B&B's In Ireland - Causeway Coastal Route.
Start your journey in Belfast and end in Derry-Londonderry, or travel in the opposite direction, your choice. The Causeway Coastal trip is consistently rated as one of the top road trips in Ireland and the UK!
It's recommended to take about 4-5 days to truely enjoy this 212km journey and appreciate all the stunning scenery and attractions it has to offer.
Belfast is Northern Ireland’s capital. It was the birthplace of the RMS Titanic, which famously struck an iceberg and sunk in 1912. This legacy is recalled in the renovated dockyards' Titanic Quarter, which includes the Titanic Belfast, an aluminium-clad museum reminiscent of a ship’s hull, as well as shipbuilder Harland & Wolff’s Drawing Offices and the Titanic Slipways, which now host open-air concerts.
Other major attraction in Belfast include:
Built by the Anglo-Norman John de Courcy over 800 years ago, Carrickfergus Castle has long been the centre of a power struggle for those wanting to control the important port.
Besieged by the Scots, English, Irish and French at various points throughout its history, it has racked up over 750 years of continuous military occupation until 1928, when it was transferred from the War Department to the Ministry of Finance for preservation as an ancient monument. However its days of action were not over. During World War II, it was used as an air raid shelter.
The castle now houses historical displays as well as cannons from the 17th to the 19th centuries and visitors are encouraged to explore the castle’s large halls and dark corners - there are ramparts, dungeons and even winding staircases with trip steps to deter any invaders.
A spectacular location where you can truly escape everyday life and experience nature at its most elemental. During your amazing 2.5 hour fully guided walking tour you may even taste the sea salt on your lips, feel the Irish Sea wind, marvel at tales of local smugglers, witness the native sea birds and keep your eyes open for some dolphins swimming off the rugged coastline.
The Gobbins experience will take you along a narrow path hugging the dramatic cliff face; across spectacular bridges amid the crashing waves of the North Channel; traversing hidden Tunnels under the Irish Sea; up and down rugged staircases carved into the cliff face and into caves that were once home to smugglers and privateers.
Glenarm Castle is the home of Viscount and Viscountess Dunluce and their family. The present castle has been in the McDonnell family since it was first built in 1636. The McDonnells have been in Glenarm for nearly 600 years and the Estate has been in the family for 400 years. In the house you will see superb examples of Irish furniture as well as portraits of family members from the early 17th Century through to the present day. Before taking up full time residence at Glenarm the family lived most notably at Dunluce Castle.
The Walled Garden is one of Ireland’s oldest walled gardens. Originally created to supply the Castle with its fruit and vegetables, The Walled Garden is now filled with exciting flowers and specimen plants to interest the keenest garden enthusiast. Beautiful and filled with colour throughout the seasons, the garden is open from Easter, when you can see the fabulous displays of spring bulbs along with the apple and pear blossom, right up until the end of September when the garden is still in bloom with rich displays of herbaceous plants.
Situated in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, Cushendun village is steeped in character and folklore Nestled at the mouth of the River Dun (Brown River) at the foot of Glendun, Cushendun is a charming village. The sheltered harbour and beautiful beach are surrounded by hill farms, hedgerows, traditional dry stone walls and spots for the perfect picnic.
Enjoy breathtaking scenery along several walking trails; venture through Cregagh Wood or take a turn round the Red Caves (a favourite filming destination of the Game of Thrones television series.) Historic buildings and Cornish-style architecture (by Clough Williams-Ellis) make Cushendun village an anomaly along the Causeway Coast and Glens.
Rathlin Island (Raghery) is just six miles from Ballycastle across the Sea of Moyle on the Causeway Coast and Glens scenic route.
Just six miles long and 1 mile wide it has County Antrim to the South, the Inishowen Peninsula to the West, Islay to the North, and the Mull of Kintyre to the East.
The island once had a population of over 1000 but now has a current population of approximately 150.
Most will visit for a day trip but many stay a night or two and several have fell in love with island life and have never left. So visit Rathlin Island and see if you can bring yourself to leave.
Carrick-a-Rede, from the Scottish Gaelic 'Carraig-a-Rade' meaning "The Rock in the Road" - an obstacle for the migrating salmon as they searched for the river in which they were born.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was first erected by salmon fishermen in 1755 Connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge across the Atlantic Ocean, Carrick-a-Rede Island (home to a single building - a fisherman's cottage) is the final destination.
Suspended almost 100 ft (30 m) above sea level, the rope bridge was first erected by salmon fishermen 350 years ago.
A superb restoration project has helped preserve the heritage of a 400-year-old Salmon Fishery at Carrick-a-Rede. The project, a partnership between the National Trust and DARD/North East Region (NER) Local Action Group, ensures that the history and traditions of a once thriving industry will live on for future generations.
The small fishing harbour can be found at the end of a small narrow steep road down Knocksaughey Hill, which passes by the entrance to Larrybane and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
The village itself, which is just one kilometre from the harbour, has a charming array of small shops, two churches, including the quaint white Ballintoy Parish Church on the hill above the harbour, as well as tourist accommodation, restaurants, commercial and social facilities.
For those looking to capture a true sense of Irish rural life, it is an ideal stop over whilst touring the coastal route.
It has been used as a filming location in HBO's epic series Game of Thrones. This stunning harbour location has been used for exterior Pyke shots and as the Iron Islands.
Sixty million years ago Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten rock was forced up through fissures in the chalk bed to form an extensive lava plateau.
The dramatic cliff like edge of the plateau forms the Causeway coastline. The larger fissures, through which the lava flowed, can be clearly seen as bands of dark rock which cut down the cliff faces and jut out to sea. There were three periods of volcanic activity which resulted in the flows, known as the Lower, Middle and Upper Basalts.
It is the Middle Basalts rocks which forms the columns of the Giants Causeway. The rapidly cooling lava contracted and variations in the cooling rate resulted in the world famous columnar structure.
The columns are mainly hexagonal though there are some with up to eight sides. Weathering of the top of of the lower Basalts formed the Inter Basaltic Bed - the band of reddish rock which is a feature of the area. The same action of the weather created circular formations round a nugget of basalt which are known locally as "giants eyes".
Some other formations with popular names are the Chimney Stacks, The Harp, The Organ and the Camel's Hump.
In the small village of Bushmills, settled on the banks of the river you'll find the oldest working distillery in Ireland. A place where family and friends have worked for generations, in a small Northern Irish village that for over 400 years has kept to the philosophy that hand crafting small batches is the way to produce beautifully smooth tasting Irish whiskey.
In the 16th Century when Sorley Boy McDonnell came over from Scotland to consolidate McDonnell territories in both Ireland and Scotland, his main base became Dunluce Castle. Dunluce Castle is one of the most iconic monuments in Northern Ireland situated as it is rather precariously on the craggy and treacherous Antrim coast and it provides a very important chapter in the history of the McDonnells of Antrim and North East Ulster.
It was Sorley Boy’s grandson, the 2nd Earl of Antrim, and his wife who finally decided to abandon Dunluce. In 1639 as they were waiting for dinner one evening the kitchen, along with kitchen staff, fell into the sea. This is thought to have been the final straw. Although the 1st Earl of Antrim had already built a fine house at Glenarm, this was burnt down in the 1640s by a Scots Covenanter army, so even though they still visited a wing of the house, the Antrim family based itself at a house near Dunluce called Ballymagarry until Glenarm Castle was rebuilt by the 5th Earl in 1756.
Dunluce Castle still belongs to the McDonnell family, however, it is currently managed under a deed of guardianship by the Northern Irish Environment Agency.
Portstewart and Portrush are small coastal towns within just a few km's of each other. Both are popular summer holiday destinations offering golden beaches and world class golf courses.
The main part of the old town of Portrush, including the railway station as well as most hotels, restaurants and bars, is built on a mile–long peninsula, Ramore Head. The town is well known for its three sandy beaches, the West Strand, East Strand and White Rocks, as well as the Royal Portrush Golf Club
Portstewart's harbour and scenic coastal paths form an Atlantic promenade leading to 2 miles of golden strand (Portstewart Strand).
The domed Mussenden Temple was designed as a library and built for the niece of the 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry - Frideswide Bruce, of whom the Bishop appears to have been extremely fond.
Some say the Earl Bishop and Frideswide were far too close - when the Bishop disagreed with his long-suffering wife, he often went to stay with his 'cher cousin'.
Without actually naming them, the Freeman’s Journal suggested that the relationship between the Earl Bishop and his niece was not altogether proper and - although this was later denied in print - the mud stuck.
Frideswide married a wealthy and elderly London banker named Daniel Mussenden and, as a gift to her, the Earl Bishop built the splendid library called the Mussenden Temple. This was to house part of his celebrated Library and was supposed to be a place to which Frideswide, when she visited, could retire.
The temple was finished in 1783 but it's said that the mortification of the scandal affected Frideswide health, which had always been delicate. Although there is no proof, it may have contributed to her early death. The Temple, which was to have been her refuge, became her memorial when she died in 1785.
Derry-Londonderry is Northern Ireland's second largest city, and the fourth largest city on the island of Ireland. This is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland. The Walls were built during the period 1613-1618
The Walls, which are approximately 1.5km in circumference, form a walkway around the inner city and provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance Style street plan to this day.
The four original gates to the Walled City are Bishop’s Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Butcher Gate and Shipquay Gate. Three further gates were added - magazine Gate, Castle Gate and New Gate.
The Walls vary in width between 12 and 35 feet. The city claims Europe’s largest collection of cannon whose origins are known precisely. Many of them thundered in anger over the two seventeenth century sieges. In 2005 the surviving 24 cannon were restored. The cannon are displayed throughout the City Walls with the impressive Roaring Meg located on the double bastion.