If ever a place embodied Northern Ireland’s Giant Spirit, it is the Causeway Coastal Route. Maybe it’s the sheer breadth and beauty of its landscape. Perhaps it’s the mythical stories that are shaped and inspired by the dramatic coastline, or the fabled figures said to roam its glens. It’s certainly in the warm and hospitable people you will meet along the way.

Page Content:

If ever a place embodied Northern Ireland’s Giant Spirit, it is the Causeway Coastal Route. Maybe it’s the sheer breadth and beauty of its landscape. Perhaps it’s the mythical stories that are shaped and inspired by the dramatic coastline, or the fabled figures said to roam its glens. It’s certainly in the warm and hospitable people you will meet along the way.

Nowhere embodies Northern Ireland’s Giant Spirit quite like the Causeway Coastal Route. This glorious coastal route is as scenic, dramatic and inspiring as they come. Its breath-taking cliff walk views across the Irish Sea to Scotland and over the Atlantic Ocean to Donegal are unparalleled. Thrills and adventure can be found around every corner of this wonderfully windy route. But if a peaceful retreat is more what you’re after, there’s plenty of hidden gems along the way too. Starting in Belfast and stretching all the way to Derry-Londonderry, this epic drive is the perfect route to plan a spontaneous mid-week jolly or weekend getaway around.

But before you take to the road, here’s a list to help guide you along the way.

History awaits…

Why not make your first stop along the Causeway Coastal Route an historic one? If you’re starting the Causeway Coastal Route from Belfast, the imposing Carrickfergus Castle is not only an early stop off, but a must see. Over 800 years old, this medieval construction is steeped in history and is one of the finest examples of a Norman castle in Ireland. An epic start to the day!

Further up the trail is world renowned The Gobbins. This stunning cliff walk was hailed as a “a perfect marvel of engineering” …“with no parallel in Europe” when it was first unveiled in 1902. Stretching across the beautiful Islandmagee peninsula, this cliff walk is not for the timid. With challenging paths that include spectacular suspension bridges, caves, steps and tunnels, this is one attraction you will never forget.

Your final stop is at Carnfunnock Country Park, an excellent spot with loads to do, including a chance to solve the mysterious hedge maze.

Afternoon tea in Glenarm

Once you’ve left Carnfunnock, a pit-stop in picturesque Ballygally is a must. It will come as no surprise that, in a land steeped in legend, the local hotel is haunted – but by a friendly ghost. From here, journey inland to the storied Slemish mountain. This extinct volcano is where, according to legend, Saint Patrick tended sheep after being captured and taken to Ireland.

Heading towards the coast again, you’ll find Glenarm Castle. Wander in its historic Walled Gardens or simply marvel at the sumptuous house interior. It is also worth your time exploring the mythical nine Glens of Antrim. Game of Thrones® enthusiasts, be sure to head over to Steenson’s Économusée in the village. Their artisan jewellers are famous for the handcrafted pieces they made for the iconic series.

The Glens

The spectacular coast road to Cushendall offers must-see views on route to your next stop – the pretty-as-a-picture Cushendun.

Cushendall, the capital of the Glens, is a lively centre of festivals, music, dance and craic and nearby Cushendun, a National Trust Preserved village, is famed for its Cornish cottages. Look out for the caves behind the village as seen in Game of Thrones®. Explore the nine deep green Glens of Antrim, each with its own unique character and the magical areas around it.

Splash down at the beaches of Ballygally, Glenarm, Carnlough, Cushendall or Cushendun. The coast road gives us unrivalled views of Scotland. Glenariff, Queen of the Glens, is fairest of them all with the wild beauty of its waterfalls and trail skirting a sheer plunging gorge, within Glenariff Forest Park.

Rathlin Island via the Dark Hedges

For Thronies, this leg features another iconic location. First, take a detour to Torr Head, the closest point to Scotland with stunning views of Fair Head and Rathlin Island. Stop off next at the picturesque Bonamargy Friary ruins containing the remains of legendary chieftain Sorley Boy McDonnell.

From there, it’s on to the legendary Dark Hedges. Game of Thrones® fans know it as the epic Kingsroad highway in Westeros. This is selfie heaven as well as a piece of natural paradise planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century to impress visitors. You will be seriously impressed.

For sheer beauty, Rathlin Island is the experience for you. Just embrace the spirit-enhancing and rugged tranquillity of our only inhabited island.

A quiet coastal nook

For those looking to capture a true sense of Northern Ireland’s rural life, the quaint coastal nook of Ballintoy Village is the perfect place to start your day.

Follow the winding road from the village past the white-washed parish church and sitting at the end of a narrow steep road is the idyllic and picturesque village harbour. With a charming array of shops, pubs and restaurants, this is an ideal stop for those looking to truly unwind.

Ballintoy has enjoyed its fair share of fame in recent years too, featuring in HBO’s smash hit series Game of Thrones®. The village is where Theon Greyjoy returns to the Iron Islands (Lordsport Harbour) and meets his sister Yara.

For the Game of Thrones® fans among us, The Fullerton Arms Guesthouse (4*) in Ballintoy is sure to certainly spark your imagination. Home to only one of 10 ‘Game of Thrones Doors’, the guesthouse offers an array of recently renovated beautiful en suite bedrooms. A coastal base fit for a king.

A wee walk along a giant coast

Get moving with the always engaging Away-A-Wee Walk. The walk offers an alternative perspective of the stunning causeway. Let local guide Eimear Flanagan take you along the spectacular Giant’s Causeway cliffs, where you’ll go off the beaten track, taking lesser known routes.

A Giant attraction

You simply can’t miss the Giant’s Causeway! Legend says it’s the remains of a causeway built by an Irish giant to meet a challenge to a fight by a Scottish giant. Or maybe the intriguing stones are volcanic. Either way the place is epic. 

Formed over 60 million years ago, the Giant’s Causeway is arguably the most famous attraction in Northern Ireland. It’s a breath-taking landscape filled with hexagonal basalt columns and has left behind some uniquely distinctive formations. The camel, the wishing chair and the organ are just a few of the quirky names that have been given to some of these awe-inspiring formations. Be sure to head over to the world-class Visitor Centre, where you’ll learn all you need to know about this UNESCO-protected attraction.

End at one of the route’s jewels – Dunluce Castle. Perched dramatically on cliffs, it has already inspired C.S. Lewis’s Narnia and will inspire you too.

Walk the land

Experience a walking tour with Dalriada Kingdom Tours who will take you on a journey of this magical land. Mark and his expert team of local guides are passionate hosts and eager to tell the stories of the area with tours of Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle and the Giant’s Causeway itself. These stories are told with pride and passion, mixing traditional with modern, bringing the area back to life.

Your coastal base

Now all you need is the perfect base to explore from. And there’s plenty of choice when it comes to hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, camping, glamping, holiday homes and caravanning all along the Causeway Coastal Route.

If the campervan or caravan is your idea of a home away from home, then the fantastic family-run Watertop Farm in Ballycastle is just the spot for you. This homely holiday park offers two caravan sites, both providing everything you need to make your coastal trip a cosy one.

If it’s luxury you’re after, The Salthouse in Ballycastle has it in spades. A luxury eco hotel that draws renewable energy from their own local wind and solar supply. The Salthouse boasts a soothing spa, laid-back bar and restaurant. Sitting on in its own private grounds surrounded by the natural beauty of the rural Antrim landscapes, you’ll experience dramatic views of the coastline. The perfect coastal base for those in search of sea air, and fine dining.

The Route doesn’t end here

You’ll find inspiration around every corner along the Causeway Coastal Route and this doesn’t even scratch the surface.

The Causeway Coastal Route has so much to see and do, chances are you may not do it all in one trip. So, there’s your excuse to come back and embrace another piece of the giant spirit of Northern Ireland. So, what are you waiting for? Same time next year?

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure information is correct, we strongly advise checking in advance before you travel to your intended destination to ensure its open and book tickets if applicable.

Please Share My Journey

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

DISCLOSURE: Support Vagabond Joe – Some of our articles may contain affiliate links or sponsorship’s. When you click on a link we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). For more info please read my policy page. Thank You.