks, offering a mix of indigenous shops and multi-national outlets you’re bound to find what you’re looking for. There’s also a great selection of bars and restaurants located near the riverbank. You can get to Sligo Town by car from Bundoran in approximately 32 minutes.
Shopping in Enniskillen
Enniskillen in County Fermanagh is also a good place to shop. Here you can visit the Erneside Shopping Centre, which houses a lot of the UK high street chain stores, as finding quirky independent stores on the downtown area. Enniskillen can be reached from Bundoran in 45 minutes by car.
Oakfield Park, Raphoe
Oakfield Park is a gorgeous 18th century park, which has won several awards for the restoration of its traditional walled gardens and buildings. Overlooking the distant Croaghan Mountain, these lush green parklands and woods are both peaceful and scenic. There are train rides, pieces of sculpture and tearooms serving freshly brewed coffee, tea and home-baked produce. Raphoe is just an hour’s drive from Bundoran.
The picturesque village of Mountcharles is 34km from Bundoran and takes half an hour to reach by car. Here you can visit a number of stately gardens. The Salthill Garden and the Seaview Garden are both pleasant experiences. Afterwards, walk the Mountcharles Pier and finish up with a pint and some fresh seafood in the Village Tavern.
Mount Errigal, the tallest peak in Donegal rises from the landscape majestically and is an unmissable sight. Known for its rosy glow at sunset, the mountain can also be climbed. It has a twin summit reachable across a narrow pass. Give yourself two-and-half hours to do the climb. The main route up Errigal begins at the car park, on the road from Gweedore to Letterkenny. This can be reached from Bundoran in approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Donegal Castle is a 15th century castle situated in the centre of Donegal Town. It was the stronghold of the O'Donnell clan one of the most powerful families in Ireland from the 5th to the 16th centuries. For most of the last two centuries, the majority of the building lay in ruins but it was almost fully restored in the early 1990s and well worth a visit. It can reached by car in just half an hour from Bundoran.
St Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg
St Patrick's Purgatory is an ancient pilgrimage site on Station Island in Lough Derg. It’s said to date from the 5th century, when Christ showed Saint Patrick a cave on Station Island that was said to be an entrance to Purgatory. These days, people come to do three or one day retreats at the site, or simply visit out of historical interest. You can reach Lough Derg from Bundoran by car in just one hour.
Florence Court House and Forest
Florence Court House is a beautiful 18th century building, eight miles outside Enniskillen. The Florence Court Forest Park covers an area of 1,200 hectares of forest and moorland. The grounds and the house are open to the public and the grounds serve as the starting point for the Culcaigh Mountain Trail. It can be reached in 50 minutes from Bundoran by car.
Culcagh Mountain Park
Those who like walking will be interested in the walking trails around Cuilcagh Mountain Park. The park takes in 2,500 hectares on the northern slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain, at the heart of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark in South Fermanagh. The Culcagh Way stretches for 33km through a breathtaking patchwork of greenery and forest. The initial part of the walk begins at the Florence Court Visitor Centre car park 1. Get to the start of the trail in 1 hour 5 minutes from Bundoran.
Marble Arch Caves
Discovered in 1895, The Marble Arch Caves are a series of natural limestone caves located near the village of Florence Court in County Fermanagh. The caves are named after the nearby Marble Arch, a natural limestone arch at the upstream end of Cladagh Glen under which the Cladagh River flows. You can reach the Marble Arch Caves by car in 50 minutes from Bundoran.
Why not take a day trip to Lough Gill, a beautiful freshwater lough, mentioned in the poetry of W. B. Yeats, and straddling Sligo and Leitrim? Lough Gill, and the district of Calry adjoining it, is famous for its natural environment and scenery. Access the lough from a pier on the south shore at the mouth of the Garavoge River, at Inishfree Pier and at Shriff Bay. Here you can fish for brown trout and salmon. You can also take a boat trip from the centre of Sligo town. It takes 39 minutes by car to reach Lough Gill from Bundoran.
Fanad Head Lighthouse
Fanad Head Lighthouse is one of the great lighthouses of Ireland, built in the old style. It’s a beautiful structure, which stands on Fanad Peninsula with a wide and wild expanse of the Atlantic Ocean below. It’s also a signature discovery point on the Wild Atlantic Way. There are guided tours of the lighthouse daily during which you can hear stories of times gone by. You can reach Fanad Lighthouse form Bundoran by car in an hour and 45 minutes. Passing through Letterkenny on the way, it makes for a lovely day trip.