Categories: things to do

Short breaks packed with adventure.  No matter how short your break, when you visit Northern Ireland, you can pack loads of fun in. Whether you’re taking a short break, a long weekend or a day trip - there’s nowhere quite like Northern Ireland for giant adventures. Here’s three ways to make the most of three perfect days. 

Start with a big splash 

Start your day by swapping your stand-up desk for stand-up paddle-boarding with some of Northern Ireland’s top surfers and paddle-boarders at The Portrush Surf School or Long Line Surf School. Both situated on the stunning Causeway Coast, this is the best way to start your break by learning one of the world’s fastest growing water sports. Will you fall in? Probably. Will you have fun? Definitely. 

While we’re talking water, it’s good to know that there’s no shortage of places to hire wetsuits if you’re just looking to take the edge off the breeze on some of our spectacular surf beaches, like Castlerock, East and West Strands at Portrush and Whiterocks

If stand-up paddle-boarding isn’t your thing, then you can always just jump in. With so many kilometres of diverse coastline there’s thrills and spills to be had everywhere you look. The team at Causeway Coasteering know every splashy nook and cranny round these parts and will get your hearts racing with miles of bouldering, coasteering and swimming and even a professional water photographer to capture your favourite memories. 

It’s high energy stuff for sure, but not all the time. There’s plenty of exciting food and drink options to fill your downtime with. There’s possibly no better spot between or after activities than Harry’s Shack which is right on Portstewart’s strand. This local favourite offers seafood, cocktails and stunning views of the waves you might have just mastered. You should also check out Portrush’s super-popular Ramore where a range of exciting cuisines including Italian, Asian and seafood are on offer – in fact it’s so popular that it’s well worth ringing ahead to see if you can get a table. 

Is there a better way to finish your day than a sweet treat at Morelli’s ice cream in Portstewart? This award-winning ice cream parlour has been in business since 1911 and when you visit you’ll taste why it’s stood the test of time. 

Bright lights and busy nights 

Looking for a quick break? Then there’s no better city than Belfast. Whether you’re exploring the bars and restaurants of the Cathedral Quarter or visiting the birthplace of the world's most famous ship, you can fit a lot into a short break in Northern Ireland’s dynamic capital city. 

First of all, check-in to some of our most vibrant accommodation. If you’re looking for an effortlessly stylish vibe then look to The Merchant (5*) which is perfectly positioned for the city’s nightlife highlights, while also being quite the destination in itself, boasting a top-notch restaurant and a bar that is justifiably famous for its cocktails. For a quirky, stylish and sophisticated stay look no further than The Harrison which boasts a range of room sizes and styles, complete with bathtubs in each room, and a location that’s just a short walk from the city centre. 

But before you lose yourself to this great city’s wonders, get a taste for our best food by preparing your very own meal yourself, guided by our master chefs of course.  The Belfast Cookery School was born out of a love for great food and sharing a taste of Northern Ireland with you. You’ll learn all about the best local ingredients that Northern Ireland has to offer before getting stuck into preparing, cooking, presenting and devouring some truly inspirational dishes. 

A wander around the vibrant Cathedral Quarter will take you past plenty of other food and drink establishments but also to The Mac, Belfast’s dynamic arts hub, with a range of fascinating exhibitions and arts spaces where there’s always something interesting going on. If music is your thing you can swing along to the Harp Bar on Hill Street, considered the birthplace of Northern Irish punk, and a place which retains that outsider ethos in a very good way – this is where you might catch the next Undertones or Snow Patrol on their way up. Ormeau Avenue is where you’ll find the Limelight, an out-and-out music hub that boasts not one but two music venues under its roof, along with a bar and roof terrace for drinking and dancing under the stars. 

For the height of indulgence at the end of a day in Belfast where better to go than right to the dizzy heights of The Observatory on The Grand Central Hotel’s 23rd floor, Ireland’s highest cocktail lounge. Enjoy a glass of fine wine, a craft beer or a crafty cocktail overlooking the bright lights and right up close to the starlit skies of one of Europe’s most vibrant and charming cities. 

Escape to the countryside

It doesn’t matter how short your break is, when you’re in Northern Ireland, you’re never too far away from a relaxing countryside escape.  

What better way to start your escape than freeing your mind with dawn meditation and mindfulness or even forest bathing with the team at Xhale, close to the mystical peaks and valleys of Slieve Gullion

A little indulgence can be found afterwards with breakfast at the stunning Killeavy Castle Estate where you can choose from a light continental breakfast, a hearty Ulster breakfast or all points in between. Follow it up with tea or coffee while you drink in the spectacular views to be had from this mountainside estate with its walled garden and extensive grounds. 

All that stillness and indulgence might have you itching to get going and there’s no shortage of walking trails for people of all ages and abilities in these parts, including the guided walks offered by Mountain Ways Ireland. Their team can even take you foraging for the ingredients for lunch or dinner if you like the idea of the landscape being served on a plate. 

If watersports are your thing then a short hop to the shores of Carlingford Lough will bring you to Rostrevor and the team at Cloughmor Extreme Adventures. There’s any amount of watersports on offer here, but taking to the waves in a canoe or kayak is a wonderful way to explore the coast, fill your lungs with sea air and your eyes with the views. At the height of summer the team offer sunset canoes and kayak trips – an unforgettable way to close out your day. 

When a walk or paddle leaves you a little stiff of limb or muscle, then a stiff drink might be just the thing. That’s all part of the plan at the Killowen Distillery Tour and Tasting outside Newry. This is Ireland’s smallest distillery but its produce sure punches above its weight. The team will take you right through how their signature gins and whiskeys are distilled before offering you a taste of your favourite before sending you on your way with a spring in your step, courtesy of their in-house traditional Irish musicians. 

If all that awesome activity doesn’t take your breath away, in every sense of the word, then nothing will. Because as you can see, Northern Ireland really is the place to let yourself go and get the very most out of every moment and every experience we have to offer. 

Portrush Surf School
Surfing
Portrush Surf School

Portrush Surf School is exclusively based at Portrush Yacht Club. With the only indoor private male and female changing rooms and fantastic steamy hot showers in NI, all included in the price of your lessons it makes it simple to choose us.

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 ...

Castlerock Beach
Beach
Castlerock Beach

Castlerock is a 1km (0.7 mile) long stretch of beach between the sea cliffs of Downhill to the west and the Lower River Bann estuary known as the Barmouth to the east. Castlerock has been awarded a Northern Ireland Seaside Award 2016.

East Strand Beach
Beach
East Strand Beach

Golden sandy beach with views of The Skerries and Causeway headlands.

West Strand Beach
Beach
West Strand Beach

Award winning beach in the heart of the resort of Portrush.

Whiterocks Beach
Beach
Whiterocks Beach

Awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Award again in 2020, Whiterocks Beach has become a favourite with locals and a must see destination for international visitors.

Causeway Coasteering
Adventure Sports
Causeway Coasteering

Causeway Coasteering is a coasteering specialist. Coasteering is the most dynamic way to explore and enjoy our incredible coastline; jumping, climbing, swimming, scrambling and caving.

Harry's Shack
Café
Harry's Shack

Beach Shack style restaurant at the entrance to Portstewart Strand.

Ramore Restaurant
Restaurant
Ramore Restaurant

Renowned for its fantastic tasting fresh food and lively atmosphere. A modern and innovative decor and menu to suit all tastes. Open seven days a week.

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.

Titanic Belfast
Visitor Centres & Museums
The Titanic Belfast building

Located at the very place where RMS Titanic was designed, built and launched, Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic tell the authentic story of the world-famous ship, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to its maiden voyage and subsequent place in history. Unmissable and unforgettable, just like the Titanic herself.

The Merchant Hotel
Hotel
The Merchant Hotel

Belfast's only AA five Red Star hotel, is situated in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter.

The Harrison
Guest Accommodation
The Harrison

Heritage Victorian townhouse situated in the heart of the museum and theatre quarter. This boutique accommodation guarantees a luxurious nights stay in a tranquil setting. Unwind in our large four-poster beds and soak in our roll top baths.

Belfast Cookery School
Cookery School
Belfast Cookery School

The School is dedicated to helping those who want to share our passion and learn more about food and the way it should be prepared.

The MAC
Arts Centre
The MAC

The MAC is one of Europe’s leading art centres, situated in the heart of Belfast. Recently nominated a finalist for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2015, the award-winning venue has welcomed some 800,000 visitors since it opened.

Limelight 1 & Limelight 2
Pub / Nightclub
Limelight 1 & Limelight 2

Established as one of the most famous venues for live music in the country, The Limelight Complex has recently enjoyed a multi-million pound refurbishment. The venue, now encompasses The Limelight & Limelight 2 venues, as well as Katy's Bar.

The Grand Central Hotel
Hotel
The Grand Central Hotel

Hastings Grand Central is more than a hotel. It’s an ode to a city. Standing tall in Bedford Street, this impressive jewel fuses glamour and grandeur with a uniquely Belfast spirit.

Xhale Mindfulness
Health & Wellbeing
Xhale Mindfulness

Ann inherited her great love of the landscape from her mother, who was born on Slieve Gullion Mountain. She has practiced meditation for over 20 years & delivers immersive, mindfulness experiences, courses & retreats using meditation &the landscape.

Killeavy Castle Estate
Hotel
Aerial view of Killeavy Castle Estate. A luxury Hotel Spa destination in Newry, Northern Ireland.

Welcome to Killeavy Castle Estate, the perfect antidote to the modern fast paced world. Named winner of the Luxury Castle Hotel (Europe) Award at the prestigious World Luxury Awards 2021, it’s the ideal place to escape and unwind, and is located just 10 minutes outside Newry City.

Slieve Gullion Tour - Mountain Ways Ireland
Guided Tour
View of Slieve Gullion

W.B. Yeats called it Ireland's most mystic mountain and this is where the team at Mountain Ways Ireland is proud to call home.We have an in depth knowledge of this sacred mountain and all of her moods as the seasons change.

Cloughmor Extreme Adventures
Activity Centre
Cloughmor Extreme Adventures

At Cloughmor Extreme Adventures we like to give an experience that everyone will remember. We welcome all types of groups ranging from corporate to primary schools. We aim to give 110% in delivering our activities to every group that visits.

Killowen Distillery Tour & Tasting
Food & Drink Courses
Killowen Distillery Tour & Tasting

Discover a contemporary take on a timeless tradition in the heart of the beautiful Mourne Mountains.