Categories: Family Friendly

How do you keep a teenager happy? No, there’s no punchline coming. Just a whole lot of helpful ideas and brilliant things to do in Northern Ireland. Whether your teenagers are into water sports or turning into budding rally champions, there’s an experience waiting for them here. So, charge up the phones. These are memories they’ll want to keep. 

(Adventures under £20) 

Ireland’s longest zipline, County Tyrone 

50m above the ground, a staggering 500m long and more fun than you ever thought possible. Welcome to Todds Leap, A custom zipover will take you along dirt tracks to the highest point before you soar through the skies over the forest below. It’s just one of the many action-packed activities here in this home for daredevils. It’s good fun for all the family too. Once the parents promise not to embarrass the kids. 

Somewhere to stay 

When you’re back down to earth, there are handy self-catering log cabins at the heart of the activity centre. Or try self-catering Mill Lodge in the peaceful Clogher Valley. 

Canoeing at Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast 

It’s time to paddle your own canoe or rather one that Mobile Team Adventure have provided for you. Then you can take to the River Lagan like a duck to water. No experience is needed and all equipment is there for you. Canoeing sessions run every Saturday from April to September or you can book private sessions for family groups or friends. And as it’s all just 10 minutes from Belfast city centre, the centrally located and stylish Jury’s Inn makes a perfect place to stay. 

Mountain biking at Blessingbourne, County Tyrone 

Sixteen miles east of Enniskillen, Blessingbourne is an ideal place to get to grips with the exhilarating world of mountain biking. 13km of biking trails take you through woodlands, private lakes and a nature reserve on trails designed by Architrail’s Phil Saxena - who also happened to design trails for the Beijing Olympics and the Downhill World Cup.  

Gentle blue trails and dramatic red/black technically-challenging ones means there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a complete beginner or in search of an adrenaline fix. And if you need a night or two to recover or to continue the adventure, Blessingbourne Courtyard Apartments are ready and waiting.  

(Adventures under £20-£40) 

Surfing on the Causeway Coast 

Some of the most fantastic beaches are found along the Causeway Coastal Route, such as Whiterocks Beach - a surfer’s paradise. The waves are powerful here for much of the year. And you’re within walking distance of Portrush – another top spot for surfers. Sign up for lessons with an expert instructor and you’ll be ‘awesome’ in no time. 

Stay at the Portrush Atlantic Hotel – well, the name says it all really. If it were any more convenient, you’d be surfing through the lobby.  

Wet bouldering in the Mourne Mountains 

Wet bouldering? It’s an exhilarating mix of walking, scrambling, jumping, swimming and sometimes crawling along a river. Book a session with Life Adventure Centre or Outdoor Concepts NI Ltd. and they’ll get you in the swim in no time, as you face waterfalls, rock slides and plunge pools at Bloody Bridge.  

And if you need somewhere to stay (or shower) afterwards, head for Ivy Cottage - a cosy and welcoming spot.  

Downhill zorbing, County Londonderry 

It’s a sad fact that there are not many places where you can climb inside a giant inflatable ball and roll down a hill. JungleNI is one the best spots in Northern Ireland to encourage it. So, if this is your only chance to ‘zorb’, it’s definitely worth taking and definitely good for a laugh.  

While you’re there, check out the JungleNI glamping pods – where the fun continues. 

High speed sea safari, County Antrim 

One thing you won’t hear on this trip is ‘I’m bored’. There’s too much going on as you zoom across the water and along the coastline on an superfast speedboat. This is sightseeing with a difference. So keep an eye out for caves, castles and, of course, the fantastic Giant’s Causeway  

Aquaholics Dive Centre and Sea Safari's or Portrush Sea Tours can get you there and, if you want to stay a bit longer, 7 Atlantic Bay makes an ideal base. 

Paddle boarding on the River Roe, County Londonderry 

Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is great for balance, strength and clearing the head, and the idyllic River Roe is a pretty spectacular spot to have a go. And after all that fun, you all deserve a stay at the award-winning Roe Park Resort.  

Canoeing on Castlewellan Lake, County Down 

The calm and secluded water of Castlewellan Lake is an ideal place for teens – who like their independence – to learn how to canoe. There’s a choice of Canadian canoes or sit-on-top kayaks, depending on how wet they’re willing to get. And onsite canoe hire and instruction from Life Adventure Centre. If you’re planning to spend more time in the area  1 Sea Haven is a welcoming spot to stay. 

(£40+ Adventures) 

Junior rally experience, County Antrim 

Designed specifically for non-drivers, this is an opportunity for teenagers to get fast and furious on the Junior Rally Experience. They’ll take the wheel in rally suit and helmet to learn basic driving and rally competition skills before an experienced instructor takes them on a high-speed demonstration around the purpose built track. Adrenaline? Exhilaration? And just about everything else a teenager wants from an adventure like this. 

Afterwards, stay overnight at the Keef Halla Country House (4*) 

That’s just a selection of the many things teens can find to do or learn in Northern Ireland’s great outdoors. And, of course, if you ask nicely (or perhaps bribe them) they might let you join in too.