5 best day trips from Belfast (within a 2-hr drive)

Widen your circle of Irish exploration through day trips beyond Northern Ireland’s capital! Here are five best day trips from Belfast.

One great thing about travelling in Ireland is that you can hop in the car, and a few hours later you could be on the other side of the island, passing through hundreds of historical sites on the way.

This makes Belfast an amazing launchpad for day trips to explore the north of Ireland, whether you are looking for a dose of the seaside, a cultural experience, or a taste of the magic of the natural world that Ireland can offer.

Here are five of the best destinations for day trips from Belfast to satiate your travel itch.

5. Causeway Coastal Route, Co. Derry/Antrim – for stunning scenery

The five best day trips from Belfast include the Causeway Coastal Route

Consider this one a beach crawl. If you plan this well and set off early in the morning, you can see a lot of the beautiful coastline in one day. Drive to Downhill beach and work your way along the coast, stopping off at Portstewart, Ballycastle, Portballintrae or any of the other coastal towns that make up this scenic road trip route.

This can be modified for all fitness levels, making it suitable for all the family. In the summer, you can try your hand at surfing or paddle boarding in Portrush, or play a few holes of golf in the home of the Open, Portstewart. Notable sites on this route include Mussenden Temple, the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, and Ballintoy Harbour, where Game of Thrones was filmed (home of Theon Greyjoy).

Grab a coffee in Bob and Berts for the road, stick on a good playlist and enjoy the views.

4. Silent Valley Reservoir, Co. Down – for dramatic natural beauty

5 amazing day trips from Belfast include the Silent Valley Reservoir
Credit: Tourism NI

A visit to this reservoir and parkland placed in the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is well worth it. See the dramatic mountainous skyline up close, and see the sparkling blue water of the reservoir. Take a walk up the hill, enjoy the natural beauty of the parkland, and bring a picnic to enjoy the views.

It’s a great place for kids to play, and a great location for budding photographers to practice. On your way home, call into the seaside town Newcastle for some ice cream on the beach or stop at Great Jones Craft and Kitchen for some traditional fish and chips.

3. Armagh City, Co. Armagh – for a historical and cultural hub

5 amazing day trips from Belfast include Armagh

Despite being extremely small, Armagh city has a lot to offer in terms of culture. Nestled near the border of the north and the south, Armagh is a historical hub, boasting St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Armagh Planetarium which are worth a visit.

You should also visit the Navan Fort, a royal fort from pagan Ireland, dating back to 2500 BC. If you climb to the top of the fort you can see lush green countryside for miles, well worth a visit.

2. Cuilcagh Boardwalk, “Stairway to Heaven” / the Marble Arch Caves, Co. Fermanagh – one for the bucket list

The Stairway to Heaven is a boardwalk located in County Fermanagh

This one is a bit of a longer drive away, but the views are well worth it. This place is popular with hillwalkers for a reason, Cuilcagh Boardwalk takes you through the peatland of County Fermanagh and up the side of the mountain, giving the most breathtaking views in the process.

Another big Irish bucket list location, this one requires a relatively active degree of fitness so bring your trainers, and get right into Irish nature. If you finish quickly and have time, the Cuilcagh boardwalk is on the same site as the Marble Arch Caves. see some stalagmites and stalactites, and learn what the difference is.

1. Derry City, Co. Derry – a city of culture and home of Derry Girls

Derry was voted City of Culture in 2013

You can get the train direct from Belfast with a day pass, and after a scenic journey through the country arrive at one of the most historical cities in Ireland, the walled city of Derry. You can see the famous Peace Bridge, learn about the Troubles in the Bloody Sunday Museum, or hit up some of the bars and restaurants that make up Derry’s cultural scene.

Voted City of Culture 2013, Derry’s turbulent political past has been slowly incorporated into the fabric of the city, educating visitors on the conflict while also offering them entertainment in the arts, food and drink and shopping. Derry is a city to watch, and a real cultural player in Ireland.

With the cultural scene in the north of Ireland growing every day, there are so many ways to enjoy the unique cultures and history from all over the country. Steeped in mythology, politics, traditions and coupled with modern bars and restaurants, these five best day trips from Belfast come highly recommended by us.

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