Belfast is one of the few capital cities in the world that offers green views almost no matter where you go. Belted on all sides by rolling countryside, getting out into nature is often almost as easy as just picking a direction and starting to walk. If, however, you want to spend a day or two fully immersed in nature, there are also plenty of campsites within easy reach of the city, allowing you to get out in the wild without having to stray too far from civilisation.
Myrtle at Larchfield Estate
If you’re up for a somewhat unique glamping experience, Myrtle might be the ideal choice. To clarify, Myrtle is actually the name of a 1952 Swiss Army truck, which has been converted into a luxury glamping pod complete with a deck and sauna. It only sleeps two people, so better for those interested in a private getaway, but it’s only a 20-minute drive south of Belfast, and the site is surrounded by gorgeous scenery.
The largest lake in Northern Ireland, Lough Neagh, is only a short distance from Belfast, and there are a fair few campsites in the surrounding area which take advantage of this. Dungannon stands out because it sits right on top of one of the most popular walking routes in the area. It takes 45 minutes to drive there from Belfast, and those who do are treated to lakeside views and easy access to a nearby island nature reserve.
For those who want a taste of the ocean while camping, Castle Ward is perfect. Part of a National Trust site, it sits right on the edge of Strangford Lough, which was the site for several scenes in Game of Thrones. The campsite itself offers plenty of pitching space, caravan parks and glamping pods. There are numerous walking routes nearby, and all this is just under an hour’s drive from Belfast.
Another site in close proximity to Game of Thrones locations, Tollymore sits in the shadow of the Mourne mountains, and offers views out to sea that stretch as far as the Isle of Man on a good day. There are numerous circular route trails around so that you can pitch up, set off and be back in time for tea. Tollymore is an hour south of Belfast by car, and at 630 hectares (1,560 acres), there’s usually plenty of space.
Another one for the glamping crowd, Tepee Valley is nestled in Northern Ireland’s Apple County, and is a family-run business. As well as tepees, visitors can stay in a gypsy caravan, a yurt or even a geodesic dome. The surrounding area offers plenty of walking routes near the Cusher River as well as a few quaint villages and towns. And all this lies just 50 minutes from the city.
If you’re taking a more family-oriented trip, Carnfunnock offers a little bit of everything. As well as being within easy reach of the Glens and the Antrim Coast, Carnfunnock Country Park has a large hedge maze, adventure playground and a driving range. Carnfunnock is an easy 40-minute drive up the coast from Belfast, and the campsite accommodates caravans and has showers, free Wi-Fi and other amenities.