Family Day out At Castleward Cycle Trail
Family Day out At Castleward Cycle Trail

SUMMER is a time for creating carefree memories, kicking off sandals on the beach and feeling the sand in between your toes; for eating too much ice cream and staying up late with friends around a campfire. If you thought that you had to jump on a plane to find your perfect holiday then think again, as Tourism Northern Ireland is encouraging everyone to find out more about the amazing staycation options that are available all over Northern Ireland.

TNI’s Destination PR Officer, Pauline Gormley explains why a break in Northern Ireland can prove even more fun than a trip abroad:

“Northern Ireland is simply bursting at the seams with great things to see and do which make it the perfect place to experience a staycation. We may not always get the weather we would like but we certainly make up for it in terms of wonderful experiences, from luxurious glamping under the stars, to a range of beautiful beaches and first class hotels, enabling you to create your very own bespoke trip of a lifetime.

“Whether you are planning a holiday with family, friends or your other half, be sure to spend some time exploring the possibilities for a fantastic summer break that are right on your door step,” added Pauline.

Tourism NI has created a list of options on how you can create your very own staycation. For more information go towww.discovernorthernireland.com.

Glamping

If you would like to experience a camping holiday but also appreciate the finer things in life, then glamping is for you.

Mountain Sky Luxury Glamping is located on Ash Park farm in the glorious Sperrin Mountains. The comfortable tents offer a wooden floor, wood burning stove, comfy sofa and beds and for those who like to mix luxury with a traditional camping experience there will be campfires to toast marshmallows under the stars.

Located just outside Markethill in Co Armagh, Tepee Valley is the perfect destination for those who would like a ‘back to basics’ experience. The campsite boasts exceptional views over stunning countryside down to the Cusher river and across to the Slieve Gullion. Happy Campers can choose from either a traditional Native American Tepee, a choice of two yurts, a log cabin, dome or a perfectly furnished gypsy caravan called The Rosie Lee.

Mountain Sky Luxury Glamping

Castle Ward is tucked away in a stunning 820 demesne and hosts four eco friendly continental camping cabins just waiting to be enjoyed. Families are sure to have fun in the nearby Clearksy Adventure Centre which includes miles of multipurpose trails including bike and canoe hire.

Take your family and head to Limavady for an unrivalled glamping experience at Benone Tourist Complex. The lodges have all the little luxuries needed for a comfortable stay including a kettle, heater, picnic table and showers and are also just a short distance away from the great outdoors with mountain views and wonderful fresh, sea air.

Situated on the picturesque Lower Bann just outside Ballymoney is the award winning Drumaheglis Marina and Caravan Park.  The park offers campers the perfect riverside location which is ideal for water enthusiasts with amenities including a fridge, kettle, heater and picnic table. The park accommodates touring caravans and glamping pods are also available for hire.

Drumhoney Holiday Park in Co Fermanagh is nestled in quiet countryside surrounded by panoramic views of impressive hills and mountains. The camping pods are the ideal way to enjoy stress free camping as they come equipped with a heater, freeview tv and picnic table.

Sail Away

For something unusual, why not explore Northern Ireland by boat on a trip around one of the many beautiful loughs and rivers available.

Game of Thrones Boat Tour on Strangford Lough is a must-see way to explore Northern Ireland, especially for fans of the hit TV show. Participants will enjoy stunning views of various locations used in the filming of the show including Dreadfort, Robbs’s Camp and Winterfell Castle.

Game of Thrones Boat Tour (1)

For an exciting weekend with friends try out Causeway Power and Sail in Coleraine which caters for every kind of water enthusiast from beginners to experienced sailors. Hop onboard the ‘Scallywag’ for an adrenalin filled ride around the beautiful North Coast.

Aquasports in Ballycastle allows holidaymakers to discover the wildlife of the Causeway Coast and Rathlin Island on a fascinating boat trip. Soak up the breathtaking views and keep an eye out for the exciting wildlife which includes puffins, guillemots, seals and dolphins.

For a relaxing evening during your staycation, take The MV Kestrel on a cruise around the beautiful waters of Lough Erne. Hop on the boat in Enniskillen for a tour which lasts almost two hours and includes a visit to Devenish Island as well as dinner at the Killyhevlin Hotel.

The Copeland Islands are situated just off the coast of Donaghadee and comprise around 300 acres. Take a boat trip to take in these picturesque islands which are noted for their varied bird population and grey seals.

Beach Life

You don’t need to hop on a plane to feel the sand between your toes as Northern Ireland boasts a wide range of beautiful beaches just waiting to be explored.

Benone Beach is a must-see and offers visitors seven miles of golden sand set against a magnificent back drop of mountains, scenery and stunning views. With a supervised playground, outdoor paddling pool and golf club, a fun filled day is guaranteed. It is a haven for nature lovers as the entire area is a paradise for the study of botany, entomology and shells.

A year round mecca for holiday makers, Portstewart Strand holds the prestigious Blue Flag award for the management, cleanliness and quality of the water. The beach attracts a range of visitors wishing to partake in activities such as surfing, swimming, horse riding and scenic walks all with wonderful views of the North Coast.

Visitors are sure to enjoy a day out at Crawfordsburn Beach as they can explore the two excellent beaches on offer, enjoy the views across Belfast Lough or a peaceful walk through the wooded glens and country park. The park also offers a large visitor centre, café, running trail and mobility scooters.

Tyrella Beach is an award winning beach nestled in a small, enclosed complex within Dundrum Bay in Co Down. The clean waters make it an ideal destination for families and water sports enthusiasts and the beach is perfect for a delicious picnic.

Tyrella Beach

Something Quirky

Sample a stay at one of the many unusual properties that are available all around NI.

Whitehill Cottage in Brookeborough allows guests to take a step back in time within the stunning grounds of Colebrooke House, a beautiful neo-classical mansion just outside of Brookeborough.  The cottage is sympathetically restored and offers luxurious modern facilities whilst retaining the period features of an original Irish cottage. For those who like to keep active, activities such as fishing, cycling and tennis are all available within the grounds.

The beautiful Drenagh Estate in Limavady is set against 1,000 acres of parkland and has been the home of the McCausland family since the 1600s. The stately home is available to rent and with eight bedrooms, guests can invite lots of friends along to enjoy the elegant delights of the billiard room, home cinema, indoor pool and walled garden.

Belle Isle Castle & Estate offers the perfect country escape in luxurious surroundings and the 17th century castle, once home to generations of nobles, hosts eight luxurious guest bedrooms which are uniquely decorated with antique furniture. The castle has a range of antique furnishings as well as works by Russian, Irish and English painters. Belle Isle is also home to a well known cookery school, the perfect activity for those who would like to try something a little different and learn some new skills.

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Spelga House is a large detached, high spec modern house that sits in front of a dam wall on top of the Mournes and is the highest located house in Northern Ireland.  It boasts spectacular views of the surrounding Mourne Mountains and is only seven miles from the lively resort town of Newcastle. This unusual property is ideal for families who would like to get away to a cosy, luxury retreat or a group of friends who would like to spend some quality time together.

The Barbican in Glenarm is a castle positioned beyond an old stone bridge over the Glenarm River. Built in 1825, this medieval miniature castle is a perfect romantic hideaway in one of Ulster’s oldest villages. The property boasts its own roof garden and is the ideal location for a weekend to get away from it all and relax with loved ones.

Why not try the Governor’s Lodge in Co Tyrone which is situated in the centre of the Baronscourt Estate and dates back to 1890. This delightful two storey building has recently been renovated and can accommodate up to four people. This is the perfect place for keen fishers as the estate has some of the best pike fishing in Ireland on offer across three interconnected lakes.

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