There are times where we all need to take a little break from our 9 to 5 routine. Escape the pressures of daily life and let these beautiful corners of Antrim transport you to another time and place.
Sometimes all that stress and rushing about in your usual day-to-day life gets a little too much. Luckily for us, Antrim has got it covered. Whether it’s a day out enjoying the fresh air amidst pristine landscapes or spoiling yourself rotten at an award-winning luxury spa resort, there are plenty of ways for you to switch off from the outside world and enjoy a healthy dose of some well-deserved me-time.
There’s nothing like a spa break to show yourself a little love. Forty miles outside of the centre of Belfast sits the town of Ballymena.
This town, at the base of the Antrim Mountains, is home to one the most luxurious hotels in Northern Ireland: the Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort.
It’s a place where you can feel centred again as you indulge in spa treatments like hot quartz massages and rejuvenating expert facials. It’s also a fantastic base from which you can explore the region’s most captivating scenery. It was even named the Global Luxury Spa Hotel of the Year in 2018!
The hotel sits on the banks of the River Maine and from the award-winning River Room & Conservator restaurant, you can enjoy a tranquil view of the water.
Ballygally Castle Hotel
There are few sounds as soothing as the lapping waves of the ocean. Sitting on the windswept Antrim Coast is the deeply historical Ballygally Castle. Now run as a hotel, it is the only 17th-century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland.
Built in the early 1600s, you’ll find much of the original ceilings, along with beautiful, modern décor. A stay in the Castle’s period rooms rewards you with oceanic panoramas and some delicious food in the Garden Restaurant.
Ballygally Castle is a great base for exploring. Nearby, you can head to the beach across from the hotel or Carnfunnock Country Park. Take a drive to beloved sights and spots like Carrickfergus Castle, the Glens of Antrim and the Giant’s Causeway.
Whitehead Heritage and Wellbeing Tour
Get lost in Antrim’s rich history with a visit to the Victorian town of Whitehead. Located on the Coastal Road, it’s just a short journey from Belfast and a real haven from the business of city life. This town’s historic manufacturing heritage is on full display. The Whitehead Railway Museum is a great stop. You can look at these historic carriages and locomotives from the inside. Get stuck into a cream tea in the regal Edwardian Tea Room before setting off into town again and ending your day back at the Bank House.
You can take in the coast’s striking panoramas by walking along the Blackhead path. Enjoy a healthy dose of exercise with a climb up to the lighthouse for some beautiful views.
You just can’t beat a day by the sea. So why not head down to one of the most pristine beaches in Antrim? Brown’s Bay is perfect for those of you looking to let the fresh sea breeze perk you up. The lovely stretch of sand is sheltered by a natural bay on the idyllic Islandmagee peninsula – the peaceful, tranquil surroundings only add to the magic.
Its proximity to Belfast makes Brown’s Bay and Islandmagee a popular choice with day trippers, but that’s not to say the beach is completely packed. The atmosphere always stays relaxed, and if you’re especially lucky you might even have the beach all to your self.
The natural beauty of the area is masterfully preserved, with the impeccable cleanliness earning the Brown’s Bay a Rural Seaside Beach Award. Kids will love splashing about in the shallow waters and several National Trust walks are nearby should you fancy a leisurely stroll.
There’s nothing more quintessentially Irish than a visit to the home of St Patrick. With a trip to Slemish Mountain in County Antrim, you can learn about the life of the island’s patron saint and take in the captivating views of the surrounding plains and extinct volcano.
Set about 437 metres above the plains, the mountain is a great place to get active. Do the 180 metre steep climb (and wear strong, waterproof shoes!) and you’ll be rewarded. From the summit you can see the Antrim and Scottish coasts to the east and the Sperrin Mountains and Lough Neagh to the west. These are views magnificent enough to inspire anyone.
Cairncastle & Knockdhu
Slemish isn’t the only place where history and nature are closely entwined. Marvel at the raw beauty of Cairncastle, whose windswept valleys and rugged hills were home to ancient forts. The greatest of all is Knockdhu, situated just a mile outside of Cairncastle Village. This mighty Bronze Age fort has left its mark on the hill for over 4,000 years and was believed to be home to up to 150 people living in roundhouses – you can clearly see the craters left by their foundations.
Strap on your boots for an exhilarating bit of hill walking. Or if you’d prefer something a little less strenuous, you could always tee off at the nearby Cairndhu Golf Club. This 200-acre course offers top views of the coast, and on clear days you’ll even be able to see out to Scotland.
Plan your escape
Visit Antrim for a much-needed getaway and you’ll be spoiled for choice. With beautiful landscapes at every turn, you can escape the buzz of the city and take things slow. For even more wellness inspo, I’d recommend heading to the new Shaped by Sea & Stone website which has loads of top recommendation for itineraries, day trips and where to stay across the region.
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