small town in County Down, Northern Ireland

For other places with the same name, see Newcastle (disambiguation).

Newcastle is a seaside resort in County Down in Northern Ireland. The "new castle" was probably already tumbledown when first documented in 1433 and even its successors are long gone. Newcastle is best known nowadays as the home of Royal County Down Golf Club, and for its beach and wildlife reserve. It had a population of 7672 in 2011 and has lots of visitor amenities, so it's a good base for exploring the Mourne Mountains, which rise to the south.

The Visitor Information Centre on the Promenade is open M-F 09:00-17:00.

Get inEdit

 
View over Newcastle

See Belfast#Get in for long-distance routes by air or sea.

By busEdit

Ulsterbus 520 runs from Belfast Europa station via Carryduff, Ballynahinch, Dundrum and Castlewellan to Newcastle, taking 1 hr 20 min. They're every 30-60 min M-F and every couple of hours Saturday and Sunday.

Goldline Express 240 runs from Newry to Castlewellan, Newcastle, Dundrum and Downpatrick, with five M-F and three Saturday and Sunday. Buses and trains from Dublin stop at Newry on their way to Belfast, but unless you're lucky with the connection to Bus 240, you usually have to continue into Belfast then backtrack on Bus 520.

Bus 26 trundles cross-country from Lisburn via Hillsborough, Ballynahinch and Dundrum to Newcastle, taking 1 hr 15 min. There are only three buses M-F and none at weekends.

Bus 37 runs every couple of hours between Newcastle and Kilkeel. An hourly bus runs from Newry to Warrenpoint, Rostrevor and Kilkeel (1 hour) so it's possible to circle the mountains, but the Mourne Rambler Bus no longer runs.

Newcastle 1 bus station is at the north end of Main street.

By roadEdit

From Belfast head south on A24 through Carryduff, Ballynahinch and Clough, where the road is re-badged as A2.

From Dublin take M1 to Newry then B8 (signs for Hilltown). Follow A25 to Castlewellan then A50 into Newcastle.

The town gets congested on fine summer weekends. There are car parks behind the main street.

Get aroundEdit

 
Map of Newcastle (Down)

The town straggles but is walkable. You need wheels to reach the surrounding attractions.

National Cycleway 99 runs from Bangor down the Ards Peninsula to Portaferry, Strangford, Downpatrick and Newcastle. It's all on-road. From Belfast follow the traffic-free Comber cycleway, then hug the west bank of Strangford Lough to Downpatrick then by road to Newcastle.

SeeEdit

  • 1 The Harbour is a mile south of town centre along the Promenade. It was used to ship out granite quarried from the Mourne Mountains, with blocks of stone brought down by a funicular railway. This is now the "Granite Trail", a steep walking path to a viewpoint.
  • Newcastle Beach stretches 3 miles north from town to Murlough Nature Reserve and the Dundrum River estuary. Usually clean, dogs permitted. There's lots of sand when the tide is down but at high tide only the pebbles remain. In 1910 one of Ireland's first powered aircraft wobbled low over the length of the beach.
  • 2 Murlough Nature Reserve, Dundrum BT33 0NQ. Daily 08:00-17:00. High, heath-covered sand dunes formed 6000 years ago, now a National Trust-managed reserve. Dogs on leads permitted but no horses. Parking £5.    
  • Slidderyford Dolmen is a neolithic portal tomb along the main road quarter of a mile north of the Murlough car park.
  • 3 Dundrum Castle is the substantial ruin of a Norman castle, dismantled under Cromwell. It's free to explore any time.
  • 4 Castlewellan Arboretum, 5 miles north of Newcastle, is an extensive arboretum and forest park around a small lake. The castle itself, a Scottish Baronial pile, is nowadays a Christian conference centre and can't be visited.
  • 5 Legananny Dolmen is an impressive 5000 year-old tripod dolmen or cromlech. It's on a hillside with good views but takes some finding, 3 miles north of Castlewellan. Follow Slievenaboley Rd then Legananny Hall Rd.
  • Finnis Souterrain a mile north of the dolmen is a 100-foot underground passage from the 9th century. It doesn't appear to have been used for burials or religious rituals so maybe it was just a hideout. The entrance was created in the 19th century as the original entrance has been lost.
  • Ardglass: see Downpatrick for this fishing village ringed by medieval turrets.
  • 6 Annalong is a fishing village 8 miles south. The Cornmill is 19th century and is now a museum. There's pubs and restaurants here. A lane leads inland to the start of Silent Valley.
  • See Newry for Kilkeel, Rostrevor and Warrenpoint further south along on the coast.

DoEdit

 
Legannany Dolmen
  • Tropicana is a heated outdoor pool midway along the Promenade, and the Rock Pool south end of the Prom is sea water as chilly as you like. Both pools were closed during 2021 and it's not known if they will ever re-open - the Council intends to build a leisure centre over the site.
  • 1 Royal County Down Golf Club, Golf Links Road BT33 0AN, +44 28 4372 3314, fax: +44 28 4372 6281, . Laid out in 1889 by Old Tom Morris, this has two 18-hole courses, the Championship and the Annesley Links.
  • Mountain biking: You may cycle in the forest park of Castlewellan (but not in Tollymore) and in the Mourne Mountains.
  • 2 Mourne Trail Riding Centre on Castlewellan Rd have escorted rides and pony treks.
  • Mourne Mountains: the highest of these rise a few miles south of Newcastle. Good for hikes and for rock-climbing, but in April 2021 the Mournes suffered a wildfire centred on Slieve Donard - that area will be an unpleasant charred mess until new growth takes over.
  • Festival of Flight is an air show in mid June. The 2021 show was cancelled so the next might be 18 June 2022, tbc.

BuyEdit

  • Lidl is on Railway St by the bus station, open M-Sa 08:00-21:00, Su 13:00-18:00.
  • Tesco is a quarter mile north on Castlewellan Rd, open M-W 08:00-21:00, Th-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 13:00-18:00.

EatEdit

  • Percy French Inn is within the Slieve Donard Resort, open daily 12:00-21:30.
  • Cafe Creme, 139 Main Street BT33 0AE (by river bridge), +44 28 4372 6589. M-F 08:45-17:00, Sa Su 08:45-18:00. Great little cafe, often busy.
  • Others along main drag are Railway Street Cafe, Bao & Bento Asian, Villa Vinci Italian, Sea Palace Chinese, and Mauds for cake and ice cream. The pubs also serve food.
  • The strip continues south along the Promenade. Strand is a cafe / bakery and Ardiente is a bar and grill.
  • 1 Maghera Inn, 86 Ballyloughlin Rd, Maghera BT31 9HE (2 miles north of town), +44 28 4372 2236. Daily 12:00-21:00. Good food, drink and music in this 200 year-old inn.
  • 2 Downshire Arms, Main Street, Hilltown BT34 5UH (10 miles west of town), +44 28 4063 8899. Good restaurant and pub handy for the west Mournes. They also have rooms.

DrinkEdit

  • Quinn's Bar, 62-64 Main Street BT33 0AE, +44 28 4372 6400. Daily 12:00-01:00. Lively place with good drink, food and music.
  • Others in town centre are Hugh McCann's, Anchor Bar, Diamond Pats and The Tap Room. Macken's is south by Harbour House Hotel.

SleepEdit

  • 1 Camping Tollymore Forest Park, Tollybrannigan Road BT33 0PR (2 miles northwest of town), +44 28 4372 2428. Clean well-run camping and caravan site open all year. Pitch £18, hook-up £21.
  • 2 Meelmore Lodge, 52 Trassey Rd, Bryansford BT33 0QB (a mile above Tollymore), +44 28 4372 5949. Clean comfy hostel and campsite on the edge of the mountains, with Hare's Gap bistro. Open all year. Camping £10 ppn.
  • 3 Hutt Hostel, 30 Downs Rd BT33 0AG, +44 28 4372 2133. Friendly central hostel with 72 beds. Dorm £22.
  • 4 The Briers, 39 Middle Tollymore BT33 0JJ (a mile northwest of town), +44 28 4372 4347. Cosy welcoming B&B in Georgian country house. B&B double £100.
  • 5 Burrendale Hotel, 51 Castlewellan Road BT33 0JY (a mile north of town), +44 28 4372 2599, fax: +44 28 4372 2328. Good 4-star hotel with 68 bedrooms and spa and conference facilities. B&B double £150.
  • 6 Avoca Hotel, 93-97 Central Promenade BT33 0HH, +44 28 437 2253. Family run 16-bedroom licensed hotel, mostly good reviews but some lapses. B&B double £80.
  • 7 Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, Downs Road BT33 0AH, +44 28 4372 1066, fax: +44 28 4372 4830. Grand Victorian hotel and spa next to the golf club, pricey but gets good reviews for comfort and dining. B&B double £180.
  • 8 Harbour House, 4 South Promendae BT33 0EX (a mile south of town), +44 28 4372 3445. Mid-range small hotel with decent bar and restaurant. B&B double £100.

ConnectEdit

As of Oct 2020, there is a good mobile and 4G signal with O2 and Vodafone. You should manage a call with EE or Three in town but the countryside around has poor coverage. 5G has not reached this area.

Go nextEdit

  • Downpatrick, supposedly the burial place of St Patrick, has a cathedral and ruined abbey.
  • Strangford has a fine mansion and two crumbly castles. A 10 minute ferry ride brings you onto Ards Peninsula.
  • The Mountains of Mourne rise south of town.



This city travel guide to Newcastle is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.