Boasting some of the most awe-striking natural beauty on the planet as well as some man-made wonders, the walking and biking trails of Northern Ireland are a feast for the eyes. A little more pre-planning is needed in the North, as the weather turns much colder than in parts of the south, especially if you're heading into the higher altitudes. Usually, thermal undergarments and a good pair of gloves will suffice, along with all your usual hiking and biking gear.
From the famous Causeway Coast to the glens, valleys, and mountains sprinkled through the rest of Northern Ireland, there is a unique walking and hiking experience around every corner.
An accessible six-hour walk showcases Northern Ireland's most celebrated stretch of coastline, hugging the Atlantic shore from the iconic Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge to the world-renowned Giant's causeway 10 miles west. As this is a linear route, two vehicles may be desirable, but regular bus services are available throughout the year. This represents the most enjoyable stretch of a two-day Causeway Coast Way which runs from Portstewart to Ballycastle.
Featuring an impressive sequence of cliffs, Binevenagh provides the ideal habitat for a wealth of rare plants and mosses. It is also home to the Finn MacCool's Finger Stone, a standing stone which takes its name from a legendary giant whose mighty feet once stomped across this enchanting landscape. Parking on location makes it very possible to explore the cliffs and be back on the road within two hours or so. Accessed from Leighry Road between Bishop's Road and Duncrun Road.
Stretching northward from the town of Larne, an 80-mile expanse of dramatic sea cliffs is interrupted only by nine deep green glens, each with its own distinctive character and its own appeal for visiting walkers. The unspoiled natural beauty of the glens is showcased perfectly along the 1.5-mile way-marked stretch of the Glenariff Nature Reserve Waterfalls Walk. In addition to the stunning waterfalls, a panoply of rare ferns, mosses and liverworts pepper a trail whose boardwalks and steps temper the steepness of the return journey.
To some, treading the boardwalks of this vast Fermanagh blanket bog may not feel like enough of an 'escape': much of the route is laid out for you in the form of the boardwalk and, for those stretches, the surface underfoot is certainly not as nature provided it. However, those who choose not to venture to Cuilcagh Mountain will be missing out on some spectacular views and fascinating wildlife, both of which are well-preserved by conservation efforts in the area.
At 850m, Slieve Donard is the highest peak in the Mourne Mountains. From the summit, a clear day promises views of Wicklow, Donegal, the Isle of Man, Wales and Scotland, as well as the long stretch of Newcastle Beach. Heading from Donard Park towards the mountain, as you follow the Glen River through ancient woodland, you will encounter a rich palette of Scots Pine, Oak and Birch. An out-and-back route will involve a total of six challenging miles with lots of climbing. Bring a flask and a snack to enjoy with the view.
The enchanting destination is home to various marked trails ranging from one mile to six miles in length. The presence of car parking, toilets, picnic areas, a playpark and a café will attract many and deter some, but thedistinctive reservoir will appeal to all. A great place to visit for walkers of all abilities.
Seven miles of mountain terrain make up a circular exploration of Slieve Binnian and its captivating surroundings. The route follows the Mourne Wall to the summit and traverses between the spectacular South and North Tors before making its descent past the Blue Lough and Annalong Forest. Toilets and refreshments are available in nearby Annalong Village.
Whether you're looking to bring the family for a cycle through the countryside, a forest or just to amble through town, Northern Ireland has a variety of designated routes for all your cycle needs.
3km of easy cycling on good paths takes you up one side of the Faughan and Glenrandal Rivers before a return journey on the opposite banks. Paths are well surfaced and the terrain is flat, making this an ideal location for young cyclists but do keep in mind that the path follows the water's edge so a degree of confidence and stability on a bicycle are required for the very young.
An excellent, traffic-free circular cycle with mostly good surfaces. 7.2km of cycling is punctuated by picnic tables, benches and bike stands. Cycle hire is available from Iron Donkey Bicycle Touring.
A few stone steps and stiles interrupt a route that is otherwise well surfaced and maintained. With a fair amount of climbing, this might not be the best spot for very young cyclists or those with limited mobility/fitness. For those who do make the trip, the climbs are rewarded with spectacular views not only over Belfast, but also the Mourne Mountains, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
In addition to a pleasant green trail and an equally enjoyable blue, there are three red runs for more experienced and confident riders to explore.
A picturesque forest setting boasting a wealth of flora and fauna. Find 6.5km of signposted, family-friendly cycle trails which are free of all traffic except Forest Service vehicles or timber lorries. This multi-use trail is also popular for horse-riding.
The full cycle trail is 77km in length, but the popular Ulster Canal Greenway stretch is ideal for young families at just 4.2km. This section is almost entirely traffic-free and crosses Monaghan town. Nearby Rossmore Forest Park (pictured) provides an idyllic detour for nature lovers or anyone who enjoys a peaceful picnic.
Adare is a small town in Co. Limerick, known for its quaint and colourful thatched cottages. Adare is considered to be one of Ireland's most beautiful towns so stop and take in the view. Don't forget your camera today - the perfect chance to capture the essence of old Ireland.
Explore Adare Village along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Take a journey through this once troubled city. See the murals of the Loyalist Shankill Road & Nationalist Falls Road. The Troubles took their toll on the economic life of Belfast, but the past ten years of peace have returned much prosperity while the genuine friendliness of the city never left.
Originally built in 1823, Blarney Woollen Mills was mainly used for the spinning and weaving of wool. After it closed in 1973, it reopened in 1975 — as an Irish heritage shop.
The Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre commemorates the last pitched battle fought on British soil, in April 1746. Learn more about the Jacobite intent to overthrow the House of Hanover and return the House of Stuart to the British throne.
Located within Glenveagh National Park, Glenveagh Castle was built by Captain John George Adair between 1870 and 1873. Having made his fortune through land speculation in America, Adair return to Ireland and began large amounts of land in County Donegal. The castle was built in the Scottish Baronial style and is surrounded by a garden and commands stunning views of the nearby mountains, lakes, woodlands and valleys.
About Highland Folk Museum is a museum and open-air attraction located in the Scottish Highlands. It is designed to showcase the domestic and working lives of the early highland people.
Located alongside the River Shannon in County Limerick, on King's Island. Dating back to 922, to a time when Vikings were the inhabitants of the island (Thormodr Helgason, the Viking sea-king, built the first settlement here. The castle itself was built in 1200, under the instruction of King John of England.
Located close to the Killarney National Park, Moriarty's is an Authentic Irish Gift Store and Restaurant. Hand crafted Irish jewellery, Waterford Crystal and classic and modern tweed fashions and furnishings are all on offer at the gift store. The restaurant is an 85 seater offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Mount Congreve Gardens. Located in Kilmeaden, County Waterford, Mount Congreve Gardens is an 18th century Georgian estate and mansion. It was designed by the same architect that created both of Waterford's cathedrals, John Roberts.
Recently recognised as being one of the top 10 gardens in the world, Mount Stewart is a rich tapestry of planting plant life and stunning walking trails. The house dates back to the 19th century, and was the Irish seat of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family.
Located on the grounds of the expansive and idyllic Killarney National Park. Muckross House, and its 11,000-acre grounds, was donated to the Irish state in 1932.
Located on the grounds of the picturesque Muckross House and its impeccable gardens. Take a step back in time and see the Irish farming lifestyle of the 1930s and '40s. A time when the horse was responsible for much of the labour and the weather was the be all and end all in terms of production.
The Quiet Man Museum. A reproduction of the quaint thatched cottage from the John Wayne starring, John Ford directed movie of the same name. all costumes, artifacts and furnishings have been recreated in precise detail, to reflect the setting of the 1952 classic. Located in the picturesque village of Cong, County Mayo.