The Donegal Bay coast extends for 80km (50 miles) from Bundoran (32km/20 miles S of Donegal Town) to Glencolumbkille (48km/30 miles W of Donegal Town).

The coastline around Donegal Bay is wild and beautiful. Speeds much above 55kmph (35 mph) are dangerous, but that’s just as well, because the spectacular views will cause you to stop again and again to take in the rolling hills, jagged mountains, bright green fields, and crashing seas.

Heading south from Donegal Town, there are few attractions besides the historic village of Ballyshannon (Béal Átha Seanaidh) and, inland, the pilgrimage site on the shore of Lough Derg. However, this area’s a magnet for sporty types, with fine beaches, outstanding golf courses, and some of the best surfing in Ireland.

To the north of Donegal Town, however, the coastal scenery is breathtaking. Follow the main road (N56) west out of Donegal Town for a slow, winding, but spectacularly scenic drive along the bay. You’ll often see the distinctive thatched-roof cottages typical of this area, with rounded roofs held down by ropes (called sugans) fastened beneath the eaves to help the thatch resist the strong sea winds. Just before the fishing village of Killybegs (Ceala Beaga), where the main N56 road swings inland, continue on the coastal road R263 through Killybegs to Kilcar (Cill Chártha), where you can pick up Donegal Tweeds at a bargain at Studio Donegal. Truly spectacular photo ops await at Slieve League (Sliabh Liag) with its perilously high sea cliffs crashing down into the waters below. (Take the turnoff for the Bunglass viewing point at Carrick.) The traditional end of the west coast drive is the heritage site of Glencolumbkille (Gleann Cholm Cille), 48km (30 miles) from Donegal Town.

To continue touring from Glencolumbkille, follow the signs directing you on the R230 to Ardara (Árd an Rátha). This is a breathtaking drive through Glengesh Pass, a narrow, sinuous, scenic roadway that rises to a height of 270m (886 ft.) before plunging in hairpin curves into the valley below to reach the village of Ardara (Árd an Rátha). From there lies The Atlantic Highlands.