Northern Eire is, for my part, one of many extra underrated components of Europe. Sure, it shares an island with the Republic of Eire, and each of these international locations share issues like citadel ruins, historical historical past, and exquisite surroundings. However Northern Eire has one thing further distinctive: the Causeway Coast.
Ireland has some unimaginable shoreline, too, do not get me fallacious. However the Causeway Coast is one thing really particular, and I feel is purpose sufficient by itself so that you can plan a visit to Northern Eire!
What’s the Causeway Coast?
The Causeway Coast is abruptly a geographic space, a authorities district, and a well-liked driving route.
Geographically talking, the Causeway Coast covers many of the northern coast of Northern Ireland dealing with the Atlantic Ocean. The “Causeway Coast and Glens” native authorities district formally consists of components of County Antrim and County Derry. And the Causeway Coastal Route is a driving route skirting the coast of Northern Eire stretching all the way in which from Belfast to Derry.
So I suppose you’ll be able to reply the “what’s the Causeway Coast?” query a number of alternative ways!
However for the needs of this submit, we’ll say that the Causeway Coast encompasses the coastal (and barely inland) areas of Northern Eire between Belfast and Derry. On paper, this can be a distance of lower than 150 miles of coastal driving. In apply, although, the highlights might take you days to see.
How lengthy does it take to see the Causeway Coast?
Should you had been to drive from Belfast to Derry kind of alongside the coast, the drive would take you simply over 4 hours, in keeping with Google Maps.
However so as to really see all of the highlights on this a part of Northern Eire, you are going to want a minimum of a few days!
You’ll be able to see the foremost highlights of the Causeway Coast with 2 full days. However 3 or 4 days could be even higher, and would permit you the liberty to take your time and discover much more.
Have to hire a automotive in Northern Eire? I like to make use of Auto Europe to match costs. Search for a rental car here.
18 issues to see alongside the Causeway Coast
To make this record simpler to prepare, I’ll take you alongside the Causeway Coast in geographical order from east to west, beginning in Belfast and ending in Derry.
A few of these websites are main highlights (like Large’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge), whereas others simply make for good picture stops if in case you have time. Every thing from gorgeous coastal views to citadel ruins to Sport of Thrones filming places will function on this record!
1. The Gobbins stroll
The Gobbins Cliff Path is situated about half an hour away from Belfast alongside the coast. This adventurous cliff-face stroll takes you throughout bridges and previous caves nearly at sea degree alongside the crashing coast.
The stroll is not essentially a stroll, because it’s 3 miles lengthy out-and-back, and consists of the equal of fifty flights of stairs, a few of that are uneven and slim. You can also solely do that stroll as a part of a guided tour that takes 3 hours, so it is not a fast cease and requires some pre-planning (you’ll be able to book tickets here).
If in case you have the time, although, this can be a actually cool journey!
Value it? So long as you’ve the three hours to dedicate to the guided hike and are dressed for the climate (the tour runs rain or shine), then sure!
Price: £20 per grownup
2. Glenarm Fort
If castles and manicured gardens are extra your velocity, then you definitely’ll need to make a cease at Glenarm Fort. This coastal property is the ancestral (and present) dwelling of the McDonnell household, Earls of Antrim. It is nonetheless used as a personal dwelling by the Earl and Countess of Antrim, however can also be open for excursions on choose dates.
Together with touring the citadel, guests can all the time discover the 18th century Walled Backyard, go to the Heritage Heart to study concerning the McDonnell household, and see classic vehicles within the Coach Home Museum. You can too seize lunch, espresso, or ice cream right here.
Value it? Sure, particularly in the event you love fancy estates and gardens.
3. Cushendun Caves
Additional up the coast are the villages of Cushendall and Cushendun, each quaint little spots with cute cottages and comfortable pubs.
My decide for a cease right here is at Cushendun to see the beautiful seashore and the Cushendun Caves, a collection of sea-carved caves that had been utilized in Sport of Thrones (it was right here that Melisandre gave start to her shadow/demon child). The caves are free to go to and do not take terribly lengthy to stroll round.
Value it? Solely if in case you have time, although it is a fast cease.
4. Torr Head
Simply north of Cushendun, you’ll be able to detour off the primary highway onto the Torr Head Scenic Route (the primary highway will flip left; it’s best to flip proper onto Torr Highway).
This brief, 15-mile drive between Cushendun and Ballyvoy just isn’t for the faint of coronary heart (do not let the road down the center of the highway idiot you; it is barely wider than a single lane highway with frequent cliff-like drop-offs on one facet), however it’s significantly EPIC.
You’ll be able to (and may) cease at Torr Head itself, a dramatic headland with the stays of an 1800s coast guard/signaling station on prime. You’ll be able to climb as much as the ruins for nice views in all instructions. On a transparent day, you’ll be able to see throughout the water to Scotland!
Value it? Sure!
5. Murlough Bay
Should you thought Torr Head was cool, then wait till you see Murlough Bay!
Additionally situated off the Torr Head Scenic Route, Murlough Bay is reached by way of a slim gravel highway main all the way down to the coast. You may discover a small parking space subsequent to some livestock pastures, after which you’ll be able to stroll alongside a gravel path to the bay itself.
This quiet, protected bay is surrounded by steep, forested hills and is often fairly empty due to its secluded location. Some say it is one of the vital lovely spots alongside the Causeway Coast – and I can not actually argue! You’ll be able to stroll out onto the rocks and even get pleasure from a small sandy seashore at low tide.
Murlough Bay was utilized in a number of Sport of Thrones scenes, too, although you will not discover it as crowded as different filming places in Northern Eire.
Value it? Positively
From Murlough Bay, it is a brief drive to the city of Ballycastle, one of many bigger cities on the Causeway Coast (inhabitants of round 5200). Ballycastle has a stunning massive seashore (Ballycastle Strand) with views of Honest Head, a marina and seafront play park, and loads of cafe and restaurant choices.
Should you’re eager to make a journey to Rathlin Island, the ferry leaves from Ballycastle.
Value it? Sure, it is a actually cute city with some good cafes.
Price: There are a number of free public parking tons on the town, so you possibly can go to free of charge.
7. Kinbane Fort
After being closed for almost two years for conservation work, Kinbane Fort is lastly open once more! And I am so pleased, as a result of it is personally my favourite break alongside the Causeway Coast.
Set on a craggy limestone headland, not a lot is left today of the nice citadel constructed by Colla MacDonnell in 1547. The citadel was largely destroyed by the English within the sixteenth century, and at present solely components of a guard tower are nonetheless standing. However these stays are in such an epic spot!
To get to Kinbane Fort, you do need to stroll down 140 steps (and naturally again up them once more). From the underside of the steps, you’ll be able to discover a rocky seashore and all components of the headland that the citadel was perched upon. The views again towards the mainland are particularly unimaginable and properly well worth the hike.
Value it? Completely; I would not skip this spot if you may make the trek down the steps!
8. Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge
Not removed from Kinbane Fort, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is among the prime spots to go to alongside the Causeway Coast. The positioning is precisely what it is billed as: a 60-foot-long rope bridge connecting the mainland to a small island.
The bridge was first constructed about 250 years in the past and was traditionally utilized by fishermen to go over to the tiny island of Carrick-a-Rede to fish for salmon. In the present day, it is fully a vacationer attraction managed and maintained by the Nationwide Belief in Northern Eire.
You do need to hike from the doorway space/parking zone to get to the bridge (it is about 1 kilometer or .6 miles every manner), and the bridge itself is suspended nearly 100 ft above the Atlantic Ocean. When you cross the bridge you’ll be able to stroll across the small island, however the primary attraction actually is crossing the bridge itself.
Observe that in the event you solely need to see the bridge however not stroll throughout it, you are able to do the coastal stroll free of charge! The payment solely applies to crossing the bridge.
This spot will get very busy through the summer season months and on weekends, so it is strongly recommended that you just book your ticket in advance, or go early or later within the day. Even then, count on a slight wait. (The picture above was taken pretty early within the morning on a September day, and you may see the road of individuals ready their flip to cross the bridge.)
Value it? Regardless of how common it’s, sure, I positively assume it is value it!
Price: £13 for adults (and keep in mind, that is solely to cross the bridge; you should utilize the parking zone and do the coastal hike free of charge)
Professional tip: You can not see the rope bridge from the parking zone. If you do not have time to do the hike, you *can* get a glimpse of it (particularly if in case you have a great zoom in your digicam/telephone) from the Portaneevy Automobile Park & Viewpoint not distant, although I would suggest the hike if you are able to do it!
9. Ballintoy Harbour
Not removed from the rope bridge, you may make a fast cease at Ballintoy Harbour, a small fishing harbor that was made well-known by Sport of Thrones (it was utilized in a number of scenes set within the Greyjoy Kingdom of Pyke within the Iron Islands).
Value it? For a fast picture cease in the event you’re a Sport of Thrones fan; if not, you possibly can most likely skip it.
10. Darkish Hedges
Okay, so the Darkish Hedges aren’t ON the Causeway Coast, however the website is a brief 15-minute drive from Ballintoy Harbour, so I am together with it anyway.
The Darkish Hedges is a lane lined with large, twisted beech bushes. The bushes had been initially planted within the 1700s by the Stuart household to line the avenue main as much as their manor, Gracehill Home. Within the mid-2010s, although, the Darkish Hedges had been made well-known due to Sport of Thrones and Instagram, and the positioning grew to become a vacationer must-see.
(I would say this website is extra of an Instagram darling than a Sport of Thrones one, although, for the reason that bushes solely appeared in a single scene in a single episode of the present.)
Regardless, it is now a well-liked cease in Northern Eire. The a part of Bregagh Highway the bushes are planted on has been closed to vehicular visitors so as to defend the bushes, so now that you must park in rather a lot entrance of the Hedges Resort and stroll by way of a wooded path to see the positioning.
(And please abide by these new guidelines; parking close to the bushes is actually killing them, and no person needs your automotive ruining their images.)
Value it? Some persons are underwhelmed, particularly in the event that they go to on a busy day. However I do assume the bushes are cool, and it is a pretty fast cease.
11. White Park Bay Seashore
Despite the fact that you might not affiliate the UK and Eire with seashores, there are lots alongside the coast! White Park Bay is a stupendous arc of golden sand alongside the Causeway Coast that stretches between two headlands. The seashore is managed by the Nationwide Belief, and is a shocking spot to go to.
Getting all the way down to the seashore does require a little bit of a stroll by way of some sand dunes, however you can too get a glimpse of the entire seashore from the parking space.
Value it? Positively value stopping to see, even in the event you do not need to stroll all the way down to the seashore.
12. Dunseverick Fort
One other citadel break you’ll be able to cease at is what’s left of Dunseverick Fort. There’s been a fort or citadel on this craggy promontory since a minimum of the fifth century, and it is mentioned to have been attacked by Vikings and visited a minimum of as soon as by Saint Patrick. Dunseverick Fort was ultimately destroyed within the 1600s, and at present solely the shadow of a gate tower stays.
From the citadel parking space, it is doable to stroll down into to boggy valley and climb as much as the citadel website. (Simply watch out, as the bottom is spongy and the hills are steep!) You’ll be able to see the tower up shut, in addition to historical low earthworks surrounding the positioning.
From Dunseverick, the Causeway Cliff Path can take you to Large’s Causeway in a single route, or Dunseverick Harbour within the different.
Value it? The citadel break itself is much less spectacular than others you will see, however the pure surroundings right here is wonderful! The hike could also be boggy and moist, although, so make sure you put on correct sneakers in the event you do it.
13. Large’s Causeway
Most likely probably the most well-known website alongside the Causeway Coast is Large’s Causeway itself.
This UNESCO World Heritage Website is made up of 40,000+ interlocking hexagonal basalt columns that had been shaped throughout an historical volcanic lava circulation – or by the Irish big Fionn Mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool), who is alleged to have constructed the Causeway so as to attain Scotland to problem the enormous Benandonner. You’ll be able to imagine whichever origin story you favor. 😉
Giant’s Causeway is among the hottest vacationer points of interest in Northern Eire. There is a customer middle the place you’ll be able to study concerning the Causeway, and so they additionally provide audio guides and guided excursions.
The stones are a slight distance away, so know that this is not a fast picture cease! From the customer middle, it is about half a mile to the most important focus of basalt columns. There are two totally different strolling trails you should utilize to achieve them; one alongside the underside of the cliff (the Blue Path), and one cliff-top stroll (the Pink Path).
I like to recommend taking the Blue Path downhill from the customer middle, spending as a lot time as you need exploring the stones (they’re formed completely to behave as pure steps; simply watch out if it is moist!), after which connecting to the cliff-top Pink Path by way of the Shepherd’s Steps.
Sure, the uphill climb is steep, however it’s brief, after which it is largely flat or downhill in your manner again to the customer middle (and the views from the clifftop are superior!).
There’s additionally a shuttle bus that runs between the customer middle and the stones by way of the Blue Path that you should utilize for a number of kilos further. That is value it for anybody with mobility points (or in the event you simply do not need to stroll a half-mile uphill on the way in which again to the customer middle).
Value it? Sure, for positive! It is the most well-liked website in Northern Eire for a purpose.
Price: Technically it is free to go to the stones, however parking and going contained in the customer middle prices £13. Booking ahead is advisable.
Professional tip: Since that is such a well-liked website, it might get very crowded. And attempting to discover the stones once they’re coated in individuals might be irritating. To keep away from the worst of the crowds, get there as near opening time as doable to beat the tour buses, or go within the night round or after dinnertime.
14. Previous Bushmills Distillery
A non-natural spot value visiting alongside the coast is the Previous Bushmills Distillery within the village of Bushmills. The village is near Large’s Causeway, and Previous Bushmills is the oldest licensed distillery in Eire, with a license to make whiskey relationship again to 1608.
You’ll be able to take a tour of the distillery to study all about Irish whiskey and the way Bushmills makes its triple-distilled “water of life.” Every thing they make is distilled, aged, and bottled proper right here.
Value it? Should you’ve not visited a distillery earlier than, or are a fan of Bushmills, then positively! (Even in the event you do not drink whiskey, visiting a distillery to study concerning the historical past and craft might be fascinating.)
Price: Distillery excursions price £15 and final 1 hour.
15. Dunluce Fort
How about yet one more citadel break for you? Dunluce Fort is the most important break you’ll be able to go to alongside the Causeway Coast. There’s been a fortification of some sort on this rocky outcrop for greater than 1000 years, however the present citadel ruins are largely from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when Dunluce was the seat of Clan McQuillan, after which Clan MacDonnell.
You’ll be able to tour the citadel ruins and see some historic reveals inside. Simply beware that it is mentioned to be haunted by a banshee!
Value it? I truthfully assume this citadel is extra spectacular from the skin (and from a distance, so you’ll be able to see the steep cliffs it is constructed on prime of), however in the event you get pleasure from historical past you will most likely assume touring it’s value it.
Price: £6 per grownup, which you’ll pay once you go to
16. Magheracross Viewpoint
I am satisfied that most individuals skip this spot as a result of it is marked as “Magheracross Automobile Park & Viewpoint” on Google Maps – and what’s thrilling about a parking lot?
This automotive park, nonetheless, provides up a number of the most epic views of the Causeway Coast!
Strolling paths result in viewing platforms with views in direction of Dunluce Fort and a group of white limestone rock formations and arches.
There’s ample parking, in addition to picnic tables and benches if you wish to deliver a snack or meal with you.
This spot was very quiet after we visited within the late afternoon, so we despatched the drone up – and bought a number of the finest footage of our entire journey!
Value it? Sure, sure, sure! Nice picture ops right here.
Elliot and I drove into the city of Portrush as a result of I used to be in the hunt for the white rock formations you’ll be able to see from Magheracross Viewpoint (however Google Maps wasn’t fairly positive the place they had been). This ended up being a contented accident, as a result of the city of Portrush is lovely!
Portrush is among the largest cities on the Causeway Coast, with a inhabitants of about 7000 individuals. The city is constructed on a small peninsula, and has numerous cafes, eating places, and pubs to select from. You may additionally discover the legendary Royal Portrush Golf Membership proper on the coast. The golf membership is dwelling to the well-known Dunluce Hyperlinks, mentioned to be one of the vital difficult golf programs on the earth.
Value it? Positively value stopping for a meal, a cup of espresso, or a pint.
Price: Relies on what you do!
18. Mussenden Temple
The final spot on this record is inside Downhill Demesne, an 18th century property in County Londonderry that is now managed by the Nationwide Belief. The previous mansion on the property is usually destroyed, however the actual “star” right here is the Mussenden Temple, a spherical constructing perched proper on a cliff edge that was initially constructed because the property’s library.
The spherical, column-covered construction was modeled after the Temple of Vesta in Rome, and is among the most-photographed buildings in Northern Eire.
On the property there are additionally strolling trails, gardens, a espresso store, and some extra buildings/constructions to see.
Value it? If in case you have time for a cease, sure. The grounds are a pleasant place for a stroll.
Price: £5 parking payment
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The place to remain on the Causeway Coast
Like I discussed above, seeing every thing alongside the coast of Northern Eire goes to take you a minimum of a few days. So staying alongside the coast is right!
You may both select a central location as a base, or break up your time between spots within the east and west. There are numerous small lodge and B&B choices alongside the Causeway Coast to select from, however listed here are a number of strategies to get you began:
- Ballygally Castle – Situated within the east not removed from Belfast, this can be a enjoyable possibility in the event you’ve all the time needed to sleep in a citadel! It was in-built 1625, and is situated proper on the ocean.
- Glass Island B&B – Searching for an upscale B&B vibe? Then you’ll be able to’t beat Glass Island in Ballycastle. With a handy location and a very good cooked breakfast every morning, this is able to make an important base for exploring.
- Whitepark House – One other incredible mattress and breakfast possibility is the character-filled Whitepark Home in Ballintoy. It is each cozy and splendid; good for a coastal getaway.
- Bayview Hotel – This Portballintrae lodge is an award-winning lodge near Large’s Causeway. It has an on-site restaurant and rooms with sea views.
- The Bushmills Inn Hotel – Discovered within the coronary heart of Bushmills, this 4-star boutique lodge dates all the way in which again to the 1600s! This cozy spot additionally has fireplaces, an on-site restaurant (which serves afternoon tea), and a conventional gas-lit bar.
- Galgorm – And although this spa resort just isn’t on the coast, it is nonetheless an important base for the Causeway Coast. Together with lodge rooms, cottages, and shepherd’s huts to remain in, visitor additionally get full entry to the resort’s thermal village.
Causeway Coast excursions
Do not need to hire a automotive and drive your self? You clearly can have much less freedom and suppleness to go to each spot on this record in the event you e-book a tour, however it’s doable to see numerous the highlights on day journeys like these:
Who’s able to plan a visit to see the Causeway Coast?