The 5 BEST TOWNS in County Down for a BREAK in 2024

Forest parks, mountain ranges, stunning beaches – County Down has it all, and here are the best towns to explore from!

The 5 BEST TOWNS in County Down for a BREAK in 2024.

If you’re planning a trip to Northern Ireland in 2024, there are some great towns in County Down you should consider visiting.

Due to its location on the island, County Down has its fair share of stunning towns dotted along the coast, just waiting to be explored.

From the hikes of the Mourne Mountains to the vast array of picturesque beaches, you can explore it all from these five towns!

Here are the best towns in County Down for a break in 2024.

5. Kilkeel – a hidden gem in County Down

Boats docked in Kilkeel Harbour.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool/ Tourism Ireland

Kicking off our list of the best towns in County Down for a break in 2024 is Kilkeel. Kilkeel is a small town in County Down, but one worth exploring.

Located within the area of the Mourne Mountains, one of the best things to do in Kilkeel is explore the Silent Valley Reservoir.

The walk is a generally gentle and easy one that should only take around an hour to complete, so it’s perfect for people of all fitness levels.

Ideally located near Newcastle, Castlewellan, and Newry, Kilkeel is a great base for exploring everything that County Down has to offer.

Address: Kilkeel, Newry, Co. Down

4. Rostrevor – for a relaxing break

Located on the coast of Carlingford Lough, Rostrevor is a small village and townland in County Down that should not be overlooked when considering a break in the area.

There is lots of beauty and adventure to soak up in Rostrevor, including Kilbroney Park and the Cloughmore Stone, the Fairy Glen, and Rostrevor Forest, to name a few of the best things.

With many quaint, local accommodation options available, like The Rostrevor Inn and The Oystercatcher, you can look forward to a quiet, stress-free break in Rostrevor, County Down.

Furthermore, with its close proximity to the border, this is a great spot to stay in if you plan on moving further south on your journey to County Louth and beyond.

Address: Rostrevor, Newry, Co. Down

3. Holywood – one of the best towns in County Down for a break in 2024

Water lapping the shore at Helen's Bay Beach in Holywood, one of the best towns in County Down for a break.
Credit: Albert Bridge

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Belfast but still be close enough to nip in and out when you want, then Holywood, County Down, is the perfect spot for your next break in Ireland.

Holywood is considered an affluent town in Northern Ireland and has lots to see and do in the area. One special thing about this area is the number of picturesque beaches, perfect for swims, strolls, picnics, water activities, and more.

Crawfordsburn Country Park comprises two beaches – Helen’s Bay and Crawfordsburn Beach, two of the best beaches in Northern Ireland.

There are numerous excellent hotels to stay in in Holywood, too, like the Culloden Hotel, for example. With lots of fantastic restaurants, cafes, bars, and arguably the best strip of charity shops in the north, you won’t be short of things to do in Holywood.

Address: Holywood, Co. Down

2. Newcastle – for the outdoor adventurers

Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains as seen from the beach during low tide.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool/ Chris Hill Photographic

Home to the majestic Mourne Mountains, we can’t recommend visiting Newcastle enough on your next trip to Northern Ireland.

Not only is there an abundance of different walks to undertake in the Mournes to suit different levels of fitness and desires, but there are also stunning beaches, forest parks, and more to explore.

Murlough Bay is a particular highlight. This is a long stretch of beach, perfect for nature lovers as you traverse amidst the sand dunes, discovering various wildlife along the way before emerging onto the beach with the beautiful backdrop of the Mourne Mountains.

Tollymore Forest Park is also close to Newcastle, the mystical land that inspired C.S. Lewis’ fictional world of Narnia. Once you see it for yourself, you’ll know why.

With the five-star Slieve Donard Hotel located at the foot of the Mournes and various other accommodation options at hand, Newcastle is certainly one of the best towns in County Down for a break in 2024.

Address: Newcastle, Co. Down

1. Castlewellan – the perfect tranquil stay in Co. Down

An aerial shot of Castlewellan and the Peace Maze. Castlewellan is one of the best towns in County Down for a break.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool/ Tourism Northern Ireland (@DonalMaloney)

Home to the stunning Castlewellan Forest Park, Castlewellan Peace Maze, Drumena Cashel, and much more, Castlewellan is the perfect countryside stay for your next trip to the north.

Castlewellan Forest Park is a particular highlight that delights visitors and locals alike. Here, you’ll find people walking, running, and cycling around the grounds, embracing the stunning views of mountain, lake, and sea.

Located near the Mourne Mountains, there are a number of different trails and paths you can take to explore the land.

While you’re here, you’ll likely encounter people camping, fishing, bird-watching, and exploring the area in a number of different ways.

Castlewellan itself has a number of great pubs and restaurants to reward yourself after a day of exploring the forest park and surrounding area.

Address: Castlewellan, Co. Down

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