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Newcastle Beach In County Down: Parking, Swimming + Trails

Newcastle Beach In County Down: Parking, Swimming + Trails

Newcastle Beach is one of our favourites in Northern Ireland. 

With the mighty Mourne Mountains looming to the south, you’ll be treated to some amazing scenes as you stroll along this sandy beach.

Below, you’ll find info on everything from swimming and parking to what to do while you’re there. 

Some quick need-to-knows about Newcastle Beach

Newcastle Beach Down

Photo via Shutterstock

Although a visit to Newcastle Beach in Northern Ireland.  is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

Newcastle Beach is located on the shores of the seaside town of Newcastle in south County Down. It’s around a 25-minute drive from the county town Downpatrick and an hour’s drive south from Belfast.

2. Parking

Park Avenue Car Park is your nearest parking area and it’s just a short walk south down the Central Promenade and across the bridge. There’s also Donard Car Park a little further south which is handy if you want a closer look at the mountains (we’ll get to them later in more detail!). 

3. Swimming

There are no lifeguards at Newcastle Beach and, unfortunately, we can’t find any official information online about how safe it is/isn’t to swim here, so check locally when you arrive.

4. Gateway to the Mournes

Beaches are (usually) all about relaxing, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the huge mountains that tower over Newcastle! If you’re in the mood for some of the best hiking in Northern Ireland then Newcastle is a great place to set up camp and there are loads of walks in the Mournes to tackle. 

About Newcastle Beach

Newcastle County Down

Photos via Shutterstock

Sitting at the bottom of the Mourne foothills, Newcastle’s sand and pebble beach is about a mile and a half long.

The town itself has been a popular seaside resort since the Victorian era as there’s plenty of things to do in Newcastle, though its shores have also seen some remarkable and tragic events over the years. 

The Newcastle Fishing Disaster occurred off the coast of Newcastle on the 13th of January 1843, an incident in which fourteen boats from Newcastle and Annalong were caught in gale-force winds and ended up sinking, resulting in the loss of 73 lives.

On a more positive note, in 1910 Harry Ferguson flew a small plane across Newcastle Beach in one of the first engine-powered flights by aircraft in Ireland! Obviously, it’s not a good idea to try that sort of thing now…

These days you’ll find people walking, sunbathing or dividing their time between the beach and the pubs and amusement arcades (it is a seaside town after all!).

Things to do at Newcastle Beach

newcastle down

Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re looking to make a morning out of your visit to Newcastle Beach in Northern Ireland, here are a handful of suggestions for you:

1. Grab a tasty coffee from Maud’s 

You can’t miss the circular riverside entrance of ​​Café Mauds

But this place isn’t just known for its location, as anyone who’s been there will know. Choose from a great selection of hot drinks and a surprisingly varied menu that offers everything from hearty breakfast classics to zesty Asian street food! 

Their fluffy homemade buttermilk pancakes are perfect for warming you up on a cold winter’s day, while a scoop of famous Maud’s Ice-Cream is a local summer staple. 

2. Then hit the sands for some serious views

When you’ve got your warm cup of coffee, you’ll have a mile and a half of sandy expanse to enjoy.

But whether you walk north to south or south to north, the massive shape of the Mournes will always be there and you’ll get some amazing coastal views, from their gentle foothills up to the distant summit of Slieve Donard (Northern Ireland’s tallest mountain). 

Kick off your shoes and go for a paddle just the Victorians used to do, and sit back in the sun if the weather’s warm. And when you’re done exploring, there are a bunch of cracking ice cream parlours and fish and chips bars if you need a feed!

Places to visit near Newcastle Beach

One of the beauties of this place is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best things to do in Co Down.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Newcastle Beach (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Many Mourne Walks (10-minute walk to a 20-minute drive)

mourne mountains

Photos via Shutterstock

The Mourne Mountains offer some of Ireland’s greatest hikes and there are a bunch of different trails to take on. From the underrated Slieve Doan walk to tackling the mighty Slieve Binnian, these mountains are a unique and satisfying challenge. 

2. Tollymore Forest Park (10-minute drive)

Tollymore Forest Park

Photos via Shutterstock

A world away from the wind-whipped mountain trails, Tollymore Forest Park is an enchanting world of hanging trees and quiet trails that could easily pass for a Lord of the Rings set! Just a short 10-minute drive from Newcastle and located at the foot of the Mournes, there’s plenty to do in the beautiful 630-hectare forest including camping, horse riding and orienteering.

3. Castlewellan Forest Park (15-minute drive)

Castlewellan Forest

Photos via Shutterstock

Castlewellan Forest is a little more polished and manicured than Tollymore and it’s packed to the brim with activities and beauty. With a mile-long lake, an outstanding tree and shrub collection and a garden featuring terraces, fountains, ornamental gates and flower borders, it’s a beautifully peaceful spot to stroll. 

4. Rostrevor (30-minute drive)

Kodak Corner

Photos via Shutterstock

With some great places to eat and some lovely views over Carlingford Lough, the drive over to Rostrevor gives you a totally different viewpoint from Newcastle. Still in the shadow of the Mournes, it’s also next door to the excellent Kilbroney Park where there are plenty of trails and vistas to enjoy (especially from the famous Cloughmore Stone!).

Newcastle Beach Northern Ireland FAQs

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where to park?’ to ‘Can you swim?’.

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.

Can you swim in Newcastle Beach?

We can’t find any official information about swimming at Newcastle Beach Northern Ireland, so we’d recommend checking locally when you arrive.

Where’s handiest for parking at Newcastle Beach?

Park Avenue Car Park is the nearest parking area. There’s also Donard Car Park a little further south if you’re stuck. 

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