Northern Ireland’s great sights are treasures to be proud of, from the Dark Hedges to the Giant’s Causeway.
But hidden away in other parts of the country, there are nicer places to visit with a more modest approach to trumpeting what they offer.
And they can be added to a weekend or holiday schedule with just a little planning and preparation.
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Stroll through Belfast and the counties to discover some of our favorite places.
Cregagh Glen and Lisnabreeny is an easily overlooked haven in the heart of Belfast, the glen climbs along a rushing stream through mixed woodland and farmland emerging atop the Castlereagh hills. There are wonderful views over the city, Belfast Lough, Lagan Valley, Strangford Lough and the Ards Peninsula.
- Fair Head is an incredible sight, but nowhere near as busy as the nearby Giant’s Causeway. The breathtaking views over cliffs and secluded bays and headlands to Murlough Bay are undoubtedly spectacular.
- Portmuck sits on a beautiful stretch of coast on the Islandmagee Peninsula offering spectacular views over the Isle of Muck and across the North Channel to Scotland with Skernaghan Point further north along the peninsula towards Brown’s Bay.
- Glenoe Waterfall is an impressive 30 feet of spectacular water in a deep gorge found in the small village of Glenoe between Larne and Carrickfergus. Explore the short circular walk around the edge of a lush valley, through a beech forest to see hidden flora and fauna.
- Ballymoyer is a magical place, a mixed and mysterious feeling surrounded by the spectacular scenery of the Fews Mountains, once the haunt of thieves and highwaymen. The walk begins at the junction of Ballymoyer Road and Drumcrow Road and follows the Creggan River, then winds through the mixed forest of a fairy valley with deep banks of moss and ferns before returning to the starting point.
- Ness Wood takes its name from ‘an las’ or Ness meaning waterfall, is one of the highest waterfalls in Northern Ireland and is set in 55 hectares of country parkland along on both sides of the Burntollet River with over 7km of beautiful woodland and riverside walks. There is also a meadow walk with easy access, picnic tables, wildlife ponds, wildflower meadows and a visitor center with local information and a forest biodiversity exhibit.
- Ballyquintin is located at the southern tip of the ringed Ards Peninsula and offers a circular walk to Port Kelly, Barhall Bay and Barhall Hill for views in all directions including Strangford Lough, the Mournes, the Isle of Man and the Mull of Galloway. Ballyquintin is a fantastic place to view Irish hares and flocks of farmland birds such as finches, linnets, tree sparrows and larks.
- Ballymacormick Point, at the eastern end of Ballyholme Bay’s sandy beach, is the narrow track that crosses Ballymacormick Point. The maquis of gorse, the pebble beaches, the rocky islets and the creeks offer a wilder space and escape the crowds.
- Orlock offers some of the best in the country, which can be seen from land and beach nestled between Donaghadee and Groomsport. The old carriage road creates a beautiful winding promenade with rare orchids and lots of wildlife. And there is evidence of Vikings and smugglers as well as an ancient arch carved into the rocks. You will see this walk stunning views of the Copeland Islands and across the Irish Sea towards Scotland
- The Nugent’s Wood Walk is a peaceful, gentle walk through mixed forest to view wildlife and wildflowers along the shores of Strangford Lough. Park at Portaferry and just walk to the pier and on the right is the grass path leading into the woods.
- The Cladagh River is a beauty in itself and a good place to start the stairway to heaven up Cuilcagh, about 1 mile from the Marble Arch Caves car park. The river walk takes adventurers along a steep, narrow gorge towards the Erne plain. The gorge is covered in a long-established ash forest. If you are looking for a peaceful day, you will find it here.
- If you feel like wondering why and how, check out Beaghmore Stone Circles in Cookstown. They were discovered during peat cutting in the 1940s. The Beaghmore site consists of seven stone circles, all associated with cairns and a row of stones runs towards these cairns. It is possible that Neolithic occupation and culture predated the erection of burial cairns and ceremonial circles and alignments.
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