Categories: Family Friendly

Northern Ireland offers a whole host of activities for families to enjoy, that won't cost a fortune, so if you're planning a day out with the kids or deciding how to spend your short break in Northern Ireland, make sure you include a few of these great ideas...

Canoeing in Belfast

Get the show on the road (or should that be off the road?) at Shaw’s Bridge in Belfast where Mobile Team Adventure offers family-friendly canoeing sessions on Saturdays. There is no need to pre-book, no experience is necessary and all equipment is provided so it’s guaranteed to be a hassle-free adventure.  

Cycling in Belfast 

Hire one of the Belfast Bikes and head off on a sight seeing journey around the city. The first 30 minutes of each hire are free of charge, and Belfast is such a flat and compact city, that all abilities will enjoy taking in the city on two wheels. We recommend you build a route around the Cathedral Quarter, the Titanic Quarter, the Lagan Towpath, the area of Queen’s University and Botanic Gardens.

Say hello to The Gruffalo

For something a little bit different, why not try a literary adventure? At Colin Glen you can let the kids take on the role of Julia Donaldson’s smallest hero, mouse, and experience the forest as he would, meeting the silly old fox, the owl, the snake and, of course, the amazing eight foot tall Gruffalo.

See how it all works at W5

Curious minds and lovers of learning won’t feel the time at W5. This top-class discovery centre at The SSE Arena hosts interactive exhibitions and live science demonstrations throughout the day. It’s a great way to let your kids get stuck into science.

Hear the roars at Belfast Zoo

Discover more about the 140 species of animal - many of which are in danger in their natural habitat - at Belfast Zoo.  From Asian elephants, giraffes, sea lions and penguins, to the ring-tailed lemurs, Malayan tapirs and Sumatran tigers, the zoo promises to be a great day out for all the family.

High fives all round at We Are Vertigo

If the monkeys in the zoo have inspired them then how about taking them jumping about at We Are Vertigo. This spot on the outskirts of Belfast is a giant "inflatapark" (basically a giant bouncy castle!), an alpine-themed adventure park and ski centre and a whole host of great activities that won’t break the bank.

In the Titanic Quarter you'll find Vertigo Titanic Park - home of indoor skydiving and the Ninja Master Course packed with rolling logs, jungle bars, and a warped wall, plus much more!

Jungle Adventures and Zip Lines in County Londonderry 

A forty-minute drive west of Belfast will take you past the shores of Lough Neagh to  Magherafelt, home of Jungle NI. Take on wibbly-wobbly bridges, swinging cargo nets and a tree house at the Mowgli treetop adventure course. The playground features a set of daring high ropes designed for taller children, and for smaller ones there’s the chance to meet the animals on the jungle farm.  

Nearby, at the foot of Binevenagh Mountain, Carrowmena Activity Centre in Limavady is a hot spot for adrenaline junkies. With canoeing, climbing walls, abseiling and zip line just some of the activities on offer this is a great place to get the kids out and active and is great value for the array of activities on offer.  

Chase the breeze on the Causeway Coastal Route  

No visit to Northern Ireland would be the same without a visit to the Causeway Coastal Route and there are lots of water based activities for those who enjoy spending time in the sea. Rent a body board and hit the beach in Portstewart or Portrush. The surf schools Long Line or Troggs offer low cost lessons and have all the equipment available for hire, including wetsuits. After building up an appetite, complete your trip to the seaside with fish and chips and an ice cream. Check out Morelli’s on Portstewart promenade, makers of award-winning ice cream since 1911.  

Float along the Foyle in Derry-Londonderry  

For a unique perspective of Derry-Londonderry, head for Far and Wild and test your skills on a unique boom board experience, kayak or a stand-up paddle board tour. Their night time kayaking tour on the River Foyle is a real beauty, offering spectacular views of the city and giving older kids a great backdrop for their social media selfies.

Escape to County Fermanagh  

Head for the beautiful lakes of County Fermanagh, and more specifically Castle Archdale Marina. Enjoy the thrill of the bouncing flip and water slide trampoline or hire a kayak and explore the lovely Lough Erne and its islands.

Step back in time in County Tyrone  

In County Tyrone, you can follow the emigrants trail at the Ulster American Folk Park. Start at the thatched cottages of Ulster before boarding a full-scale emigrant ship to the American frontier. On the way, you’ll meet an array of characters with traditional crafts on display, telling you their tales and painting an incredible picture of their lives. You’ll even go back to school for a few moments for a lesson in the olden days.  

Meet the stars in County Armagh  

If you've a mini astronaut in the family, they'll love the Armagh Observatory & Planetarium, where you can discover lots of interesting facts about space, the stars and how they shine through interactive displays and life size artefacts. 
The nearby Giant’s Lair and Adventure Playground in the beautiful Slieve Gullion Forest Park is also out of this world. Close to Newry city, this magical story comes to life as you meander along a trail decorated with fairy houses and art. At the end you'll emerge onto a huge play park with specially designed toddler’s area and excellent adventure play equipment.  

Fun in the forests and beaches of County Down 

Closeby are the foothills of the Mourne Mountains, where Tollymore Forest Park has a range of outdoor activities sure to keep the kids engaged. Hop over the famous stepping stones, cross ancient bridges and have a blast at the Big Deer play area, featuring a giant timber fallow deer, castle turret, folly tower and hollow tree.  

Once you've had your fill of fun there, hop in the car and ten minutes down the road is the lovely seaside town of Newcastle where you can walk the promenade and skim stones on the beach, before enjoying dinner in one of the many great value bars and restaurants. 

Make a bee-line for Bangor  

Make a bee-line for Bangor, County Down, where the infamous Pickie Park provides entertainment for young kids outdoors, with a pool and sand pit, Giant Swan pedalos, and the Pickie Puffer train ride.  

If you've a mix of ages to appease, head for Airtastic, which is a soft play centre full of inflatable fun. The kids will love testing their nerves (and possibly yours too!) on Beat the Wall, Freefall, Wipe Out and Drop Slides. Visit one of their three locations at Bangor, Craigavon or Newtownabbey.

Hopefully this list has given you a bit of budget-friendly inspiration for entertaining this kids, and we'd love to know how you get on. Use #DiscoverNorthernIreland on your social media posts to show us what budget friendly things you get up to during your trip.

Mobile Team Adventure
Activity Centre
Mobile Team Adventure

Mobile Team Adventure (MTA) is an exciting and innovative company specialising in Outdoor Pursuits and Team Building based in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Bikes: Public Cycle Hire
Cycle Hire & Holidays
Belfast Bikes: Public Cycle Hire

The Just Eat Belfast Bikes scheme is an exciting way to link up the city. There are 46 docking stations located throughout the city centre which offer residents and visitors to Belfast a new low cost and convenient way to get around.

Colin Glen
Forest Parks
Black Bull Run, Ireland's First Alpine Coaster. Colin Glen, Mountain Entrance.

Colin Glen is Ireland’s leading adventure park - a land of storytelling and a state of the art sports park with world class attractions. From Alpine coasteering to laser tag, golfing to the Gruffalo Trail, Colin Glen has adventure for everyone.

W5
Science Centre
W5

W5 is an award-winning science and discovery centre, located in the Odyssey complex at the gateway to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

Belfast Zoo
Nature and Wildlife
Belfast Zoo

Belfast Zoological Gardens is located in North Belfast on the slopes of Cave Hill. This unique location provides unrivalled views across Belfast Lough. The 55 acre site is home to more than 130 species.

We Are Vertigo
Climbing
Image shows various inflatables in the main area of We Are Vertigo

We Are Vertigo is Northern Ireland’s number one family entertainment complex, featuring the world's largest Inflatable Action Course, Indoor Ski Slopes and an Adventure centre. Located just 15 minutes from Belfast's City Centre.

The Jungle NI
Activity Centre
The Jungle NI

Nestled in an enchanting woodland in the very heart of Northern Ireland, just 45 minutes from Belfast, The Jungle is the perfect location to engage with life, and put to test your sense of daring and adventure.

Carrowmena Activity Centre
Climbing
Carrowmena Activity Centre

Set at the foot of Binevenagh Mountain, along the Causeway Coast of Ireland Challenge the Family to a Adventure around our Famous Maize Maze!! A few other Activities to try - Canoeing, Archery, Raft Building, Climbing Wall, Zip Line

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 ...

Troggs Surf School
Surfing
Learn to surf in Northern Ireland

Troggs surf school has been teaching the art of surfing since 1994. As the longest running surf school in Portrush, we have a passion to share the thrill and pleasure that is connecting with the ocean. Let's get stoked!

Morelli's Portstewart
Café
Morelli's Portstewart

This bright and cheerful seafront cafe offers a clear view to the sea. As well as hot dishes, Morelli's is a long established ice cream parlour with an amazing array of exotic ices. Now fully licensed.

Far and Wild
Outdoor Activity/Pursuit Centre
Far and Wild is based in Derry.

Far and Wild is the leading eco-adventure company in the North West of Ireland, bringing you activities including Moonlight Kayaking, Coasteering, and Stand Up Paddle Board tours.

Castle Archdale Marina Boat Hire & Water Sports
Activity Centre
Castle Archdale Marina Boat Hire & Water Sports

Castle Archdale Boat Hire and Watersports offer a wide range of activities to suit all the family including boat hire, kayak hire, cycle hire and many other activities.

Ulster American Folk Park
Visitor Centres & Museums
Family listen to man teaching them how to carve objects from wood

Experience the adventure that takes you from the thatched cottages of Ulster, on board a full scale emigrant sailing ship, to the log cabins of the American Frontier.

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium
Observatory / Planetarium
Armagh Observatory and Planetarium

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is “the place for space”. Watch an amazing Full Dome Theatre show and explore the Universe. Immerse yourself in the latest scientific research in our exhibition area, and take a relaxing walk through our Astropark.

Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Adventure Playpark and The Giant's Lair
Nature and Wildlife
Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Adventure Playpark and The Giant's Lair

Slieve Gullion is Ireland's Mountain of Mystery. The Forest Park offers walking trails, a scenic drive, an Adventure Playpark, Giant's Lair children's story trail and Courtyard with coffee shop.

Tollymore Forest Park
Nature and Wildlife
Tollymore Forest Park

Oak wood from Tollymore Forest Park was used for the interiors of the White Star liners which included the Titanic. A walk along the Shimna River is marked by many curiosities, natural and artificial - rocky outcrops, bridges, grottos and caves.

Pickie Fun Park
Adventure Park / Playground
Photo of people enjoying rides on the Giant Swans pedal boats on the blue waters of the man made pond at Pickie Funpark

Pickie Funpark is one of the top ten visitor attractions in Northern Ireland. The park provides a fun day out for all: An 18-hole mini-golf course, giant pedal swans, Pickie Puffer train, children's play area, children's electric car track and more.

Airtastic Entertainment Centre Bangor
Indoor Play Area
Boy Bouncing in the Airtastic Inflata Park

Bounce down to Airtastic Bangor for some inflata and ninja fun or if you’re still little come and play in the new Airtastic Soft Play centre with over 300 sq.m. of engaging exploring playtime.