14 Jun 2019
Discover the endless delights of one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world.
Hugging the coast from Belfast to Derry~Londonderry, the Causeway Coastal Route passes some of Northern Ireland’s best-known landmarks and rewards travellers with breath-taking views around every bend of its full 190km distance.
Key stops along the way must include The Gobbins, a white-knuckle cliff path walk at Islandmagee, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Giant’s Causeway and Old Bushmills Distillery, the world's oldest licenced whiskey distillery.
But alongside the A-list attractions this stunning coastal route throws up an array of hidden delights as it passes through quaint harbour villages, skirts dramatic cliff faces and golden beaches, and sweeps past castles and coves.
You could easily drive past Ballintoy Harbour, but don’t. Pause here, right on the very edge of Northern Ireland’s north coast and you’ll soon realise why the Game of Thrones® location scouts chose it to feature in the world of Westeros.
Some 80km of the Causeway Coastal Route are dominated by the ice-age landscape of the Glens of Antrim. The nine glens span grasslands, dense forests, peat bogs, mountain uplands, waterfalls and glacial valleys with the biggest, Glenariff, known as the ‘queen of the glens’.
For nature lovers, Glenariff Forest Park is a beautiful place to stop and stretch the legs. Its waymarked trails follow an enchanting waterfall walk, or you can climb high into the glen for stunning views over the U–shaped valley.
Further along the coast is Torr Head, and it is worth taking a detour from the main route to explore this rocky and unspoilt headland. The trip along the narrow, winding Torr Head Scenic Route is an event in itself, a rollercoaster of a drive along a road that clings to steep slopes above the sea.
Having reached its highest point, a further climb on foot to the plateau presents spectacular views over the rugged coastline and across the sea to Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre.
Back on the road, take time to visit the pretty harbour town of Ballycastle for a stroll along the promenade, a round of golf, a food tour, or at least a taste of the local delicacies of Yellow Man (honeycomb) and dulse (a seaweed snack). If your trip is in late August you might catch the ‘Ould Lammas Fair’, the oldest fair in Northern Ireland.
Near Ballycastle, and between Torr Head and the super-scenic Fair Head (another Game of Thrones® location), lies Murlough Bay. Sitting off the beaten track, this spot is known for its remote location, outstanding beauty and close views of Rathlin Island.
Like all the best best hidden gems, it’s not the easiest to get to, but the effort will be rewarded with beautiful panoramic views, seaside walks and hardly a soul in sight.
Need more resources? View our images and videos from across Ireland