The breathtaking Irish beach that was once named second best in the world – with incredible views and golden beaches | The Sun

WITH breathtaking views, jagged coastlines and a rich history – it's no surprise that Donegal is a staycation favourite.

The magnificent area has plenty of activities and over 100 beaches – but there's one that sticks out in particular.

Portsalon beach, which is located on the western side of Lough Swilly between Rathmullan and Fanad Head, boasts over a mile of perfect golden sand.

Also known as Ballymastocker Beach, the beautiful spot was once voted as the second most beautiful in the world – beaten to the top spot by a beach in the Seychelles.

The glittering sand has even attracted Taylor Swift – who paid a visit to the beach in the summer of 2021.

The Blue Flag beach has clear water to swim in, plenty of waves for the surfers and sheltered coves for escaping the wind.

It has been described as an "exceptionally clean" beach and if you want to explore it even further, there are kayak tours of the bay you can go on.

It’s a 20-minute spin from both Ramelton and Rathmullan, a 25-minute drive from Downings and a 30-minute drive from Letterkenny.

There’s parking near the southern end of the beach, however, the car park can get crowded during the warmer summer months so you may hve to arrive early to secure a spot.

There are also toilets on-site and a couple of picnic benches.

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Lifeguards are on duty at the beach from June until September between 12pm and 6:30pm.

Yellow flags mean it is safe to swim and lifeguards are on duty – but you must swim between the flags.

Red flags indicate that the conditions are hazardous and it is dangerous to enter the water. If there are no flags in the water, there are no lifeguards on duty.

All beach users are asked to take care when at the beach, and in particular:

  • Never swim alone – Or surf, dive or sail unless there is someone with you.
  • Always engage in water activities with family or friends.
  • Tell someone when you will be back.
  • Note Locations of Life Saving Equipment – Before entering the water familiarize yourself with the location of lifebuoys.
  • Report Missing or Damaged Lifesaving Equipment.


One of the beauties of Ballymastocker Bay is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Donegal.

Just a 15-minute drive north of Portsalon Beach is a wildly different scene and it’s headlined by the stunning Great Pollet Sea Arch.

Ireland’s largest sea arch, it was formed as a result of thousands of years of pounding from the Atlantic’s waves and the erosion has left a unique sight.

Only a 20-minute drive from the beach is the historic Fanad Head Lighthouse.

While the present lighthouse dates back to 1886, there’s actually been a lighthouse here since 1817 (following a shipwreck six years earlier). As well as its interesting past, you’ll also be treated to some cracking views too.

If you want to get stuck into a bit of food and a creamy pint or two, then head down to the little fishing town of Rathmullan, which is just 20 minutes from the renowned beach.

If you're looking for a quirky stay, Portsalon Luxury Camping providesadults-only accommodation with a garden, barbecue facilities and a shared lounge from €135 per night.

There's also a number of holiday homes available nearby.

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