Have you ever returned from vacation feeling guilty about over consumption and not particularly recharged? It can be more rejuvenating to take part in activities and experiences that leave you feeling accomplished, having tried something new.

According to Lonely Planet, ‘Wellness Tourism’ is the fastest growing travel sector but what exactly is it?
Wellness tourism is travel that promotes physical and mental health and wellbeing. The outcomes we typically associate with spa holidays or more expensive vacations can actually be achieved with any budget.

County Donegal has an abundance of attractions for the wellness traveller with its activities, culture, nature and food. The options to try something new are endless and the Donegal tourist can gently step out of their comfort zone by tasting a new dish with so many award-winning restaurants in the county. Or the more adventurous can try their hand at an activity that they wouldn’t normally engage with at home such as learning a new language or trying a new sport. Quite often this can develop a hobby or interest that can be carried on, leaving their lives enriched as a result of the positive holiday experience.

Donegal has it all. The only difficulty might be fitting it all into the one trip. Here are some suggestions for clearing your head on a wellness holiday in County Donegal.

Walks

With over 1,000 km of coastline, Donegal has no shortage of beaches for long walks. The Moville Shore Path, Inishowen Peninsula loop and Creevy Coastal Walk in Ballyshannon are just a few of the many scenic options in the county. Take a look at more Inishowen walking trails here. If you’d prefer guided walks, I would highly recommend John Mc Groary’s walking tours in Donegal Town and surrounding areas. Hillwalker Seamus Doohan is another excellent guide based in West Donegal.

mnatinney Beach, Falcarragh
Drumnatinney Beach, Falcarragh

Boating

Arguably the best way to experience the true ‘wildness’ of The Wild Atlantic Way, Donegal has some excellent boat operators taking passengers to the remotest parts of the county, some inaccessible by any other means. Tory Ferry (passengers only) departs Magheroarty to Tory Island and the Arranmore Ferry (car and passengers) departs Burtonport to Arranmore Island. Both islands should be on everyone’s bucket list for stepping out of everyday life and leaving your worries on the mainland. Sliabh Liag Boat Trips is a unique way to see the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe from the sea followed by a swim in the waters beneath the cliffs. Sleep overnight on a yacht with Amazing Grace Yacht Charters along the Donegal coast. Or explore the Lough Swilly between the Inishowen and Fanad peninsulas with Swilly Tours and Charters. With all Donegal boat trips, there is a good chance of spotting dolphins, basking sharks and other marine wildlife depending on the season.

Queen of Aran
Tory Ferry, Queen of Aran

Climbing

Could there be a better location for climbing than the hills of Donegal? From mountains to cliffs and sea stacks, there are options for all abilities in County Donegal. ‘The Bluestack Way’, is a 65km route that connects Donegal town with Ardara with the most breathtaking scenery en route. For mountain climbs in Donegal to clear your head, we are blessed with Muckish Mountain in the Derryveagh Mountains and the tallest mountain in Donegal, Mount Errigal. If from the sea isn’t your choice for viewing Sliabh Liag cliffs, there are hiking trails to the summit, going through the aptly named ‘One Man’s Pass’ where it’s a straight 500m to the sea.

For assistance with mountaineering and sea stack climbing, check out Unique Ascent and Donegal Climbing, both experts in safety foremost and extremely knowledgeable about routes that you won’t find in the guide books.

Mount Errigal
Mount Errigal

Kayaking

How about connecting with the earth in water? Trying your hand at canoeing and kayaking or more adventurous watersports such as pier jumping or river rafting under the supervision of experienced guides could be the ultimate wellness therapy. Inish Adventures on the Inishowen Peninsula offer a wide range of watersports for all levels and have the most scenic backdrop as well. Likewise, Kitty’s Kayaks in Kilult offers fun kayaking sessions in a sheltered cove.

Water Rafting
Water Rafting

Embrace the Donegal Gaeltacht

I previously admired observations from the Tourism Space about the emotional benefits of immersing yourself in one of Ireland’s Gaeltachts. It connects the visitor directly with our ancient history and heritage through the spoken word. In addition, visitors who learn a few essential phrases and actually use them gain very positive feelings of accomplishment. Explore the Gaeltacht on your next trip to Donegal.

Gaeltacht

Amidst all of this, Donegal has spas and seaweed baths and other typical relaxing activities to complement the adrenalin-filled days. When thinking about your next vacation to recharge and rejuvenate, consider County Donegal for a wellness break. Or if this is your home, get out and explore what’s on our doorstep. We guarantee you will be left with a lasting feel good factor, just what a healthy body and mind needs.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any assistance with your travel while on vacation in County Donegal.

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