Killybegs, Ireland

Get to know what it’s like to visit this destination.

Getting To Know Killybegs – Cruise Port Guide


Killybegs maybe unknown to most people outside of Ireland, however it is the country’s largest fishing harbour, and the gateway to County Donegal. Donegal is something of a geographical and political anomaly. It is the northernmost county on the island, has its strongest cultural, commercial and ethnic ties with neighbouring areas of Northern Ireland, yet forms part of “the south”, the Republic of Ireland. The catchphrase of Donegal is ‘up here its different’ and we are sure that after your day ashore you’ll understand why. Welcome to our Killybegs cruise port guide. 

County Donegal lies in the far north-west corner of Ireland and is noted for the beauty of its rugged coastline and heather-covered moors. The magnificent barren inland mountains – Errigal, Dooish, Blue Stack, Slieve League – form part of the same geological structure as the Scottish Highlands, an area which shares many similarities with Donegal.

Killybegs itself is located approximately 20 miles west of Donegal town. Its position, at the tip of a deep fjord-like inlet, makes it one of the safest, most sheltered, deep-water harbours on the Irish coast. If you choose to just want to wander around the town, other than an amazing selection of brilliant pubs and restaurants, there aren’t too many ‘must see’ sights in the town itself. The biggest tourist attraction in town is the international Carpet and Fishing Centre, which offers a unique experience in the fishing and carpet making history of the town. You may not know it but Killybegs is famous for producing Donegal’s, which are hand woven carpets that have graced the floors of Dublin Castle, The White House and Buckingham Palace.

The biggest highlight which draws visitors to this area is Donegal Town, which is about 45 minutes away from Killybegs. The attractive centrepiece of the market area of town is known as the Diamond, and it’s here that you’ll find an obelisk dedicated to four friars who are well known as having created a 17th century text on the early history of Ireland. Beside the Diamond, overlooking the river is Donegal Castle, the 15th century seat of power of the O’Donnell clan, the principal ruling family of that time. It was refurbished in the 17th century and its full or fine furnishings, such Persian rugs and French tapestries. And if you like museums, there is the colourful Railway Heritage Museum.

Most of the charm of Donegal Town isn’t necessarily in its museums and castles but just in the town itself, which is full of beautiful old stone buildings, friendly people and more pubs than you can count. There are also plenty of opportunities to go shopping, including the Craft Village, which is an artisan centre, where they are keeping the skills of weaving, jewellery making, painting, glass blowing, and stone and woodcarving alive.

Music is as synonymous with Ireland as much as Guinness, Riverdance, shamrocks, and the colour green and was used as part to entertain, but also to keep stories and oral history alive. There are of course numerous Irish musicians known the world over like U2 and The Corrs, but one group and member of that group in particular are responsible for the revival of traditional Irish music, and they hail from County Donegal. That group is Clannad and one of their members has gone on to be the most successful Irish solo artist, and she is Enya. The family originate from the village of Crolly and Leo’s Tavern is owned by the family, being host to numerous concerts by Clannad and Enya, plus special guests like Bono and The Edge from U2.

Donegal is definitely a destination which is ready to take you by surprise and show you a slice of life not to be found anywhere else.

Travel Tips

The currency of Ireland is the Euro.

Killybegs is situated 17.5 miles (28.2km) to the west of Donegal Town. Check with your cruise line what options there are for travelling to Donegal Town, as they may offer excursions or complementary transport. Public transport is limited and time consuming, so plan accordingly.

Donegal is the second largest Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) area in Ireland and the version of the Irish language spoken here is Ulster Irish.

One of the things that may pique your interest when you are in Donegal Town is one of the town biggest attractions and that is the Donegal waterbus. Although this sounds like public transport, it is in fact a water tour of the Bay of Donegal. However, it is very popular, and you have to purchase your tickets at least thirty minutes before the tour departs.

Donegal castle

Key highlights of Killybegs

  • International Carpet Making & Fishing Centre
  • Maritime and Heritage Centre
  • Bridge Simulator
  • Donegal Town
  • Donegal Castle
  • Abbey of Donegal
  • Donegal Town Diamond
  • Donegal Water Bus
  • Donegal Railway Heritage Centre
Gran Canaria Port

Regular cruise line visitors

  • Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
  • Silversea
  • P&O Cruises
  • SAGA Cruises
  • Princess Cruises
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Viking Ocean 



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