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 or surf board

Great for balance, strength and clearing the head, paddle boarding is a perfect sunny day activity. You can give it a go on the River Roe. Or how about a spot of surfing at Benone Beach?  Long Line Surf School have instructors to help you get started on both these activities.

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 Golf Club. 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. 

Benone Strand
Beach
image of beach with cliffs and sea in the backgound. Welcome has been carved into the sand with 2 visitors hardstanding behind the mesaage.

Benone Beach, multiple recipient of the European Blue Flag and Seaside Award, is a must-see when visiting the area. With seven miles of golden sand and a magnificent back drop of mountain and cliff scenery and stunning views across to Donegal.

Slemish Mountain
Nature and Wildlife
Slemish Mountain

Slemish Mountain is about 1,500 feet above sea level and is located close to Broughshane in County Antrim. It is the legendary home of Saint Patrick and is actually the central core of an extinct volcano. Hike to the top and enjoy fantastic views!

Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park
Public Park
Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park

An attractive rolling parkland some 130 acres to the south of Belfast. The display of over 25,000 rose bushes in bloom all summer long is set out in a series of circular gardens, each on a different themes.

Gruffalo & Stickman Guided Walk
Forest Parks
Gruffalo & Stickman Trail - Colin Glen, River Entrance

It’s Ireland’s only official Gruffalo Trail; a Julia Donaldson-endorsed walk. Step into the glorious world of the Gruffalo. Enter the deep, dark wood, meet the clever little mouse, the fox, the owl, the snake, before stumbling upon those knobbly knees and turned out toes and that poisonous wart on the end of his nose: The Gruffalo!

Carrickfergus Castle
Castle / Fort
Carrickfergus Castle

For more than 800 years, Carrickfergus Castle has been an imposing monument on the Northern Ireland landscape whether approached by land, sea or air. The castle now houses historical displays as well as cannons from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

Glenarm Castle Walled Garden Tea Room
Café
Glenarm Castle Walled Garden Tea Room

This charming Tea Room, situated in the old Mushroom House of Glenarm Castle Walled Garden is open daily to visitors - one of the few places in Northern Ireland to enjoy Glenarm shorthorn beef and organic salmon!

The Gobbins
Visitor Centres & Museums
a male and female at the entrance of the Gobbins Cliff path

On the thrilling Gobbins Experience, nature isn’t content to just sit back and be admired. It completely engulfs you: from the all-enveloping Irish Sea winds and the dolphins dancing off the coastline.

Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze
Forest Parks
View of Castlewellan Forest Park

Located in a dramatic setting of mountains and sea, this is one of the most outstanding tree and shrub collections in Europe. The beauty, vigour and perfect shape of the trees in the National Arboretum attract tree enthusiasts from around the world.

Davagh Forest Trails
Land Adventure
Davagh Forest Trails

Located approximately 6 miles north west of Cookstown, in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains, Davagh Forest offers gentle mountain biking and walking trails as well as an impressive 16km red trail with some rock slab drops you will never forget!

Long Line Surf School
Surfing
Long Line Surf School

Long Line Surf School is situated on Benone Beach and Portstewart Strand which offers a wide selection of packages from Beginner to Advanced surf lessons including school Board-Riders clubs. Long Line Surf Cabin can be found on the boardwalk ...

Island Discovery
Sightseeing
Island Discovery

Discover one of the world’s most beautiful waterways.

Rathlin Island
Nature and Wildlife
Rathlin Island

Amidst the rugged landscape of this isolated island, you can let your mind wander and discover a tranquility and beauty that is so unexpected.

RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre
Visitor Centres & Museums
RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre

Just six miles off County Antrim's north coast with must see views of Northern Ireland's largest seabird colony and a chance to explore Rathlin's unique 'upside down' lighthouse part of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland Trail.

Royal Portrush Golf Club
Golf Course
Royal Portrush Golf Club

Founded in 1888, the legendary Royal Portrush Golf Club has two Championship Courses - the renowned Dunluce Course and the smaller, but equally enjoyable Valley Course. Proud Hosts of The 2019 148th Open Championship .

Royal Portrush Golf Club
Golf Course
Royal Portrush Golf Club

Founded in 1888, the legendary Royal Portrush Golf Club has two Championship Courses - the renowned Dunluce Course and the smaller, but equally enjoyable Valley Course. Proud Hosts of The 2019 148th Open Championship .

Portstewart Golf Club
Golf Course
Portstewart Golf Club

Situated on Northern Ireland’s magnificent Causeway Coast, Portstewart Golf Club presents a difficult but fair game. The Strand Course is indisputably the jewel in Portstewart’s crown for both quality of game and scenery.

Lough Erne Resort - The Faldo Course
Golf Course
Lough Erne Resort - The Faldo Course

Lough Erne Resort is home to two Championship Golf Courses, The Faldo Course and Castle Hume Course. The Faldo Course designed by Six time Major winner Nick Faldo, features in Golf World & Golf Monthly Top 100 Course (UK & Ireland) and is the first Faldo designed course in Ireland.

Belfast Botanic Gardens and Palm House
Public Park
Belfast Botanic Gardens and Palm House

First established in 1828, the gardens have been enjoyed as a public park by the people of Belfast since 1895. There is an extensive rose garden and long herbaceous borders and the tree enthusiast can seek out the rare oaks planted in the 1880s.