What do you find just under a 2 hour drive from Dublin and around an hour from Belfast? A land of make believe, stunning scenery, luxurious hotels (offering great value for money deals), an award-winning golf course and an abundance of activities to get involved in.
To cut out some of your travel time from the Republic of Ireland, why not stop off in Carlingford, and catch the ferry across to Greencastle, County Down. The journey takes only 15 minutes and covers one mile of scenic waters, and drops you in the heart of County Down, the perfect base to explore the area.
Bed down for the night
- Stay in pure luxury in the beautiful 4-star Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in Newcastle. Many of the rooms here have panoramic views across the Irish Sea and the world-famous Royal County Down Golf Club. This stunning backdrop provides breath-taking views. With regular offers this hotel provides the perfect base for your stay.
- Alternatively the 4-star Burrendale Hotel, Country Club and Spa is also well worth a stay. With beautifully manicured gardens, Burrendale Courtyard, Spa and fine dining, all needs are catered for.
- If you fancy going it alone the Mournes area has a great selection of self-catering accommodation to choose from. Live like a king and bed down in a castle - Narrow Water Castle in Warrenpoint - or stay in luxury overlooking the Newcastle beach at The Beaches. More accommodation ideas here.
Eat and Drink
- Visit the Echlinville Distillery, which has revived the age old tradition of distillery floor malting to create Dunville’s whiskey, as well as Jawbox gin.
- Enjoy a Game of Thrones® inspired banquet at The Cuan. Take a seat at King Robert Baratheon's banquet table, dress up in your finest robes and sit down to dinner with themed dishes, traditions and plenty of delicious local ingredients.
- Indulge in a meal at the Mourne Seafood Bar, Dundrum. Choose from an extensive menu that is simply bursting wth freshness. The catch of the day is caught locally just a stroll away from your table and includes oysters, mussel and cockles cultivated on the restaurant’s shellfish beds in grade A classified waters.
- Dine in style at The Oak Restaurant, situated in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. Enjoy fine dining using the freshest local produce.
Things to Do
- Join Mournes Trails and Ales Tour, a fully guided cycling tour sampling the iconic trails of the Mourne Mountains alongside a select batch of the Mourne Mountains Brewery’s equally iconic ales.
- Tee off with a round of golf at Royal County Down Golf Club, located in one of the world's most naturally beautiful links settings in the Murlough Nature Reserve. Against the magnificent backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne, the links stretches along the shores of Dundrum Bay, zigzagging back and forth to provide a different vista from virtually every hole.
- Pay a visit to the vast tranquil reservoirs of Silent Valley and Ben Crom - with a spectacular mountain backdrop, this area
- Enjoy a bath with a difference at SOAK Seaweed Baths – climb in beside some seaweed, fresh from the local beach. The health benefits of a seaweed bath are numerous, so make sure and book in for one!
- If you like the idea of getting outdoors and exploring the area then a walk up the Mountains of Mourne is just the ticket with walks and routes to suit all abilities. As the inspiration behind CS Lewis’ ‘Narnia’ and with scenes of outstanding beauty guaranteed, don’t forget your camera to capture the magnificent moments, and at this time of year with the snow covered mountains, the views will be particularly spectacular.
- Pay a visit to St John’s Point Lighthouse overlooking Dundrum Bay in the coastal town of Killough. The tallest lighthouse in Ireland is distinctive in appearance with bold bands of yellow and black.
- Castlewellan is bursting with outdoor activities, not just for kids. Choose from walks, electric bike trails or lose yourself in one of the world’s biggest hedge mazes – make sure to ring the bell once you’ve successfully managed to navigate your way out of it!
Life’s a beach
- Explore the stunning beaches in the area –enjoy a brisk walk along the 5 mile stretch of golden sand at Murlough Bay or participate in water sports at Tyrella.
Game of Thrones® fan
- For Game of Thrones® aficionados pay a visit to Castle Ward, the setting for Winterfell - home of House Stark. An 18th century mansion house with acres of woodland and garden, the Castle Ward estate is found just outside the quaint coastal village of Strangford and overlooks Strangford Lough. Take an archery lesson, a cycle tour of the filming locations, meet real life 'direwolves' or take a boat tour of the nearby filming locations. You can even stay for the night in a glamping pod tucked away in the 'Winterfell' forest.
- Pay a visit to Tollymore Forest which features as many different locations in Westeros, including in Season 1, Episode 1 when members of House Stark find the direwolf pups.
We hope you enjoy these suggestions. Let us know your favourite by using #discoverni.