The rugged, raw elemental beauty of the Causeway Coastal Route truly captures the thrill of an adventure in Northern Ireland. Maybe it’s the sheer breadth and beauty of its landscape. Perhaps it’s the mythical stories, shaped and inspired by the dramatic coastline. There’s quite a lot to see along the Causeway Coastal Route – voted the Number 1 Region in the World to visit by Lonely Planet in 2018
From Belfast head north, making your first stop at Carrickfergus Castle, one of the best preserved mediaeval structures in Ireland.
Continue your journey to the breathtaking cliff-face pathway, The Gobbins (booking ahead is advisable). A spectacular walk that includes suspension bridges, caves, steps and tunnels.
Your next stop is at Carnfunnock Country Park, an excellent spot with loads to do, including a chance to solve the mysterious hedge maze.
Cushendun via The Glens of Antrim
Once you’ve left Carnfunnock, a pit-stop in the picturesque village of Ballygally is a must. From here, journey inland to the storied Slemish mountain. This extinct volcano is where, according to legend, Saint Patrick tended sheep after being captured and taken to Ireland.
Heading towards the coast again, you’ll find Glenarm Castle. Explore the glorious walled garden, Woodland walk, Heritage Centre and Coach House Museum.
The spectacular coast road to Cushendall, known as the Capital of the Glens, offers must-see views on route to – the pretty-as-a-picture Cushendun. Look out for the caves behind the village as seen in Game of Thrones®.
For Thronies, this leg features another iconic location. First, take a detour to Torr Head, a narrow winding road, with breathtaking sea views but be warned it’s not for the faint hearted! Torr Head is the closest point to Scotland with stunning views of Fair Head and Rathlin Island. While you are there, take a look at the picturesque Bonamargy Friary ruins containing the remains of legendary chieftain Sorley Boy McDonnell.
From there, it’s on to the legendary Dark Hedges. Game of Thrones® fans know it as the epic Kingsroad highway in Westeros. This is selfie heaven as well as a piece of natural paradise planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century to impress visitors.
For sheer rugged beauty, take the ferry across to Rathlin Island is such a spirit- enhancing experience. Enjoy the tranquillity of our only inhabited island, home to one of the UK’s largest seabird colonies, including hundreds of puffins. During the summer these comical creatures share the cliffs at the island’s west lighthouse with thousands of other seabirds, from kittiwakes to fulmars, but they are undoubtedly the star of the show.
On to the pretty village of Ballintoy, you will find Ballintoy Harbour, follow the winding road from the village past the white-washed parish church. Interesting fact: the harbour doubled as exterior Iron Islands shots in Game of Thrones®.
Further along the coastal route is the iconic Giant’s Causeway! Managed by the National Trust, this spectacular site can be accessed for free, either via the Public right of way or the coastal path….chat to us for more information|!
One of the route’s jewels is – Dunluce Castle. Perched dramatically on cliffs and steeped in history, the iconic ruin of Dunluce Castle bears witness to a long and tumultuous history. First built on the dramatic coastal cliffs of north County Antrim by the MacQuillan family around 1500, the earliest written record of the castle was in 1513 and seized by the ambitious MacDonnell clan in the 1550’s. Dunluce Castlet inspired C.S. Lewis’s Narnia.
Dunluce Castle to Derry-Londonderry
Don’t miss Downhill Demesne, beyond its ruined mansion perched on a cliff, you’ll find the iconic Mussenden Temple. View the spectacular line of basalt cliffs at Binevenagh and enjoy the stunning nature reserve that dominates your surroundings with panoramas across Lough Foyle to Donegal. Here, hikers can find hiking trails to the summit.
Next on the route is the stunningly remote Magilligan Point, guarding the entrance to Lough Foyle. If you’ve arrived (or maybe started) in Derry-Londonderry, discover Ireland’s only remaining walled city, a beautiful city with its rich history – not to be missed.