Gateway to the wilds
Donegal Town is one of Ireland’s gateway towns – perhaps not an amazing destination in itself but a gateway to an area of outstanding beauty. Donegal Town is the jumping off point to the wilds of County Donegal (unsurprisingly, given the name).
An hour to the east are the giant Slieve League Cliffs and dramatic beach of Malin Beg, an hour to north is the stunning combination of Glenveagh Castle and National Park, and everywhere inbetween is the untamed rugged greenery for which this county is famous. A company called Donegal Tours offers daytrips all around the area from the town every morning.
Donegal Town full of lively bars, restaurants and woollen shops, and is the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring. My food pick, is Blas at the Gateway Lodge, which won the 2017 all-Ireland restaurant of the year award. The restaurant serves delicious contemporary Irish cuisine whilst not over-charging.
In terms of actual visitor attractions there isn’t a great deal in Donegal Town but the pick is probably Donegal Castle as long as your expectations remain modest. This pint sized fortification is tucked away from the centre and refreshingly doesn’t hold any illusions of grandeur. A fairly interesting (and fairly cheap) visit to this 15th century castle, including tour, can easily be done in one hour.
There is a surprising wealth of accommodation in and around the town. In the town are modestly priced 3-star hotels, such as the Central Hotel and Abbey hotel.
However. a mere 15 minute drive north you will find two of Ireland’s finest luxury hotels – the 4-star Harvey’s Point Hotel and 5-star Solis Lough Eske. Both are situated on the shores of pretty Lough Eske and provide fantastic views and offer amazing spa opportunities. Despite the difference in star rating both hotels are very similar in quality, Harvey's Point was even voted best hotel in Ireland FIVE YEARS IN A ROW by Tripadvisor.