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Buncrana beaches Travel Guide

About Buncrana beaches

The coast of Ireland gets most spectacularly wild to the northwest, and Buncrana is one of the most breathtaking beaches on the stretch. It's set on Lough Swilly, a 40km (24 mile) long flooded river valley, which is a thousand shades of blue at the centre of rippling mountains, laying between the western side of the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal and the Fanad Peninsula.


The beaches edging this sea inlet haul in the summer hoards, being a mere 10km (6 miles) from the large northern town of Derry. It's an important wetland area for birds and oak, hazel and rowan trees make up nearby Fahan Wood. Blue Flag Lisfannon beach is a lovely sandy stretch, with lifeguards in summer.

Beyond the beach:

At low tide it's possible to walk across the causeway to Inch Island. This peaceful small island is a haven for migrating birdlife, and has a castle dating to the 15th century. There's a fine sandy beach on the southwest shore.

Family fun:

Lough Swilly is a wonderful place to spot wildlife (dolphins, porpoise, sea birds, migratory geese and swans). Look out for the Arctic Tern in summer and the Great Northern Diver in winter. You can also go diving to explore the numerous ship wrecks off the coast, including the SS Laurentic, sunk by a German mine. It went down with 3211 ingots of gold of which 3191 were recovered, so you might even find some gold.

Buncrana means 'mouth of the river', as it lies next to the river Crana, so there are some lovely riverside walks in the area. You can also horse ride or play golf. If it's raining and you need to entertain the kids, Wainsworld (, in Buncrana, is a lifesaver; a huge indoor adventure playground, which will keep them happy for hours.

Exploring further:

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