Get yourself for a fantastic experience amid lovely towns and scenic coastal villages along the Causeway Coast
Carrickfergus and Whitehead
Packed with history and culture, Carrickfergus on the banks of Belfast Lough is one of Northern Ireland’s loveliest towns. Delve into the history at Carrickfergus Museum, or explore the towering 800-year-old Carrickfergus Castle — one of the finest surviving medieval monuments on the island of Ireland.
Leaving Carrickfergus, continue the gorgeous coast road down to the super-pretty coastal village of Whitehead, with its rows of colorful buildings, wonderful cafés and magnificent vistas.
Pop inside the Whitehead Railway Museum to learn about the town’s intriguing railway heritage, enjoy gourmet food and local crafts at The Bank House Café and walk the spectacular coastal route up to Blackhead Lighthouse, positioned impressively on top of the rugged Blackhead cliff.
Home to one of Ireland’s oldest walled gardens and a beautiful 16th century castle, Glenarm is a lovely Georgian hamlet that conjures romance and mystery in equal measure. Elegant 18th century building, quaint cobblestones and the magnificent Layde Walk, providing amazing views over the hamlet and sea, make this a genuine County Antrim jewel. ®Game of Thrones lovers will appreciate The Steensons Economusée, a family-run goldsmiths making unusual jewelry featured in the TV program. And don’t miss the lovely hamlet of Carnlough, farther down the shore. A Carnlough Bay Boat Tour from the tiny port gives spectacular views of the coast.
Cushendun and Cushendall
With such similar names, it might be easy to mistake Cushendun with Cushendall, yet each has a different character and charm. Known for its outstanding music scene, terrific pubs and delightful setting at the foot of the spectacularly picturesque Glenballyeamon valley, Cushendall’s attractiveness is emphasized by its distinctive red standstone Curfew Tower and the little stream that runs through the hamlet. Boasting a stretch of unusual and tiny cottages, the conservation town of Cushendun is a picture-perfect beach beauty steeped in character and culture. Enjoy a sing-song and speak with the locals at one of Ireland’s tiniest pubs, Mary McBride’s, home to over 50 distinct Irish whiskeys, or slip into the neighboring Cushendun Caves, a Game of Thrones® setting.
Dotted with colorful townhouses, magnificent sea vistas and a wonderfully sandy beach, Ballycastle is an appealing combination of celebration and calm, with superb bars, restaurants and cafés. Start your day with the Ballycastle Food Tour and try some local specialties in the fascinating environs of Mary’s Cottage Kitchen, before hiking the Grey Man’s Path to the perpendicular basalt cliffs of Fair Head. Here, amid wild goats and wildlife, you’ll be given with stunning views of the chalky-white cliffs of Rathlin Island. Like the look of it? Why not get on the boat over to the island for a day of lovely remoteness, wonderful walking pathways and true island charm?
In the action-packed seaside town of Portrush, discover the dramatic history and iconic ruin of Dunluce Castle and the long-abandoned Dunluce Town, or experience the areas rich distilling tradition at the oldest functioning distillery in Ireland in the neighboring hamlet of Bushmills. When it comes to surfing, as long as you’re smiling you’re doing it properly. If you’re feeling energetic, surf the waves with a session from Alive Surf School before going into the classic – and eccentric – Harbour Bar for some great wood-fired steaks and live music.
The beach village of Portstewart is the pinnacle of wild coastal beauty. With its lengthy stretch of magnificent Blue Flag beach and gigantic waves that flow in from the Atlantic Ocean, it’s little wonder this locale was the inspiration for the Bing Crosby tune, ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’.
Follow the Port Path, a gently sloping length of picturesque coastline with panoramic sea views towards Donegal, or experience a down-to-earth culinary culture at Harry’s Hut, where you can enjoy sea vistas and excellent seafood in a beach shack right on the golden sands. Pure joy.
Why not take the time to see the oldest known human habitation on the island of Ireland at Mountsandel Fort along the adjacent River Bann in Coleraine, or the majestic Mussenden Temple towering above the cliff tops of Castlerock?
Journey a little farther and you’ll be rewarded with a rich history at the plantation community of Eglinton, established in 1619 by the Grocers’ Company of London.
The Causeway Coastal Route
Stretching from lively Belfast to the medieval city of Derry~Londonderry and taking in some of Ireland’s most magnificent views, the Causeway Coastal Route is guaranteed to set your pulse pounding.
It’s not enough to call the Causeway Coastal Route a journey, a drive, or even a discovery – this massive length of coastline is rather a succession of experiences, with cliffs, charming towns, sandy beaches and fascinating caverns.
Starting in the dynamic bustle of Belfast and going all the way to Derry~Londonderry, the trip is on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel list 2018.
No wonder either, with sites such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Giant’s Causeway — 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns that cascade down to the sea – and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, which wobbles precipitously over the roaring water below.
There’s the rocky remnants of Dunluce Castle and the graceful grandeur of the clifftop Mussenden Temple.
And how about Rathlin Island? Venture out by boat and you’re certain to encounter one of the 150 islanders fortunate enough to call this nature reserve home.
But between all these spectacular sites, there are calm moments, too… a posttouring pint in tiny Mary MacBride’s bar in Cushendun; a stroll through stunning Glenariff Forest Park, near Waterfoot; a ramble through the charming Georgian town of Glenarm.
Our advice? Go leisurely, and soak it all in.
Topic: Causeway Coast