While Northern Ireland may not be your first choice when thinking of where to go on a sunny beach holiday, this small country does boast a number of beautiful strands. So, here are the top ten best beaches in Northern Ireland, ranked.
Northern Ireland is not a country renowned for its sunny climes and scorching temperatures. However, that doesn’t mean its beaches are any less beautiful than those of the rest of Europe.
From beautiful golden strands that stretch as far as the eye can see to stony beaches with majestic mountains as their backdrop, Northern Ireland has its fair share of amazing beaches.
So, whether you fancy a dip in the water, a chilly winter walk by the sea, or a day of sunbathing and sandcastle building, here are the top ten best beaches in Northern Ireland, ranked.
IB4UD’s top 5 fun facts about Beaches in Northern Ireland
- Benone Beach, located on the North Coast, is the longest beach in the country, stretching for approximately seven miles.
- The Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is not only known for its unique geological formations but also for its picturesque beach. Visitors can relax on the pebbled shore and admire the iconic hexagonal basalt columns.
- The beaches in Northern Ireland often provide a stunning backdrop for various film and television productions. For example, Downhill Beach, located near Castlerock, was featured in the popular TV series “Game of Thrones” as Dragonstone.
- Tyrella Beach in Northern Ireland is a designated area of Special Scientific Interest and provides a habitat for a variety of plant and animal species.
- If you visit Ballycastle Beach, you can sometimes see the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland, which lies 12 miles off mainland Ulster.
10. Ballygally Beach, Larne – a great place to stop when exploring the Causeway Coast
Located on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, 10 km (6.2 miles) north of Larne, this sandy beach is about 300-metres long, making it the perfect place for a quick walk to stretch your legs.
From this beach, you can enjoy the Antrim coast’s incredible views to the north, the tremendous Ballygally Head to the south, inland towards the amazing Scawt Hill and Sallagh Braes, and on a clear day, looking across the sea, you can see as far as Scotland.
Address: 262 Coast Rd, Ballygalley, Larne BT40 2QX
9. Whiterocks, Portrush – a tranquil beach
Located on the beautiful location of the North Antrim coast, this amazing sandy beach is set in a secluded area below the road and the cliffs above.
Stretching all the way to Portrush’s East Strand, this beach is popular with runners who enjoy a jog by the sea.
Address: Whiterocks Car Park, Dunluce Road A2, Portrush, County Antrim, BT56 8NA
READ ALSO: Top 10 best things to do in Portrush
8. Downhill Beach, County Derry – home to history
Part of an 11 km (7 miles) stretch of sand and sea along the coast of County Derry, Downhill Beach is definitely one of the best beaches in Northern Ireland.
Overlooked by the cliffs of Downhill Demense and the impressive 18th-century ruins of Mussenden Temple, the views from this stunning beach are some of the best in the country.
Address: Mussenden Road, Downhill, Castlerock, County Londonderry, BT52 4RP
7. Ballycastle Beach, Ballycastle – an incredible sand and shingle beach
Located in the popular seaside town of Ballycastle, this 1.2 km (0.75 miles) strand runs from the pier at Ballycastle Marina to Pans Rock in the east.
Backing onto Ballycastle Golf Course for most of its length, this is definitely one of the best beaches in Northern Ireland.
Address: 14 Bayview Road, Ballycastle, County Antrim, BT44 0PZ
6. Murlough Beach, Newcastle – one of the best beach views in Northern Ireland
Overlooked by the majestic Mourne Mountains, Murlough Beach and Nature Reserve is a five-mile stretch of golden sand.
A must-visit at any time of the year, this County Down strand takes on a different kind of beauty depending on which season you visit. While not on the list, it isn’t too far from the longest beaches in the world.
Address: 10-14 Central Promenade, Newcastle, County Down, BT33 0AA
READ ALSO: Top 5 best beaches near Belfast, ranked
5. Helen’s Bay, Bangor – a popular spot close to the city
Helen’s Bay is located just a 20-minute drive from Belfast, so is the perfect spot if you’re craving some sea air while in the city.
Backed by Crawfordsburn Country Park, this stunning beach has fantastic facilities and proves an extremely popular spot when the sun comes out
Address: 34 Quay Street, Bangor, Down, BT20 5ED
4. Portstewart Strand, Portstewart – a National Trust gem
Portstewart Strand is a National Trust beach and an area of unbelievable natural beauty.
Boasting fantastic views of Inishowen headland and Mussenden Temple, this Blue Flag beach is the perfect place for picnics, surfing, and long walks into the surrounding nature reserve.
Bear in mind, however, that there is a small fee to park at Portstewart Strand.
Address: National Trust Portstewart Strand, Portstewart, County Londonderry, BT55 7PG
3. White Park Bay, Portrush – home to unusual residents
Yet another beautiful Blue Flag beach on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast is White Park Bay, a stunning strand backed by limestone cliffs and offering incredible views of Dunluce Castle.
Making your way down to this beach, you may be greeted by White Park Bay’s unusual resident cows, but don’t worry, they’re very friendly!
Address: Whitepark Road, Dunseverick, County Antrim, BT54 6NS
2. Tyrella Beach, Downpatrick – a lesser-known sandy beauty spot
With the Mournes as the backdrop, this hidden gem is definitely one of the best beaches in Northern Ireland and is often visited by horse riders who ride along the shores.
Address: Clanmaghery Road, Downpatrick, County Down, BT30 8SU
1. Benone Beach, County Derry – Northern Ireland or Australia
This beautiful golden strand that stretches out as far as the eye can see will make you wonder whether you’re still in Northern Ireland or if you’ve somehow been transported to the sandy shores of Australia – minus the weather, obviously!
A popular spot for surfers, this popular Blue Flag beach offers fantastic views of the North Coast, Inishowen in Donegal, and even across the water to Scotland.
Address: 35 The Diamond, Coleraine, Co Londonderry, BT52 1DE
RELATED: Top 5 best beaches in Derry, ranked
Your questions answered about beaches in Northern Ireland
If you still have questions about beaches in Northern Ireland, we have you covered! In this section, we’ve answered some of our readers’ most popular questions about this topic.
How many beaches does Northern Ireland have?
Northern Ireland has approximately 33 established beaches.
What is the closest beach to Belfast City?
The closest beach to Belfast City is Helen’s Bay which lies only a 20-minute drive from Belfast City Hall.
Do you pay into Tyrella Beach?
Tyrella Beach is a car-free zone due to its importance as a habitat however, there is off-beach parking which carries a small charge.