In association with: Tourism Ireland
Wild beauty and a big-hearted welcome await travellers to Northern Ireland’s coast and countryside
A trip to Northern Ireland’s bracing Atlantic coast and emerald-green landscapes is sure to put a spring back in anyone’s step. And in a country with brilliant roads and transport links, clients can get the best of both worlds – a soulful city break and a scenic adventure all in one giant trip.
Though small, Northern Ireland punches well above its weight in terms of natural attractions and cultural depth. First-time visitors will want to head straight for the Unesco-listed Giant’s Causeway, a volcanic wonder on the northern Atlantic coast formed by ancient seismic forces.
First-time visitors will want to head straight for the Unesco-listed Giant’s Causeway
The Causeway Coastal Route, easily accessible from both Belfast and Derry~Londonderry, makes an ideal road trip for clients eager to see a string of scenic wonders along the northern shore, including the ruins of Dunluce Castle and Mussenden Temple.
The National Trust offers a five-mile guided Clifftop Experience from the ruins of Dunseverick Castle to the Giant’s Causeway. Clients looking to stay nearby will find the perfect base in the little town of Bushmills in County Antrim.
Accommodation ranges from heritage boutique suites by the river to budget rooms, and the Old Bushmills Distillery offers whiskey tours of a historic building where visitors can sample the region’s renowned giant spirit.
Another stunning place to visit is the iconic Dark Hedges in County Antrim, a location in Game of Thrones. The avenue of 150 interlocked beech trees forms a natural tunnel across the road that’s become one of the most photographed spots in Northern Ireland.
Located not far inland from the Causeway Coast, it makes an easy addition to an itinerary exploring the region. With fantastic access via its large port and international airport, Belfast is the perfect start or end point for a tour of Northern Ireland’s natural beauty.
Recently awarded the highly coveted Unesco City of Music status, it puts visitors right in the heart of the action. For more scenic beauty, step out along The Gobbins Cliff Path, just a few miles to the northeast of the city. Often referred to as the most dramatic walk in Europe, it can form part of a larger itinerary around the Causeway Coast.
Castles and glens
Travellers embarking on a self-drive from Belfast shouldn’t miss Carrickfergus Castle on the way. To the north, there are more scenic delights at Carnfunnock Country Park where visitors can explore walking trails and a hedge maze in the shape of Northern Ireland.
The cute coastal village of Cushendun, at the foot of the fabled Glens of Antrim, is perfect for an overnight stay on the Causeway Coastal route. It also offers a gateway to the picturesque Nine Glens, an area of outstanding natural beauty that’s well worth a detour.
From storied seaforts and green glens to coastal routes and natural wonders, Northern Ireland appeals to casual sightseers and bold explorers alike, all of whom are sure to leave infused with the giant spirit that shaped the land.
Three top coastal spots
The Giant’s Causeway: Northern Ireland’s iconic World Heritage Site is an absolute must-see. The hexagonal columns of volcanic rock look as if they’ve been hewn by hand, though local legend has it they were created by warring giants.
The Gobbins: Through caves, across bridges, up steps and along tubular walkways tacked into sheer cliffs, the Gobbins Cliff Path on the Islandmagee peninsula is touted as the most dramatic walk in Europe. Best explored with a guide, travellers should book a slot in advance.
Ballintoy Harbour: This picturesque old fishing port on the north coast is enclosed by low cliffs and speckled with stone cottages and slipways into the sea. It was a Game of Thrones filming location and is a launch point for kayaking tours.
Always check the latest travel and public health advice.
PICTURES: Tourism Ireland/Arthur Ward