Murlough Beach: Your guide to Down’s gem with parking and trail info

Murlough Beach is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful beaches in Northern Ireland, and here’s everything you need to know about visiting.

Murlough Beach: Your guide to Down’s gem with parking and trail info.

Walking amidst the sand dunes of Murlough Beach against the backdrop of the stunning Mourne Mountains is one of the most enjoyable adventures you can undertake in Northern Ireland.

There’s an abundance of wildlife and flora and fauna to uncover on the walking trails of Murlough Beach. 

When you emerge from the sand dunes that lead up to the beach itself, you’ll be greeted with a sweeping coastal landscape and a breathtaking view of the Mourne Mountains to the right.

If you’re planning a visit to Newcastle or County Down in general, stopping off at Murlough Beach should be at the top of your list.

IB4UD’s top tips for visiting Murlough Beach:

  • Even on a warm day, the coastal breeze can make it very cold at Murlough Beach, so be sure to wrap up!
  • There are different parking options depending on trail preference, so read more about that below to decide where to park.
  • Pay attention to signs at Murlough Beach. There is a private residence on the grounds, as well as tide times and environmental guidelines that you should look out for.
  • Lifeguards are on duty at Murlough Beach from late June to the start of September between 11 am and 7 pm. Outside of these times and months, be sure to check tide times and any important safety alerts.
  • Murlough Beach is a dog-friendly space, but be sure to keep your dogs on a lead and always pick up after them.

Murlough Beach – a jewel of County Down

With its incredible views of the Mourne Mountains, it never fails to astonish locals and visitors alike.
Credit: Flickr / Conall

Murlough Beach is easily one of the most beautiful beaches on the Emerald Isle. With its incredible views of the Mourne Mountains, it never fails to astonish locals and visitors alike.

The beach sits on the grounds of the Murlough National Nature Reserve – Ireland’s first nature reserve – which is made up of 6,000-year-old sand dunes, a four-mile golden sand beach, the Dundrum Coastal Path, and a kid’s play area.

Murlough Beach is a popular spot for family walks, day trips with friends, and dog walkers, and it’s also frequented by those taking a day trip to Newcastle, one of the best towns for a break in Ireland in 2024.

READ MORE: The 10 best and most beautiful beaches in Ireland.

Getting there – the easiest ways

The drive from Belfast takes about an hour.
Credit: geograph.org.uk / Albert Bridge

Murlough Beach is just under an hour’s drive from Belfast City Centre. If you’ve decided to rent a car for your trip to the north, this is definitely the easiest way to get to the beach.

If you need to access the beach by public transport, you can get the bus from the Europa Bus Centre, which drops you off at the Twelve Arches and takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes. From here, you can walk ten minutes to Murlough Beach.

You can also easily walk to the beach from Newcastle, near the Slieve Donard Hotel, one of the snazziest 5-star hotels in Ireland.

Address: Newcastle BT33 0LW

Parking – opening hours, price, & more

Murlough Beach: Your guide to Down’s gem with parking and trail info.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org (Ardfern)

The Murlough National Trust car park is open year-round, but prices vary depending on the time of year.

Between January and February, the car park costs £3, from March to May, £5, from June to August, £7, and from September to December, £5. You can find the address and Google Maps location below.

There is a toilet in the car park, but it is worth noting that the toilets are closed from September to December.

While the reserve is open until 7 pm, the car park gate closes at 5 pm and opens again at 8 am.

It is not recommended, but lots of people also park on the main road from Dundrum to Newcastle to access Murlough Beach.

Address: 195 Dundrum Rd, Newcastle BT33 0LW

Walking Murlough Beach – the Murlough Nature Trail

Murlough Beach: Your guide to Down’s gem with parking and trail info.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

The Murlough Nature Trail begins and ends at the car park and is around 4 km (2.5 miles) long. The trail follows the main visitor walkway, Slidderyford Path, to Murlough Beach. It is important to note that the boardwalk is wheelchair accessible, but the beach itself is not.

Along the way, you can admire the sand dunes and the breathtaking views before emerging onto the beach. 

Take your time meandering along the beach, soaking in the views or even going for a swim (weather dependent) before entering the Central Reserve via the Archaeology Path and making your way back to the car park via the Back Track.

There are many other trails you can undertake in the Murlough Nature Reserve that do not include Murlough Beach, like the Murlough Woodland Walk, the Mount Stewart Lake Walk, and the Murlough South End Nature Trail.

RELATED READ: Top 10 best SEASIDE WALKS in Ireland.

What’s nearby – the Mournes & much more

The diamond of County Down, the Mourne Mountains, is just an approximately 20-minute drive away in nearby Newcastle.
Credit: Chris Hill Photographic

If you’re visiting Murlough Beach, you might as well consider visiting other key attractions in the area. 

For starters, the diamond of County Down, the Mourne Mountains, is just an approximately 20-minute drive away in nearby Newcastle.

Whether you’re visiting Slieve Donard or one of the other stunning peaks, these walks are some of the most exceptional you can undertake in the north.

Newcastle has an abundance of fantastic cafes, pubs, restaurants, and hotels to consider, too. So, don’t miss out on spending a couple of days in this picturesque part of Northern Ireland!

You can also head to some of the other best beaches in County Down, such as Tyrella Beach which is not too far away.

MUST READ: 10 BEST things to do in Co. Down, N. Ireland (2023)

Notable mentions

Murlough Beach: Your guide to Down’s gem with parking and trail info.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Murlough Bay: Murlough Bay, County Antrim, and Murlough Beach, County Down, often get mixed up but are, in fact, two different beaches in two different counties.

Find Your Dream Hotel in Ireland

On the hunt for the ultimate hotel for your Irish adventure? Explore a curated selection ranging from the charming heritage of boutique accommodations in Dublin's vibrant heart to the tranquil luxury of rural retreats and the captivating coastal vistas. Start your search below to find the perfect stay with our trusted hotel partner.



Dundrum Castle: On the road to Newcastle and Murlough Beach, you’ll find Dundrum Castle in the village of Dundrum. This is a top historic monument in the area to visit.

Coco’s Children’s Adventure Playground: Located in Newcastle, County Down, Coco’s has been a top attraction for entertaining the kiddos for years. If you’re travelling with kids, this is the perfect way to spend an afternoon in the area.

Butterflies and moths: The dune fields are the best examples of dune heath in the country. They are home to several species of butterflies and moths, including those of European importance, like the Marsh Fritillary butterfly.

Watersports: Strong winds in the area make Murlough Beach a good spot for surfing, windsurfing, and kite surfing.

Your questions answered about Murlough Beach

If you still have questions, read on! In this section, we answer some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions about Murlough Beach.

The dune fields are home to several species of butterflies and moths, including butterflies of European importance like the Marsh Fritillary butterfly.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org (Anne Sorbes)

Can you swim in Murlough Beach?         

Absolutely! Swimming is one of the most popular activities at Murlough Beach, even in the winter! Be aware that lifeguards are not on patrol outside the summer months, so be vigilant and very careful if you do decide to swim here.

Is Murlough Beach sandy?

Yes, Murlough Beach is a blissful sandy beach that stretches from Newcastle to Tyrella.

How much is parking at Murlough Beach?

Between January and February, the car park costs £3, from March to May, £5, from June to August, £7, and from September to December, £5.

Find Your Dream Hotel in Ireland

On the hunt for the ultimate hotel for your Irish adventure? Explore a curated selection ranging from the charming heritage of boutique accommodations in Dublin's vibrant heart to the tranquil luxury of rural retreats and the captivating coastal vistas. Start your search below to find the perfect stay with our trusted hotel partner.



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