Top 5 best beaches near Belfast, ranked

Looking to take a break from the city and truly enjoy the sun on the coast? Here are the best beaches near Belfast for you to choose from when the clear blue skies return.

Belfast is Ireland’s second city, located in the north of the country in County Antrim and now finds itself a growing, maturing, and extremely exciting place to be.

With the summer months now upon us and the (hopefully) warm weather returning, Belfast has a lot to offer.

Amongst them, you have the choice of the City Hall, Titanic Quarter, Belfast Castle, Harland & Wolff and the Cave Hill mountain walk.

However, sometimes we all just want to get away from the city when the sun shines and hit the coasts.

Belfast itself doesn’t have a beach to call its own, but thankfully it isn’t too far from some of Ireland’s best. Here are the top FIVE best beaches near Belfast, ranked.

5. Ballycastle Beach, Co. Antrim – for stunning views of Rathlin Island

Ballycastle beach is one of the best beaches near Belfast.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

Ballycastle Beach is a beautiful strip along the Causeway Coast and is a great start to our list of the best beaches near Belfast city. Stretching a total of 1.2km (0.7 mi) in length, it is very close to Ballycastle town centre.

There are not only great views of Rathlin Island but also of the Causeway Coast that envelopes its surroundings. A stunning sandy Antrim beach that is just over an hour’s drive from Belfast.

Distance from Belfast: 88.5km (55 mi)

Driving time: 1 hour 6 minutes

Address: Ballycastle BT54 6JZ

4. Helen’s Bay Beach, Co. Down – the closest beach to Belfast

Helen's Bay is the closest beach to Belfast.

Helen’s Bay Beach is the closest beach to Belfast and is your quickest route to sand if driving from the city. At just over 20 minutes, this is a seamless drive towards Bangor, which is one of the best seaside towns in Ireland, in County Down.

Helen’s Bay is one of the two superb beaches at Crawfordsburn and is equipped with a pathway that allows for a brisk walk along the beach.

Even on the days when the sun isn’t out, you will often find people swimming in its tame waters most early mornings. This is definitely one of Northern Ireland’s best beaches.

Distance from Belfast: 17km (11 mi)

Driving time: 21 minutes

Address: Helen’s Bay, Bangor

3. Tyrella Beach, Co. Down – one of the best beaches near Belfast

Tyrella Beach is one of the best beaches near Belfast.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Sitting in the shadows of the Mourne Mountains and not far from the winner of our list of best beaches near Belfast is Tyrella Beach. This secluded beach is only 48.2 km (30 mi) from Belfast.

Tyrella Beach offers unrestricted views of the impressive Mournes year-round. It wouldn’t be as popular as Murlough is due to its seclusion and therefore is perfect for a quiet beach visit.  

Distance from Belfast: 50 km (31 mi)

Driving time: 47 minutes

Address: Downpatrick BT30 8SU

2. White Park Bay, Co. Antrim – an ancient beauty on the Antrim coast

White Park Bay is an ancient beauty on the Antrim coast.

While it is the furthest from Belfast on this list, it is still not the worst drive at only 70 minutes all in.

This is a spectacular sandy beach backed by sand dunes, carved by the determined drive of the sea waters, and outlooking the blue ocean and skies in front.

What makes White Park even more unique is that it is filled with fossils to find and wildlife to see. The beach is also surrounded by beautiful scenery, such as the distinctive Elephant Rock and Lion’s Paw.

Butterflies and moths will fly around you, while wildflowers add to the golden colour that already stands out. There have also been sightings of dolphins and porpoises, so keep an eye out.

Distance from Belfast: 95 km (59 mi)

Driving time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Address: Unnamed Road, Ballycastle BT54 6NH

1. Murlough Beach, Co. Down – for a full day out at the Mournes

Murlough Beach is one of the best beaches near Belfast.

Taking the crown on our list of the best beaches near Belfast is the eminent Murlough Beach, found at the foot of the Mourne Mountains and running into the buzzing town of Newcastle.

Indeed, the beach forms part of the expansive Murlough Nature Reserve, backed with sand dunes and green fields in awe of the Mournes.

It is only 50 minutes from Belfast and is the perfect location for a full day out. There is nothing more refreshing than a dip in the Irish cold water. The magnificent is also attached to one of the best golf courses in Northern Ireland.

Distance from Belfast: 48 km (30 mi)

Driving time: 48 minutes

Address: Newcastle BT33 0NQ

Other notable mentions

Downhill Beach is a stunning stretch.

Crawfordsburn Beach: Situated beside Crawfordsburn Country Park and right next to Helen’s Bay, this is another great option in County Down which is very close to the city.

Cushendun Beach: A small but charming beach on the Antrim coast with stunning views. Perfect for a brisk walk.

Downhill Beach: Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple are perhaps one of the most extraordinary spots in the North.

The sweeping beach is just one of the many great features of the area. Popular activities at this Blue Flag beach include watersports like jet-skiing and canoeing.

Benone beach is one of the best beaches near Belfast.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Ballyholme Beach: At just over half an hour from Belfast, this is another great beach that is easy-reached for a day out in the summer. It is located in Bangor in County Down.

Castlerock Beach: This is a Blue Flag beach that is a firm favourite for families. It is just over the same distance as Whiterocks Beach and is a stunning spot due to its ancient dunes and nature reserve.

Benone Beach: At 1 hour and 20-minutes away from Belfast, Benone Beach isn’t the closest to Belfast but it is truly an idyllic spot, especially for nature lovers.

Island Hill: Island Hill is located in the upper area of Strangford Lough. It’s not a beach, but it’s a nice spot to go for a swim near Belfast.

FAQs about the best beaches near Belfast

There are many beautiful beaches near Belfast.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

What is the best beach in Belfast?

There is no beach in Belfast, but the above are the options to choose from nearby. You can also visit the Titanic Quarter for views of Belfast Lough.

How far is Belfast from the beach?

The closest beach to Belfast is Helen’s Bay, which is just over 20 minutes away from the city.

Where are the nicest beaches in Ireland?

It’s hard to choose, as each region has beautiful beaches. However, we think the nicest beaches in Ireland can be found in Counties Donegal, Kerry, Cork, Galway, Mayo and Sligo.

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