Portstewart, like its sister town, Portrush is a popular place for visitors to stay when visiting the Causeway Coast and all its sights. The town is known for its pretty waterfront promenade and harbour, scenic coastal paths and its magnificent two-mile National Trust managed golden beach, Portstewart Strand.
Portstewart Harbour – take a walk along the promenade
The town itself is quite small with most shops – mostly coffee shops and ice-cream parlours – lining the waterfront Promenade. The playground and open area at the western end of The Promenade comes alive in the summer months with water activities for kids, and musical entertainment at the weekends, and especially during the Red Sails Festival (23-19 July 2023). At the eastern end of the Promenade you’ll find a small harbour where you can arrange fishing trips, and the cliffs beyond are popular with kids for cliff jumping.
Portstewart Strand – 2 miles of golden sand
A year round magnet for holiday makers, Portstewart Strand holds the prestigious Blue Flag grading which is awarded for cleanliness and the quality of water. It is also one of the few beaches in Ireland where cars still have access to the beach making it an ideal spot for families who wish to picnic on the golden sands. However, as the beach is managed by the National Trust, there is a charge for parking at £8.00 per car (checked Aug 2023) . Free for National Trust Members. You will also find toilets behind Harry’s Shack at the eastern end of the beach.
The surf is considered good for beginners in the summer months although it does get a bit racier during the winter months. There are no permanent surf schools set up at the beach so you need to bring your own board, or come with a surf school (see Portrush for surf schools). Occasionally a mobile unit of one of the surf companies shows up but this cannot be counted upon.
Coastal walks – beach, dunes and cliffs
The length of the beach makes it popular for walkers. The far end of the beach is the Barmouth, where the River Bann empties into the sea, Scramble out along the promentory to a beacon and watch the golfers across the river at the Castlerock Golf Course. On the far headland you will see the iconic Mussenden Temple.
Another interesting walk takes you along the beach to lifebuoy station 10, and then into the sand dunes where you’ll discover a different world. On a windy day the dunes are a welcome haven! Carry on through the dunes and you come to the edge of the River Bann. Follow the river towards the sea and you arrive back at the beach by the Barmouth. Then trek back along the 2-mile beach for a well-deserved drink at Harry’s Shack.
A third very pleasant walk takes you along the coast, around the rocky headland back to Portstewart town. Stop for coffee or a light brunch at Lost & Found, half way round.
F&B – Places to eat
The promenade is lined with coffee shops and icecream parlours and in the summer it’s a busy place with small al fresco seating areas popping up outside shops, allowing visitors and residents to enjoy their icecream or coffee while taking in the stunning seaviews across to the hills of Donegal.
- Harry’s Shack, Portstewart Strand – dining, drinks and summer entertainment.
- Lost & Found – on the cliff path between Portstewart Strand and town, brunches, Tuesday to Saturday
- Native Seafood and Scran – a new restaurant on the seafront in the town serving sustainably sourced Irish seafood in an array of creative and tasty dishes. Shut on Sundays.
- Amici – hugely popular Italian restaurant overlooking the sea. Be sure to book!
Distances and Getting to Portstewart
Portstewart is a short 6 mile drive from Coleraine, a mid-sized market town on the Belfast to Derry Londonderry trainline. Busses and taxis operate between Coleraine and Portstewart.
- From Belfast to Portstewart – 62 miles / 1 hour 30 minutes
- From Portstewart to Giant’s Causeway – 11 miles / 25 minutes