Lonely Planet names County Donegal the 4th best region to visit in the world

Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel 2024’ has ranked County Donegal in Ireland as the fourth best region in the world to visit in 2024.

Highlighting its stunning coastline, unspoiled landscapes, rich heritage and musical traditions, the best-selling guide ranks Ireland’s far north as one of the best regions for travelers in 2024.

Donegal’s Secrets Revealed!

County Donegal has Ireland’s longest coastline with over 100 golden sandy beaches, as well as Europe’s highest cliffs at Slieve League. It’s a hiker’s paradise with miles of trails on the Wild Atlantic Way as well as inland Glenvea National Park and for the impressive Mount Errigalone of the most photographed mountains in Ireland.

Fanadhead Lighthouse, County Donegal

Praising its “wild nature, but with a big heart and warm welcome”, Lonely Planet cites some of the area’s best-kept secrets: the pink sands of Ballymastocker Bay, wild Kinnagoe Bay in Inishowen, the magnificent Silver Strand beach near Glencolmcille and Ards Forest Park, where trees grow right up to the water’s edge.

Lonely Planet also concludes that “no visit to Donegal is complete without a trip to Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head, a rocky headland where the northern lights can sometimes be seen.”

10 pearls of the wild Atlantic Way in Ireland

Discover ‘slow tourism’

Donegal has become the perfect place slow tourism on the island of Ireland and there are many opportunities for sustainable and responsible activities.

From kayaking on Lough Swilly, to slow scenic e-bikes, sea safaris and maritime heritage tours, there is an emphasis on respecting nature and wildlife, as well as taking time to appreciate the magnificent scenery and special atmosphere of the place.

Malin Head Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal
Malin Head Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal

Donegal is also Ireland’s surfing capital, with Lonely Planet highlighting the ‘vast expanse of Rossnowlagh Beach’, renowned as one of the best surfing beaches on the island. Further along the coast, Bundoran is a major surfing spot, attracting surfers from all over the world who come to battle the Atlantic swell.

But it’s not just outdoor activities: Donegal also offers a range of excellent restaurants “focused on local produce and affordable prices, with a friendly atmosphere”.

THE Olde Glen Bar, near Carrigart, is one of them. Dating back to the 1760s, it is the oldest bar and restaurant in Donegal. It was recently awarded a place in the Michelin Guide under the leadership of Chef Ciarán Sweeney.

Silver Strand, Malin Beg, County Donegal
Silver Strand, Malin Beg, County Donegal

Lonely Planet also cites Fisk Seafood Bar Downings and Bistro Nancy’s barn Ballyliffin on the Inishowen Peninsula, where the award-winning seafood chowder served on wheat bread offers true Donegal flavours.

Parts of County Donegal are counties Gaeltacht, where Irish is spoken as a first language and Irish song, dance and cultural traditions flourish. According to Lonely Planet, it allows the curious visitor to have an “immersive experience”.

Dolphin Pod, Malin Head, County Donegal
Dolphin Pod, Malin Head, County Donegal

The curious will also enjoy exploring the archaeological gems such as portal tombs, castles, cylindrical towers and Celtic crosses that dot the Donegal landscape.

Donegal has plenty to delight visitors at any time of the year, but outside of the summer months you can discover the joy of strolling along an empty beach, watching migratory birds or warming up by a fire after an invigorating winter walk.

Mount Errigal, County Donegal
Mount Errigal, County Donegal

The Best Region category is one of five categories “Best of Travel 2024” by Lonely Planet. To mark its 50th anniversary, the guide has added two new categories, Top Destinations and Most Sustainable Destinations, which join the top 10 cities, countries and regions, recognizing a total of 50 places around the world that offer amazing experiences in 2024. .

Georgie Collins

"Falls down a lot. Writer. Passionate alcohol maven. Future teen idol. Hardcore music practitioner. Food fanatic. Devoted travel fan."