The best route for exploring the Causeway Coast by car (Matthew Woodhouse)
Sponsored Words : Nicola Brady | 05 August 2019

Driving Ireland's epic Causeway Coastal Route in 3 days

If you want to see the Giant’s Causeway, or have been captivated by the locations in Game of Thrones®, the Causeway Coast Route will capture your imagination. Here's how to drive it in three days...

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Bernie Brown; @storytravelers; Arthur Ward

Whether you’ve been wowed by images of the Giant’s Causeway, or captivated by the locations in Game of Thrones®, the Causeway Coast is a place that will always capture your imagination. With wild stretches of dramatic, craggy cliffs, crumbling castles overlooking the sea and tiny beaches that could pass for Caribbean coves, this winding route along the coast of Northern Ireland is one of the best road trips you could ask for.

Best of all? It’s easily tackled in three days, with plenty to see and do along the way. Weave your way along this striking route and you’ll be blown away by the endless charm and character you find.

Day one 

Titanic Belfast, Carrickfergus Castle and the Gobbins

Visit Titanic Belfast along the Maritime Mile (Chris Hill)

Visit Titanic Belfast along the Maritime Mile (Chris Hill)

Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic

Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic

1. Pick up your car in Belfast City Airport and you’ll be out and on your way in minutes. If you have the time (and you should definitely try) then make your first port of call the Titanic Belfast Visitor Experience. Only a 5 minute drive from the airport, this captivating exhibition gives a fascinating insight into the journey of the Titanic, which was built right on this very spot.

This area is known as The Maritime Mile, and is full of attractions relating to Belfast’s shipping history including the Big Fish (a ten metre long mosaic fish installed in 1999 to celebrate the regeneration of the River Lagan), SS Nomadic and HMS Caroline. Game of Thrones® fans will be happy to know that a lot of the series was filmed just down the road, and the studios will be open for tours in the spring of next year.

 

2. When you get on the road, you’ll quickly find yourself in the gorgeous Antrim countryside. Carrickfergus Castle is about a 30 minute drive from the city, and is a great place for your first stop – this Norman castle sits on the northern shore of Belfast Lough, and is a beautiful place to stretch your legs.

Carrickfergus Castle (Arthur Ward)

Carrickfergus Castle (Arthur Ward)

Brave a walk over the Gobbins (Arthur Ward)

Brave a walk over the Gobbins (Arthur Ward)

 

3. Next up? The Gobbins. This cliff top path is like nothing you’ve seen before – between twisting, narrow pathways and a bridge that moves ever so softly in the wind, this path gives you an incredible vantage point of the cliffs and the sparkling blue sea beneath you.

Top tip 

Grab a bite to eat at Billy Andy's (billyandys.com), a 19th century traditional pub with an excellent menu of contemporary dishes (at reasonable prices, too).

 

Day two 

Murlough Bay, Torr Head and Raithlin Island

The stunning medium Murlough Bay (Matthew Woodhouse)

The stunning medium Murlough Bay (Matthew Woodhouse)

The scenic view from Torr Head (Stefan Schnebelt)

The scenic view from Torr Head (Stefan Schnebelt)

1. Spend your day in the best possible way, by cruising a seemingly endless stretch of coastline that will take your breath away. Drive alongside the water’s edge and make sure you leave enough time to stop and take in the view at one of the pretty coastal spots along the way. There mightn’t be any sand at Murlough Bay, but the lush green grasses reaching down the sea are gorgeous. Torr Head is a rugged and dramatic outcrop – on a clear day, you might even be able to catch a glimpse of Scotland.

2. If you want a proper spot of exploration, Raithlin Island is an absolute beauty. A haven for wildlife, this tiny populated island is six miles from the mainland, and easily reached by ferry. Once there, you can wander from the harbour around the island, stroll up to the lighthouse or take a guided tour. Visit during April or May for the best chance of catching a glimpse of the puffins who call this spot home. 

A puffin on Raithlin Island (Bernie Brown)

A puffin on Raithlin Island (Bernie Brown)

Top Tip

The seafood all around Northern Ireland is exceptional, so plan a meal at Morton’s (mortons.ie)to indulge in the freshest fish caught in nearby waters.

Day three

Ballintoy Harbour, Giant's Causeway and Dunluce Castle

Giants Causeway (@storytravelers)

Giants Causeway (@storytravelers)

The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge (Tony Pleavin)

The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge (Tony Pleavin)

1. It might seem like there’s a lot to pack in on your final day, but this stretch of the Causeway Coastal Route is an absolute treasure trove, with fantastic spots every few minutes. Kick start the day with an adrenaline rush – the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is an exhilarating experience, the narrow bridge standing almost 100 feet over the sea, over stunning waters. If you’re brave enough, be sure to look down beneath your feet – the views are absolutely killer, and you can see into beautiful sea caves and caverns as the ocean swirls below.

2. Ballintoy Harbour is just a couple of minutes away, and is a picturesque village and harbour in its own right. But there’s another reason why people call in, and that’s down to Game of Thrones®. Look out from the harbour and you might just recognise this as the Iron Islands – keep an eye out for the handy Game of Thrones® look out points, that identify each location throughout Northern Ireland in both their real and fantasy worlds.

Ballintoy Harbour (Matthew Woodhouse)

Ballintoy Harbour (Matthew Woodhouse)

Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway

 

3. Less than 20 minutes away is the namesake of the coastline, and one of the dreamiest locations in the whole country. The Giant’s Causeway – one of the world's best UNESCO sites – is as mind-boggling as it is beautiful, the hexagonal basalt columns spread in amongst the waves. It's a great place to head for a long, scenic cliff walk. 

 

4. Further along the coastline is Dunluce Castle, standing on the edge of the land and looking like something out of a fairytale. The remains of this 14th century castle are beguiling, and best seen as the afternoon light dims and the sky glows with the setting sun. Afterwards, finish your day with a tour and a tasting at the world’s oldest whiskey distillery, Bushmills.     

 

Dunluce Castle (Matthew Woodhouse)

Dunluce Castle (Matthew Woodhouse)

Top Tip

If you’re looking for a cosy little pub, you couldn’t ask for better than The Harbour Bar (ramorerestaurant.com/harbourbar.php), one of the oldest bars on the north coast.

Derry-Londonderry's peace bridge (Gardiner Mitchell)

Derry-Londonderry's peace bridge (Gardiner Mitchell)

Have more time?

Allow for a day or two exploring the Walled City of Derry at the end of your trip. This vibrant city is on the cultural radar thanks to the huge success of the TV show Derry Girls, and is filled with great places to eat and drink – the Walled City Brewery is a must for craft beer fans. 

 

Practical information

Return flights and 3 days car hire start from £129pp* with British Airways, including 24-hour customer support and roadside assistance. Flights land into Belfast City Airport, just a 5 minute drive from the city centre.

*Subject to availability. Price stated is per person based on 2 adults sharing, inclusive of all airport taxes, fees and charges, and includes return flights (economy), from London Heathrow to Belfast airport and 3 days group A category car hire for travel between 1- 30 November 2019. Book by 31 August 2019. Price stated based on drivers aged 30-70 years. Price correct as of 10 July 2019. For full terms and conditions, visit ba.com/ireland. Holiday packages are protected under British Airways Holidays Ltd by the Civil Aviation Authority. The British Airways Holidays ATOL number is 5985. British Airways Holidays standard terms and conditions and conditions of carriage apply, please refer to ba.com.

There's still more Irish road trips to discover...

Discover more of Ireland

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