Categories: Plan Your TripThings To Do

Newcastle is one of the loveliest seaside towns in the Mourne Mountains and, indeed, on the island of Ireland. Its location at the foot of Northern Ireland’s highest peak, Slieve Donard, makes it a great base to explore the area. Whether you’re just here for the day or you decide to stay longer there is plenty to do in and around the area for every kind of visitor.

Top things to do and see in Newcastle

Get your day off to the right start with a coffee or full Ulster Fry at the Savoy Cafe in Main Street, Newcastle before making your way for a day out in Tollymore Forest Park. Fans of Game of Thrones® will have fun picking out the many landmarks in the forest that feature in the series but this place is a natural star in its own right and boasts several walking trails and forest walks that enchant everyone who visits.

Of course, Slieve Donard dominates the area and is the highest of the Mourne peaks. At 2,789 ft you can see as far as the Isle of Man and Wicklow on good days. There are several ways to reach the top but it is not by any means a morning stroll. No matter which path you take, you’ll be rewarded with superb views across the mountains and down over Dundrum Bay.

Those in search of adventure and fun will find plenty in Castlewellan Forest Park. There are great walks through the forests and around the lakes and if you wish you can see it all from the comfort of the saddle by hiring a mountain bike from the Life Adventure Centre. The centre also offers canoe and kayak hire and before you go make sure you visit the impressive hedge Peace Maze - the largest of its kind in Europe.

You can try a different kind of saddle with the experienced team at Mount Pleasant Trekking Centre. This family run business has taken visitors on horseback through the Mournes and surrounding environs for over thirty-five years and has a reputation for catering to the needs of riders both young and old. Whether it’s a two-hour pony trek through the forests of Castlewellan Forest Park or a half-day saunter on the strand, this is a lovely way to see the countryside or enjoy the sea.

There’d have been plenty of horseback riders around Dundrum Castle when it was built in 1177 by John De Courcy and you can imagine them keeping watch over the wooded hill north-west of Dundrum village. Today you can visit the impressive ruins and find out more about its role and influence on the whole area.

Time to wind down before dinner

Just before dinner why not take a stroll along the four-mile Murlough Beach and work up an appetite with the help of the sea air. If that all seems a little too much and the muscles are beginning to twinge a little, treat them to a rest at Soak Seaweed Baths where you can wash all your troubles away in your own personal steam cabinet before submerging your tired body in the amber goodness of the mineral-rich seaweed and hot seawater bath.

A menu of really great places to eat

You’ll no doubt be hungry at this stage so it’s good to hear that in and around Newcastle there is a great range of eateries to choose from for all tastes. If you fancy cooking up a seafood storm of your own, then you could try a lesson with the chefs at Mourne Seafood Cookery School at Kilkeel Harbour. If you prefer your dinner handed to you, Brunel’s in Newcastle is an award-winning restaurant that uses local ingredients to create stunning food. Back in Dundrum, The Bucks Head Inn is renowned for its warm welcome and imaginative menus which change with the seasons and the seasonal availability of food. When the sun comes out you can eat in their walled garden and on colder days sit by the cosy fire and enjoy their fine multi award-winning seafood.

Fans of afternoon tea shouldn’t miss the offering at Slieve Donard Resort & Spa. Their delicious sandwiches and dainty sweets are set out on crisp white tablecloths in the refined surroundings of the resort's dining room. They offer different varieties of afternoon tea, making it the perfect way to relax after a treatment in the resort spa or a paddle in the pool. Why not take the indulgence even further and spend the night in this landmark resort?

Burger enthusiasts must try The Hatch, now in a permanent location on Main Street, Newcastle. This multi-award-winning food provider started business in a truck and still continues to service many events from the truck.  They make all of their burgers from the highest quality, locally reared beef and they insist on only using biodegradable packaging. 

You can finish off your evening with some traditional Irish music at Macken's. This cosy pub hosts regular music sessions and even if you don’t come across an impromptu session it’s still a lovely intimate place to have a pint.

Not a bad way to finish the day around Newcastle.

Tollymore Forest Park
Forest Parks
Tollymore Forest Park

Tollymore Forest Park has panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the sea at Newcastle and is open to the public all year. Tollymore Forest covers an area of almost 630 hectares at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.

Castlewellan Forest Park
Forest Parks
View of the Annesley Walk in Castlewellan Forest Park

Located on Forest Park View, Castlewellan, County Down, in a dramatic setting of mountains and sea, Castlewellan Forest Park has one of the most outstanding tree and shrub collections in Europe. The beauty, vigour and perfect shape of the trees in the National Arboretum attract tree enthusiasts from around the world.

Life Adventure Centre
Activity Centre
Paddling boarding on Castlewellan Lake

Epic adventures are on offer all year round at Life Adventure Centre. Their extensive range of activities include mountain biking, stand-up paddleboarding, wet bouldering, rock climbing, sit on top kayaking, coasteering, electric biking and open canoeing - something for everyone!

Mount Pleasant Trekking Centre
Mount Pleasant Trekking Centre

Mount Pleasant Treking Centre offer forest rides through Castlewellan Forest Park with stunning scenery, also extended routes i.e. two hours experienced sessions half day and full day. Beach Rides - experienced only. So if you prefer a gentle trot along the waters edge or an exciting gallop through the sands with the additional bonus of the sea breeze, we will arrange it for you.

Dundrum Castle
Castle / Fort
Dundrum Castle

Believed to have been built in or around 1177, Dundrum Castle was built by John De Courcy as part of his coastal defence after he invaded Ulster. Dundrum Castle is located on a wooded hill north-west of Dundrum village near Newcastle.

SOAK Seaweed Baths
Spa and Well-being
SOAK Seaweed Baths

Soak offers customers a unique experience, a place to be spoiled or to simply ease the body and soothe the mind. Relax in a silky hot seaweed bath in our award winning bathhouse or Revive with a sensual spa treatment in our bespoke treatment rooms.

The Bucks Head Inn
The Bucks Head Inn

The Bucks Head Inn is situated in the historic village of Dundrum. Renowned for its warm welcome chef/proprietor Alison Crothers has combined local produce with modern and imaginative menus which have gained many awards.

Brunel's Restaurant
Exterior of Brunel's Restaurant, Downs Road, Newcastle

Modern European Cuisine. Focusing on seasonal produce. A Creative menu that evolves constantly, showcasing when possible locally sourced ingredients.

Slieve Donard Resort and Spa
Slieve Donard Exterior

A beloved destination for families, golfers, and holiday travellers, Slieve Donard is a local landmark that’s equal parts homey and breath-taking. The resort sits at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, on the edge of Royal County Down Golf Club, ranked no. 1 in the world by Golf Digest.

Mackens Bar
Live Music
Mackens Bar

A traditional cosy pub, good music, good craic, everyone welcome!