Explore Northern Ireland

Our top five Irish Trails 

Northern Ireland is a rich country for exploration, with so many twisting tales and hidden gems to discover. Everything is just a stone's throw away - it takes just three hours to drive from one side of the country to the other, so you can travel from a city centre to a mountain range to an ancient castle and to a seaside resort all in one day! But with so much to see, how can you decide where to start?

We've whittled down our Northern Ireland Trail catalogue and picked out our top five places to explore. Take a peek at the list below for inspiration for your next adventure:

1. Antrim - Castle Gardens

A river and bridge in Antrim Castle grounds

This treasure hunt Trail in Antrim (Antrìm/Aontroim) takes you on a quest around the castle and its gardens as you hunt for sneaky clues and long-lost jewels. Begin your expedition on the banks of Lough Neagh, then wind your way along Six Mile Water as you travel to the castle, unlocking twisting tales and discovering hidden gems along the way.

Your task is to reveal the location of a treasure trove stashed away by Lady Marian before she and her pet wolfhound fled the castle to escape the boatloads of enemies landing on the shores of the lough. Even all these centuries later, the precious hoard is still to be unearthed, but a newly discovered map and a curious set of clues may be the key...

2. Portstewart

Looking at the Dominican College, Portstewart, over stormy seas, taken from the Promenade

Unleash your inner secret agent on a spy mission Trail around Portstewart (Port Stíobhaird), where you'll need to thwart the dastardly plans of Dr McDevious and his horrid henchman Sardine. If they have it their way, the dangerous device they've planted will sink the Promenade into the sea and cause flooding across the town, driving away tourists and locals alike!

It's vital that you decipher the code to deactivate the device. Tiptoe along the Promenade, bravely dart through the town centre and use your keen observation skills on the coast path to identify the sneaky clues. It's up to you to covertly explore the seaside town and save the day! Good luck...

3. Bangor

Colourful houses in Bangor

There's a secret stash of treasure to unearth on your quest around Bangor (Bengor/Beannchar), a former seaside town that was granted city status in 2022. This treasure hunt Trail will take you through the heart of the city as you hunt for the all-important clues that will reveal the location of a secret vault filled with a hidden hoard of treasure.

You'll get to see all the gems Bangor has to offer during your expedition. Your journey will take you from the scenic harbour towards the famous museum, around pretty green parklands and across to the working pier, where the final clues of your treasure hunt can be cracked. 

4. Belfast City Centre

Belfast City Hall

Investigate a crime scene in the heart of Belfast (Bilfawst/Béal Feirste) on this detective mystery Trail. You'll patrol from the imposing City Hall to the rippling riverfront in your hunt for evidence. Follow up on witness reports beside some of the city's most famous landmarks, including the Statue of Harmony or Beacon of Hope sculpture (also known as Nuala with the Hula), the Big Fish mosaic salmon and Custom House Square.

You'll need your wits about you if you have any hope of discovering who bumped off poor Phil Eirish, elected King of the Ulster Fry, who was found slumped, sunny side up, amongst his prize sausages. Chief Inspector Evan Acklew's mind is fried, and he's desperate for your help. Can you crack the clues to reveal which suspects are telling porkies and which are innocent?

5. Hillsborough

Hillsborough Castle Gates

Image: By Melkhayes - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=94576426 - cropped

This detective mystery Trail needs top super sleuths to make inquiries in Hillsborough (Cromghlinn) where a heist has gone wrong! Dodgy Dave and his gang of despicable thieves managed to gain entry to Hillsborough Castle last night, planning to loot the place, but were caught leaving by the front door! Only one question remains - who is the devious accomplice who let them inside in the first place?

County Down Constables need help examining the evidence scattered around the village to figure out the identity of the mysterious person on the inside. You'll need to employ all your super sleuthing skills as you investigate the historical castle area and conduct your inquiries around the main shopping street on this curious case.

Set off on a St Patrick's Day adventure

If you head out on an adventure on St Patrick's Day, make sure you submit your answer to unlock the St Patrick's Day club badge in your account!

Any answer - right or wrong - submitted through the website at any time on the 17th of March will count, and the Trail can be anywhere in the UK (although you'll get brownie points if you pick one in Northern Ireland!).

Don't worry if you haven't planned ahead - with the Print at Home download Trails, you can get instant access to adventure.

You can find out more about our Trail Blazer Badges and Footsteps Rewards here.

Trail Blazer badges: St Patrick's Day club

Find more Trails in Northern Ireland

Still can't decide where to explore? Well, we have nine Treasure Trails in Northern Ireland at the moment, and there are even more to come! Use the links below to find Trails in each region:

Sásta iniúchadh! (Happy exploring!)

Searching for clues with a magnifying glass