The Atlantic Highlands start at Ardara, 40km (25 miles) NW of Donegal Town, 16km (10 miles) N of Killybegs

This is the most isolated part of Donegal, which is the most isolated county in Ireland, so it doesn’t get much more rugged, exhilarating, and, well . . . isolated than this. At a certain point when you’re driving through the highlands, the signs drop all pretense at bilingualism and switch entirely to Gaelic. It’s disorienting—one minute you know exactly where you are and the next you haven’t a clue. And at that moment—which almost always occurs on a mountainside by a rushing stream amid rocky terrain—you’re in the true Donegal.

The best place to start a tour of Donegal’s Atlantic Highlands is at Ardara (Árd an Rátha), an adorable village about 40km (25 miles) northwest of Donegal Town. From there, weave your way up the coast. This drive can take 4 hours or 4 days, depending on your schedule and interests. Our advice is to take your time. You may never come this way again, and you will want to remember every moment.