My latest adventure takes me to Northern Ireland to explore the Causeway Coastal Route.
You can either start the route from Belfast, or as an extra add-on you can also explore the Wild Atlantic Way which follows up along the West coast of Ireland and can connect to the Causeway Coastal Route.
You can easily visit the Causeway Coastal Route over a long weekend, or take a week if you wish to spend more time along the trail.
Northern Ireland has a lot of stunning natural beauty to offer travellers, and you can find many easy to follow paths along the coast and discover the best of what the region has to offer.
Fly into Belfast and explore this vibrant city
Belfast has many flight connections from different parts of the UK, so you have loads of flight options to choose from – making Belfast a great gateway hub for the Causeway Coastal Route.
You’ve probably heard this before, but Belfast is very up-and-coming in recent years with vast development projects taking place around the city. There’s so much to see and do – it makes for a perfect starting point for the Causeway Coastal Route.
Locals in Belfast call Dublin the Disneyland of Ireland, and say that Belfast is where you will find real character.
I have to say after my visit I would agree, especially with the fantastic pub scene around the Cathedral Quarter and design hotels such as Bullitt hotel.
You have to check out the award-winning Titanic experience, which walks you through the history of Belfast as well as the classic story about the world’s most famous sunken ship. It’s worth giving Belfast a visit before you head onto the coastal trail.
Game of Thrones is filmed in Northern Ireland
Before we get started on the Causeway Route, I wanted to tell all the Game of Thrones fans out there that Northern Ireland is home to a lot of production filming for the show.
HBO have confirmed that after the final series that a lot of the sets will remain in Northern Ireland, and will be turned into tourist attractions that you can visit.
The journey does pass by some of the filming locations, so I would recommend downloading the Game of Thrones Northern Ireland Location App that can help with finding many of the filming locations, if you’re interested in visiting some of the spots yourself on your trip. Just a heads-up!
Head to Derry/Londonderry
You can get a train from Belfast to Derry/Londonderry, the second biggest town in Northern Ireland. This train journey will take you along part of the coast with beautiful views.
Derry is a great city to start the Causeway Coast, and I would recommend staying at the cosy Bishopsgate Hotel for wonderful rooms and a central location.
You can start your day on a Boom Board tour of Derry to meet local people and to discover the city by a different and unique form of transport.
Tacos are normally not what you first think of food-wise when Derry comes to find, but head to the bank and find the Pyke & Pomme food truck, which has turned into a very trendy spot to enjoy a taco or three. Be sure to try the squid and lime tacos on offer, they are spectacular.
You have to take a guided walking tour of the walled city to learn about the deep history of Derry. Martin Mc Crossan City Tours runs a world-class walking tour that only costs £4 and comes with a cup of tea – exceptional value.
The guided tour will give you loads of information about Derry: the guides are world class, and have been running the tours even when the locals thought a walking tour of Derry would never work.
It’s been going from strength to strength, and become one of the most popular things to do in Derry so be sure to give it your time.
Head for dinner at Primrose Bistro for a taste of Derry cuisine and style. They use only the freshest and finest local ingredients where possible, and they do an amazing surf and turf mixture of tapas dishes that is definitely worth trying. The cocktails are worth a cheeky mention too.
End your evening in Derry with a one-of-a-kind experience, and go on a moonlight kayaking trip along the river Foyle.
Paddle calmly along the waters as you take in all the stars from above, also giving you a unique look at the city and a paddle under the Peace Bridge.
Now it’s time to head along the Causeway Coastal Route
Once you’ve arrived and spent some time in Belfast and transferred to Derry/Londonderry, hop in a rental car or join a bus tour to head along the Causeway Coastal Route.
The journey is packed with views across the Irish sea, the Atlantic, rugged landscapes, unspoilt coastlines, and many pretty villages and towns along the way.
The Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge
First stop along the Causeway Coast is the The Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, which swings across the Atlantic ocean from the mainland to a small island that was used by salmon fisherman over 350 years ago.
The bridge once was removed each day, but now has been replaced with a more modern rope bridge for visitors to enjoy and briefly visit the island.
The coastal walk is easy and worth doing too, and I would allocate an hour to enjoy the site.
The location is managed by the National Trust who have limited the amount of daily visitors, so it’s advised to stop here first as you might need to pick up a ticket to be given an allocated time to visit.
This is a great system, otherwise the bridge could quickly become full and it allows you to enjoy your visit without becoming crowded.
Visit the iconic Giant’s Causeway
main attraction along the Causeway Coastal Route has to be the Giant’s Causeway, which is an area made famous by its unique and interesting bedrock formation, as well as its history and mythology.
The official reason for the unique hexagonal formation was that it was created over 60 million years ago when molten lava cooled suddenly on contact with the coastal water.
Personally I love the story about the giants building a bridge, I find that far more mysterious and exciting. Each to their own of course!
You can pay for your ticket at the newly opened visitor centre and learn about the history of the Giant’s Causeway from the selection of interactive displays. You can even take a guided tour if you wish.
You have two options once you reach the location, you can either walk to the site from the visitor centre which can take around 20 minutes, or you can pay to use the swift back-and-forth bus service. I opted to take the bus one way to save time getting back.
I wish I could have spent 4 hours exploring this site, as I could have happily brought a flask of tea and just taken in the awe-inspiring surrounding coastal scenery.
It’s a lovely spot to spend some time if the weather is good. Look out for the Camel Hump, the Wishing Chair and the Harp which can all be found around the site.
After your visit, don’t miss out on the incredible opportunity of trying the local favourite – a combination of tea and toasties for lunch.
Close-by, you can find a unique caravan cafe called Maedgen which offers an incredible selection of flat iron toasties.
I went for the kimchi and blue cheese and was not left disapointed. Be sure to pop by and visit the lovely local ladies after your visit to the Giant’s Causeway for some warm up fuel.
Surfing lessons at Portrush
Want to go surfing in Northern Ireland? Might not sound as inviting at first but the north coast close to Portrush in Portstewart has the best waves in NI worth surfing. Once you have your wet suit on you’re ready to go.
The sea water isn’t as cold as it first looks, so don’t let the weather fool you. Jump on your board and catch some waves during a surfing lesson.
Stay at Salt Water B&B in Portrush
Looking for a place to stay in Portrush? Be sure to check out Salt Water B&B which offers an idyllic beach retreat with cosy rooms and a cracking view of the coast. They also do a hearty breakfast selection which is not to be missed.
The Fry (as the locals call a cooked breakfast) is the best way to start your day in Northern Ireland, and all the ingredients are locally sourced from farmers, which you can really taste in the quality of the selected ingredients.
Jump on a fishing boat and enjoy a catch to plate breakfast
Northern Ireland has a large selection of fantastic and tasty locally sourced produce that shouldn’t be missed if you happen to be exploring the Causeway Coast.
Be sure to check out Causeway Coast Foodie Tour which offers a wide selection of tours to connect visitors to local producers.
Why not jump on a local fishing boat, meet a skipper, and go out in the morning to catch fresh fish that you can later prepare for your breakfast?
I had no idea I was a dab hand at fishing, but I managed to catch a whole bucket of mackerel to enjoy on poached eggs and toast, with a freshly brewed coffee prepared by a local barista coffee shop in the harbour of Portrush called Babushka Kitchen Cafe.
How awesome is that! A great way to get out to sea and then sample your catch after, enjoying a taste of locally sourced produce. It doesn’t get more fresh than this!
Why not give a go at Blokarting
Blokart is a new and exciting extreme sport that’s taking the world by storm. Like windsurfing, but instead of being out on the water the only difference is that you sit down in a kart and get blown along by the sail on the sandy beach. Hours of fun, and great to enjoy along the Causeway Coast.
Harry’s Shake at Portstewart
Why not grab fish and chips at the best spot in town on the beach of Portstewart.
Harry’s Shake is perfectly located on the beach, and offers an exciting menu to tickle your taste buds. Be sure to stop off here along the way and enjoy the sea view with a bite to eat.
End your trip on the Gobbins Cliff Path
What better way to end your trip along the Causeway Coast than by stopping off at the Gobbins Cliff path, a two mile coastal pathway that will bring you along the cliff face walkway, passing by a stunning seaview.
Its’s a unique experience, and guided tours leave daily around every half an hour – be sure to book your slot in advance ahead of time.
Pass by a selection of bridges, stairways, caves and tunnels carved out of the cliff face – its a lot of fun and a wonderful walk to take in the sea breeze.
Thank you for reading about my adventure along the Causeway Coast
What a spectacular part of the world Northern Ireland is to explore. I hope you found this blog post review about the Causeway Coast useful.
This trip was put together with Visit Britain, Tourism Northern Ireland and Iambassador with connection to the the Social Travel Summit 2018 held in Belfast.
Wishing you an enjoyable future trip to this stunning part of the world. Happy travels!
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