Discover the Best Beaches Near Belfast in Just 90 Minutes or Less

Embark on an enriching coastal expedition just a stone’s throw away from Belfast, as we unveil an array of captivating beaches accessible within a mere 90-minute drive.

These pristine shorelines offer an alluring escape for those seeking respite and seclusion, or a lively backdrop for picnics and exploration.

Helens Bay Beach, a brief 20-minute drive from Belfast, offers tranquility and breathtaking panoramas.

Venturing further, Crawfordsburn Beach and its adjacent forest park present an ideal blend of natural splendor and leisurely walks.

Ballyholme Beach, a 30-minute drive, boasts a vibrant atmosphere, while Ballywalter Beach, a charming 40-minute drive, features a bustling harbor and family-friendly amenities.

Join us in relishing these hidden coastal gems, just a short distance from Belfast.

Key Takeaways

  • There are numerous beaches within a 30 to 65-minute drive from Belfast that offer a variety of experiences, from serene and less commercialized settings to picturesque coastal retreats.
  • Many of these beaches are highly recommended and popular among visitors, with clean sand, sparkling waters, and stunning views of the Irish Sea.
  • Some beaches, such as Crawfordsburn Beach and Murlough Beach, are renowned for their natural beauty and walking trails, making them ideal for nature enthusiasts and beachgoers.
  • Several beaches, including Ballyholme Beach and Cushendall Beach, offer convenient amenities and family-friendly atmospheres, making them perfect for picnics, relaxation, and leisurely strolls.

Helens Bay Beach (20-Minute Drive)

Helens Bay Beach, just a 20-minute drive from Belfast, makes it a convenient escape for those seeking a tranquil beach day without the hassle of a long journey. Situated on Belfast Lough in Northern Ireland, this beach boasts clean sand and sparkling waters, creating a picturesque setting for relaxation.

This beach, situated in Crawfordsburn Country Park, is a hidden gem among the many beaches near Belfast. Helens Bay Beach is highly recommended for picnics, offering a perfect location to unwind and connect with nature. With its positive reputation and popularity among visitors, this hidden gem is a must-visit for anyone exploring the best beaches near Belfast.

With its stunning bay and surrounding parkland, it provides the perfect escape for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty. Whether you want to take a refreshing dip in the sea or enjoy a leisurely stroll along the sandy beach, Helens Bay has something for everyone.

Crawfordsburn Beach (25-Minute Drive)

Located just a 25-minute drive from Belfast, Crawfordsburn Beach offers visitors a picturesque coastal experience with its natural beauty and walking trails. Nestled 20 minutes east of Belfast, the beach is bordered by meadows adorned with wildflowers and headlands cloaked in trees.

Visitors can explore the nearby Crawfordsburn Country Park or take a coastal walk from Grey Point Fort to Crawfordsburn Beach. The area is renowned for its various walking trails and circular path, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a combination of natural beauty and outdoor activity.

Highly rated by visitors on Tripadvisor, it’s considered one of the best beaches near Belfast city, offering a serene escape from the urban bustle. Whether you’re in search of a tranquil walk, scenic views, or a peaceful spot to unwind, Crawfordsburn Beach has it all.

Ballyholme Beach (30-Minute Drive)

Visitors can easily access Ballyholme Beach, a picturesque coastal destination, with just a 30-minute drive from Belfast. Located on the northern coast of County Down, this sandy beach offers stunning views of the Irish Sea and is a hotspot for water sports enthusiasts.

The beach is renowned for its family-friendly atmosphere, with ample space for picnics and beach games. Additionally, Ballyholme boasts a scenic coastal path, perfect for leisurely strolls while taking in the tranquil surroundings.

Visitors can also enjoy the convenience of nearby coffee shops and amenities, making it an ideal spot for a day trip from Belfast.

The beach also attracts windsurfers from across Northern Ireland, thanks to its ideal waves and breeze for the sport. In addition to its natural beauty, Ballyholme Beach features a park, offering a range of recreational opportunities for visitors. Whether you’re strolling along the coastal path or enjoying a picnic on the grassy areas, Ballyholme Beach is a must-visit destination for beach lovers in Northern Ireland.

Ballygally Beach (40-Minute Drive)

Ballygally Beach offers a serene coastal escape reachable within a 40-minute drive from Belfast. It provides visitors with a beautiful stretch of coastline for leisurely strolls and stunning views of the Irish Sea. Situated along the Causeway Coastal Route, this scenic coastal haven on the Antrim Coast is an ideal spot for those seeking a peaceful day trip.

The drive itself is part of the adventure, with captivating scenery along the way. Once at Ballygally Beach, visitors can unwind on its soft sands, take in the refreshing sea breeze, or explore the rugged beauty of the surrounding area.

The beach also attracts windsurfers from across Northern Ireland, thanks to its ideal waves and breeze for the sport. In addition to its natural beauty, Ballyholme Beach features a park, offering a range of recreational opportunities for visitors. Whether you’re strolling along the coastal path or enjoying a picnic on the grassy areas, Ballyholme Beach is a must-visit destination for beach lovers in Northern Ireland.

Ballygally Beach is also conveniently situated near other attractions, such as Ballygally Castle and Cairndhu Golf Club, making it an ideal location for a day of exploration.

With its proximity to Belfast, Ballygally Beach is a convenient yet charming destination for anyone craving the freedom of a coastal retreat without venturing too far from the city.

Murlough Beach (55-Minute Drive)

Nestled near the Mourne Mountains, Murlough Beach offers a picturesque coastal escape just a 55-minute drive from Belfast, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and beachgoers alike.

Here are three reasons why Murlough Beach is a must-visit:

  1. Beautiful Beach: With its stunning sandy shores and panoramic views of the Irish Sea, Murlough Beach provides the perfect backdrop for a relaxing day by the coast.
  2. Coastal Nature Reserve: The beach connects to the Murlough Bay Nature Reserve, offering ample opportunities for nature exploration and wildlife sightings, making it a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers.
  3. Blue Flag Beach: Murlough Beach is designated as a Blue Flag beach, ensuring high water quality and safety standards, making it an excellent choice for families and anyone seeking a pristine beach experience.

The beach boasts soft golden sand and crystal-clear waters, providing the perfect setting for a relaxing day by the sea.

Nature enthusiasts will be delighted to explore the network of paths that wind through the dunes, woodland, and heath, allowing them to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area. Information panels on wildlife and history provide fascinating insights along the self-guided nature trails.

Additionally, history buffs will be intrigued to know that Murlough Beach was a filming location for Slavers Bay in the popular TV series Game of Thrones.

With its idyllic setting and diverse attractions, Murlough Beach offers an unforgettable experience for those seeking freedom and a connection with nature.

Carnlough Beach (50-Minute Drive)

Carnlough Beach, located just a 50-minute drive from Belfast, offers visitors a serene coastal retreat with its pristine sandy shores and captivating sea views. Nestled on the picturesque north coast of Ireland in County Antrim, this hidden gem is a perfect escape for beach lovers.

The stunning views of the Irish Sea make it a favorite spot for photography enthusiasts. In addition to the beach itself, visitors can explore the picturesque harbor and take leisurely strolls along the shore. The coastal path is perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area.

Carnlough Beach is a must-visit for those seeking tranquility and natural splendor within minutes from Belfast, making it one of the most charming beaches in Ireland.

Browns Bay (45-Minute Drive)

Located just a 45-minute drive from Belfast, Browns Bay is a picturesque coastal destination that offers a tranquil escape for visitors. This stunning beach is nestled along the Antrim Coast, boasting breathtaking views of the Murlough Bay and the impressive Mourne Mountains.

Here, visitors can immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the National Trust-managed coastline, with its rugged cliffs and pristine sands. For those seeking a touch of wildlife, the bay is known for its frequent sightings of seals and porpoises, adding an extra element of excitement to any visit.

Here are some of the highlights that make Browns Bay a must-visit beach near Belfast:

Scenic Views:

  • Visitors can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the rugged coastline and the Irish Sea.
  • The beach is surrounded by stunning cliffs, adding to its natural beauty.

Recreational Activities:

  • Browns Bay offers a wide range of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing.
  • Water sports enthusiasts can indulge in kayaking, windsurfing, and paddleboarding.

Peaceful Atmosphere:

  • Browns Bay is known for its tranquility, making it the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
  • The beach provides a peaceful retreat where visitors can relax and unwind.

With its idyllic setting and proximity to Belfast, Browns Bay is a paradise for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Cushendall Beach (1 Hour)

With its beautiful sandy shoreline and stunning views of the Antrim Coast, Cushendall Beach is a perfect day trip destination just a 1-hour drive from Belfast. This peaceful and tranquil setting offers visitors the ideal escape from the bustling city life.

The beach is renowned for its clean waters and spectacular scenery. Just a short drive away, Ballycastle Beach and Rathlin Island are also within reach, providing ample opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing sunbathing session, a refreshing swim, or a leisurely stroll along the shore, Cushendall Beach has it all. The following table outlines the key highlights of Cushendall Beach and its nearby attractions:

FeaturesDescriptionNearby Attractions
Sandy ShorelineBeautiful and CleanBallycastle Beach
Scenic ViewsOverlooking the Antrim CoastRathlin Island
ProximityClosest Beach to Belfast 

Cushendun Beach (1 Hour and 5-Minute Drive)

A mere 1-hour and 5-minute drive from Belfast, Cushendun Beach offers visitors a tranquil and picturesque escape with stunning views of the Antrim Coast. Here’s what you can expect when you visit this hidden gem:

  1. Game of Thrones Connection: Fans of the popular TV series will recognize Cushendun Beach as one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones. The picturesque caves and coastline provided the backdrop for a memorable scene in the show.
  2. Closest Beaches to Belfast: Cushendun Beach is one of the closest beaches to Belfast, making it a convenient choice for a day trip or a weekend getaway. Its proximity makes it an ideal destination for those seeking a quick escape from the city.
  3. Low Tide Exploration: During low tide, the beach reveals fascinating rock formations and tidal pools, perfect for exploration and discovering marine life. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the beach’s transformation at different times of the day.
  4. Secluded and quiet: Cushendun Beach provides a peaceful retreat from the bustling city, allowing visitors to enjoy a secluded and uninterrupted beach experience.
  5. Unrestricted views: The beach offers unrestricted views of the Irish countryside, allowing visitors to soak in the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
  6. Ideal for a relaxing walk: The area is perfect for a leisurely stroll with family or loved ones, providing a serene and calming atmosphere.
  7. Breathtaking views: From the beach, visitors can admire the stunning coastal cliffs and enjoy the serenity of the rolling waves.

Cushendun Beach is a true oasis of tranquility, offering a serene escape from the city and a chance to connect with nature.

Ballywalter Beach (45-Minute Drive)

Ballywalter Beach’s convenient 45-minute drive from Belfast makes it an easily accessible and family-friendly destination for a day trip. Nestled along the picturesque coastline, Ballywalter Beach offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and family-oriented amenities.

The beach boasts a beautiful marina and harbor, providing a charming backdrop for visitors. Families can take advantage of the excellent play park for children, adding to the beach’s appeal as a family-friendly spot.

The beach boasts a small sandy stretch, perfect for sunbathing, building sandcastles, or simply taking a leisurely stroll along the shore. Families with young children will appreciate the nearby children’s playground, complete with interactive equipment to keep the little ones entertained. Ballywalter Beach also offers play and picnic facilities, making it an ideal spot for a day trip with friends and family.

Whether you’re seeking relaxation or outdoor activities, Ballywalter Beach is a convenient choice for those looking to enjoy a scenic coastal retreat within a short drive from Belfast.

Ballycastle Beach (1 Hour and 10 Minutes)

Located just 1 hour and 10 minutes from Belfast, Ballycastle Beach offers stunning views of Rathlin Island and the Causeway Coast, making it a picturesque location for a day trip. Here are three reasons why it’s a must-visit:

  1. Scenic Beauty: Ballycastle Beach is a stunning spot, with its expansive sandy shores and crystal-clear waters offering a perfect setting for relaxation and leisurely walks.
  2. Great Views: The beach provides panoramic views of Rathlin Island and the rugged coastline, creating a captivating backdrop for beachgoers.
  3. Outdoor Activities: Visitors can enjoy a range of activities, from beachcombing and birdwatching to picnicking and even swimming in the refreshing waters.

Ballycastle Beach’s natural splendor make it one of the best beaches to explore within just an hour’s drive.

Whitepark Bay (1 Hour and 10 Minutes)

Whitepark Bay, just 1 hour and 10 minutes from Belfast, is a picturesque sandy cove known for its fossil collecting and breathtaking scenery along the Antrim Coast.

This beach, situated north of Belfast, offers plenty of space for beachgoers to relax and explore. The area is famous for its fossil collecting, with treasures like belemnites and ammonites waiting to be discovered.

Whitepark Bay is also a stop on the Causeway Coastal Route, leading to the UNESCO-recognized site, the Giants Causeway. The surrounding landscape is adorned with stunning features such as Elephant Rock and Lions Paw, providing a perfect backdrop for a day at the beach.

Visitors may even catch a glimpse of dolphins and porpoises in the bay, adding an extra element of excitement to this already unique and scenic destination.

There is a convenient car park available for visitors to easily access this hidden gem on the Northern Irish coast.

Whiterocks Beach Portrush (1 Hour and 15 Minutes)

Nestled just over an hour north of Belfast, Whiterocks Beach Portrush offers gleaming limestone cliff faces and is known as a popular surfing hotspot in Northern Ireland. This stunning beach is a must-visit for beach enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

Here’s what you can look forward to:

  1. Surfing Haven: With its consistent waves and beautiful surroundings, Whiterocks Beach is a paradise for surfers of all levels.
  2. Scenic Beauty: The gleaming limestone cliffs and proximity to Dunluce Castle make this beach a picturesque escape.
  3. Outdoor Activities: From coastal walks to birdwatching at nearby Island Hill, there’s no shortage of outdoor adventures to be had in this breathtaking area.
  4. Geological significance: Whiterocks Beach is not only visually stunning but also geologically significant. Visitors can explore the area’s fascinating rock formations and even engage in fossil collecting, finding treasures like belemnites and ammonites.
  5. Gateway to Giants Causeway: Whiterocks Beach is a stop on the famous Causeway Coastal Route, leading to the Giants Causeway, a UNESCO-recognized site. This offers the perfect opportunity to combine natural beauty with historical landmarks.

Whiterocks Beach Portrush is the perfect destination for those craving a day of exploration and excitement outside the city.

Tyrella Beach (Co. Down)

Situated just under an hour south of Belfast, Tyrella Beach in Co. Down offers an idyllic and tranquil setting for those seeking a peaceful seaside retreat. With unrestricted views of the stunning Mourne Mountains, this secluded beach provides an ideal spot for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Tyrella Beach is known for its gently shelving shoreline, making it a safe and inviting place for swimming and paddling.

Tyrella Beach is located near Murlough Beach, renowned as one of the best beaches in Northern Ireland, and its proximity to the city makes it easily accessible, allowing visitors to discover this hidden gem within 90 minutes.

The peaceful and serene beach experience it offers makes it a top choice for those in search of a quiet and unspoiled coastal haven. With its secluded location and stunning natural beauty, Tyrella Beach is the perfect escape for those who desire freedom and a sense of tranquility.

The West Strand (Portrush)

The West Strand in Portrush is an ideal beach destination located just a 1-hour and 15-minute drive from Belfast. It is known for its stunning white sandy beach and clear waters, making it popular for water sports such as surfing and paddleboarding. Visitors can also enjoy views of the nearby Skerries, a group of small rocky islands, adding to the picturesque setting.

Here are three reasons why The West Strand is a must-visit:

  • Water Sports Paradise: With its clear waters and consistent waves, it’s a haven for surfing enthusiasts and paddleboarding aficionados.
  • Scenic Beauty: The stunning white sandy beach and views of the Skerries create a picturesque backdrop for a day of relaxation and fun.
  • Dining and Amenities: The beach is conveniently located near various dining options, making it an ideal spot for a day trip from Belfast city.


In conclusion, escape the hustle and bustle of Belfast and set out on a quest to uncover the hidden gems of the coastline.

From the tranquil shores of Helens Bay to the vibrant atmosphere of Ballyholme Beach, there’s a beach for every type of beachgoer within a short drive.

So pack your sunscreen, grab your towel, and embark on a sun-soaked adventure to explore these picturesque coastal treasures.

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