Trip idea: Golf in Belfast and beyond

Royal County Down Golf Club
Driving Driving
261 Kilometres
3 Days

Food, fun and – FORE! There's a golf adventure like no other brewing in Belfast

From Titanic tales to Black Taxi Tours and some of the most gripping modern history on the island, Belfast has a whole lot to love. But did you know that it's also a hub for some of the best golfing on the island of Ireland? Not to mention a must-visit destination for anyone planning a trip to The 148th Open in Royal Portrush in 2019. So hold on to your clubs – we're about to tee off on the trip of lifetime!

Golf in Belfast and beyond

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Heading north

You're in for a treat on your first day, with two totally unique courses to tick off your bucket list.

A driving 25 mins
Hilton Belfast
Hilton Belfast Templepatrick Golf & Country Club

Hit the ground running at the Hilton Belfast Templepatrick

Just 12 short miles from Belfast International Airport, the Hilton Templepatrick is the perfect place to start this unforgettable trip. This 72-par course is set on 220 sweeping acres of manicured parkland, surrounding historic Castle Upton, which has proudly guarded the area for over 400 years – although a fort stood here for centuries before that. You won't tire of these 18 holes, but if you feel like a break, just pop into the Spa for some super-indulgent treatments.

B driving 30 mins
Galgorm Castle

More than a course: Galgorm Castle

The northernmost point on your trip, Galgorm is well worth the drive. Nestled deep in beautiful County Antrim, between two mighty rivers – the Braid and the Main – Galgorm is 18 holes of pure class. Northern Ireland's most popular club for hosting European professional golf events, it's also home to the Northern Ireland Open, welcoming 34,000 visitors over the course of the annual week-long tournament. Inside, the clubhouse boasts a teaching room equipped with the latest V1 Digital Coaching System – so if you're looking to improve your game, you'll leave here a happy player.

C
Lough Neagh

A water wonderland

You simply can't visit this part of the world without sinking into the natural landscape. Lough Neagh is one you can't miss, not only because of its sheer size – it's the largest lake in the British Isles – but because of its vastly varied flora, fauna and history. Take a boat trip out to Coney Island, where ancient people first settled in Neolithic times and St Patrick himself is said to have sought solitude among the dense woodland. And while you're here, take a minute to really drink it all in; after all, this is the same beauty that inspired Nobel prize-winning poet and beloved Northern Irishman, Seamus Heaney in so much of his writing. Stop by the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in the small village of Bellaghy and let his words soothe your soul before moving on.

City boundaries

From one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland to real hidden gems, the thrills keep coming on this trip!

D driving 31 mins
Royal Belfast Golf Club

Rich and wonderful Royal Belfast Golf Club

The clue here is all in the name: if you want to feel like royalty, this is the club for you. And it's only fair, given that the Royal Belfast is the grandaddy of golf courses – designed by Harry Colt in 1881, it's one of the oldest course on the island. Set on the shores of Belfast Lough, this is half links and half parkland, ticking all the boxes. If you've never been, check out the 4th for a hole favoured by regulars: at just 142 yards, it's short but sweet, with four bunkers and gorse bushes a-plenty guarding the green. Bring your A game!

If you have more time...

Pop into the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum – the epitome of quirky, it's home to everything from regal horse-drawn carriages to a Delorean!

E driving 18 mins
Malone Golf Club

Much ado about Malone Golf Club

27 holes, the gently rushing River Lagan and a dog-friendly atmosphere make Malone Golf Club one of the most enjoyable courses you can visit. And yet, it's perhaps one of the least well-known courses in Northern Ireland. The 72-par 9-hole and 70/71-par 18-hole are set within 330 acres of pristine parkland, hidden in plain sight just five miles outside Belfast city. Praised by legendary golf writer, Jim Finegan as a "spacious beauty...a stirring vista", Malone truly is a joy to play.

F
Titanic Belfast

Discover Titanic city

Long before Jack and Rose, there was Harland & Wolff: a household name in Belfast, this is the company that built and launched the ship of dreams. Today, over a century on from its construction and tragic end, Titanic lives on in the very footprint of where it was built. Titanic Belfast, voted the World's Leading Tourist Attraction, is packed with nine interactive galleries, six story-filled floors and countless accounts, exhibits and memories that root the infamous liner very much in the city where she was created. One thing's for certain: a morning spent with Titanic will build up a correspondingly massive appetite – and thankfully, Belfast is the perfect place to be hungry! Check out St George's Market, where you can fill up on a quintessential Ulster Fry or ocean-fresh seafood; or pop into Deane's Eipic for some seriously fancy eats.

Don't miss

Take a Black Taxi Tour and be chauffered around the city and suburbs by an expert driver who knows all the spots written in the hearts of the locals. If you want to get to know the real Belfast, from the political murals to the true stories of its colourful culture, this is one tour you can't miss.

Stretching to the sea

Head south to the beautiful Mourne Mountains and a fitting end to your golfing adventure.

G driving 32 mins
Ardglass Golf Club

Bright like a diamond: Ardglass Golf Club

Tee off with a trip to Ardglass. Originally built as a 7-hole course back in the 19th century, today it comprises 18 holes of pure green bliss, boasting some of the most spectacular views you'll find anywhere in the world. As you make your way around this par 70 course, take the chance to gaze out across the Irish Sea and south to the stunning Mourne Mountains, before finishing off the 18th hole – a scenic green with a three-tiered tee – and ending your day with a trip to the club house. Once home to the Earls of Kildare, this 14th-century castle is hard to beat.

H driving 32 mins
Royal County Down

Last but not least: Royal County Down

Surrounded by the golden blaze of gorse and purple heather, overlooked by majestic Slieve Donard and perched on the edge of the ocean, Royal County Down is undoubtedly one of the world's most spectacular golf courses. But it's also a consistent headliner in lists of the world's best courses. A par 71 links course set within the Murlough Nature Reserve, you'd be forgiven for taking your time on a visit, as there's so much more to enjoy than the sport itself. If you're looking for a challenge, this is the course for you; with constantly shifting sea winds and measuring nearly 7,200 yards in length, Royal County Down doesn't make a round here easy – but it certainly makes the trip worthwhile. Just make sure to keep an eye out for the bunkers and dunes on the par 4 13th hole...

I
St John's Point Lighthouse

A land filled with stories

There's something of another era about St John's Point Lighthouse. The narrow, exposed coastal road up to the gate; the sound of silence punctured by crashing waves; and then, the sight of the giant, bumblebee-striped tower looming in front of you... it all feels like time has stood still here for centuries. And who, given the chance, wouldn't love to time travel? Or even swap worlds... It's this obsession with story that draws countless thousands of Game of Thrones® fans to Northern Ireland every year. And those on the hunt for real-life Westeros can't get much closer than Castle Ward – or Winterfell, as it's become known. If you're a fan, treat yourself to a visit to the ancestral home of House Stark – you might just fit right in.

If you have more time...

Take a trip out to Strangford Lough: a natural knockout, this is both an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and an Area of Special Scientific Interest, filled with countless flora and fauna and views to die for. On its eastern shores sits Mount Stewart, the stunning 18th-century house and gardens that gives new meaning to the word "grandeur".

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