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Ireland is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality. One of the country’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders is also one of its best secrets, overshadowed by the famous Cliffs of Moher. Slieve League Cliffs, known to locals as Sliabh Liag, is an enchanting destination that entices visitors with breathtaking views and raw beauty. I can only describe this destination as stepping into a Windows desktop background, one that never seemed real because of how immensely stunning it is.
Located in southwest Donegal, along the spectacular Wild Atlantic Way scenic driving route, are the high-rising Slieve League Cliffs, jutting 1,972 feet (601 meters) out of the Atlantic Ocean, nearly three times higher than the renowned Cliffs of Moher. Although Slieve League Cliffs are the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe, they remain less frequented, making it a true gem for adventurers. It was here that my now husband proposed because of just how mystical and secluded this remarkable landscape was the morning of our visit. We were the only ones at Slieve League for over an hour, and even by the time we left there were only two others.
Slieve League Cliffs is not only a viewpoint but a historical landmark with an ancient pilgrimage site, old signal tower, and Éire signs from World War II.
High up on the mountain are the remains of an early Christian chapel, beehive huts, and ancient stone remains. Viewable from Bunglass Point, the viewpoint next to the Upper Car Park, is an old signal tower at Carrigan Head that dates back to the Napoleonic Wars. And lastly, Éire signs are still in place from World War II when Ireland had an agreement with the Allies to allow aircraft to fly through Irish airspace. The word, “Éire” is placed in stone around Donegal, with one situated next to the Upper Car Park. These markers were for navigational purposes so pilots could locate the island and are located throughout Ireland. There are 11 signs, with another located at Malin Head at the tip of the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal.
When at Bunglass Point, visitors can follow the stone path up the steep slope and walk amongst the mountain sheep. It’s at the top where you can take in the awe-inspiring views, or continue on to the Pilgrim’s Path, which should only be attempted by experienced hikers due to the narrow paths with steep drop-offs, also known as One Man’s Pass. Luckily, there is a second path that avoids the daunting pass if you stay to the right but should still be walked with caution. The trail is 2.9 miles, takes 2 hours, and can be found on AllTrails here.
A trip to Slieve League Cliffs in Ireland is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on all who visit. The majestic cliffs, stunning panoramas, and historical significance combine to create a journey that is as enriching as it is beautiful. For photography enthusiasts, Slieve League Cliffs offer a treasure trove of opportunities to capture the striking landscape. The rugged cliffs, foaming waves crashing against the rocks, and the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean create an ideal canvas for stunning landscape shots. So, pack your bags and be prepared to fall in love with the enchanting allure of Slieve League Cliffs.
Where is Slieve League?
Slieve League is 3 hours and 45 minutes from Dublin, 2 hours and 45 minutes from Giants Causeway, and 3 hours 30 minutes from Galway. If road-tripping through Ireland and Northern Ireland, a stop in County Donegal for Slieve League is a must-do stop along the way.
Slieve League Cliffs was a stop on my Ireland road trip, therefore, I was able to stay just down the road from the entrance to this site at The Rusty Mackeral. This traditional Irish bar and restaurant had simple accommodations that were perfect for our one-night stay in the area. On the night of our stay, traditional Irish music was being played live by some locals which is one of my favorite memories of Ireland.
When is Slieve League open?
Slieve League is open 365 days a year and technically 24 hours a day. Visitor Center hours are 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
Entry and Parking
Although entry is free, Slieve League Cliffs recently started charging for parking and offering a paid shuttle bus from the Visitors Center. There are 3 parking lots – the Upper Car Park, Lower Car Park, and Visitor Center Car Park. The Upper and Lower are paid lots, costing €5 for 2 hours or €15 for the day. The Visitor Center has free parking but is further out, requiring the paid shuttle unless you want to take on the challenge of an extra-long walk. During peak season (July – August), the Upper Car Park is only available to vendors and disabled visitors during operating hours (10 AM – 6 PM).
If visiting during peak season, I recommend arriving outside of operating hours and driving straight into the Slieve League Upper Car Park when the parking attendants are not working. This also means you can enjoy the site without any crowds. An early wake-up call is guaranteed to reward you with a view all to yourself.
When driving straight in, upon arrival, you will come to a gate which will make you question if you are in the right spot or not. The gate is only to keep the sheep in so all you need to do is open the gate yourself to drive through. Just make sure you close it behind you. To note, the Slieve League Lower Car Park is located outside this gate, to the left. This Lower Car Park is where you will have to park if you arrive during peak season operational hours if there is room.
Tickets for the shuttle bus can be booked online at www.sliabhliag.com/book/.
The Visitor Center has free parking, however, does charge per person if you want to take the shuttle in. Pricing is:
Family (2 Adults, 2 Children): €18
If spending more than 2 hours at Slieve League, which is a given if you plan on hiking, this would make the most sense cost-wise for couples. If you have small children or family with limited mobility and cannot access the Upper Lot, this shuttle will bring you right to the viewing platform. During peak season, parking attendants restrict the Upper Lot to vendors and disabled individuals.
The shuttle bus starts running at 10:10 AM with the last departure at 5:30 PM from the Visitor Center.
Are there bathrooms?
Toilets are only available at the Visitor Center and the Lower Car Park. There is no bathroom at the Upper Car Park.
Slieve League Cliffs vs the Cliffs of Moher?
My vote will always be to visit both. The Cliffs of Moher, although more crowded, are a must when visiting Ireland. The dramatic cliff drop is one that you can’t truly comprehend until you’ve seen it. Slieve League Cliffs is also a must in my book for a true Irish experience. Not only do you get to visit the smaller quaint towns, but you can step away from the crowds and truly enjoy your time in nature with one of Ireland’s most scenic cliffs.
Don’t forget about another show stopper at Kerry Cliffs, located in the Southwest of Ireland. This had fewer crowds than the Cliffs of Moher which is why I enjoyed it a bit more. Jagged cliffs tower over the Atlantic Ocean here and on a clear day you can see out to the famous Skellig Island where Star Wars Episode VII was filmed.
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