Not content with being surrounded by water, Ireland has a treasure trove of stunning lakes, or “loughs” as we say here.  Northern Ireland, in particular, has several magnificent lakes that should be on your list. Many offer stunning views and tranquil surroundings that are ideal for any explorer.

Some lakes have are perfect for the watersport enthusiast, some for keen anglers, and others for those who want to simply take in the serenity of Northern Ireland. Here’s our list of lakes in Northern Ireland that I urge you to go visit.

Our Guide to Lakes in Northern Ireland



Lough Erne is the second-biggest lake system in Northern Ireland and it can be found in County Fermanagh. A popular tourist attraction, the lough is renowned for its beauty.

According to Irish folklore, the lake is named after a goddess named Erne who drowned there.

That said, it’s not a dangerous lake any more than other lakes! There are a ton of activities you can get up to here and it’s in a great location too.


There are plenty of activities to do around Lough Erne. Hire a sit-on-top kayak or canoe and take to the water to explore the surrounding islands.

If you enjoy a challenge then try your hand at water trampolining at the Lough Erne Resort, it’s a great way to spend your time on the lake.

Make sure you take time out to hop on the White Island Ferry. This ferry offers hourly boat trips to White Island, an island dating back to the sixth century. White Island is home to impressive ruins of a 12th-century monastery and eight unique stone carved figures. You can contact the Fermanagh Visitor Information Centre for more details on +44 (0) 28 6632 5000.

Where to stay

We already mentioned Lough Erne resort as an amazing place for activities, and you can also stay there! Who doesn’t want to stay in a lakeside resort? You can check availability and book your stay by clicking here!


Travel from Belfast’s Europa bus centre to Enniskillen takes about 2 hours. For bus times and journey details, you can use this Translink journey planner. The bus will leave you at the Enniskillen bus centre where you can get a short taxi to Irvinestown and the lake. 


Lough Beg gets its name from the Irish Loch Beag, meaning little lake. It is a small freshwater lake right on the border between County Derry and County Antrim. Nobel poet Seamus Heaney said the lough was his favourite place in the world.

His poem ‘The Strand at Lough Beg’ – which just so happens to be one of my favourites – really captures the beauty of the place. There’s a little island named Church Island on the lake It was the site of a pre-Viking monastery and is now protected by the Lough Beg National Nature Reserve.

Things to do

You can do a guided walking tour across the Strand at Lough Beg to Church Island through InSite Tours Ireland. These tours usually last around 3 hours during which you will take in some magnificent sites. If you aren’t pleased with the idea of walking for 3 hours, then you can take a boat trip around the Lough. This way you can admire the amazing views at your leisure!

How to get there

It’s pretty straightforward getting to the Church Island by car. Take the M2 from Belfast and after a 45-minute drive, you will have reached your destination! Be sure to use google maps anyway, just to be safe



Lough Neagh is a large freshwater lake right in the heart of the North of Ireland. According to Irish myth, the lough was formed by Finn McCool when he scooped up the earth to toss at a Scottish rival. With its unique landscape and beautiful scenery, it is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for some downtime. If you are planning to visit the North, then I’d recommend a trip to Lough Neagh.


There are many different reasons why Lough Neagh is so popular. Keen cyclists like to visit the lakes Loughshore Trail (which encircles the entire lough) for a peaceful bike ride. Others will visit the area around the Lough for its deep Christian heritage. You can explore one of the trails close to the lake if you like nature, or you can spend an entire day on a boat trip around the Lough. At Lough Neagh you certainly won’t run out of things to do!


Although there is no direct bus connection from Belfast to Lough Neagh, you can start your journey from Belfast’s Europa bus station. You have two options from here. Option one is the 106 bus to Crumlin, then travelling from here to Lough Neagh. Option two is hopping on the 273 line to Lurgan Loughview park and ride and then going from here to Lough Neagh. To purchase bus tickets or to find out more information, visit the Translink website!



Portmore Lough is a small lake in Southwest county Antrim, its name comes from the Irish Loch an Phoirt Mhóir – meaning lake of the great landing place. It is situated near the site of former Portmore Castle which was built in 1664 and then removed in 1761. I love it for its immense beauty and amazing wildlife.


Portmore Lough nature reserve is a great place to experience the beauty of nature. If you walk down the boardwalk you can admire geese and swans out on the water. Explore the reserve and you will find all kinds of wildlife, from birds to ponies, or go to the viewing platform to enjoy views of the reserve.


The easiest and quickest way to get here is by car. If you take the M1 and head towards Portmore Lough Nature Reserve, you will arrive after 40 minutes. If you are planning to travel by bus you will need to contact Europa bus centre on +44 28 9066 6630 to find the easiest route. There is no direct bus to Portmore Lough.


Ballysaggart Lough

Ballysaggart Lough is situated in Dungannon, County Tyrone. Boasting some impressive views and peaceful surroundings, the lough is popular among locals and fishermen. If you are looking for a way to unwind and do very little, then a trip to Ballysaggart Lough is essential!


Ballysaggart Lough is not as activity-filled as the other lakes mentioned in this article, but it is perfect for a day out on a budget. I recommend planning a picnic and watching the sun go down. You can immerse yourself in all things nature whilst enjoying a bite to eat. As the sun goes down find yourself a comfortable spot on the bank and enjoy the reflection on the peaceful water.


From Europa Bus Centre you can grab the 273-bus headed for Omagh. After around 50 minutes you will arrive at Brooke Street, get off here and prepare for some walking. It is a 20-minute walk from here to the Lough, make sure to plan your journey before you depart!

This brings an end to our guide on the best lakes in Northern Ireland, but there are so many that we may have missed out on a few. Let us know if you know any others worth a visit, we’re always looking for new places to explore!

While you’re in Northern Ireland, why not check out some of the most amazing seaside towns?

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Our Guide to Lakes in Northern Ireland You Need to VisitGuide to Stunning Lakes in Northern Ireland