Hidden gems in Northern Ireland

Best coastal walk in Northern Ireland

Want walks in places which are off the beaten track? Looking after miles of Northern Ireland's coast and countryside, we know the places to visit in Northern Ireland which take in panoramic views while getting active. Take a walk towards some of Northern Ireland's hidden gems with this list of places to visit near you.

Fair Head, County Antrim

The Giant’s Causeway is world-famous but there are other world-class views to be enjoyed on the Causeway Coast. The great bulk of Fair Head can be empty except for the mewing of a buzzard soaring on the thermals. It's hard not to be taken aback by these spectacular sea cliffs, a match for the most celebrated corners of the North Coast. With its cavern of secluded bays and headland walks, Fair Head and Murlough Bay must be seen to be believed. 

Coastal sunset at Fair Head, County Antrim
Coastal sunset at Fair Head, County Antrim
Coastal sunset at Fair Head, County Antrim

Ballyquintin and Barhall, County Down

Ballyquintin is located at the southern tip of the Ards peninsula surrounded by the Irish Sea. Enjoy the circular walk to Port Kelly, Barhall Bay and Barhall Hill for views in every direction, including Strangford Lough, the Mournes, the Isle of Man and the Mull of Galloway.

Ballyquintin is one of the best places to spot Irish Hares and flocks of farmland birds such as finches, linnets, tree sparrows and skylark.

Ballymacormick and Orlock, County Down

At the east end of the sandy beach of Ballyholme Bay is the narrow track through Ballymacormick Point. The gorse scrub, shingle beaches, rocky islets and coves offer a wilder area and escape from the crowds.

Orlock Bay

Orlock Point Walk

With evidence of Vikings and smugglers, the coastal walk at Orlock on the North Down Coast is steeped in archaeology and history. This walk affords stunning views of the Copeland Islands and out across the Irish Sea towards Scotland, making it one of the best coastal walks in Northern Ireland.

Nugents Wood in Portaferry, County Down

Nugent’s Wood walk

Walk through wonderful mixed woodland to see wildlife and wildflowers at Nugent's Wood on the shores of Strangford Lough.

Mountains of Mourne, County Down

We maintain coastal and mountain paths for hikers to Slieve Donard and neighbouring Slieve Commedagh. The Mourne Coastal Footpath stretches for a mile and a half (2.4km) south of the historic site of Bloody Bridge. From here you can follow the intriguingly named Brandy Pad, an ancient smugglers’ route from the shore into the heart of the mountains.

Portmuck and Skernaghan Point, County Antrim

Secluded Portmuck sits on a wonderful stretch of coastline on the Islandmagee peninsula offering spectacular views over Muck Island and across the North Channel towards Scotland. Stunning Skernaghan Point is further north along the peninsula towards Brown’s Bay.

Glenoe Waterfall, County Antrim

This impressive 30 foot waterfall in a deep gorge is in the small village of Glenoe between Larne and Carrickfergus. Explore the short circular walk around the edge of a lush glen, through beech woodland to see the hidden flora and fauna.

Cregagh Glen and Lisnabreeny, Belfast

 An easily overlooked haven right in the heart of Belfast, the glen climbs along a tumbling stream through mixed woodland and farmland emerging at the top of the Castlereagh Hills. There are magnificent views across the city, Belfast Lough, Lagan Valley, Strangford Lough and the Ards Peninsula.

Collin Glen, Belfast

Collin Glen is a wonderful river glen tucked away in the heart of West Belfast between Collin Hill and Black Mountain. Look out for woodland birds such as jays, spotted fly catcher and chiff-chaffs, along with the occasional sighting of a buzzard.

Ballymoyer, County Armagh

Ballymoyer is mixed woodland with all the atmosphere and mystique of a fairy glen. It is surrounded by the wild and dramatic scenery of the Fews Mountains, once the haunt of robbers and highwaymen. Amongst the modern larch plantations are a number of fine specimen trees including the gigantic Douglas Fir.

Coney Island, Lough Neagh

This tiny natural island in Lough Neagh is only seven acres and it is believed there has been human occupation on the island since 8,000BC. The island was originally connected to the mainland by a causeway or submerged ridge, which can be easily seen in summer when it is under less than two feet of water.