Between Belfast and Derry, and some 120 miles long, Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route takes in natural and manmade attractions such as Carrickfergus Castle, Torr Head, Giant’s Causeway and Magilligan Point. This stunningly scenic route is visually arresting and culturally immersive.
Where to Stay
The Causeway Coastal route is ideal if you plan a self-catering, holiday cottage break, because you have the freedom to set your own itinerary.
There is plenty of variation when it comes to holiday cottages in Northern Ireland, including areas conveniently located close to the Causeway Coastal route.
Belfast and Derry
These two cities bookend the route, and both are ideal places to either start or finish your journey.
The only remaining walled city in either Northern Ireland or the Republic, Derry is richly historical but also dynamically contemporary. With a calendar full of events and festivals, the city feels like it wears its history well.
Attractions include the Siege Museum, the Tower Museum and the civil rights-themed Museum of Free Derry. Derry also has the contemporary Void art space and Warehouse Gallery. There are several bus and walking tours, taking you along the walls, and visiting sites of political interest.
Also, as a thriving cultural centre, Derry has a great selection of restaurants, bars and pubs.
Belfast is home to the Titanic Belfast attraction, where you can explore the shipyards and take a walking tour to experience the Titanic story up close.
The Titanic Studios are where the iconic Game of Thrones series is filmed, and there are a variety of tours which take you to the outdoor locations where key moments of this unfolding saga have been shot.
Like Derry, Belfast has a lively entertainment and arts culture, with plenty to see and experience, including restaurants, pubs and attractions.
Castles on the Causeway Coast
Standing high on the cliffs of the North Antrim coast, the ruins of Dunluce Castle bear witness to centuries of conflict. The MacQuillan Family built the castle in about 1500, and became the sought-after prize in conflicts between warring warrior clans.
Glenarm Castle is the ancestral home of the Earls of Antrim, the McDonnells. Its famous walled garden is one of Ireland’s oldest, and originally supplied the castle with all its fruit and vegetables. Now it is purely decorative, with rich displays of herbaceous plants and bright and rare specimens of flower.
Not far from Belfast, Carrickfergus Castle is one of Ireland’s best preserved medieval constructions, and it continued to play a military role right up until 1928. You can easily explore the castle using the information on site, and get a feel for medieval life by visiting the restored banqueting hall.
Giant’s Causeway and Torr Head
The Giant’s Causeway is a natural geological wonder. Consisting of some 40,000 basalt columns interlocked with one another, it provides an organic, sculptural landscape feature.
Visitors can climb the Shepherd’s Steps cut into the hillside and hike along the clifftop for a panoramic view of the coastline.
A short detour off the main coastal route, the trip to Torr Head takes you along a narrow stretch of winding road. But you’re rewarded with awesome views of the coastline, including the coast of Scotland, which is only 13 miles away.
Other Attractions and Landmarks
The Causeway Coastal Route is unfeasibly packed full of places to see and things to experience, which could mean some hard choices when it comes to making the most of your time.
There is the Old Bushmills Distillery, Ireland’s oldest, where you can enjoy tutored whiskey tastings; and, along the Antrim Coast, the sandy beaches of Whitepark Bay to stroll along. Walk beneath the natural occurring archway of intertwining beech trees at the Dark Hedges; or visit the Cornish-styled, charming coastal village of Cushendun – the work of Clough Williams-Ellis, who also designed Portmeirion in North Wales.