15 Mighty Day Trips from Belfast (Self-Guided + Organised Day Tours)

day trips from belfast
Photo left: Ballygally View Images. Photo right: Mick Harper (Shutterstock)

If you’re in search of some incredible day trips from Belfast, you’ve landed in the right place.

Belfast is a handy city to use as a base for exploring many of the best things to do in Northern Ireland.

The vibrant capital is perfectly located to explore everywhere from the glorious Causeway Coastal Route and the Glens of Antrim to plenty of mountains and colourful coastal villages.

In the guide below, you’ll find everything from adventurous day trips from Belfast to organised day tours from Belfast for those of you without a car.

Day trips from Belfast (under 35 minutes from the city)

The first section of our guide tackles Belfast day trips that are just over a 30-minute drive from the city centre.

Below, you’ll find everything from the Causeway Coastal Route and Lisburn to Lough Neagh and much, much more.

1. The Causeway Coastal Route

belfast day tours
Photo left: Lyd Photography. Right: Puripat Lertpunyaroj (Shutterstock)

A road trip along the Causeway Coastal Route is definitely one of the best things to do in County Antrim. It’s often ranked as one of the best drives in the world, so you know that it’ll be non-stop rugged beauty and incredible views along the stunning coastline of Northern Ireland. 

The route can be tackled over one long day, although it’s best if you have a couple of days or even a week. The 313km long road trip starts in Belfast City and ends in Derry, heading through the nine Glens of Antrim.

There’s so much to see along the way from historic castles to small towns, that you really do get to see the best that the county has to offer.

2. The Gobbins Cliff Path

Gobbins Antrim
Photos by Cushla Monk + Paul Vance (shutterstock.com)

The Gobbins is arguably one of the most unique day trips from Belfast. If you’re up for more stunning scenery, you can try this incredibly dramatic cliff walk just 35 minutes away from Belfast.

It’s surprisingly often missed by people touring the Causeway Coastal Route but should definitely be added to your list if you’re looking for a thrill. 

The Gobbins Cliff Path is a 2.5 hour guided walk along a narrow path that literally wraps its way around some of the cliffs around the coast of Antrim. It includes some incredible bridges and hairy staircases past caves that were once used by smugglers.

If you’re keen to visit the Gobbins, you should book the walk in advance and wear suitable clothing to tackle an uneven, coastal walk. 

3. Lisburn

places to visit near belfast
Photo via Google Maps

Just a 20-minute drive to the south of Belfast City, you can spend the day tackling some of the many things to do in Lisburn. Many of the buildings date back to the 18th century and the city has an interesting history as a leading textile producer in Ireland.

You can spend the day exploring the car-free city centre with the beautiful Georgian-style square at its heart.

The history is best discovered by heading to the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum, or even take the drive further south and visit Hillsborough Forest Park and Hillsborough Castle.

4. Lough Neagh

lough neagh
Photo by Ballygally View Images (Shutterstock)

Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in Ireland and supplies almost half of the region’s water. It’s located just 32km west of the city and makes for a great day trip from the city.

You can explore the towns on the lake’s shore or even hop over to one of the islands to discover the history and wildlife out on the lake.

Ram Island and Coney Island both have unique histories. You can see the ancient round tower on Ram Island or head over to Coney Island to discover the history of the westernmost outpost of the Normans.

Day tours from Belfast under 1 hour from the city

The second section of this guide tackles Belfast day trips that’ll take you just under an hour to get to (but that are well worth the spin!).

Below, you’ll find everything from the glorious Ards Peninsula and the might Mournes to Castle Ward and more.

1. The Ards Peninsula (55 minutes away)

ards peninsula in county down
Photo via visitardsandnorthdown.com

To the east of the city, the Ards Peninsula is arguably one of the most overlooked day trips from Belfast. The peninsula is located in County Down and separates Strangford Lough from the Irish Sea.

You can head to one of the main towns on the peninsula including Donaghadee and Newtownards or explore some of the scenery in this beautiful part of Northern Ireland.

The peninsula is home to some incredible beaches along its eastern coast, including near the village of Cloughey where you’ll find beautiful dunes and a long sandy beach, and Ballywater which is a popular holiday spot on the peninsula.

2. Newcastle

newcastle county down
Photo by Mick Harper (Shutterstock)

If you’re after active Belfast day tours, get yourself to Newcastle and tackle one of its many mighty rambles.

The small seaside resort town of Newcastle sits at the foot of Slieve Donard, the highest point of the Mourne Mountains in County Down.

It’s the perfect spot to escape the city of Belfast and immerse yourself in nature amongst spectacular scenery. It’s just a 45-minute drive from the city.

You can explore Tollymore Forest Park just outside of town or Murlough Beach, which are perfect places to stretch your legs on a walk. 

3. Castle Ward

This incredible 18th century National Trust property is located near Strangford village in County Down, just 50 minutes southeast of Belfast and it’s one of the most iconic castles in Northern Ireland.

The unusual and unique double-sided mansion stands inside a perfectly manicured park overlooking Strangford Lough. 

You can explore the gardens, woodland and shoreline of the lake, with over 32km of trails to head off on foot or on bikes.

And we can’t forget to mention that the farmyard and lake were one of several Game of Thrones filming locations in Ireland.

4. Glenariff Forest Park (55 minutes away)

our favourite belfast day trip
Photo by Dawid K Photography (Shutterstock)

Next up is one of our favourite day trips from Belfast. To truly get lost in the incredible nature of Antrim, you should head out to explore the 1000 hectares of Glenariff Forest Park.

This woodland in the Glens of Antrim features lakes, picnic areas and walking trails with dense ferns and mosses growing along the rocky gorges of the river. 

There are a few walks to choose from, including a 1km Viewpoint Trail and a 3km Waterfall Walk Trail which takes you to a beautiful, tiered waterfall that is especially impressive after heavy rain. The park is just 50 minutes northwest of Belfast City towards the coast.

Belfast day tours under 1.5 hours from the city

Right – our next batch of day trips from Belfast are for those of you that don’t mind a bit of a drive (it’ll be worth it!).

Below, you’ll find everywhere from the lively coastal village of Portrush to some often overlooked day tours from Belfast, like the Sperrins.

1. Portrush (1 hour and 10 minutes drive)

Portrush town
Photo by Ballygally View Images (Shutterstock)

The resort town of Portrush is a fun little spot on the Causeway Coastal Route of Antrim. It sits on a mile-long peninsula with beautiful Blue Flag beaches on either side, so it’s the perfect summer destination.

It’s a popular stop along the Causeway Coastal Route for a visit to any of its three beaches or just to enjoy the lively pubs and shops in the small town.

West Strand is great for swimming and sunbathing, while East Strand tends to be the spot for surfing and other water sports. 

There’s plenty of things to do in Portrush and there’s lots of great restaurants in Portrush to kick back in after rambling along Whiterocks Beach.

2. Mourne Mountains (1 hour and 5 minutes drive)

slieve binnan
Photo by James Kennedy NI/Shutterstock.com

If you want something different to the coastal destinations, then the spectacular Mourne Mountains are calling. The granite range is in County Down, not far from Newcastletown, just over an hour’s drive south of Belfast.

They include the highest mountains in Northern Ireland including Slieve Donard at 850m. The mountains have inspired many poets and writers and even featured as a prominent set for Game of Thrones throughout the series.

There are some incredible hiking opportunities with the epic Six Peak Challenge taking three days to complete. There’s also the Mourne Mountains Cycle Loop or rock climbing and abseiling adventures as well. 

3. The Sperrins (1 hour and 20 minutes drive)

sperrins tyrone
Photo by Gordon Dunn (Shutterstock)

I’d argue that the Sperrins are one of the most overlooked day trips from Belfast. If you’re in search of more mountains to explore, the Sperrins are one of the largest upland areas in Northern Ireland stretching from Strabane to the shores of Lough Neagh.

It’s definitely a more wild and undiscovered part of Northern Ireland, but it’s easily explored with some incredible scenic drives.

The Sperrins are also a popular hiking destination with plenty of walks around the valleys to tougher climbs up some of the peaks, including Sawel, the highest one of the ranges.

For history buffs, the mountains are also home to some interesting sites including the Beaghmore Stone Circles in the southeast part dating back to the Bronze Age.

4. Derry City (1 hour and 30 minutes drive)

derry
Photo by ronniejcmc (Shutterstock)

Derry is home to Ireland’s only completely intact historic Walled City from the 17th century. It’s located to the west of Belfast near the border of County Donegal.

While it’s often overlooked by visitors to Northern Ireland, there are plenty of incredible places to visit within the walled city, including St Columb’s Cathedral and the Tower Museum with stunning city views.

Derry is also referred to as a city of culture, with plenty of events going on all year round including its famous Halloween festival. While you’ll also find colourful murals around the streets celebrating and bringing awareness to the long history and culture of the city.

5. Slieve Gullion (1 hour and 15 minutes drive)

a great little belfast day tour
Photo by Pavel_Voitukovic on shutterstock.com

Slieve Gullion is a mountain in the south of County Armagh and the highest point in the county at 573m. It lies right in the middle of what is known as the Ring of Gullion, or circle of hills.

A visit to the Slieve Gullion Forest Park is a great day out for the whole family. The park offers a scenic drive, walks around the mountains to stunning views and an adventure park and children’s story trail for the kids.

Whether you’re up for a decent hike or a fun run around a maze with the family, a visit to this beautiful part of the county is a must.

Don’t have a car? Here are some excellent organised day tours from Belfast

The final section of our guide is filled with day trips from Belfast that’ll appeal to those of you without your own mode of transport.

Note: If you book a tour below we may make a tiny commission. You won’t pay extra, but it helps us keep this site going (and we greatly appreciate it).

1. Giant’s Causeway, Titanic and Dark Hedges Tour

Titanic museum belfast
Photo by Chris Hill

For a full day tour from Belfast, this trip takes you to see the Titanic Museum before heading to the Giant’s Causeway. This incredible place is an ancient volcanic formation and a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site.

You can explore on foot as you see various interesting formations such as the Wishing Chair and Giant Boot and Organ.

On the return to the city, you get to also stop at the Dark Hedges, a centuries-old lane of beech trees that have been made famous by films and television, including of course Game of Thrones.

Check prices + learn more here

2. Belfast: Giants Causeway and Game of Thrones Locations Tour

dunluce castle game of thrones
Photo by Matthew Woodhouse

The ultimate day trip for Game of Thrones fans, this tour takes you to some of the best location sites for the series as well as some of the most beautiful spots in Northern Ireland.

Some of the places you get to visit include the Giant’s Causeway, Dark Hedges, Dunluce Castle and Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

Of course, you can even get dressed up with some of the provided props to take some fun photos at the locations along the way. 

Check prices + learn more here

Day trips Northern Ireland: What have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve missed out on some brilliant day trips Northern Ireland has to offer in the guide above.

If you have any day trips from Belfast that you’d recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check them out.

FAQs about the best day trips from Belfast

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what are the best organised day tours from Belfast to which Belfast day trips are best if you only have 7/8 hours.

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.

What are the best day trips from Belfast?

I’d argue that the best Belfast day trips are the Causeway Coast and the Mourne Mountains.

What are the best day tours from Belfast if you have no car?

If you’re looking for organised Belfast day tours, there’s everything from Game of Throne tours to organised trips up the Causeway Coast (see guide above).

What are the most unique places to visit near Belfast?

It’s hard to beat Glenariff Forest Park and the Torr Head Scenic Route, however, tourists in particular tend to enjoy Carrick-a-rede.

Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.

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