Northern Ireland’s spectacular scenery has a certain magic about it that draws people from all over the world. Most people stick to the country’s main cities – Belfast, Londonderry and Newry – perhaps fitting in a visit to a couple of the most famous natural wonders – the Giant’s Causeway or Glentoran’s Oval.
To truly experience Ireland’s authentic charm, beauty and hospitality, however, you might want to consider spending some time in a traditional seaside town. It is, after all, an island; the sea has historically contributed to local folklore as well as culinary culture.
If you don’t have your car with you, renting one is more affordable than you might think. Car insurance is not an obstacle either; the AA Ireland offers comprehensive car insurance cover on borrowed vehicles as well. Get a quote today! Once you have sorted transport, you’re free to explore the Irish coast. Here are some of the most beautiful seaside towns to inspire you.
1.Strandhill, County Sligo
This town has been a European surfer’s haven for decades. The lush green grass stretches almost until the water’s edge, and the magnificent vista of Knocknarea mountain rises behind the beachside houses. If you take a walk up onto the plateau at the top of the mountain, you can see the large cairn of stones that marks the Neolithic tomb of Queen Maeve.
Another site of historical interest is Dolly’s Cottage, a 200-year-old traditional thatched house. If you are an avid runner and happen to be in the area in late August, look at signing up for the Warrior’s Run, an incredibly tough 15-kilometre competitive race. Even if you aren’t an athlete, join in the accompanying festival and cheer the runners on!
2.Westport, County Mayo
Westport sits on the south-east edge of Clew Bay and is one of the few towns in the country to have been planned out in the Georgian style. The design incorporates a river, which winds its way from the grand Westport House into the bay.
The manor house, built on the site of the O’Malley castle, used to be the residence of the Marquess of Sligo and is now open to visitors who want an insight into the area’s history and the aristocratic life of its previous overlords.
Westport also has to some of the best viewpoints of Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holiest mountain. The sight of the mountain backlit by sunset is not to be missed; even better is the panorama of the Atlantic coast from the top of the peak itself.
- Skerries, County Dublin
Close to the bustling capital of Dublin is the charming fishing town of Skerries. Its beach views are renowned and have received several awards. Think seaside houses and pubs painted in pastel shades, overlooking a working fishing harbour and vast stretches of pale sandy beach.
The view across the water to the nearby islands and the Rockabill Lighthouse are what makes this town stand out. On another note, every year the town hosts the Skerries 100 Motorcycle races, drawing fans from far and wide for a thrilling spectacle.
- Rosslare, County Wexford
This is the closest you’ll get to experiencing Mediterranean weather in Ireland – Rosslare is Ireland’s sunniest spot, receiving 300 more hours of sunshine than any other town in the country! It is also home to a gorgeous blue flag beach that is perfect for a day spent swimming or just relaxing on the shore. Keen golfers have the chance to play at the award-winning Rosslare Golf Club, with splendid views of the harbour.
- Bangor, County Down
Here’s a recommendation for those visiting Northern Ireland. Once you arrive in Bangor, you can’t help but appreciate the local friendliness and hospitality. The main attraction is the picturesque Bangor Marina, the largest of its kind in Northern Ireland. Loads of cool bars grace the town and I’ve been on the rip loads of times in them! I had a reunion in Donegan’s and used to frequent the Windsor Bars.
Spend the day shopping and exploring the nearby tourist attractions, then return to the marina in the evening to watch the lights over the water. To end your trip, enjoy a delicious meal at a pastie supper joint, the best wacaday meal to be found in a quaint Northern Irish town!
There you have it – some of the most scenic and exciting seaside towns in Ireland. Let us know which destinations you recommend for an Irish road trip in the comments.