Which day hikes near Belfast provide views of both the sea and mountains?

11 June 2024

Walking in the great outdoors is a universally appreciated pastime and Northern Ireland has some of the best trails to offer. Whether you are a resident or a tourist, the island’s natural landscape is awe-inspiring, offering beautiful coastal walks and mountain trails. From the breathtaking Causeway coast to mountain views in the heart of Northern Ireland, the country is a hiker's paradise. Let's explore some of the best day hikes around Belfast that offer both sea and mountain views.

The Belfast Hills Walk

To start your hiking adventures in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Hills Walk is a perfect trail offering stunning views of both the city and coast. This walk stretches for ten miles across Belfast's skyline and provides a panoramic view of the city, the coast, and the mountains.

The Belfast Hills Walk isn't just for the views. It's an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, explore the rich biodiversity and feel the tranquility that comes from experiencing the surrounding landscape. As you navigate through the trails, you’ll encounter wetlands, meadows, woods, and a variety of local wildlife. The best part is, this trail is accessible all year round for those who enjoy walking in different seasons.

The Causeway Coastal Route

The Causeway Coastal Route is one of the most popular hiking trails in Northern Ireland. It stretches for 33 miles from Belfast to the Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The route is renowned for its stunning coastal views and the chance to see the breathtaking mountain landscapes along the way.

Starting from Belfast, the trail winds along the coast, offering views of the rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and the blue sea. As you move forward, the route ascends into the mountains, providing a dramatic contrast between the sea level and the high peaks. You will also come across historical sites, picturesque fishing villages, and causeway stones along the way. This route is a must-try for those seeking a full day of exploration.

The Mourne Mountains

The Mourne Mountains, also known as the Mournes, are among the most famous mountains in Northern Ireland. They are a hiker's dream, offering a wide range of trails with different levels of difficulty. Their highest peak, Slieve Donard, stands at 850 meters and provides panoramic views of the Irish Sea and the surrounding mountain range.

The Mourne Wall Walk is a popular trail that takes you through 22 miles of this stunning mountain range. It meanders around the highest peaks and passes through serene forests, beautiful rivers, and expansive heathlands. The most rewarding part of this walk is the view from the top, with the stunning contrast of the sea and the mountainous landscape making it a unique experience.

Islandmagee Peninsula Walk

Islandmagee Peninsula is a hidden gem in Northern Ireland. This coastal walk is a relatively flat route that offers stunning views of the sea, cliffs, and occasionally, the Scottish coast. The peninsula is also rich in wildlife, making it an exciting trail for birdwatchers.

The trail spans approximately seven miles and can be explored in a day. It begins at the quaint village of Whitehead and stretches all the way to the Gobbins Cliff Path. The coastal views, combined with the possibility of spotting seals, puffins, and other marine wildlife, make this walk a unique experience. Overlooking the sea, you can also see the Sallagh Braes, a mountain range that adds to the greatness of this trail.

Cave Hill Country Park Walk

If you're looking for a shorter walk that still offers stunning views, the Cave Hill Country Park Walk is an excellent option. This five-mile trail takes you through a diverse landscape of woodland, parkland, and hilltop terrain, all within the Belfast city limits.

The walk starts at Belfast Castle and winds its way uphill to McArt's Fort, located at the top of Cave Hill. From here, you can enjoy panoramic views of Belfast Lough and the city, with the Mourne Mountains visible in the distance. The walk is not only about the views, though. Along the way, you'll pass historical sites, caves, and beautiful flora and fauna.

Each of these walks offers a unique experience and a fresh perspective on Northern Ireland's beautiful landscape. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a novice walker, there is a trail suited to your abilities and interests. So, lace up your hiking boots and venture out on these trails to witness the best of both sea and mountain views near Belfast. Just remember, the journey is as important as the destination. Happy hiking!

Rathlin Island Walk

Among the best coastal walks in Northern Ireland, Rathlin Island offers a unique blend of mountain and sea views. Located off the northeast coast of County Antrim, the island is a short ferry ride from Ballycastle, approximately 25 miles from Belfast.

The Rathlin Island Walk is a moderate seven-mile circular walk that showcases the rugged beauty of Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island. Starting from the island's harbor, the trail meanders across rolling hills, passing by historical landmarks such as the East Lighthouse and Kebble National Nature Reserve.

Wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element here, as the island is renowned for its bird colonies, including puffins, guillemots, and kittiwakes. The final destination of this trail is the West Lighthouse, where you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Antrim Coast, and on a clear day, the distant silhouette of the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland.

The island also has a rich history, with ancient relics and historical monuments, including Bruce's Castle, where Robert the Bruce is said to have sought refuge in 1306. Exploring Rathlin Island is a truly immersive experience, combining natural beauty, wildlife, and history into an unforgettable day hike.

Slieve Donard Walk

Situated in the Mourne Mountains, the Slieve Donard Walk is a challenging but rewarding hike. This trail can be managed in a day, covering a distance of about six miles. However, it does require a good level of fitness due to its steep ascent.

The hike begins at the charming seaside town of Newcastle, following the Glen River uphill through a serene forest. As you ascend, the forest gives way to open mountain terrain, offering panoramic views of the Northern Ireland landscape.

The summit of Slieve Donard, the highest peak in Northern Ireland at 850 meters, provides breathtaking views of the Irish Sea and the surrounding Mourne Mountains. On a clear day, you can even see as far as the Isle of Man and the Wicklow Mountains in the Republic of Ireland.

The descent follows the same path down, offering you another chance to take in the stunning views. Despite its challenging nature, the Slieve Donard Walk is one of the best walks in Northern Ireland and is definitely worth the effort.


Northern Ireland is a hiker's paradise, offering a variety of sea and mountain views that are sure to leave you in awe. From the dramatic cliffs and diverse wildlife of Rathlin Island to the towering heights and mesmerizing views of Slieve Donard, there are trails to suit every level of hike enthusiast.

It's not just about the destination, but the journey as well. The beauty of these trails isn't limited to the views they offer but extends to their rich biodiversity, historical landmarks, and the tranquility they bring.

So, whether you're a resident or a tourist, a seasoned hiker or a beginner, lace up your boots, pack some food and drink, and set off on an adventure. You won't be disappointed by the wealth of natural beauty that these day hikes near Belfast have to offer. Happy hiking!

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