Top 5 most beautiful beaches in Donegal, RANKED

Heading north and looking for some beach time? Check out our list of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal below. 

Rain or sunshine, the Irish love their beaches – so don’t be surprised to see sports enthusiasts windsurfing and kayaking in the middle of a storm, or going for a quick dip in December. 

And while there are great beaches all around the island, most locals and visitors will agree that the ones in Donegal really stand out. Even the Brits had to admit that the county is home to some of the best beaches around the globe (see number 3!).

Donegal has 1.235 kilometres of coastline and boasts a total of 13 Blue Flag beaches. While we love the facts, it gave us a bit of a headache to narrow our list down to the five most beautiful beaches in Donegal.

If we missed out on your favourite one, please let us know, and we will keep it in mind for next time!

5. Dooey Beach – a picture-perfect sand beach popular with sunbathers and surfers alike

Looking amazing sand dunes, this is the destination for you!

This beach, close to a tiny village with the same name and just a short drive from the better-known Glencomcille, is a family-friendly place to recharge your batteries and enjoy the sunshine.

Surrounded by sand dunes, Dooey in the north-west of the county boasts three kilometres of sandy beach and crystal-clear water, making it not only one of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal, but also an excellent spot for swimming and water sports. 

There’s a surfing school on-site offering courses for all abilities, as well as board rentals and kids surf camps during school holidays. 

Address: Dooey, Co. Donegal, Ireland

4. Silver Strand Beach – a family-friendly spot for swimming all year round

A family friendly spot, Silver Strand is another of the top most beautiful beaches in Donegal.

Many visitors to the area drive straight to the famous Slieve League Cliffs. Still, few make the extra 30-kilometre journey to Silver Strand Beach, meaning they miss out on one of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal.

Silver Strand Beach is a picture-perfect crescent-shaped sand beach, and – thanks to the pleasant water temperatures and calm sea – one of the best (and most family-friendly) places to swim in the area.

The best views of the beach are from the water, so if you are after some stunning pictures, bring a board or small boat. 

The beach can be accessed via a stairway path from the car park above and is well worth a visit all year round – the cliffs on either side are a perfect natural shelter from the wind. 

Address: Malin Beg, Glencolumbkille, Co. Donegal, Ireland

3. Ballymastocker Beach – the second-best beach in the world according to the Brits

Looking another of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal, check out Ballymastocker Beach.

Ballymastocker, also known as Portsalon Beach, is one of the best beaches in Donegal – and one of the best blue flag ones on the whole of Ireland

Located on the western shore of Lough Swilly, the sandy beach stretches over two kilometres from the seaside town of Portsalon to the Knockalla Hills, with the latter providing stunning views over the bay and the ocean. 

Ballymastocker Beach is safe for swimming and great for walks and picnics, too.

It has been voted second place for the most beautiful beaches in the world (!) by readers of the British Observer. 

Address: R268, Magherawardan, Co. Donegal, Ireland

2. Five Fingers Strand – a beautiful beach surrounded by Europe’s highest sand dunes

Five Fingers Strand is another of the top most beautiful beaches in Donegal.

Considered to be the unofficial starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way by some, this stunning sand beach can be found on the Inishowen Peninsula, about six kilometres north-west of Malin.

Five Fingers Strand is surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in Europe (up to 30 metres!) and has striking views towards Glashedy Island, making it one of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal. 

The beach’s name comes from five narrow sea stacks on the north side of the beach, protruding from the water and resembling fingers. 

It is an excellent place for a seaside walk, for fishing, or bird watching. Swimming, unfortunately, is not advised due to very dangerous rip tides.

Five Fingers Strand is a popular tourist stop, so if you are travelling in the summer months, come early in the day or towards sunset to avoid the crowds. 

Address: Lag, Co. Donegal, Ireland

1. Murder Hole Beach – one of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal

Murder Hole Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal.

Don’t be fooled by the name, there’s nothing gruesome about this small and isolated beach on Rosguill Peninsula – in fact, it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal, if not THE most beautiful one. 

Murder Hole Beach, also known as Boyeeghter Strand, is surrounded by cliffs and dunes and dotted with small caves, all making great photo opportunities.

While swimming, unfortunately, is not recommended due to the rip currents in the water (one of many possible explanations of the name!), the beach is a great spot to be explored on foot. 

If time allows, come at low tide as it’s the only time when you can access the cave at the south side of the beach. And if you are after some genuinely stunning Instagram pictures, the best view is from the cliffs on the north end.

Address: Sheephaven Bay, Ireland

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Astrid Hofer works as a freelance journalist for media outlets around the world, mainly writing about travel, lifestyle, and pop culture. When she is not busy listening to live music in one of her favourite pubs, taking cheesy sunset pictures at the beach, or cliff walking, she can usually be found over a mug of hot chocolate planning her next trip.