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Wild Atlantic Way (northwest) itinerary

We were originally thinking we might drive upon landing from Dublin to Dufanaghy and spend 3-4 nights there, using the days to explore all the sights and beaches and walks in the area before driving down to Rossaveal for catch the ferry to the Aran Islands for a few days.

Then we realized it would make more sense to spend a night near sligo or somewhere on our way from Dunfanaghy south...allowing us to explore additional coastal towns and scenery along the way. My wife had the idea (after speaking with a friend in Cork) that we should check out Derry. We decided that would work well, to just go dublin-Derry (a little shorter than going all the way to Dunfanaghy) and spend the day and night there. Especially since the next day we were going to go from Dunfanaghy to Malin head and explore that peninsula...staying in Derry allows us to do the same (on our way to dunfanaghy) without backtracking or extra driving.

So now we are at 1nt Derry, 2nts Dunfanaghy, 1nt "sligo"....and it made me wonder...should we just do 1nt each in derry, dunfanaghy and then two stops on our way south? Where should those stops be?

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Last September, we were driving in the opposite direction. After 3 nights in Dunfanaghy, we’d planned on touring the Malin Head Peninsula, and to cut down driving time and distance, had planned to take the car ferry across Lough Swilly from Rathmullan to Buncrana, saving a long down-and-back-up drive with Letterkenny as the pivot point. But the ferry, which says is open June-September wasn’t open all the way through the very end of September. We arrived at the dock in Rathmullan to learn the ferry service had ended for the season the day before. But if you’re there while the boat is still going, it might save you what wound up being a long drive for us.

We’re avoiding 1-night stays as much as we can anymore, and after our drive southeast from Dunfanaghy and an abbreviated drive on the Peninsula, not making it all the way north to Malin Head itself, we stopped in Derry for part of that afternoon, before continuing on to Bushmills for the next 3 nights.

Going southwest from Dunfanaghy, IF you were determined to only stay 1 night in Dunfanaghy (which I’d suggest should be 2 nights) and stop somewhere for a night on the way to the Sligo area (we stayed just northwest of Sligo town, at a B&B close to Drumcliff), maybe look at somewhere near the Slieve League cliffs? We stopped for part of the rainy afternoon en route to Dunfanaghy, but didn’t spend the night in the area.

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Thanks for the comment!

We also typically prefer to not spend just one night in a place...particularly since we are traveling this time with a toddler (2.5) but the itinerary just seemed like it was begging for one night stays. I also thought it might wind up being more of a pain with the toddler to have to drive an hour back to our lodging at the end of our day of exploring than it would to pack up the pack n play every morning and set it up somewhere new each night.

The Slieve League cliffs are one of the key points I am planning to make it to on this trip. Definitely considered staying right next to them for one night so we could (hopefully) catch a sunset from the cliffs (and make it home before it gets too late). Honestly, Malin Head, Slieve League, maybe Mullaghmore, and Murder Beach (partially because of the name and partially because it looks amazing and is off the beaten path a little) are the main points of interest I have penciled in so far, but based on my research we will find 10 other great places to stop and explore on the way to/from each of them.

That Ferry sounds like something worth looking into. I hadnt seen or thought of that. We were going to do malin head and that whole peninsula one day and then murder beach/the other peninsula (above letterkenny) the next. Ferry could help us make better use of our time.

Please share any recommendations (experiences/activities/sights/shops/restaurants/B&Bs) for the dunfanaghy area. Sounds like you enjoyed that stop :)