The Best Day Trips To Take From Belfast

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland | © scenicireland.com / Christopher Hill Photographic / Alamy Stock Photo
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland | © scenicireland.com / Christopher Hill Photographic / Alamy Stock Photo | © scenicireland.com / Christopher Hill Photographic / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kim Gregory
10 July 2020

Jaw-dropping natural beauty, imposing castles and pretty villages are all within easy distance of Belfast – perfect for day trips away from the city. Here, Culture Trip recommends six of the best day trips, all under two hours’ drive and easily accessible by public transport. Grab your backpack and get exploring.

Giant's Causeway and Dunluce Castle

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Giants causeway captured at sunset. Image shot 04/2011. Exact date unknown.
© Stephen Emerson / Alamy Stock Photo
The Giant’s Causeway is one of the most famous rock formations in the world. It’s hard to believe these mystical symmetrical shapes were a natural occurrence, and easy to see why they were thought to be created by giants. On your way back from the spectacle, be sure to take the Causeway Coastal Route and stop at Dunluce Castle. The foreboding ruins sit on a craggy lookout over the Atlantic Ocean, accessible only by footbridge. It also has a tea room and cafe to refresh yourself after a great exploration.

Lough Neagh

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This big blue smudge on the map of Northern Ireland is the biggest lake in the UK, which supplies 40 percent of all the water in the nation. It’s also surrounded by magnificent countryside and plenty of history, and is only a 30-minute drive from the city. Highlights include the picturesque stately home and surrounding woodlands at Drum Manor Forest Park, and Coney Island Park, 1 km offshore in the lough itself. For water sports, head to Craigavon or enjoy a more relaxed ride by hiring a boat from the marina at Ballyronan.

Omagh and Gortin Lakes

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Summer at the Gortin Lakes, Sperrin Mountains, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
© Gareth McCormack / Alamy Stock Photo

Easily accessible by car or public transport from Belfast is the pretty market village of Omagh in County Tyrone. Work up an appetite by renting a bike and cycling around the spectacular natural beauty in the area, particularly the Gortin Lakes and Sperrin Mountains. Then return to the village in the afternoon to enjoy its renowned colourful cafes and independent shops.

Mountains of Mourne

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These mystical and dramatic mountains in County Down are some of the highest peaks in the country and are well worth a day trip from Belfast. Some of the views are truly staggering, particularly of the Silent Valley and the Ben Crom reservoirs. It’s no wonder they are said to have inspired Belfast-born CS Lewis in his descriptions of Narnia. Don’t miss the Mourne Wall, which snakes its way across 15 mountains and has become a famous image of the Irish countryside.

Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark

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Marble Arch Caves Fermanagh Northern Ireland. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.
© John Eccles / Alamy Stock Photo
This area of spectacular caves in Fermanagh was one of the first UNESCO Global Geoparks in Europe. Tours through the caves are easily accessible and they are quite the experience. Take in roaring subterranean cascading waters and enjoy boat trips on deep underground rivers. These majestic caves are awe-inspiring. Above ground, Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail and Cladagh Glen Walk are just some of the options for hikes in the rugged countryside.

Enniskillen

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This picturesque waterside town is set on the banks of the River Erne and nearby Lough Erne. The older part of the town and the famous castle are located on an island from which the town takes its name. The castle is over 500 years old and home to two great museums exploring the area’s rich traditions and bloody history. The Castle to Castle path is a lovely walk. Check out the artistic studios, galleries and independent shops and cafes of The Buttermarket.
These recommendations were updated on July 10, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.