Northern Ireland

25 best days out in Northern Ireland for families

Last updated 1st June 2018
titanic museum - days out in northern ireland

1/25 Titanic Belfast, Belfast

The ill-fated Titanic was built in Belfast and the city’s fond of saying, ‘she was all right when she left here’. Find out just how fine she was, what went into her construction and what happened at the very end, in this superb, kid-friendly, interactive museum.

Where: Titanic Quarter, 20 minutes walk from city centre

When: 7 days, opening times vary

Price: from £8

giant's causeway - days out in northern ireland

2/25 Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Co. Antrim

The Giant’s Causeway is an unimaginably ancient landscape of perfectly hexagonal basalt columns stretching out into the Atlantic from Antrim’s coast, this World Heritage site will astound kids. The award-winning visitor centre is excellent and leave time to walk at least some of the lovely Antrim Coastal path.

Where: 5 minutes drive from Bushmills

When: 7 days. Coastline: dawn to dusk. Visitor Centre: 9am to 6pm.

Price: from £5.75 

ulster American folk park days out in northern ireland

3/25 Ulster American Folk Park, Castletown, Co. Down

Take kids on the same journey, from thatched Irish cottages to log cabins on the American Frontier, made by Ulster’s emigrants in their thousands during the 18th and 19th century. Indoors and out this living museum is hands-on, packed with incredible exhibits and engages children beautifully with dozens of fascinating personal experiences.

Where: Castletown, 10 minutes drive from Omagh

When: Tuesday – Sunday 10am to 5pm. Closed Monday

Price: from £5.50

Ulster Folk and Transport Museum days out in northern ireland

4/25 Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra, Co. Down

Life was very different 100 years ago and showing kids just how different, is the basis of this excellent heritage museum. Costumed guides are on hand to explain the exhibits and a year-round programme of events keeps the past fresh, no matter how many times you visit.

Where: Cultra, 15 minutes drive from Bangor

When: Tuesday – Sunday 10am to 5pm. Closed Monday

Price: from £5.50

5/25 Mount Stewart House & Gardens, Newtownards, Co. Down

One of the great neo-classical Irish houses, Mount Stewart has now been restored to its original early 20th century elegance. The amazing gardens are some of the country’s loveliest and a wonderful setting for the National Trust’s excellent year round calendar of children’s events.

Where: 10 minutes’ drive from Newtownards

When: Opening times vary

Price: from £4.77 

6/25 Ulster Museum, Belfast

Set in Belfast Botanic Gardens, this rich collection of art and artefacts touches on everything from dinosaurs to daily Irish life over the centuries. Ulster Museum boasts an outstanding programme of kids’ festivals and events is especially good during the school holidays.

Where: Belfast Botanic Gardens, 20 minutes walk from the city centre

When: Tuesday – Sunday 10am to 5pm. Closed Monday

Price: free

Mourne mountains days out in northern ireland

7/25 Mourne Mountains, Co. Down

Home to Northern Ireland’s tallest peak, Slieve Donard, the Mourne Mountains were the inspiration for C. S. Lewis’s Narnia. From the breathtaking mix of land and sea, wild variety of outdoor adventure and the Ring of Gullion standing stones, a day out here is never short of magic for kids.

tollymore days out in northern ireland

8/25 Tollymore Forest Park, Castlewellan, Co. Down

A fantastic day out in a forest filled with follies and Ireland’s oldest trees. There are river walks along the banks of the Shimna and several well marked woodland trails so kids can have fun hunting down descendants of oaks used in the Titanic. With giant redwoods and rocky caves, Tollymore is the perfect place for curious minds to explore.

Where: 30 minutes’ drive from Castlewellan

When: open all year round from 10 until sunset

tiger Belfast zoo days out in northern ireland

9/25 Belfast Zoo

Belfast Zoo has over 1500 animals from 150 different species including tigers, lowland gorilla, elephants and lions. Good for children’s events during school holidays and an excellent breeding programme means a high chance of cute new babies on any family day out.

Where: 15 minutes’ drive from city centre

When: 7 days, 10am to 6pm

Price: from £6.50

castlewellan forest park days out in northern ireland

10/25 Castlewellan Forest Park, Castlewellan, Co. Down

This 450 hectare forest park with brilliant walking and cycling trails, lakes, ponds and Castlewellan Arboretum contains 20 of the UK’s oldest trees.

Where: 20 minutes’ walk from Castlewellan

When: open all year round from 10 until sunset

Belfast castle and cave hill days out in northern ireland

11/25 Belfast Castle & Cave Hill Visitor Centre

Imposing Belfast Castle stands on a hill of caves, visit for the spectacular gardens, grand building, a tour of the legend-loaded underground caverns, adventure playground and country park – great views of the city too.

Where: 15 minutes’ drive from Belfast city centre

When: opening times vary

Price: free

game of thrones tour kingsroad days out in northern ireland

12/25 Game of Thrones’ Tours

Northern Ireland is home to dozens of locations from Game of Thrones. Take a day tour with kids on the same coach used by the cast and crew with McComb’s Game of Thrones Tours. Visit everywhere from the King’s Road to the cave of the shadow assassin. Props and costumes are all part of the experience.

Where: Belfast to various locations including Giant’s Causeway

When: Daily from 9am

Price: from £35

crumlin road gaol inside days out in northern ireland

13/25 Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast

Between 1846 and 1996, infamous Crumlin Gaol incarcerated over 25,000 inmates including some of the most notorious murderers in Irish history. Now fully restored, it’s open to the public for 75 minute guided tours. Apart from the chilling sights and sounds of the gaol itself, the stories are bloodcurdling, tragic and terrible in equal measure, just right for older kids and teenagers – paranormal evening tours too.

Where: Crumlin Road, 20 minutes walk from Belfast city centre

When: daily from 10am to 4.30pm

Price: from £6.50

aunt Sandra's candy factory candyfloss days out in northern ireland

14/25 Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory, Belfast

Candy and chocolate heaven where kids can take part in sweet making workshops and create their very own confectionery, win prizes and see how the experts make everything from fudge to lollipops. Unsurprisingly, Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory is one of the most popular places to visit in all of Belfast.

Where: Castlereagh Road, 10 minutes’ drive from Belfast city centre

When: Workshops daily at 11am, 1pm and 3.30pm (must be booked in advance)

Price: from £12

family walking through forest days out in northern ireland

15/25 Roe Valley Country Park, Londonderry

Spectacular Roe Valley Country Park is filled with restored machinery and buildings from the 18th and 19th century Irish linen industry. Fishing piers and pretty rivers for canoeing, well-marked walking trails, rock-climbing sites and endless wild places for kids to ramble around, explore and have complete freedom for the day.

Where: 30 minutes drive from Londonderry

When: open all year round

Price: free

W% science centre kids playing days out in northern ireland

16/25 W5 Science & Discovery Centre, Belfast

Whether it’s getting the hang of soft play or exploring the way their planet works, kids love W5’s interactive, learning by fun approach to science and no one’s too young to get involved. There are over 250 exhibits to fill a day or more and a year-round programme of events to pack holidays and weekends too.

Where: The Odyssey, 10 minutes’ drive from Belfast city centre

When: Monday – Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 6pm, Sunday 12pm to 6pm

Price: from £7.50

tower museum days out in northern ireland

17/25 Tower Museum, Londonderry

Before you do anything in Derry, visit the award winning Tower Museum and explore the city from prehistory to the present day through its archaeology, people, industry, events, myths and legends. The Discovery Zone is perfect for younger kids, older ones will enjoy the history of the Armada shipwreck and everyone likes panoramic views from the open air terrace.

Where: Guildhall Street, Londonderry

When: 7 days, 10am to 5.30pm

Price: from £2

dunluce castle days out in northern ireland

18/25 Dunluce Castle, Bushmills

Overlooking the wild Antrim coast, Dunluce Castle is a dramatic ruined 16th century castle with a fascinating history beautifully told in the nearby visitor centre. Kids can hunt for treasure, explore the archaeological finds round abandoned Dunluce and there’s a free downloadable app to add to the adventure. 

Where: 8 minutes drive from Bushmills on the Antrim coast

When: 7 days, 10am to 5pm

Price: from £3.50

correlea boy kayaking days out in northern ireland

19/25 Corralea Activity Centre, Fermanagh Lakelands

Have a day at Corralea Activity Centre surrounded by the lakes and mountains of Fermanagh. Kids can get up to anything from canoeing and windsurfing, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, caving or just playing for hours in the amazing one-of-a-kind waterpark. There are family holiday cottages too, if one day isn’t enough.

Where: 30 minutes’ drive from Enniskillen

When: open all year round

girls in corn maze days out in northern ireland

20/25 Funny Farm Adventures, Castlewellan

In July and August every year, Funny Farm Adventures grows a huge maize maze and invites kids and families to come solve the puzzle. As well as getting lost in the towering corn, there are go-karts and tractor rides, clay pigeon shooting, archery, mini-golf, giant slides and garden games, mini cars and a petting zoo. The atmosphere’s fun and friendly and new activities are added every season.

Where: 5 minutes’ drive from Castlewellan

When: July and August, Monday to Saturday 10.30am to 6pm

Price: £5

boy at aquarium days out in northern ireland

21/25 Exploris Aquarium, Portaferry

Northern Ireland’s only aquarium, Exploris Aquarium, is bigger and better after a £2million refurbishment by international marine giants, Nautilus. Kids can get closer than ever to vast tanks of tropical fish, slow moving sharks, deadly piranha and delightful seals. Daily feeding experience add to the excitement and a colourful programme of events fills holidays and weekends with thrills too. 

Where: Castle Street, Portaferry, Co. Down

When: 7 days, 10am to 5pm

Price: from £8

22/25 SS Nomadic, Belfast

Hop aboard the last White Star Line ship still afloat, SS Nomadic, and explore the boat responsible for guiding the Titanic out of Belfast on her maiden and – as it turned out – only voyage. Perfectly restored, packed with stories and back home in Hamilton Dock where she was first built, over a century ago.

Where: Hamilton Dock, 20 minutes’ walk from Belfast city centre

When: 7 days, opening times range from 10am to 8pm (seasonal variations)

Price: from £5

rope bridge days out in northern ireland

23/25 Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Ballintoy, Co. Antrim

The famous rope bridge, suspended over the Atlantic between the Antrim coast cliffs and Carrick-a-Rede Island was made by salmon fishermen in the 18th century. Today 1000s of visitors pluck up the courage to walk across the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, will you and the kids dare? If you do, the views are amazing and bragging rights guaranteed. The bridge has made a few appearances in Game of Thrones too and it’s part of Northern Ireland’s only Dark Skies Discovery Site.

Where: Ballintoy, 5 minutes’ drive from Bushmills

When: Monday to Friday 9.30am to 6pm, weekends 9.30 to 8pm

Price: from £4

24/25 Wellbrook Beetling Mill, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone

Don’t know what beetling, scutching and hackling are? Take the kids for a day out at Wellbrook Beetling Mill and find out first hand in this historic linen mill on the edge of Ballinderry River. Weaving demonstrations and workshops let you have a shot at making your own cloth too and the lovely glen is perfect for picnics.

Where: Corkhill, 10 minutes’ drive from Cookstown

When: weekends 1pm to 5pm

Price: adults from £5, no charge for children

25/25 Castle Coole, Enniskillen

Another of Ireland’s grand neo-classical country houses surrounded by wonderful parkland for family walks all year round. Castle Coole itself is spectacular and filled with intriguing features like a servants’ tunnel, the Regency bedroom designed for George V and a fabulous Great Hall.

Where: 15 minutes’ walk from Enniskillen centre

When: grounds open daily from 10am to 7pm. Castle open March to September from 11am to 5pm

Price: from £1.80