There’s plenty of things to do in Newcastle in Co Down and there’s endless nearby attractions.
From hikes and walks to forest parks, stunning beaches and breath-taking nature reserves, there’s plenty to keep you occupied in Newcastle!
Throw in the flourishing culinary scene, the many cosy trad bars and a glorious setting, and you’ve a mighty place to spend a night or three!
The best things to do in Newcastle in Co Down
Below, you’ll find a mix of things to do in Newcastle in Co Down and a clatter of places to visit closeby.
There’s a mix of family attractions, hikes, scenic drives and things to do when it rains. Dive on in!
1. Kick-start your visit with coffee and ocean views
One of our favourite things to do in Newcastle in Co Down is to grab a coffee and head for a saunter along the sand.
Three good options are Shimna Cafe, Maud’s and Niki’s Kitchen. When you’ve your cup in hand, head across the the glorious Newcastle Beach.
The beach is overlooked by the Mournes and it’s a wonderfully scenic place for a stroll.
2. Then conquer Northern Ireland’s tallest peak
The brilliant Slieve Donard Walk kicks off from Newcastle (if you’re driving aim for Donard Car Park – the trail begins from here).
At 850m/2789ft, Slieve Donard is the highest peak in the Mournes and, while it’s a tough hike, it’s a very easy trail to follow when the conditions are good.
If you follow the linear Glen River Trail, which stretches for around 4.6km (9.2km in total) it’ll take you between 4-5 hours to complete.
3. Followed up with a post-hike feed in the town
There’s some outstanding restaurants in Newcastle that are perfect for a post-hike lunch or for an evening meal.
Our favourite of the lot is Villa Vinci – a charming Italian where you’ll find a mix of traditional and local favourites.
Some of our other go-tos are Quinn’s (excellent steak here!) and Great Jones.
4. Explore the stunning Murlough National Nature Reserve
Another of the more popular things to do in Newcastle in Co Down is to head for a wander around Murlough National Nature Reserve, a short stroll from the town.
Managed by the National Trust, you can ramble through it along boardwalks and follow way-marked nature trails that showcase the best of the area.
The Reserve is home to 6,000-year-old sand dunes and you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Mournes and ocean on some of the trails.
5. Visit Tollymore Forest Park
Tollymore Forest Park is like something from a Walt Disney movie and you’ll find it a short 10-minute drive from Newcastle, where it’s located at the foot of Donard.
The park boasts a lush 640 acres of woodland and it was Northern Ireland’s first state park. Those that visit can tackle one of several trails that offer an insight into the beauty of this fairytale-like-park.
If you fancy a short ramble, the Arboretum Path (0.7km/25 minutes) is worth doing while the Mountain and Drinns Trail (13.6km/3-4 hours) is good for a morning out.
6. Soak up the views from Dundrum Castle
You’ll find Dundrum Castle a 10-minute drive from Newcastle. This is one of the more notable castles in Northern Ireland and the views from its vantage point are outstanding.
Dundrum Castle is sat on a motte with a defensive curtain wall and it has been in this location since its construction in 1177.
Dundrum Castle was built by John de Courcy following his invasion of Ulster and, although the early castle was likely built from timber, the current structure was made from stone.
If you’re looking for things to do in Newcastle in Co Down early in the morning, get up here to catch the sunrise!
7. Castlewellan Forest Park
Another glorious spot for a walk a 10-minute drive from Newcastle is the beautifully maintained Castlewellan Forest Park.
The 460-hectare landscaped park is home to several walks, a lake, a massive peace maze and an animal wood for kids.
There’s also Castlewellan Castle, which was build in 1846. The grounds are a joy to explore at any time of the year.
8. Tackle one of the many Mourne trails
One of the best things to do in Newcastle in Co Down, as you’ve probably gathered already, is to immerse yourself in the majestic Mournes.
9. Visit Kodak Corner
Take the 25-minute drive over to Rostrevor and make your way into the brilliant Kilbroney Park.
It’s here that you’ll find the Cloughmore Stone along with a viewpoint known locally as Kodak Corner.
The viewpoint offers outstanding panoramic views out over Carlingford Lough and there’s few places in Down that boast views like it!
10. Take a spin out to Tyrella Beach
There’s some spectacular beaches in Down but one of our favourites is 25 minutes down the road from Newcastle – Tyrella Beach.
The drive out to Tyrella is nice and scenic and when you arrive you’ll discover 25 hectares of sand dunes and stunning mountain views.
You can head for a ramble here and water surfers tackle the waves out in Dundrum Bay.
11. Conquer Slieve Croob
Slieve Croob is one of the most overlooked hikes in County Down. The views from the top are outstanding and it’s a nice, easy trail to follow from start to finish.
The walk begins at the Slieve Croob car park and it has a total distance of just over 4 km. Depending on pace, you should allow around 1.5 hours to complete it.
The views on a clear day really are something else. You’ll find a cairn (don’t touch it!) at the summit that’s thought to be the remains of an ancient burial chamber
FAQs about what to do in Newcastle Co Down
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where’s good when it rains?’ to ‘What are good family attractions?’.
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 things to do in Newcastle Co Down?
Walk along Newcastle Beach, conquer Slieve Donard, visit Tollymore Forest Park, explore Murlough Nature Reserve and sample the local culinary scene.
What are some scenic places to visit in Newcastle?
The list is endless. Newcastle is surrounded by the Mournes, so you’ve everything from mountains and forest parks to beaches, coves and scenic drives.
I was born in a quiet corner of a Gaeltacht on the Dingle Peninsula. Over the years, I’ve explored Ireland far and wide, from the wilds of West Clare to the shores of Sherkin. Particularly fond of heritage, history and hikes (and words beginning with ‘H’, apparently…).