Categories: Plan Your TripThings To Do

Newcastle is one of the loveliest seaside towns in Visit Mourne 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 family-owned Blue Bay Café and Bakery in the village of Dundrum 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 Mournes' many 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 in Newcastle. This multi-award-winning food truck makes all of its 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
Nature and Wildlife
Tollymore Forest Park

Oak wood from Tollymore Forest Park was used for the interiors of the White Star liners which included the Titanic. A walk along the Shimna River is marked by many curiosities, natural and artificial - rocky outcrops, bridges, grottos and caves.

Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze
Nature and Wildlife
Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze

Located in a dramatic setting of mountains and sea, this is one of the most oustanding tree and shrub collections in Europe. The beauty, vigour and perfect shape of the trees in the National Aboretum attract tree enthusiasts from around the world.

Life Adventure Centre
Climbing
Life Adventure Centre

Whether your preference is laid back or action packed, join us at our award winning centre in the beautiful Castlewellan Forest Park amid the stunning Mourne Mountains for a host of fantastic adventure activities. Choose from Canoeing and ...

Mount Pleasant Trekking Centre
Equestrian
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
Visitor Centres & Museums
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
Restaurant
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
Restaurant
Brunel's Restaurant

Focusing on bold and creative gourmet dishes, Brunel's will use only the freshest in regionally sourced ingredients to create dishes that will both challenge and inspire, showcasing seasonal local fayre at its very best.

Slieve Donard Resort & Spa
Hotel
View of Slieve Donard Resort & Spa, Newcastle

The magnificent Slieve Donard Resort & Spa is nestled in the heart of County Down where the 'Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea'. Standing on 6 acres of private grounds, the Spa has all the facilities you need to relax and unwind.

Mackens BarMackens Bar

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