Off the Beaten Track: Adventure in Northern Ireland
Updated On: March 14, 2022
Gone are the days of visitors to Northern Ireland being solely reliant on guided tours and regular pilgrimages to the holy grail of tourism at the Giant’s Causeway. Plenty of options are available for an adventure activity. Now you can see the sights on two wheels, two legs and even four legs as operators come up with increasingly innovative ways to get around the lush countryside and historic cityscapes of Northern Ireland. Find out the many ways to adventure in Northern Ireland today.
Don’t panic – lycra is optional. Bed and Bike NI is an entirely guided tour using road bikes that are matched to each member of the group before setting off. Offering a one-day Belfast day trip that takes in Belfast Castle, Cavehill, Stormont and Titanic Quarter, the 30-mile tarmac route is a smooth ride with multiple landmark stopping points. Packages include accommodation, meals, luggage transfer, technical support and bikes, as required.
The company also offers a one or two-day County Down trip that takes in the Comber Greenway, moves down the coast to Strangford, enjoying local cuisine to ensure your energy levels are up for you return journey. The ultimate adventure activity.
There’s also the option for a five-day cycle, covering 255 miles you will be immersed in the beauty of NI – combine infinite rolling drumlins, lough and seascapes and notable local landmarks, all on quiet roads. There’s also the opportunity to explore Northern Ireland at your leisure, with bike rentals also available.
Boards and Beers
It’s time to explore more urban surroundings and visit the historic city of Derry/Londonderry, this time on a boom board. Boom Board Tours is a collaboration project with Walled City Brewery – a new adventure activity which is a first for the city and Ireland.
Perfect for the smooth streets of the Maiden City, boom boards are essentially long skateboards which originated in Hawaii. The experience kicks off with an introductory lesson in St Columb’s Park, before taking to the streets and finishing off with a visit to the Walled City Brewery in Ebrington Square. This is a fantastic opportunity to sample the latest local brews from this award-winning micro-distillery.
Far and Wild
For a tranquil exploration of the waterways of the north-west, guided only by the light of the moon, Far and Wild’s Kayak tours take in spectacular locations including Magiligan Fort and Bienevenagh Mountain. Against this dramatic backdrop, you’ll be guided along the still waters allowing for a stress-free experience that takes in the glistening views with a peaceful paddle. It’s an adventure in Northern Ireland with a view.
This unique activity includes a night-time kayaking journey with experienced guides around breathtaking locations, starting at twilight by paddling into the setting sun and eventually floating downstream surrounded by the stars. Kayaks are seated for two and the three-hour journeys which takes place on or around the full moon, with all necessary clothing and equipment.
Explore all fun things to do in Northern Ireland with your family!
At One with the Sea: Adventure in Northern Ireland
The seaside village of Ballycastle, along the north coast, is a hidden gem for tourists. It’s the perfect place to relax, grab an ice cream and enjoy the glorious ocean views. You can escape the summer crowds and explore the coastline much closer than you think, with the help of Sea Haven Therapy’s water bike hire. Glide across the lapping shores, as you experience the Atlantic Ocean from a whole new angle. For those who prefer an adventure activity that feels relaxing.
Their premium, non-motorized water bikes are eco-friendly and designed as part bike, part catamaran – they are simple to use, silent and extremely stable. No previous experience is required, plus the fact your sitting in an elevated position, means you don’t need to get wet. This is a great way to tune into the rhythm of the sea and take in the rugged and beautiful surroundings. A different adventure in Northern Ireland.
Into the Jungle: Jungle NI
For an experience as far off the beaten track as you can get, take in the forests of mid-Ulster in the company of llamas, thanks to Jungle NI in Magherafelt. This was the first adventure centre to bring llama trekking to Ireland. Here you can explore purpose-built paths which are fully mapped and colour-coded with a llama walking by your side.
The animals are known for their good-natured and placid temperament, plus they love the company of humans. The trek is suitable for all ages, so this is the perfect family day out experience. Why not pack a picnic bursting with local goodies to finish off the experience?
Thirsty Work: Wee Toast Tours
If you’re fond of wheels, then we highly recommend Wee Toast Tours, this is the perfect opportunity to turn your sight-seeing adventure into a pedal-powered party! Even if you’re shopping in town on a Saturday, you’re bound to bump into this rowdy lot as they cycle past. The tunes are ringing out as thirty cyclers power the bike around Belfast’s city centre. Each bike fits 15 people and has a driver and ‘barman’ to navigate you through the heart of the city and its historic landmarks, including the bustling Cathedral and Titanic Quarters.
You can bring your refreshments or instead, pre-book a keg of beer or prosecco to keep you hydrated throughout your journey, it can be thirsty work.
Explore Hidden Gems of Northern Ireland: Castlederg Castle
Castles of Northern Ireland are rippled through counties that will give you insight into the glorious history of this charming corner of the world. But this one is unlike anything else. Located in Strabane, County Tyrone, Castlederg Castle is often overlooked by visitors or locals, offering an atmospheric vibe brimming with history and legacy.
Nested on the banks of River Derg, the view from the vantage point of the hill will blow your mind. The castle is steeped in history, so make sure to read all signs and attached illustrations. With an ample landscaped park, Castlederg Castle is also a perfect outing for a family’s vacation in which they can play, run, or even have a bike ride around the entire historical site. Most importantly, it’s one of the free things to do in Northern Ireland. Within an hour’s drive from Belfast, it’s an excellent spot to beat the crowds and explore a unique destination not many people know about to reconnect with nature and breathe in the fresh air.
On the Edge: Coasteering NI
Ramping up the action, the sheer exhilaration of coasteering combines the rugged attraction of the coast with the thrill of adventure. Get into the nooks and crannies of the rocky outcrops that dot our shores, exploring the sights in a way most tourists will never see – an adventure activity with a spin.
This combined rock and water activity can be tailored to suit all levels, so whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or have an aversion to heights, there’s fun to be had by all. Attired in a wetsuit, buoyancy aid and helmet, participants usually rock-hop along a stretch of coastline and sometimes swim in or jump into water that has been assessed beforehand as safe.
The team at Coasteering NI will expertly instruct you on everything from rock climbing to scrambling techniques, as well as how to jump safely from heights. You will love this up-close and personal perspective on our stunning coastlines.
Coasteering NI operates in Bloody Bridge in Newcastle County Down and Ballintoy County Antrim, while in Donegal there are events in Culdaff, Shrove and Kinnegoe Bay.