Coleraine acts as the 'gateway' to the incredible Causeway Coast, putting it within reach of untamed scenery, historical sites and wildlife havens. What's not to like?
Just five kilometres from the sea is the large town of Coleraine in County Londonderry. A bustling urban area, Coleraine owes its popularity to its proximity to some of Northern Ireland's most iconic scenery.
Despite its enviable location, average house prices in the town are still affordable. Home-buyers in Coleraine can expect to spend an average of £131,000, although the largest family homes closer to the coast can command far higher prices. Take a look at the latest prices here.
Living in Coleraine: what to expect
The main hub of Coleraine is found on the eastern side of the River Bann. Around the 'Diamond' town square the streets are packed with shops, cafés, bars and restaurants, including both local and national names.
Surrounding this area are roads full of two-bedroom terraces, which give way to quiet cul-de-sacs of executive homes on the outskirts.
The town also encompasses large woodland areas with miles of scenic walks. You can escape to the nearby coast too – fine sandy beaches stretch out on either side of the River Bann's estuary and, heading westwards, there's the famed Causeway Coast. This puts you in easy reach of castles, nature reserves and a World Heritage site.
Where to start your property search
In town: Those looking for a terrace can pick up a modest property in the centre of town. Bushmills Road is lined with flat-fronted terraces with two bedrooms, whereas larger three-bedroom varieties can be found on The Crescent.
For grander period terraces, take a look at streets such as Adelaide Avenue and Millburn Road. Here you can find stately Georgian terraces with up to five bedrooms over three storeys. These homes tend to have large entrance halls, original tiled floors and feature fireplaces, although some properties have been converted into flats.
The centre is also an ideal place to look for purpose-built apartments. Humble one-bedroom flats can be found in areas such as Irish Society Court.
For comfortable family homes, take a look at the town's many inter-war and post-war semis. Elegant homes from the 1920-30s with large bay windows are available on streets such as Portrush Road. Yet more can be found on The Boulevard.
Search along Highfield Drive for semis built in the 1950s, many of which benefit from large gardens, or opt for a small semi-detached chalet-style home in areas such as Slemish Place.
If your budget is much more flexible, look to the outskirts of the town for more exclusive detached properties. Homes on Tullybeg Avenue are set in extensive grounds and include a mix of spacious bungalows and cavernous detached homes. Gardens tend to be landscaped with decked patio areas.
Yet more high-end homes can be found in and around Ballycairn Road and College Park. Here you can pick up a sprawling four- to five-bedroom property, some of which come with double garages.
Coleraine also has an abundance of new homes. New estates are particularly common to the south west of the town and usually include a mixture of sizeable detached one- and two-storey properties. Check out new developments such as Somerset Crescent – it has luxurious homes with three to four bedrooms and integrated garages.
Another example of a new estate to the south of the town is Knocklynn Manor. Its homes have decent gardens and are tucked down quiet cul-de-sacs. Some also have attractive mock-Tudor details.
Suburbs: A popular suburb is Mountsandel, which has become integrated into the town. Check out Mountsandel Road for scattered rows of four-bedroom Edwardian townhouses with arched doorways, cornicing and marble fireplaces. Alternatively, opt for one of the white-rendered family homes also lining the street or take a look at the humble terraces on Mount Street.
For a home by the coast, take a look at the property in Castlerock and Downhill. However, prices on the north coast tend to be among the highest in Northern Ireland, so you may need a more flexible budget.
Getting around Coleraine
By rail: From Coleraine station you can travel to Ballymoney, Cullybackey, Ballymena, Antrim, Mossley West, Yorkgate, Belfast Central, Belfast Great Victoria Street and Portrush. A journey to Belfast Central typically takes 80 minutes.
By car: Coleraine is well connected to several major A roads. The A26 leaves the town to travel south east to Ballymoney, Ballymena and Antrim. From there drivers can connect to the M2, which heads towards Belfast.
For a greater choice of domestic and international flights you can drive to Belfast. The George Best Belfast City Airport is a 70-minute drive away whereas Belfast International Airport can be reached in one hour.
Things to do in Coleraine
History: A 30-minute drive takes visitors to The Dark Hedges. These ominously named trees were planted in the 18th century and were intended to create an elegant avenue leading up to an estate. They now form a tunnel and a 'Grey Lady' is said to walk among the trees at dusk.
Mussenden Temple is precariously perched atop a 120-foot cliff. It was built in 1785 as a summer library and is now part of a dramatic setting with stunning views, making it perfect for picnics.
Just under 10 miles away on the coast are the ruins of Dunluce Castle. The iconic castle was first built in 1500 but has been gradually deteriorating since 1690. Visitors can explore the now abandoned Dunluce Town and learn about the wild tales of a banshee.
Cultural: Riverside Theatre is one of the town's main cultural hotspots. It can seat up to 360 audience members and has a programme of drama, variety acts, light entertainment, music and an annual Christmas show. The theatre also has its own active youth theatre group.
Every Spring the town hosts the Coleraine Music Festival, which celebrates music and speech. It's been running for more than 100 years and gives amateurs a chance to showcase their talents.
Outdoors: Three woodland areas are within a two-kilometre radius of the town centre. One of these, Mountsandel Wood, is the earliest known settlement of man in Ireland. Walkers can follow its paths to explore a Norman earthen fort or look out for kingfishers and herons by the river.
On the coast, Downhill Beach offers a welcome respite from urban life. It extends over 11 kilometres and holds a Blue Flag. As an Area of Special Scientific Interest it offers multiple nature trails, which take walkers to its waterfalls and sand dunes. On a clear day, visitors can see across to Counties Donegal, Antrim and Londonderry.
As part of the Causeway Coast, Coleraine is well placed as a starting point for iconic attractions such as the Giant's Causeway. The Causeway is Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage site and is renowned for its legendary inhabitant. Look out for the Giant's Boot and Wishing Chair as well as the hundreds of birds that visit the site.
Shopping: Coleraine's shopping district centres on The Diamond, Railway Road, Long Commons, Church Street and Bridge Street.
Staple shops include Moores of Coleraine, which has been serving customers in the town since 1925. It's one of the largest independent department stores in Northern Ireland and sells everything from clothes to beauty products.
For big-name stores, residents can make a beeline to the Diamond Shopping Centre. Its units include chain restaurants as well as high-street favourites such as New Look and TK Maxx.
Popular shops can also be found at the Riverside retail park, which is home to large stores such as B&Q, Argos and Lidl.
Food and drink: Town eateries include the popular Whoosh restaurant. It specialises in Thai and Vietnamese street food with an emphasis on providing fresh, fast and healthy food. Enjoy a chilli and lemongrass beef stirfry or a soothing bowl of Thai tom yum soup.
Breakfast and lunch can be enjoyed at Lost & Found, an independent community café. It offers simple, well-made food and has appetising dishes such as Spanish eggs and rarebit sandwiches.
Several sites close to Coleraine have formed the setting for the filming of the 'Game of Thrones' TV series. Downhill Beach, for instance, was used as the settling for Dragonstone.
6 reasons to live in Coleraine
- Gateway to the Causeway Coast
- Surrounded by woodland
- Access to A roads that connect to the rest of Northern Ireland
- Housing from terraces to sprawling executive homes
- Plenty of historical sites
- A centre full of shops, bars and restaurants
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