As soon as the sun peeks out from its hiding place, we want to be ready for some fun summer excursions, and planning picnics are top of the list.
We have the rug and wicker basket at the ready, but first, where to? We’ve mapped out our top picnic spots in Northern Ireland to help you in your planning:
Picnic spots in Northern Ireland
The view alone makes this an unmissable spot. With panoramic views of the Antrim coast and life-affirming cliff top walks, Downhill is a beautiful place to spend a few hours. Even if it’s busy, it is easy to find a quiet spot to set up camp. Come prepared for some bracing winds (perfect for kite flying) and seek cover if you need to in the more sheltered Black Glen Woodlands.
Near Dundrum, County Down, this award-winning beach is surrounded by endless heathered sand dunes. Set up your picnic on the beach and watch the horse riders race down the hard sand, or shelter from the elements in the dunes. Either way, this is a magical spot.
The perfect pick if you’re not completely sure of good weather, pack the car, drive right down onto the beach and find your perfect spot. Picnic on the sand, brave the bracing ocean (this beach is very popular with surfers and kayakers) and if the weather does turn, you have your car for shelter and a spot of warmth until the sun returns.
A quietly picturesque spot, this coastal village is filled with history and folklore and is considered an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. Settle on the beach for some rock-pooling and cave exploration and you might be lucky enough to spot the Mull of Kintyre over your cheese and pickle sandwiches.
A little haven just on the outskirts of Belfast, Minnowburn is well worth factoring into any picnic plans. Let the kids amuse themselves on the Natural Play Forest Trail while you soak up the riverside setting and set up camp somewhere along the way.
With Lough Erne as a backdrop, the stunning Crom Estate is a precious conservation area with walks to explore and plenty of pretty picnic areas. Don’t miss the Old Castle and the Yew Trees and keep your eyes peeled for plenty of winged and woodland friends along the way.
This wooded riverside estate boasts an excellent adventure playground for the children and stunning gardens to explore. Start off with the Lime Tree Walk, soaking up the woodland flowers and scents. Then after lunch, take a stroll along the river walk, perhaps even spotting some kingfishers as you meander lazily.
Plan for Castle Ward and you can look forward to a picnic location that brings you everything from quayside resting spots to exotic blooms, and dragonflies to original Victorian sunken gardens. It’s truly not to be missed and you can be confident of getting away from the masses while exploring the expansive grounds and soaking up the well-preserved history. Oh and it’s dog friendly so you can picnic with the whole family.
Rowallane Gardens offer something for everyone. Spread out your picnic blanket under the remarkable handkerchief tree and soak up the extraordinary gardens. Take a little Mindfulness walk through the grounds or take the family on a Plant Hunting dander to spark your imaginations. Quite the location to celebrate summer in.
Botanic Gardens, Belfast
A breath of fresh air in the bustle of the day, the Belfast Botanic Gardens are the perfect city pitstop. Park up and laze on the green with your picnic while you watch the world go around. Dash into the Victorian Glasshouses if the weather turns, and don’t miss the incredible (and recently renovated) Tropical Ravine where you can spot an impressive collection of seed and exotic plants. Fascinating!