Categories: Seasonal Inspiration

Northern Ireland is blessed with, well, let’s call it a temperate climate. So, when the sun comes out, so do we. In fact, we’re exceptionally good at making the most of our sunshine. And, happily, wherever you go you’ll find experiences and places to help you make the most of it too. Perhaps these ideas will get you started. 

Dip a toe in the water 

At the first sign of sunshine, you hit the beach. Luckily Northern Ireland has ten Blue Flag beaches along a jaw-droppingly beautiful coastline. Benone Beach with its seven miles of sandy shoreline is a favourite with families and activity enthusiasts. Ballycastle, Portrush and Portstewart are also great family spots with lots of entertaining things to do close by. Castlerock sits between the sea cliffs and the Lower River Bann estuary and is a designated Special Area of Conservation(SAC). And an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI). Not that it’s showing off. 

Get your climbing boots on 

Are you up for a one and a half kilometre round walk to the summit of Slemish Mountain – and back again? It’s well worth it for the stunning views across Antrim and all the way to the coast of Scotland. Ballymena – Liam Neeson’s home town – lies to the west, with the high points of the Antrim Hills to the North. And if you like the sound of that, how about tackling Northern Ireland's six peaks? Though not all in the one day. 

Picnic in the Park 

Does food taste better outdoors? A sunny day is the perfect time to put it to the test. Northern Ireland is certainly not short of beautiful local parks where you can relax and watch the world go by. Belfast’s magical Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is just one example. Or you could follow the Gruffalo Trail at Colin Glen and meet everyone’s favourite storybook characters on the way to your picnic spot. 

Take a Coastal Drive 

Snaking, in a friendly sort of way, along the Antrim clifftops, the Causeway Coastal Route is one of the world’s greatest and most exhilarating drives. At every turn there are views that take your breath away and, thankfully, scenic spots where you can stop and get it back again. 

There are also all sorts of adventures to be had along the way. A visit to Carrickfergus Castle, afternoon tea in Glenarm or a guided walk along the dramatic cliffside Gobbins. Hard hats and walking boots required. 

Lose yourself in the great outdoors 

County Down’s Castlewellan Forest Park is what sunny days were made for. Go canoeing on the lake, mountain biking in the forest, or get lost (but not really) in the awe-inspiring maze. And don’t miss its best kept secret, the hauntingly beautiful Annesley Gardens and arboretum - with a duck pond, hidden lakes and fountains. 

On your bike 

If you fancy an active sunny day, search out a mountain bike trail. There are award-winning ones all over Northern Ireland. From the very adventurous along the Causeway Coast - following in the tyre marks of the Giro d’Italia riders - to Davagh Forest’s family-friendly and very gentle green routes. 

Jump aboard a paddle-board 

Great for balance, strength and clearing the head, paddle boarding is a perfect sunny day activity. You can give a go on the River Roe. Or, if you’re a beginner, the Long Line Surf School on Benone Beach have instructors to help you get started. 

Cruise away for a day 

There’s nowhere like the open water on a sunny day. And what could be better than exploring the magical Lough Erne from the comfort of your own chauffeur driven water taxi? It might just tempt you to go on to discover all the rest of Fermanagh's many islands and hidden gems! 

Try a little island hopping 

Take a ferry ride to Rathlin Island, just six miles off the Ballycastle coast. It’s home to an RSPB Seabird Centre. And, consequently, home to a passing collection of guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars and some visiting puffins. All here to enjoy the sun. 

Play a round of golf 

With a coastline like this, it’s no surprise that you’ll come across some stunning links courses. Royal Portrush is one of the stars. As are Royal County Down and Portstewart. And should you find yourself in the Lough Erne Resort and Spa, try out its Nick Faldo designed course. In fact, courses here may just outnumber the people. So, chances are, if you tee off from anywhere in Northern Ireland you’ll land on a green. Fore! 

Discover inspiring gardens 

Where else would you spend a sunny day but in the garden? Northern Ireland has some of the most magnificent. From award-winning stately home gardens to Belfast’s iconic Botanic Gardens. And everything in between - walled ones, woodland ones and kitchen ones. Wherever you look there are beautiful and interesting gardens to explore. 

So, whatever you do, make sure you have some fun in the sun. There’s no better place to enjoy it.