Fintra Beach
Fintra Beach

Donegal Beaches Blue Flag Award Winners

Blue Flag beaches can be found all around the Irish coast, making Ireland's beaches some of the cleanest in the world.

Of those pristine beaches, County Donegal boasts a number of award-winners that have been on the Blue Flag list for the past three years.

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flags on a beach Donegal beaches
Photo: Blue Flag Facebook.

Bundoran, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

The main beach in Bundoran has always been a popular spot for bathers.

Today, it is equally popular with surfers, making the beach at Bundoran a mecca for surfing enthusiasts.

Bundoran beach with the town in the background, one of the Donegal beaches to win a Blue Flag Award in 2020. Photo: arkanex for Getty Images Pro.

Tullan Strand is Bundoran’s other beach, which is further along the coast and is backed by cliffs and rocks. It is unsuitable for swimmers due to strong currents.

Visitors to Bundoran often take the “Rougey Walk” along the cliff’s edge to see “The Fairy Bridges,” spectacular rock formations creating blowholes that the locals once believed were haunted by fairies, along with “The Wishing Chair,” a perfect spot to admire the ocean views.

The Fairy Bridge at Tullan Strand, Bundoran. Photo: Allison Crummy, Failte Ireland.

There’s also an 18-hole golf course in Bundoran.

Created in 1894, it is one of Ireland’s oldest golf clubs.

This beach is suitable for surfing, swimming, and bird watching.

Lifeguard: Yes
Bathroom Facilities: Nearby

Rossnowlagh Beach, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

Rossnowlagh Beach is about 5 miles (8 km) from Donegal town.

This Donegal beach is renowned for its soft, golden sand as well as its excellent location for surfers.

It is also known for its immense waves, some as high as 20 feet (7 meters), especially during the winter months, which makes it a popular surfing destination.

a view of the mountains and a beach Donegal beaches
The beautiful Rossnowlagh Beach and surrounding landscape. Photo: misterbike for Getty Images.

Rossnowlagh Surf School is a good place to look for beginner lessons.

Be sure to check out “The Heavenly Cove,” an area of the beach where you’ll get stunning views of the Slieve League Cliffs across the bay, as well as the fishing village of Mullaghmore in Co. Sligo.

This beach is suitable for sunbathers, walkers, picnickers, windsurfers, and beach casters.

Lifeguard: Yes
Bathroom Facilities: Portable toilets in the car park.



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Murvagh Beach, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

This 2.7-mile (4.5 km) beach has extensive dunes that lead to Murvagh Forest.

It is known as a Special Area of Conservation.

the ocean and beach Donegal beaches
Murvagh Beach, Co. Donegal. Photo: Matt Dean, https://www.flickr.com/photos/143733090@N05/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

This is an excellent beach for swimming, given its sheltered location which protects it from the strongest ocean currents.

The northern end of it backs on to Donegal Golf Club.

Donegal's Sliabh League cliff during the winter. Photo copyright Dave Walsh for Failte Ireland.

You’ll get good views of Sliabh League from here. The village of Laghy is nearby, with Donegal town about 3 miles (5 km) away.

This beach is suitable for swimming, walking, and picnicking. 

Lifeguard: From June through August
Bathroom Facilities: Located in the car park

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Fintra Beach, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

Fintra Beach is located on Donegal’s southwest coast. It is close to the town of Killybegs, a notable fishing port.

There’s a steep road leading down to the beach, which will give you awesome views of Donegal Bay and even Benbulben in neighboring County Sligo.

This beach is ideal for swimming, snorkeling, walking, and picnicking.

Lifeguard: July and August, noon to 6:30 p.m.
Bathroom Facilities: Portable toilets near the car park
Wheelchair Accessible

Portnoo/Narin Beach, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

Considered one of the most beautiful beaches on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, Portnoon/Narin Beach stretches out for over a mile.

An aerial view of the Portnoo/Narin Beach in Co. Donegal. Photo: Lukassek for Getty Images.

Backed by low dunes that are designated a Natural Heritage Area due to the diversity of the region’s coastal habitats, the views from this beach are fabulous.

If the tide is out and you’re feeling adventurous, you can walk to the island of Inishkeel, where you’ll find the remains of two 6th-century churches. 

This beach is ideal for swimming and walking.

Lifeguard: Yes
Bathroom Facilities: Nearby
Caravan site a short distance away

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Carrickfinn Beach, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

This beach is located in Gweedore Bay, an Irish-speaking area of Donegal, and very close to the county airport.

It is also known as Dunmore Strand. This is a long, white sandy beach that is backed by extensive sand dunes. It is close to the village of Annagry.

Carrickfinn Beach is a short distance away from Danny Minnie's Country House. Photo: Martin Fleming, Failte Ireland.

This beach is ideal for swimming and walking.

Lifeguard: June through September
Bathroom Facilities: Unknown

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Killahoey Beach, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

Killahoey Beach is located close to the town of Dunfanaghy in North Donegal. It consists of a sandy beach with a large estuary.

Horse riding on Killahoey Beach in Co. Donegal. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

This beach is ideal for swimming, surfing, kite surfing, and horse riding.

Lifeguard: June through September
Bathroom Facilities: Portable toilets in the car park area

Marble Hill Beach, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

Also located in the Dunfanaghy area, this is yet another beautiful beach in Co. Donegal in Sheephaven Bay.

It is in the middle of two headlands, making it a very sheltered location for swimming. There is a multitude of wildlife in the area.

Marble Hill beach in Co. Donegal. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland.

This beach is ideal for swimming and bird watching.

Lifeguard: June through September
Bathroom Facilities: Yes, but a distance away

Downings Beach, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

This beach is located on Donegal’s Rosguill Peninsula, in the sheltered waters of Sheephaven Bay.

Downings Beach, one of the Donegal beaches to receive Blue Flag status. Photo: Martin Fleming, Failte Ireland/Tourism Ireland.

This beach is ideal for swimming, water sports, and windsurfing.

Lifeguard: Yes
Bathroom Facilities: Close by
Wheelchair Accessible
Caravan park nearby

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Magherawarden (Portsalon) Beach, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

This mile-long beautiful beach is in a nice sheltered location that never gets overcrowded.  A real gem.

an aerial view of a beach Donegal beaches
The beach at Portsalon, Co. Donegal. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

This beach is ideal for swimming.

Lifeguard: Yes
Bathroom Facilities: Near the car park
Voted by The Observer newspaper as the second-most beautiful beach in the world.

Culdaff Beach, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

Culdaff Beach is located close to the village of Culdaff (about 50 yards actually) on the north coast of Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula.

It is bordered to the west by sand dunes and to the northwest by the Culdaff River.

a beach Donegal beaches
Culdaff Beach, one of the Donegal beaches to win a Blue Flag award in 2020. Photo: Martin Fleming, Failte Ireland.

There are actually two beaches here, one called the “small beach,” the other called the “big beach.”

The coastal area here is designated a Special Area for Conservation.

You can’t miss the rocky headlands known as Black Rock, Bucker’s Rock, and Lady’s Rock.

This beach is ideal for swimming, surfing, walking, and other watersports.

Lifeguard: June through September
Bathroom Facilities: Yes

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Stroove Beach, Winner of 2020, 2021 & 2022 Awards

This small beach is located on the east coast of the Inishowen Peninsula in North Donegal (close to the Inishowen Natural Heritage Area).

It is adjacent to two lighthouses.

the ocean Donegal beaches
Stroove Beach, one of the Donegal beaches to receive the Blue Flag award. Photo: Ana Rey, https://www.flickr.com/photos/anarey/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

This beach is ideal for swimming, picnicking, and walking.

Lifeguard: June through August
Bathroom Facilities: Near the car park

The Greencastle Marina and the Rathmullen Marina also received Blue Flag awards in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Read more: Six Days in Donegal: Exploring the County's Most Spectacular Locations

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Supraja Lakshmi N

    I’m blown away by your post about the Donegal beaches. You have given me a glimpse of the stunning beauty and diversity of the coastline in this county. I had no idea that there were so many gorgeous and varied beaches to explore in Donegal. Your photos and descriptions are amazing! I appreciate how you have included the location, access, facilities, and activities for each beach. That makes it very easy for me to plan my trip and choose the beaches that suit my preferences and needs.

    1. colette

      So glad you enjoyed reading it, Supraja! Donegal is beautiful for sure. ☘️💚

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