Categories: Seasonal Inspiration

Nothing says summer like a seaside town and Northern Ireland has some of the prettiest, most panoramic and most welcoming of all. Whether you’re looking for a coastal adventure, an encounter with sea-faring wildlife or villages to potter about in, there’s a place here for you. And if all that doesn’t have you reaching for the buckets and spades, the thought (and taste) of exceptional locally produced food and drink certainly will.  

Along the Causeway Coastal Route 

1. Ballycastle 

Ballycastle has a spectacular marina, just made for outdoor activities. It’s a great place to be on a sunny day, with plenty of nearby restaurants and pubs for when you need a break. And if you’re staying a while longer, the Marine Hotel makes a brilliant base for exploring the area. 

Just a short ferry ride away is Rathlin Island, home to an RSPB Seabird Centre. So you’re sure to meet some other summer (feathered) visitors, including puffins - if you’re here between April and July.  

2. Portstewart 

This seaside town is a great place for families with lots of friendly entertainment during the peak summer holiday season. 

The blue flag Portstewart Strand is a big hit with surfers. The more enthusiastic ones take to the water all through the year. And, if you’re looking for somewhere special to eat, you don’t have to look too far. The famous Harry’s Shack is right on the beach, serving up superb local produce. 

3. Portrush 

Just minutes from Portstewart is the wonderful town of Portrush, an all-time favourite for families who return year after year. Perhaps to visit Barry's Amusement park which has been part of the scenery here for over 90 years.  

Not surprisingly, some of the finest links golf courses are found along this coastline too. One of the world’s most challenging, Royal Portrush Golf Club hosted the The Open Championship for the second time in 2019.  And Portrush is also home to Dunluce Castle – that’s Castle Greyjoy, if you’re a Game of Thrones® fan.  

Nearby, the Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, and Bushmills Distillery will ensure you never run out of things to do – no matter which beach you choose. 

At the foot of the Mourne Mountains 

4. Newcastle 

With the magical Mourne mountains as a backdrop, Newcastle sits in a pretty spectacular location. There are plenty of cafés, bars and amusements here to keep you entertained. And a busy harbour which you may have to share with some visiting seals. 

The blue flag Murlough Beach is just a stone’s throw away. As is the Murlough National Nature Reserve, a 6,000 years old sand dune system and a haven for walkers and birdwatchers. Bring your hiking boots though. You could find time for a trek up Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard. Then, if you’ve still got energy to burn, head to neighbouring Castlewellan for a visit to the Forest Park and Peace Maze. 

5. Warrenpoint 

Just a short drive from Newry along the Mourne Coastal Route is the seaside town of Warrenpoint. Overlooking picturesque Carlingford Lough, this is the ‘Narnia’ land that inspired Belfast-born C.S. Lewis to go open that wardrobe. 

In Warrenpoint, you’ll find pubs and restaurants to suit every taste. Restaurant 23 and The Whistledown Hotel are well worth checking out. Or if you’re in search of some more family outdoor fun, Kilbroney Park in nearby Rostrevor is a popular spot. 

Down to the sea 

6. Bangor 

The beautiful seaside town of Bangor sits on the southern side of Belfast Lough, not too far from the city itself. It’s home to one of Ireland’s largest marinas – a holder of the prestigious 5 Gold Anchor Award. Nearby, the Pickie Family Fun Park is a seaside paradise for kids with Giant Swan pedal boats, paddling pools, adventure playgrounds and a miniature railway. 

There are more attractions at North Down Museum in Bangor Castle’s picturesque stable block. You’ll learn all about the region’s history, experience life as a Viking and see your young explorers set off to discover the hidden wildlife of Castle Park.  

7. Strangford Lough 

The pretty conservation village of Strangford is a picture-perfect place for a relaxing lunch or a stroll around the harbour. So, it won’t surprise you to hear that Strangford Lough itself is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s also home to Northern Ireland’s only Marine Nature Reserve. And just a short ferry hop to Portaferry Castle’s to wander the wonderful grounds or chill as you take in the breath-taking views. 

So, if that sound you’re hearing is the call of the sea – and you can already feel the sand between your toes – you know what to do. Get packing, and we’ll see you soon.