Caves of Maghera Guide [Personal Experience+Safety Tips!]

Donegal is full of amazing landscapes and breathtaking coastlines but there is something magical about the Caves of Maghera located in the quaint town of Ardara. 

Ger and I have explored Donegal and we are still amazed by the unique beauty and mystique of the Caves of Maghera. 

It is an amazing place to visit and we want to tell you everything you need to know before visiting. (when we visited we got soaking wet and the wind was SO STRONG! O_O)

The beach and caves of Maghera is a beautiful location but it can be quite dangerous if you don’t know what to look out for.

In this guide, we provide information about how to get to the Maghera Caves and how to stay safe while exploring.

Affiliate Link Disclosure

The links on this page may be affiliate links, from which I earn a small commission if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA COST to you. Hope you find the information here useful. Thanks!

Here Are Some Amazing Tours You Can Do In Donegal!

About The Caves Of Maghera

One of the main reasons people visit Maghera Ireland is to explore the Maghera Caves. 

Maghera Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches with caves in Ireland. These caves have been formed over many years with the waves of the Atlantic Ocean carving them out from the limestone cliffs.

 Visitors are amazed by the intricacy of the rock formations within the cave system.

There is folklore surrounding the Caves of Maghera that tell the story of raids by Cromwellian attackers that sent locals hiding in the caves.

However, this story has been dismissed by historians as we know Cromwell never ventured this far North. It is more likely that a similar event occurred when locals hid from Viking raiders.

The stories of locals hiding in the caves also tell of a lone male survivor of a massacre fleeing to the caves with his dog. They crawled through the cave system in search of freedom. 

According to the story, the dog appeared 20km away in Glencolumbkille but the man was never seen again.

Caves of maghera

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

About Maghera Beach

Maghera Beach Donegal, also known as Ardara Beach is a picturesque coastal area in the Northwest of Ireland. 

Many tourists are attracted to the area due to its natural beauty, beautiful landscape and interesting caves. 

The Wild Atlantic Way is a unique and rugged area and Maghera Strand highlights the beauty of this spectacular coastline.

The crystal clear water and sandy beach make this area very enticing but the water and caves can be quite dangerous if you’re not careful.

We have shared some tips below on how to stay safe when you explore this beautiful area.

1. Location Of The Caves of Maghera

If you’re looking for sea caves in Ireland, Maghera Beach Ardara is a great place to explore. 

It is located on the northern side of the Slieve League Peninsula, situated approximately 3 kilometres from the village of Ardara.

 The beach and caves are situated between Glenties and Portnoo, making it easy for visitors to reach from various directions.

2. Is There Parking?

Yes, there is parking available near the Caves of Maghera. 

There is a car park which is run by a local and costs $3 to park there. 

It is advised to give yourself plenty of time to secure a parking space and explore the area during peak tourist season (summer) as the area can get quite busy.

Local tip – we went there in the winter and parking was free. It might not be the same in the summer

Tip 2- it rains a lot in the winter, so bring spare clothes ha!

Beautiful Caves of Maghera

3. How To Reach The Beach And Caves

If you are driving from Ardara, take the N56 road for about 5.5 kilometres until you reach the beach parking area.

 There are signposts along the way to guide you.

Public transport options are limited in this rural area but you can get a bus to Ardara and then hire a taxi to take you to Maghera Beach and Caves.

We rented a car as it gave us flexibility and freedom. We recommend DiscoverCars.

Once you reach the car park it’s just a short stroll down to the beach and caves.

Here is the location of Maghera beach and caves on Google Maps.

4. How To Enjoy The Caves Safely

Maghera Beach and Caves can be a great place to explore but it is very important to stay safe while doing so. 

It is crucial that you take note of the weather forecast and the tide before visiting Maghera Caves. The Caves are only accessible when the tide is out.

Do not under any circumstances enter the caves if the tide is coming in. If you enter the caves at the wrong time and the tide comes in you could get stuck in the caves and drown.

So make sure you only enter the caves when the tide is out!

You can check the tide times for beaches in Donegal on the Donegal Beaches website.

5. Do Not Swim At Maghera Beach!

Although the beautiful beach and pristine water of Maghera beach can seem inviting it is not a safe place to swim.

 Maghera Beach is known to be a dangerous place to swim due to strong currents and riptides.

There are plenty of great places to swim in Donegal so save your swimming for another location such as Narin (Portnoo) which is a blue-flag beach with lifeguards on duty in July and August.

Other tips : 

1- It gets windy, so pack layers 

2- Rain comes suddenly, pack waterproofs! 

3- The water is crystal clear and beautiful!  

4- You have to walk around 20 mins from the front gate to get to the caves

Caves of Maghera Assaranca

Places To Visit Near the Caves of Maghera:

1. Assaranca Waterfall

There are some beautiful places to see in the parish of Maghera including this picturesque natural wonder located near the town of Ardara just 1km from Maghera Beach. The waterfall cascades down the cliff into a rock pool below.

The natural beauty of this area attracts many visitors. It is easily accessible as it is a short walk from the roadside.

Caves of maghera

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

2. Glengesh Pass

This is a beautiful mountain road that winds through the landscape of Donegal. The hills and mountains surrounding the road make driving through Glengesh Pass a surreal experience.

This is one of the best ways to see the rugged landscape of Donegal while making your way through the countryside.

Caves of maghera

Photo Credit: Pixabay

3. Slieve League

Slieve League is one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. It is a must-visit location in Donegal. It is located along the Wild Atlantic Way.

The viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the sea, cliffs, and surrounding landscapes. You can either drive to a viewpoint or you could also go for a hike in this area.

Caves of maghera

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

4. Glencolmcille Folk Village

The Glencolmcille Folk Village offers a glimpse into Ireland’s past, it is a living museum that shares the rich cultural heritage of Ireland. 

The village includes a number of traditional thatch cottages and other historic buildings.

This open-air museum features a collection of traditional thatched cottages and buildings. You can explore the area, and learn about the way of life and the traditions of Ireland from the past.

Caves of maghera

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

5. Narin And Portnoo

Narin and Portnoo are villages close to Maghera Beach. They are coastal villages that offer immaculate beaches and spectacular natural beauty.

Narin Beach is an amazing beach that is perfect for long walks and chilling out. Portnoo provides views of its beautiful coastline, harbour and world-class golf course.

Narin and Portnoo are great coastal villages to visit while exploring Donegal.

Caves of maghera

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

6. Kilclooney Dolmen

This interesting structure known as the Kilclooney Dolmen is a megalithic tomb located near Ardara. 

This ancient monument is thousands of years old and is made up of several large stone slabs that form a chamber.

 The fascinating site displays just one aspect of the region’s rich history.

Caves of maghera

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

7. Silver Strand Beach

Silver Strand Beach is another beautiful beach along the coastline of Donegal. This beautiful horseshoe-shaped beach is a great place to relax and unwind.

It is surrounded by cliffs which provide shelter from the wind. This picturesque beach is one of the most beautiful places to visit along Donegal’s coastline.

Caves of maghera

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

8. Stephen Bennett Studio Gallery

This is an art gallery of the professional artist Stephen Bennett. 

Two rooms within the gallery contain somStephen’sphens original paintings along with an array of limited edition prints.

The artworks include many paintings of the Donegal landscape and the people of Donegal. 

There are paintings and drawings of all sizes and styles. 

The paintings are very unique and it is a very enjoyable experience to stroll around the gallery to see the different artworks.

Caves of maghera

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

9. The Céilí House Bar

The Ceili House Bar is located in the small town of Ardara close to Maghera Beach and Caves. 

It is a Traditional Irish Music bar with a great atmosphere and amazing local musicians.

They host sessions each night throughout the summer months starting at 9.30 pm. There are weekend music sessions in the Winter months.

There is also accommodation available at the Ceili House bar. It is a great location to stay in while exploring Donegal if you want to experience rural Ireland and the Atlantic coastline.

Caves of maghera

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

10. Sliabh Liag Distillers – The Ardara Distillery

You can explore the Ardara Distillery and learn all about the art of making Irish whiskey in the beautiful town of Ardara.

Here you can learn about the rich illicit distilling heritage of Donegal along with the most up-to-date methods of creating whiskey.

You get to explore the distillery and also get the opportunity to taste some Maritime Irish Gins and smokey Irish whiskeys.

Caves of maghera

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Where To Stay in Donegal:

Luxury: Lough Eske Castle


Lough Eske Castle is a beautiful 5 Star hotel located just 10 minutes drive from Donegal Town. 

This hotel provides top-class service and amazing views of Lough Eske and the Bluestack Mountains.

Lough Eske Castle has 3 restaurants to choose from on-site but we would recommend Cedars Restaurant. The steak was amazing!


Spa and indoor swimming pool, 3 restaurants and 2 bars/lounges, free WiFi, 24-hour room service, free parking and valet parking.

Local Attractions:

Price: $259 per night

Value: Mill Park Hotel


Mill Park Hotel is conveniently located in Donegal Town. 

There is so much to do in this area from golfing at the Donegal Golf Club to checking out the historical architecture of the town.

It is a great location to explore Donegal from, you can explore the Bluestack Mountains or even go surfing or scuba diving.


Swimming pool, hot tub, restaurant, free WiFi, bar and business services.

Local Attractions:

Price: $164 per night

Budget: The Gateway Lodge


The Gateway Lodge is also located in Donegal Town. 

This is the perfect location to start your Donegal adventure as you can easily head west to explore the Slieve League Peninsula or travel North through Letterkenny towards the Inishowen Peninsula.

The town itself also has a lot to offer from beautiful architecture and amazing restaurants to interesting museums and lively pubs.


Free parking, free WiFi and an exceptional breakfast.

Local Attractions:

Price: $99 per night

Related Posts

Faqs About The Caves Of Maghera

How Do I Get To Maghera Beach?

To get to Maghera Beach, you can drive from Ardara until you reach the beach parking area. There are signposts along the way to guide you. You could also hire a taxi to take you to Maghera Beach from Ardara. Once you reach the car park it’s just a short stroll down to the beach.

Is Ardara On The Coast?

Yes, Ardara is on the coast. Ardara is a small town in South West Donegal next to the Blustack Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. There are many beaches and walking routes around Ardara including Narin/Portnoo Beach and The Bluestack Way, a 65km route that connects Ardara to Donegal Town.

What Is Ardara Famous For?

If you are wondering what Ardara is famous for, the town originated as a crossing point on the Owentocker River and it became a world-renowned centre for the manufacture of hand-woven tweed, hand knitwear, hand-loomed knitwear and embroidery.  It is now more famous for its beautiful scenery, traditional pubs and festivals.

How Far Is Ardara From Donegal?

If you want to know how far Ardara is from Donegal, it is 23 kilometres. The road distance is 28.2 kilometres and it would 25-minuteinute drive from Ardara town to Donegal town. By bus, it would take over 45 minutes as public transport in rural Donegal is not great.

The Caves of Maghera is a unique location to visit in Donegal but it can be quite dangerous if you don’t take precautions. 

The tide can make exploring the caves dangerous and the riptide can make swimming treacherous too.

With this guide, you will be able to explore the beautiful Maghera Caves while staying safe. 

While you’re in Maghera,  why not check out more of what Donegal has to offer?

The related posts below contain everything you need to know for an amazing Donegal adventure.

Related Posts on Donegal:

Similar Posts