Looking for some inspo for a staycay in Ireland?
Yes, international travel is back (and with a bang judging by all the delays and queues at Dublin Airport) but one not so bad thing about the pandemic was the beauty of the staycation. It was nice for once to explore our own country and see what gems there are right on the Emerald Isle. With that in mind, last year my friends and I took a staycation to Warrenpoint, somewhere we'd never heard of but have not stopped raving about since.
This small port town in Down is located at the head of Carlingford Lough, and offers breath-taking views of the Mourne and Cooley mountains. It is picturesque, home to several hiking trails, and is only a thirty minute drive from Carlingford itself, where there is much to be enjoyed.
Where to stay
We went with a beautiful Airbnb, which you can find HERE, with stunning views of the lough and mere minutes from the main town. It can sleep up to six people comfortably, with two double beds and two single beds, in three bedrooms. Myself and my group were beyond happy with our Airbnb, and found it very affordable for how amazing the property was, so I'd highly recommend it. The picture below was our view.
That said, there's tons of other options HERE, and several hotels as well.
What to do
Head to the beach
Upon arrival you should head straight to the beach, which on a sunny day feels less like Ireland and more like Spain. The beach is both sand and stone, and is great for a spot of sunbathing, or a dip in the sea. It is often quiet, even at high tide, making it an ideal location to spend an afternoon either with a picnic or a good book.
Even in the evening it's worth a visit. There’s nothing like watching the sun dip into the sea between two mountains, and you’ll marvel at how many times you’ve forgotten you’re in Ireland.
Ziplining in Carlingford
When we initially were looking at staycation spots, we thought of Carlingford. Warrenpoint is on the opposite side of the Carlingford Lough, and just a thirty minute drive away, so we were able to spend a day in Carlingford and go zip-lining at the Adventure Centre. I'm someone who doesn't love heights, but for whatever reason the zip-lining didn't scare me and I had a great time. The Adventure Centre also has kayaking, laser combat, and other activities if zip-lining just isn't a bit of you.
Just 10 minutes away from Warrenpoint is Kilbroney Park.
Here you will find the infamous Cloughmore stone, an erratic stone deposited on this hill during the Ice Age. Of course, this is Ireland, and folklore maintains that the stone was in fact thrown by Fionn Mac Cumhaill from across Carlingford Lough. Either way it is an impressive sight to be seen, and worth the short (but very, very steep) hike up to it. For children (or fans of C. S. Lewis) there’s also a Narnia trail to be explored.
I didn't get to experience this when I was away, but if I was going back I'd make it my mission to venture out on one of the Carlingford Lough Cruises. We have the full lowdown on this HERE for you to check out. You can get the Carlingford ferry across the lough as well.
Where to eat
For some good coffee and a quick bite to eat during your Warrenpoint staycation, Fulla Beans is a handy local spot.
Raymie's Bar and Grill
The food at Raymie's Bar and Grill was sensational. The portions were huge and there was plenty of choice on the menu. Plus, they did some very fun cocktails which is always a bonus.
Church Lane Coffee
We loved Church Lane Coffee, for both food and our dose of caffeine. They boast a full breakfast menu, including avocado toast, breakfast baps, and veggie grills, and do a mean iced coffee to boot, all at a very affordable cost that will ensure that you are full of energy for the day ahead.
Sweet Pea Café
We stopped in at this sweet brunch spot on the way to Kilbroney Park and it was adorable. Sweet Pea Café offers a delicious menu as well as a garden centre and best of all, a petting farm. Plus there were two corgis running around the day we went which was the icing on the cake.
Calling all Bridgerton fans, this hotel has nothing to do with the show but we love a reference all the same. The Whistledown Hotel is absolutely gorgeous, very glamorous and they do some really good food too.
They have an extensive menu that leaves even the pickiest eaters with several options to choose from; I’d personally recommend the steak burger or scampi and chips. Not only is the food delectable, the hotel is decorated richly with flowers and plush furniture in jewel tones - all very Instagrammable.
We ate here twice and enjoyed their cocktails thoroughly. If you're more of a hotel person yourself you can even check out staying there instead of an Airbnb.
What’s great about Warrenpoint for a staycation is that it offers the best of both worlds; it is in close enough proximity to restaurants and pubs, outlet centres and shops whilst also providing incredible views, hikes, and trails; the perfect escape from city life. Warrenpoint is definitely somewhere you should consider if you’re looking to find some peace and re-centre yourself.
Header image via Shutterstock