If you’re contemplating an Irish cycling holiday, selecting the right destination is crucial. Here are
seven eight irresistible reasons why Donegal stands out as the ultimate choice for an enriching and enjoyable biking experience. Read on to see why we have added an eighth reason to this list.
1- Dramatic Unrivalled Scenery
Donegal proudly claims the title of Ireland’s most beautiful county, according to the website Irelandbeforeyoudie.com. The county boasts a variety of awe-inspiring landscapes and seascapes. Must-visit spots like the Sliabh Liag cliffs, Fanad Head, and Malin Head are just the tip of the iceberg. Countless beaches, headlands, cliffs, and bays along the coast, as well as inland gems like Glenveagh National Park and Lough Eske, promise a diverse and ever-changing visual feast for cyclist.
See our Highlights of Donegal Bike Tour to experience Donegal at its best.
2 – Quiet Country Roads – Perfect for Cycling
Explore Donegal’s extensive network of small, scenic back roads that make cycling a joy. Picture yourself cycling alongside sheep grazing peacefully, as you enjoying the tranquility of roads lined with shrubs and wild flowers. With careful planning, you can navigate from one corner of the county to another without relying on larger roads. Even when you encounter larger routes, they are short stretches with minimal traffic, ensuring a peaceful biking experience.
Follow the quiet Donegal roads on our Donegal Coastal Treasures Bike Tour.
3 – Legendary Hospitality
Irish people are famous the world over for their hospitality, but Donegal is famous within Ireland as the most hospitable place of all. There is no need to ever feel alone here. Simply step off your bike an you will find yourself in conversation, and don’t feel you will ever be stuck for a topic. The weather alone can keep most Irish people talking all day.
4 – A Unique Brand of Traditional Irish Music
Donegal has its own unique brand of traditional Irish music. To the purist it is quite distinct. Centuries of migration between Donegal and Scotland has enriched the music of both areas, while still maintaining distinctive styles. Well known Donegal musicians include Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh: Fiddle/Vocal, from the band Altan. Dermot Byrne: Accordion. Bríd Harper; Fiddle. Legendary Austrailan-born guitarist, Steve Cooney has made Donegal his home, and has greatly influenced accompaniment styles. Numerous bands have blended the music of Donegal with other Irish and international influences these include most notably Clannad and Altan. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon one of the famous “sessions” you are in for a treat. If you are really lucky you might find that the musicians outnumber the listeners.
5 – Traditional Irish Wool and Tweed Crafts
Tweed had been produced from local wool in Donegal for centuries. The tweed was traditionally produced using hand looms. Due to Donegal’s relative isolation the traditional craft survived. Several manufacturers within Donegal still produce tweed using traditional methods. The best known of these is Studio Donegal in Kilcar. If you get a chance to visit Studio Donegal don’t miss it. Officially the workshop is not open to visitors, but quite often the staff will willingly show you around. Other traditional weavers include Eddie Doherty in Ardara and Cyndi Graham on St. John’s Point. Cyndi’s traditional thatched studio has become a frequent stopping point for Ireland By Bike customers over the years.
Along with tweed Donegal has its own distinctive style of traditional woollen garments, especially fisherman’s sweaters and hats. Glencolmcille Woolen Mills is a family business still producing traditional Donegal-style knitwear.
It is possible to visit all of these traditional crafts people on our Donegal Coastal Treasures and Highlights of Donegal self-guided bike tours and also our Backroads and Beyond self-guided cycling and hiking tour.
6 – Archaeology From Every Era
The oldest known structures left by the first inhabitants of the Ireland are the court or wedge tombs dating from around 3500 BC. There are many of these scattered around Donegal. A fine example is the Cloghanmore Court Tomb in the Malinmore Valley near Glencolmcille (Actually located beside Glencolmcille Woollen Mills) After the court tombs the next type of structures left were Dolmens or wedge tombs. The Kilclooney Dolmen is one of the finest in the country. The many ring forts dotted around the county stand as testimony to the arrival of the Celts. Later in the 6th and 7th centuries many beautiful early-Christian stones were carved. These are especially common around the Glencolmcille and Gartan areas. One of the more recent – relatively speaking – additions to the local archaeology are the Napoleonic lookout towers. They are no less interesting because of their relative newness. These were built in amazing locations around the coast and featured fine stone work.
7 – A Really Great Reason From National Geographic Traveller – It’s “The Coolest Destination on the Planet”
If you want to ask the experts for a travel recommendation then who better than one of the world’s leading authoraties on travel – National Geographic Traveller. Back in 2018 they named Donegal as the “Coolest Destination on the Planet” As Pat Riddell of National Geographic Traveller stated at the time “It’s a warm-hearted place, but wilderness always feels just a stone’s throw away, and it is wilderness, world-class wilderness.” So if you are thinking of Ireland in the future, to really experience the best of Ireland make sure Donegal is your destination.
See the cool list for 2017 here.
8 – Yet another Great Reason From Lonely Planet – “Donegal is one of the world’s top destinations for 2024”
There are few greater authorities when it comes to Travel than Lonely Planet. For years the “go-to” guide for millions of travellers worldwide. Now Lonely Planet has listed Donegal as one of its “Best In Travel” destinations for 2024.
Whether you’re captivated by breathtaking landscapes, crave peaceful cycling routes, or yearn for a taste of Irish culture, Donegal promises an unforgettable biking holiday. So, if Ireland is on your cycling bucket list, make Donegal your destination to savour the best the Emerald Isle has to offer.