Known as the “Riviera of the North”, Rostrevor is located on the shores of Carlingford Lough with a stunning mountain backdrop.
Along with nearby Newcastle, it makes a magnificent base to explore the Mourne Mountains and it also boasts plenty of its own attractions.
Below, you’ll discover everything from things to do to where to eat, sleep and sip. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about Rostrevor in Down
Although a visit to Rostrevor is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
The town of Rostrevor is located at the foot of Slieve Martin Mountain in County Down. It is 46 miles south of Belfast, on the Kilbroney River and northern shores of Carlingford Lough near Warrenpoint. The nearest town is Newry, 9 miles to the northwest.
2. A stunning seaside setting
Rostrevor has it all – beautiful views across Carlingford Lough, panoramic Mourne Mountain scenery, gushing rivers and the unspoilt Rostrevor Forest for walking and nature-spotting. This delightful coastal village also has a sloping beach which faces south and catches the sun.
3. A great base to explore from
Easy to reach from Newry along the A2, Rostrevor is ideally located for exploring the surrounding area. It’s a gateway to the stunning Mourne Mountain hikes and a great starting point for scenic drives around the Cooley Peninsula. Rostrevor Forest offers woodland walks while the nearby Omeath to Carlingford Greenway offers waterfront walks to Carlingford with its historic castle and boat trips.
Rostrevor is one of the prettiest coastal villages in Co. Down. with a population of around 2,800.
The name comes from the Irish Ros, meaning wooded headland, and Trevor from the 17th century Trevor family who settled here from Denbighshire.
Before that it was known as Caisleán Ruaidhrí (Rory’s Castle). Interestingly, the spelling “Rostrevor” refers to the village while the wider townland is spelt as “Rosstrevor” with an additional “s”.
There are several places of interest nearby including the Fairy Glen River, home of fairies, and the Ross Monument, an obelisk erected by the Ross family who lived in Kilbroney Park.
The “Big Stone” (Cloughmore) is a massive boulder on the slopes of Slieve Martin. Landmarks include a small listed church and graveyard on the earlier site of St Bronach.
The Catholic Church has the bell of Bronach, cast around 900AD. Local stories abound about the bell ringing mysteriously in the night!
Things to do in Rostrevor (and nearby)
As there’s so much to see and do here, we’ve a guide to the best things to do in Rostrevor.
However, you’ll find our favourite attractions below, from hikes and walks to great food and cosy pubs.
1. Ramble around Kilbroney Park
Kilbroney Park was a former estate and home of the Ross family. Now a public forest park, it has riverside walks, a two-mile forest drive and an arboretum of specimen trees.
Families can enjoy the play park, tennis courts, picnic area and cafe. It’s the home of the Narnia Trail as the area inspired C.S.Lewis’s classic tales of Narnia.
The walk starts by stepping through the “wardrobe door” and encounters strange creatures and warnings from the books.
Look out for the Lamp Post, Beaver’s House and Aslan’s Table. They make excellent photo ops for Narnia fans!
2. Soak up the views from Cloughmore Stone
Part of the Kilbroney Park estate, visitors can make a short drive or climb up to Cloughmore Stone from the car park. The views are mighty!
This massive 50-ton erratic sits on the hillside 1000 feet (300m) above Rostrevor. It was deposited eons ago by retreating glaciers.
Local legend has it that Giant Finn McCool tossed the boulder, burying the frost giant Ruiscairre alive. Walk around the stone seven times to ensure plenty of good luck!
3. Or from the aptly named ‘Kodak Corner’
Another feature within Kilbroney Park is an area known as Kodak Corner and it’s truly photo-worthy! This area of outstanding natural beauty offers a stunning view across Carlingford Lough towards the sea.
Follow the path upwards from the Cloughmore Stone and keep a wary eye open for cyclists descending the trail at speed.
The path enters an area of woodland where you step out onto a natural belvedere with a magnificent views. Bring a camera, a picnic and your dog, on a lead of course!
4. Tackle the Fairy Glen walk
Next to the entrance to Kilbroney Park is the Fairy Glen Walk. This enchanting walk follows the river, said to be inhabited by fairies.
The 6 mile Grade 5 trail has a variety of landscapes including country roads, off-road trails and areas of woodland, riverside and parkland. Start in Rostrevor village on the Kilkeel side of the bridge.
Follow the river upstream to Forestbrook and turn right before the bridge. The path is signposted across fields to Rostrevor Forest.
Pass the caravan park entrance and cafe then return through the park to the bridge enjoying fabulous lough vistas.
5. Or try one of the many Mourne walks nearby
In just 30 minutes, you can be exploring the Mourne Mountains and feeling you’re the only person on the planet! There are many walks in these stunning mountains ranging from 2 to 22 miles.
This 2.9 mile linear walk (each way) has outstanding views. The longer Mourne Wall Challenge is a 22 mile circular route for fit and experienced hikers, taking in 15 peaks. The stone wall was built between 1904 and 1922.
6. Take a spin out to Slieve Gullion Forest Park
Hop in the car and enjoy a scenic 35-minute drive to Slieve Gullion Forest Park in Killeavy. It includes an adventure playpark for children and The Giant’s Lair, a captivating story trail for youngsters!
Climb Slieve Gullion (576m) that lies at the centre of a ring of hills known as the Ring of Gullion. The park has excellent facilities including car parking, picnic area, cafe, gift shop, WiFi and toilets.
7. Or head off on the Ring of Cooley Drive
Embrace the delightful scenery and highlights of the Cooley Peninsula and Dundalk Bay on a sensational drive through a variety of landscapes.
It’s one of the more scenic driving routes in this part of Ireland, capturing many sites featured in the epic tale of “The Cattle Raid of Cooley“.
The drive takes in the Omeath to Carlingford Greenway where you can rent bicycles or enjoy a leg-stretch alongside the lough.
Slieve Foye is an impressive mountains for hiking with many prehistoric graves and Celtic crosses along the way.
8. Explore the Silent Valley
Just 25 minutes from Rostrevor, the Silent Valley Mountain Park is a remote landscape within a ring of pointed peaks near Kilkeel.
The still waters of the reservoir collect water from the Mourne Mountains and provide the main supply to Belfast. The valley is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is known for its solitude and peace.
It has an Information Centre, picnic area, tea room and toilets. Walking routes take in mountains, lakes and parkland for enjoying hikes with birds and wildlife. Admission is £5 per car.
Hotels in Rostrevor
As there’s plenty of places to kip in the area, we’ve a Rostrevor accommodation guide. However, I’ll show you our favourite spots below:
1. The Oystercatcher
Just a stone’s throw from the waters of Carlingford Lough, the Oystercatcher is a stunning property in the heart of Rostrevor. The hotel has very comfortable well furnished rooms and a rooftop terrace for enjoying stunning views. Enjoy a continental or cooked breakfast or opt for half-board with chef-cooked dinner too.
2. The Rostrevor Inn
This 18th century coaching inn was opened by the Crawford family in the mid-1800s. It has seven tastefully appointed bedrooms, all ensuite, along with a traditional bar with regular live music, the Stables snugs and a bistro serving excellent local cuisine. It’s well located close to Kilbroney Park and Fairy Glen.
3. Rostrevor Mountain Lodge
The Rostrevor Mountain Lodge sets the scene for an amazing stay in the heart of the Mourne Mountains with heaps of activities nearby. Book a cosy lodge or opt for a pet-friendly glamping pod for 4 with woodburner and fire pit for stargazing. There are shared showers and toilets and a communal camp kitchen.
Pubs in Rostrevor
There’s some mighty pubs in Rostrevor if you’ve worked up a thirst after a long day of exploring. Here are our favourite spots:
1. Kavanagh’s (Fearons)
Kavanagh’s is our favourite pub in the pub of the village. This place is exactly as a real pub should be – homely, cosy and oozing with character. A pint here is always a memorable one.
2. The Rostrevor Inn
For a traditional bar serving great food, look no further than the Rostrevor Inn. Recently refurbished, this gastropub has a traditional bar, cosy snugs for chatter, restaurant and live music. Best of all, you’re just steps from your bed if you opt to stay the night in one of the ensuite bedrooms.
3. The Corner House
The Corner House is a homely bar on Bridge Street with its own off-license. Open from 2pm until 11pm seven nights a week, it has a well-stocked bar and an outdoor beer garden with picnic tables in the rear courtyard.
Places to eat in Rostrevor
Again, we’ve a guide to the best restaurants in Rostrevor, but I’ll give you a quick overview of our favourites below:
1. The Rostrevor Inn
The Rostrevor Inn on Bridge Street is a prime venue for good food. This gastropub starts the day serving full Irish breakfasts and vegetarian frys before moving on to lunch, dinner and kid’s menus.It specialises in locally caught seafood and fish from Kilkeel, tasty homemade burgers and daily specials. Yummm!
2. The Church
Located within a former chapel building, The Church is located on Cloughmore Road. It still has many original features including pointed arches and stainless glass windows providing an interesting ambience. Open Thursdays through Sundays, it’s run as a friendly cafe and bistro serving continental cuisine.
3. The Old School House Bistro
Another landmark building, the Old School House Bistro in the heart of Rostrevor serves tasty cooked breakfast dishes, lunchtime favourites, Sunday Lunch and afternoon tea before bringing out their Evening Bistro menu. High quality local ingredients are expertly prepared by chefs for an outstanding dining experience.
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What’s there to do?’ to ‘Where’s good for food?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Rostrevor worth visiting?
This is a brilliant little town to explore from. There’s excellent accommodation, restaurants and pubs and there’s endless things to do in the town and close by.
Is there much to do in Rostrevor?
You’ve Kilbroney Park, the forest, Cloughmore Stone, Kodak Corner, the Fairy Trail and hundreds of nearby attractions, like the Mournes.
Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.