Unforgettable Getaways in Northern Ireland: Hidden Gems & Unique Experiences

Unforgettable Getaways in Northern Ireland: Hidden Gems & Unique Experiences

Updated On: April 29, 2024 by   Rebekah McCaigRebekah McCaig

Extensive coastlines and beautiful, natural landscapes makes Northern Ireland the premier destination for a range of different getaways. Getaways in Northern Ireland can consist of nature, the outdoors, and fun activities. Yet the country also boasts dynamic cities like Belfast and Derry-Londonderry that serve as cultural hubs filled with art, music, and some of the best local food spots.

In this blog post, we’ll be going through a range of getaways in Northern Ireland. First, we’ll explore some of the top seaside villages and coastal locations that have made Northern Ireland’s shores famous. Next, we’ll take a look at what Belfast and Derry-Londonderry have to offer as exciting urban escapes full of their own unique charm. Finally, we’ll cover some of the more remote experiences you can only find in Northern Ireland, from stargazing in certified Dark Sky Preserves to exploring filming locations from Game of Thrones.

Embracing Northern Ireland’s Coastline


Along the scenic Antrim Coast, you’ll find a nostalgic, charming seaside village, Ballycastle. Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, just outside of Ballycastle, is a must-do for a getaway in Northern Ireland. Spanning 98-feet, the bridge connects the mainland to a small island offering breathtaking views of the coastline and the waters below. We highly recommend booking your tickets on the website to save you some money when you visit.

From Ballycastle, you can take a ferry over to Rathlin Island to get a glimpse of the local wildlife like puffins, seals, and seabirds. For a bit of culture, tour the Ballycastle Museum to learn about the town’s history of fishing, and shipping. This museum is free but it’s only open during peak season, so check this out before planning your getaway.

Finally, no visit to Ballycastle is complete without stopping at one of the pubs in the village, whether for a pint of craft beer or some live Irish music. Between its natural beauty and welcoming spirit, Ballycastle offers one of the perfect getaways in Northern Ireland for a relaxing Irish coastal escape.

Explore Ballycastle as One of Your Getaways in Northern Ireland


Not too far from Ballycastle is the vibrant seaside town of Portstewart, known for its beautiful beaches, stunning golf courses and lively atmosphere, particularly in the peak summer months.

The sandy beaches of Portstewart serve up plenty of old-fashioned seaside fun, from swimming and surfing to relaxing in the sun or just simply having a stroll. After some time at the Strand, wander down the coastal promenade where there are plenty of dining options for your break away. 

Image of Portstewart Promenade - one of the main getaways in northern ireland
Portstewart Promenade is the perfect place to enjoy a coffee or have an evening meal while you’re in town

For coffee, I highly recommend Lost & Found, right beside the beach, as well as Awaken which is just along the promenade. As for dining, my favourite place is definitely Harry’s Shack – with gorgeous outside seating on the beach, a friendly atmosphere and exceptional customer service, I recommend adding this to the list of ideas for your getaways in Northern Ireland. 

Urban Escapes


The vibrant capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast will provide visitors with some of the best getaways in Northern Ireland. If you’re a fan of history, you’ll want to take a trip to Titanic Belfast – an awe-inspiring museum that tells the story of the ill-fated RMS Titanic. Through interactive exhibits and multimedia displays, visitors can learn about the ship’s construction, its maiden voyage and its tragic sinking. 

Belfast city centre hosts two major shopping centres, Castlecourt and Victoria Square, as well as many other high-street shops and local boutiques around the town itself. If you’re maybe wanting an escape from the busy-ness of the city, take a stroll over to Botanic Gardens and Queen’s University Belfast

You’ll then want to spend your evening over at the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast and take in the city’s vibrant nightlife. One of my favourite places to get something to eat is House of Zen in St Annes Square; the atmosphere is amazing and you’ll definitely want to try “The Teacher’s Pet” cocktail. Finish off your night at the Duke of York with a pint and some incredible live music performances. Be sure to get a picture with the floating umbrellas for your Instagram feed!

Add Belfast to Your Getaways in Northern Ireland List


Located on the River Foyle, Derry is a walled city and is the second largest city in Northern Ireland after Belfast.The city is known for its beautiful architecture, its vibrant culture, and its warm and welcoming people. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Derry is the city walls. The walls are one of the finest examples of 17th-century fortifications in Europe. Visitors can walk along the walls and enjoy stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside. No trip to Derry would be complete without visiting St. Columb’s Cathedral. The cathedral is a beautiful neo-Gothic building that is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. 

Derry has a range of amazing dining options that you should definitely add to your list for getaways in Northern Ireland. One of my favourites for fine-dining is Browns Bonds Hill; the food and the service is always first class and I highly recommend you try the tasting menu on your next visit. 

The Peace Bridge in Derry
The Peace Bridge is another must-see location on your next visit to Derry

Unique Experiences

Dark Skies Reserve

Located in Davagh Forest, Omagh, is the OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory which is the first of its kind in the region, making it the perfect addition to your list of places to go for getaways in Northern Ireland. 

Under the expert guidance of the observatory’s experienced astronomers, embark on a guided stargazing tour that will leave you awestruck. Through powerful telescopes, discover the intricate details of celestial objects, from the captivating craters of the Moon to the distant, awe-inspiring rings of Saturn. Marvel at the beauty of nebulae, vast clouds of gas and dust where stars are born, their intricate structures illuminated by the glow of newly formed stars.

Girl stargazing
Stargaze at the Dark Skies Reserve, a unique experience in Northern Ireland

While the OM Dark Sky Park is open all year-round, it is recommended to go during the darker months from October to March to get the best viewing experience. Guided stargazing tours are also only available on selected nights and it’s recommended that you book these in advance.

Game of Thrones Territory

As for getaways in Northern Ireland, there are some perfect spots for Game of Thrones fans. A lot of filming for the show took place in this region and served as the backdrop for some of the show’s most iconic scenes. Some of the top spots include:

  • Tollymore Forest Park: Explore the Haunted Forest beyond the Wall, where Jon Snow and his companions encountered the terrifying White Walkers. Tollymore Forest Park, with its towering trees, perfectly captures the chilling essence of this foreboding woodland.
  • The Dark Hedges: Wander through the haunting King’s Road, where Arya Stark and her companions escaped from King’s Landing. The Dark Hedges, a mesmerising avenue of beech trees, recreates the eerie atmosphere of this memorable journey.
  • Ballintoy Harbour: Discover the Iron Islands, the rugged homeland of the Greyjoy family, where Theon Greyjoy claimed his birthright. 

Definitely add exploring Game of Thrones’ iconic filming locations to your getaways in Northern Ireland bucket-list where you’ll find scenes from the show come to life.

The Dark Hedges is One of Northern Ireland’s Most Iconic Game of Thrones Filming Locations

Key Takeaways on Getaways in Northern Ireland

Storied cities and sweeping coastlines means an endless list of getaways in Northern Ireland that will appeal to everyone. From scenic seaside villages like Ballycastle and Portstewart to vibrant cities like Derry and Belfast, you can customise itineraries to fit your interests. Adventure and explore the iconic sites where Game of Thrones was filmed, or watch the stars from the Dark Sky Preserves.

Whether you seek relaxation or exhilaration, culture or adventure, there is an unlimited number of getaways in Northern Ireland for all interests. 

For more information related to the locations above, check out these articles: Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland | Portstewart, Northern Ireland: A Seaside Beauty on the Atlantic Ocean | Explore Belfast City And All The Popular Spots | 6 Things to do in Derry: A Remarkable Place in Northern Ireland

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