Last Updated: 29th July, 2018
Antrim is know for the beauty of its coastline and its green pastures and especially the Glens of Antrim..... Carrickfergus Castle in Carrickfergus is large and well preserved and it is here also that you can see the homestead of the former President of the United Stated of America, Andrew Jackson.
Travelling on you need to take in The Old Bushmills Distillery, The Giants Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, a very peaceful area with wonderful scenery and the lovely seaside town of Ballycastle from where a ferry leaves to go to Rathlin Island where you will find the Kebble Cliffs National Nature Reserve.
Rathlin Island popular with divers due to the number of wrecks sunk off the coast line, and a bird watchers paradise and is just 15 miles off the Mull of Kintyre off Scotland. Dunluce Castle is in a breath taking position, perched on the edge of the cliffs and stop off in Portrush.
As well as the vibrant capital Belfast with its Titanic heritage, the highlight of this area has got to be the coast where rope bridges across the ocean, UNESCO world heritage sites and sweeping strands are waiting to be enjoyed.
Titanic Belfast on Queen’s Road is where you can view the head of the slipway where the world’s most famous ocean liner was built. Transformed into a fantastic multimedia exhibition showcasing the history of Belfast and the creation of the Titanic via artefacts, images and animation, you also enjoy a high-tech ride through a recreation of the city’s shipyards in all its glory – smells included! The Ulster Museum is worth a few hours visit, offering an exciting host of historical artefacts, such as the Armada Room focusing on the 1588 shipwrecked galleon; the Egyptian Room with its 2500-year-old Egyptian princess mummy and the Early Peoples Gallery with Celtic items from the Iron Age – free tours are also available. An iconic building to visit is Queens College, followed by the nearby Botanic Gardens with lovely grounds and Victorian glasshouses. City Hall is always busy with people picnicking in the grounds on a fine day, and it offers free, 45-minute guided tours of the ornate interior including an opportunity to sit on the mayor's throne in the council chamber! For a truly traditional pint, head to the National Trust's Crown Liquor Saloon opposite the Opera House; the most famous bar in the city, its stunning and flamboyant design is unrivalled.
The summit of Cave Hill (368m) provides unrivalled over the docks, Belfast Lough and the Mourne Mountains – on a clear day, you can even see spot Scotland! Cave Hill Country Park spreads across the hill's eastern slopes, with several marked walks and an adventure playground for kids (suitable for ages 3 to 14). For a short drive out and a day’s exploring, The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum is actually two museums in one, about 14km northeast of central Belfast. Antrim Castle Gardens & Clotworthy House, about half and hour’s drive from the city, is a wonderful living museum of culture and heritage and well worth a visit. The original location of Antrim Castle is now integrated into the 400 year-old landscape of wide pathways and walled gardens. The motte and Castle remains are in very good order and there are scenic walks through wooded areas and ponds; for some active fun, hire a multi-passenger bike to explore. Walks can be extended out to the shores of Lough Neigh where there is a cafe for snacks or a light meal.
There has been extensive filming along the stunning Causeway coast and glens for this hit series, and there is range of tours to choose from to experience the fantasy world of author George R.R. Martin for yourself, following in the footsteps of characters such as Arya Stark, Sansa Stark and Jon Snow. One of the most popular options is to visit many of the places where pivotal scenes were shot on a self-drive tour that takes in Belfast, Glenarm, Ballycastle, Derry and Londonderry, travelling at your own pace for maximum enjoyment.
A small, rural seaside town on the north tip of Antrim, and the perfect access point for Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Ballycastle Marina is a superb spot with lots of facilities for boats as well as restaurants, shops and pubs, and the annual ‘Old lammas Fair’. You can also learn about local folk and social history in the town's restored 18th century courthouse, or head to Bonamargy Friary to see some well-preserved remains. Nearby Watertop Farm (6 miles) is a large sheep and tourism Farm in the Glens offering a huge range of activities for families including go karts, boating lake, museum, sheep shearing demonstrations, assault course, tearooms and camping facilities – everything to keep young adventurers happy. For some glorious sand and sea, head to Whitepark Bay, a white arc between two headlands, or take a boat to Rathlin island to visit the bird sanctuary and the West Lighthouse.
Half a million tourists visit this stunning World Heritage Site each year. Over 40,000 black basalt rocks formed by volcanic activity 60 Million years ago, this unique area of natural beauty will blow your mind. The excellent Causeway Centre includes Tourist Information offices, an audio-visual presentation and souvenir shop as well as tearooms for that all-important warming cuppa on a wild and windy day. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like; hit the coast and see this natural wonder for yourself as you learn about legendary Irish warrior Finn McCool and the Scottish giant Benandonner – a must see.
Take this daring walk for spectacular views; it’s worth looking through the telescopes on a clear day. The rope bridge may be a scary prospect if you don’t like heights, but its safe and the staff at either end are very friendly.
A lovely destination in its own right and well worth a stop-off after seeing the stunning causeway; ride the heritage railway between the town and causeway, fish for salmon when the conditions are right, and sample some of the local fine fare in contemporary restaurants and local pubs. Ireland’s oldest working distillery on the banks of the river continues to handcraft small batches of smooth qhiskey; a 400 year old process. Take a tour and tasting experience and learn all about the distillation of this Irish tipple.
An hour from Belfast by car, Portstewart Strand is a prestigious blue flag beach that offers many activities including surfing, swimming, horse riding and scenic walks on marked nature trails with lovely views of the North Coast – and it’s one of the last remaining beaches in Ireland where you can drive your car! This makes it perfect for a family outing or to carry surf gear – and to top it off, facilities are really good, with toilets, external showers and first aid. Local accommodation ranges from caravan and camping parks to B&Bs and luxury self-catering cottages. Nearby Barmouth nature and wildlife reserve (wheelchair accessible) is a lovely spot to view migrant waterfowl, waders and nesting birds throughout the year; there are bird hides offering excellent viewing opportunities. Insider tip: Keys to the bird hides are available from The National Trust North Coast Office at the Giant's Causeway.
A small seaside town, Portrush boasts three amazing beaches, each offering fantastic stretches of sand and surfing opportunities with multiple surf schools available. Walk from east strand, an unspoilt, long and wide sandy beach, all the way to white rocks beach; there’s plenty of room for games and a large carpark. Explore the caves and coves at low tide and you can even try horse riding. Now something of an institution, Barry’s is a mix of indoor and outdoor amusement arcade, roller coasters, ghost trains, dippers, car rides there is something for all age groups, and ice cream! Nearby Dunluce castle is an iconic building, standing on the edge of a cliff with stunning views over the ocean and well worth a visit. Also take a trip to Ballintoy Harbour (the ‘Iron Islands' in the game of thrones); as well as lovely scenery, it has a lovely little pier café with great food and outside tables.