Slieve League are the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe (tied with Achill Island’s dramatic but hard-to-reach Croaghaun Cliffs).
Looking the best way to make the most of your visit to Slieve League? Check out our insider’s travel guide for everything related to the great Slieve League cliffs of Ireland.
Want to enjoy a Slieve League hike? Planning a trip to Ireland? Or maybe you want to learn more about where the Slieve League cliffs are located. Read our guide to learn more about these incredible cliff edges.
What makes the Slieve League cliffs so special? For starters, their height! They are 601 m (or 1,972ft) at their highest point, making them just about three times the highest point of the Cliffs of Moher (which clocks in at 155 m or 509 ft).
In fact, they fall just shy of the highest cliffs in Ireland, beaten by the Croaghaun Cliffs on Achill Island, whose highest elevation reaches 688 m. Both Croaghaun and Slieve League rank right at the top of Europe’s highest sea cliffs. However keep in mind that Achill’s Croaghaun are difficult to reach, while Slieve League cliffs are accessible to most visitors.
These massive cliffs are located in County Donegal in the northwest corner of Ireland. Nicknamed Ireland’s ‘Forgotten County,’ a foray into Donegal tells it all. Donegal is a wild, rural place – full of vast bogs, rugged mountains, forlorn coasts and quiet farms.
Donegal is possibly the coolest county in Ireland – in fact, Donegal has repeatedly been voted the Coolest Place on Earth by National Geographic Traveller, including during their 50th anniversary of Best in Travel awards.
Reaching the Cliffs
Accessibility to the cliffs is mainly by car, though there are coach tours available. By car, Slieve League is about 1.5 hours from Letterkenny, two hours from Sligo or Derry, three hours from Belfast, and four hours from Dublin.
The most famous way to photograph the cliffs is from the Bunglas Viewpoint. Past Teelin village, follow the road until you get to the car park. You can park there, and walk up the road, about a mile (1.7 km) through a set of gates (as a general rule, always close farm gates behind you as they’re meant to keep livestock from straying) up the small, winding road through sheep pastures. There is limited access to the top of the viewpoint for shuttles, taxis and disabled cardholders. There is a shuttle service from the Visitor Centre for those who wish to avail.
For those who choose to hike to the viewpoint, rounding the final bend offers your first view of the massive Slieve League cliffs. From here, you can walk out around the Bunglas viewpoint for the classic view of the cliffs. Get your cameras ready. This is the most photogenic viewpoint of Slieve League. On a clear day, turn around and look behind you – you’ll get an amazing view of Ben Bulben, Ireland’s iconic table mountain, located in County Sligo.
Duration: 2-3 hours (out & back) or 4-5 hours (loop)
Hike the path less travelled by following Pilgrim’s Path to the clifftops. To get there, follow a narrow road up from Teelin village for about a kilometre to where the road ends in a car park and trailhead.
A rough path is chiselled into the green mountainside. The Pilgrim’s Path is about 3km in length and takes 2-3 hours out and back. Or, you can continue upon One Man’s Pass, along the cliffs and down to Bunglas (see below) and either walk back along the country roads or try to arrange a taxi. This full-length walk will take 4-5 hours for the whole loop.
The trail’s name comes from the era of Ireland’s Penal laws in the 18th and 19th centuries, a series of laws imposed on the local Irish population to force Irish Roman Catholic dissenters to convert to the “true faith” of the English Anglican Church.
This meant that official Catholic worship was outlawed, but many Irish refused to convert, so they met in secret in remote, rural places, such as Slieve League, where they said mass from allotted “mass rocks.” Along the Pilgrim’s Path, you’ll find the remains of a Mass Rock, a makeshift “church.” Today it’s in ruin, but the name stuck.
Further up, you’ll find a yellow pole marking the summit – as you round the bend, you’ll feel a wall of wind blasting over the Slieve League cliffs. Inch closer through the wind to the edge (though keep in mind there isn’t much in the way of barriers) and admire the amazing panorama of the massive cliffs and churning Atlantic below.
The Pilgrim’s Path is narrow and steep – in some places, it’s rocky underfoot, and in other places, boggy. Therefore, make sure you’ve dressed appropriately in a waterproof jacket and trousers, as well as sturdy hiking boots with ankle support.
You can also start hiking directly from the Bunglas Viewpoint, where you’ll get the classic views of the cliffs. Though higher than the Cliffs of Moher, the Slieve League cliffs are sloping rather than sheer precipices, facilitating a walk along the cliff edge. There is a large car park at the bottom of a narrow lane leading to the Bunglas viewpoint located outside of the new visitor’s centre.
Most people only follow the first section of this cliff path, built out of stone steps. But within just 15-20 mins of climbing, you’re in the wild. Follow the cliffs as long as you’d like, until you’re standing at the highest point of the Slieve League cliffs, walking amongst mountain sheep and diving sea birds.
For the adventurous, you can keep going all the way to the Pilgrim’s Path (see above). However, this should only be attempted by experienced hikers.
First, follow the well-worn trail along the cliffs to the summit of Cnoc Ramhar, where the path becomes eroded and boggy. The next section is the infamous One Man’s Pass. A narrow, 400 m knife-like craggy edge, the land drops dramatically on each side. Less experienced hikers or those with vertigo can take the path on the right, a longer way that avoids the pass.
Connecting with One Man’s Pass, you could continue down to Teelin and walk along the road back to the car park, or simply organise a taxi.
Join a guided tour of the wilds of Donegal on a group trip, where you will hike Slieve League and its surrounds, as well as a number of other stunning walks.
Food and drink are important parts of any trip. So, where is the best place to eat near Slieve League? This is a remote part of Donegal, so options are somewhat limited.
The closest spot is the Tí Linn Café, a rustic cafe that is the perfect place to warm up with a steaming cup of tea, and a bowl of simmering soup paired with sandwiches. There’s also a quaint craft gift shop with a nice selection of wool products, handmade crafts, local souvenirs and books about travelling in Ireland.
If you’re willing to go farther afield, the town of Killybegs is about 30 minutes away by car. Killybegs is actually one of Ireland’s principal fishing ports. There are a number of restaurant options but if you head to Killybegs, you have to eat fish. So whether you go for fish and chips, a hearty seafood chowder or the fresh catch of the day, you are destined for a delicious dinner.
Aside from the Mass Rock, there are also remains of an early Christian monastic site (including the remnants of early beehive huts) – even traces of an older civilisation.
More recently, there is an old signal tower dating back to the Napoleonic wars when the British (who occupied Ireland at the time) were worried about a potential French invasion (which never occurred).
Most recent is the vestiges of the WWII era ‘EIRE’ sign, signifying Irish neutral ground. There are dozens of other signs like that dotted throughout the coastal headlands, though not all continue to be maintained.
Nicknamed the Forgotten County for its remoteness, Donegal was the last county to come under British rule and had therefore retained Irish heritage throughout the 1500s (long after other parts of Ireland fell under British rule) – only losing its independence with the Flight of the Earls in 1607 after a failed revolt against the Crown.
Donegal is remote. It is wild. It is full of history and heritage and vast landscapes. In a way, it’s the closest you’ll get to “old, traditional” Ireland. Though it’s not as huge an enterprise as it once was, you’ll still find prestigious Donegal tweed clothing articles all over the county. Hidden waterfalls, forgotten Neolithic sites, rugged coastlines and picturesque mountains await.
In the north of the county, there’s Glenveagh National Park, Malin Head (home to Star Wars), and Lough Swilly Fjord. In the south, you get the surfing beaches, tweed weavers – and Slieve League. Along the coast, there are dozens of stunning beaches and Donegal remains one of the best places to surf in Ireland.
It’s a county with a lot to offer – and with far fewer tourists than further south.
Slieve League and Co Donegal is an eerie and wild place. To get the most out of your trip, you’ll want to visit with a local guide. Join one of our hiking or biking group tours to explore this stunning landscape yourself.
For those that prefer a private trip, work with our expert travel designers to create a unique, outdoor adventure through Ireland’s wild northwest, or book our ready-made self-drive trip exploring the Donegal and Northern Ireland.