Note: This is the second part of the article "Discovering Ireland". You can read the Part I here.
From Sligo to Donegal town
Sligo is a small coastal city in the northwest coast of Ireland. Although it is small, it is the 12th largest city in Ireland and the 2nd largest in the West Coast (Galway is the 1st). We started with a walk in the historical part of the city, across the banks of the Garavogue river that is full of restaurants, coffees and shops. We found a nice place to have brunch located in the Italian quarter in the city center: A Casa Mia. After lunch we just drove to Rosses Point, where we saw the "Lady waiting on the shore", a statue dedicated to all the women who waited behind as the loved ones went to the sea. There is a small beach below and you can walk or seat in the grass to admire the landscape. Then we drove until Mullagmore through secondary roads which is a good decision if you want to discover Ireland country coastal side. We made small stops to take pictures and walk in Grange, Streedagh Point and Cliffony. At Cliffony village you can see Mullaghmore and the Donegal Bay. All this part of road trip you can admire the famous Benbulben, Sligo's Table Mountain that is part of the Dartry Mountains.
Mullaghmore town and beach was our next stop. Mullaghmore village is lovely with a small harbour, several beach hotels, restaurants and coffees. The beach around the bay is a blue flag beach and although it was October we found several people waking and swimming/surfing. A few kilometers after Mullaghmore we found an amazing sandy beach named Rossnowlagh Beach (county Donegal already). It is one of the best blue flag surfing beaches in Europe but is also a beautiful beach to walk or run (3 kms of an white and sandy beach!). We were lucky to watch a pretty sunset at this beach (see picture below).
We arrived in Donegal town at around 6:30 pm and we had time to walk through the city centre and find a nice place to have dinner: The Harbour Restaurant, where you can eat fresh seafood, fish and also several meat dishes. After dinner we stayed overnight in a B&B close to Donegal town, the Milltown House, which was ok for one night. Rooms are en-suite but really simple. We choose this place mainly for 3 reasons: good recommendations on Booking.com, it was cheap (the price included a nice and home-cooked breakfast also) and it allowed to have our dog with us in the bedroom (which is great when you are travelling with pets and not always easy to find!).
From Donegal town to the Slieve League
Although the distance from Donegal town to the Slieve League is just approx. 60 km, it is a natural scenic route that will make you want to stop several times on the way. We left Donegal town next day around 10 am and our first stop was the Mountcharles Pier, a relaxed place 6 km from Donegal town. We didn't saw many tourists, just locals hiking and walking the dogs (we did the pier by car but you can also do it walking). After we drove all the way to St. John's Point, one of the longest peninsulas in Ireland with fantastic views across Donegal Bay and towards Sligo and Mayo. There is a lighthouse in the end of the peninsula and the views are absolutely amazing.
Then we drove slowly (again for secondary roads to better see the country and coast side of Donegal county) from St. John's Point to the Slieve League stopping by Killybegs, Kilcar and Carrick. We actually had lunch in Carrick at the Slieve League Lodge Restaurant which was nice and we recommend (at least the salads and the hamburger were both great choices!). After lunch we drove to the Slieve League Cliffs, one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. From the lower car park to the upper car park it's about 1.5 kms and it was a great decision to park just in the upper car park since we had more time left (and energy!) to walk to the highest point in the cliffs. Contrary to the Cliffs of Moher in Galway here you don't pay any fee to visit the cliffs and we personally found these ones much more wild, green and authentic. We spent a couple of hours at the Slieve League cliffs walking, taking photos and admiring the views from all sides.
It was a shame that we couldn't saw more of the Donegal coast because we loved everything we saw (maybe the weather helped too!). Unfortunately we still had to drive for almost 4 hours to be back in Dublin on that evening so we just stopped for an espresso coffee at the Ti Linn Cafe (just after the Slieve League Cliffs) and we drove all the way back. It was a small but memorable road trip!
If you are planning to visit Ireland please be in touch and we can give you some tips and recommendations!