Towns And Things To See On The Giant’s Causeway Coast

The Giant’s Causeway Coast is renowned for its natural beauty, historic landmarks, and vibrant towns. This guide highlights the best spots for hillwalking, hiking, and exploring this stunning region.



Highlights/Key Points

  • Scenic Drives: The Causeway Coastal Route is renowned for its breathtaking views and numerous points of interest.
  • Historic Sites: Castles, ancient ruins, and quaint villages dot the landscape.
  • Outdoor Activities: From hiking and biking to exploring caves and cliffs, there’s something for every adventurer.
  • Local Culture: Experience the rich heritage and welcoming communities along the coast.
Carrick-a-rede ropebridge, Northern Ireland
Towns And Things To See On The Giant's Causeway Coast 27

Towns on the Giant’s Causeway Coast

Ballycastle

a river running through a Ballycastle
Ballycastle, Co Antrim by Kenneth Allen, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Ballycastle is a picturesque seaside town perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. The town is flanked by Fairhead Cliffs, which offer some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in Northern Ireland. Hiking these cliffs provides breathtaking views of the North Atlantic and Rathlin Island.

The town itself boasts a rich history, including the ancient Bonamargy Friary. A visit to Dunfin Farm offers a traditional Irish sheep farming experience, where you can learn about sheepdog training and enjoy panoramic countryside views.

Bonamargy Friary a stone building with a cemetery in the background
Bonamargy Friary Andreas F. Borchert, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons

Ballycastle Beach is ideal for a relaxing day by the sea or a refreshing swim after a long hike. This charming town perfectly blends natural beauty and cultural richness, making it a must-visit on the Causeway Coastal Route.

Take the ferry and visit Rathlin Island for some fabulous walks and birdwatching.

Bushmills

Famous for the Old Bushmills Distillery, the oldest working distillery in Ireland, Bushmills is steeped in history and natural beauty. The distillery, founded in 1608, offers guided tours that showcase the whiskey-making process and conclude with tastings of its finest products.

a row of barrels stacked on a shelf at Bushmills Distillery
Yves Cosentino, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nearby, the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage site, features unique hexagonal basalt columns formed by ancient volcanic activity. This geological wonder is also rich in folklore, with tales of the giant Finn McCool.

Dunluce Castle, perched on a cliff edge, adds to the historical allure with its medieval ruins, stories of banshees and dramatic coastal views. Bushmills is a perfect base for exploring the Giant’s Causeway Coast’s natural and historical treasures.

Portrush

Portrush is a lively resort town known for its stunning beaches and vibrant atmosphere. It is home to the Royal Portrush Golf Club, one of the world’s most famous golf courses. The nearby Whiterocks Beach, with its limestone cliffs and caves, is perfect for beachcombing and coastal walks.

Royal Portrush 8th hole
Average Golfer, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Barry’s Amusements, a historic amusement park, adds a family-friendly touch to the town. Portrush serves as a gateway to several key attractions along the Causeway Coast, including Dunluce Castle and the Giant’s Causeway.

The town’s blend of outdoor activities, historic sites, and vibrant nightlife makes it an ideal stop for visitors seeking both adventure and relaxation.

Portstewart

Known for its scenic walks and beautiful beaches, Portstewart is a charming coastal town on the Causeway Coast. Portstewart Strand, a two-mile stretch of golden sand, is perfect for swimming, surfing, and hiking along the dunes.

The Promenade is lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants, offering a vibrant spot to enjoy local cuisine and coastal views.

1251px Mussenden Temple 2005
CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Nearby, on the other side of the River Bann, you will find Mussenden Temple, perched on a cliff edge. This 18th-century structure, part of the Downhill Demesne, offers breathtaking views, a glimpse into the area’s rich history, and an iconic photo opportunity. Portstewart’s relaxed atmosphere and natural beauty make it a must-visit destination.

Cushendun

Cushendun Harbour, Towns on the Causeway Coast

Cushendun, nestled in the Glens of Antrim, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue. The village’s whitewashed cottages and picturesque harbour provide a tranquil retreat.

Cushendun Beach is a serene spot for a relaxing walk, while the Cushendun Caves, featured in Game of Thrones, offer a glimpse into the area’s geological past. Glenmona House and its surrounding gardens provide a peaceful escape.

Cushendun is also a gateway to the stunning Glendun River and its scenic valley, perfect for leisurely walks and nature photography. The village’s rich heritage and natural wonders make it a delightful destination on the Causeway Coast.

Interesting Sites Along the Route

  1. Giant’s Causeway
    The Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage site, features about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns formed by an ancient volcanic eruption. It is steeped in legend, said to be the handiwork of the giant Finn McCool. The site’s visitor centre offers interactive exhibits on geological and mythological history. Several walking trails provide opportunities to explore the area’s unique landscape, including the challenging Shepherd’s Steps and the scenic Causeway Coast Way.
  2. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
    The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, connecting the mainland to Carrickarede Island, offers a thrilling experience. Historically used by fishermen, the bridge now attracts visitors for its breathtaking views and the adrenaline rush of crossing. The surrounding coastal paths provide excellent hiking opportunities, with stunning vistas of the North Atlantic and Rathlin Island. Birdwatching is another popular activity here, with various seabird species inhabiting the area.
  3. Dunluce Castle
    Perched on a cliff edge, Dunluce Castle is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic historic sites. The medieval ruins offer spectacular views of the Antrim coast and a glimpse into the area’s turbulent history. The castle was the seat of the MacDonnell clan and has been associated with numerous legends, including tales of banshees. Exploring the castle and its surroundings provides a fascinating journey into the past.
  4. The Dark Hedges
    The Dark Hedges, a striking avenue of interlocking beech trees, has become one of Northern Ireland’s most photographed locations, partly due to its appearance in Game of Thrones. This hauntingly beautiful site, planted in the 18th century, offers a unique backdrop for photography and a serene spot for a walk. The surrounding countryside provides additional opportunities for exploration and scenic views.
  5. Glenariff Forest Park
    Known as the ‘Queen of the Glens,’ Glenariff Forest Park features stunning waterfalls and forest trails. The park’s 8.9km circular trail offers a moderately challenging hike through a landscape of lush greenery and cascading waterfalls. The park also provides several shorter walks, perfect for families and casual hikers. The visitor centre offers information on the park’s natural features and suggested routes for exploring its scenic beauty.

FAQ

Q: What is the best time to visit the Giant’s Causeway?
A: The best times to visit are early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid crowds and enjoy the site in peaceful conditions.

Q: How long does it take to drive the Causeway Coastal Route?
A: The full route from Belfast to Derry is about 120 miles and can take a full day or more if you stop to explore the many attractions along the way.

Q: Are there guided tours available?
A: Yes, many companies offer guided tours, including walking, bus, and cycling tours. You can also opt for self-guided tours using maps and apps.

Q: What should I wear when visiting?
A: Comfortable walking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, and a camera for the stunning views are recommended.

Overview Of Towns On The Causeway Coast

TownNotable AttractionsDescription
BallycastleDunfin Farm, Fairhead CliffsA seaside town with outdoor adventures and scenic views
BushmillsGiant’s Causeway, Bushmills DistilleryHistoric town with a famous distillery and natural wonders
PortrushRoyal Portrush Golf, Whiterocks BeachResort town known for beaches and golf courses
PortstewartPortstewart Strand, Mussenden TempleCoastal town with a popular beach and historic temple
CushendunCushendun Caves, Glenmona HouseQuaint village with unique geological features

Conclusion

The Giant’s Causeway Coast offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, history, and culture. Whether you explore ancient castles, walk through picturesque villages, or marvel at geological wonders, this region provides a memorable and enriching experience.

For more detailed information on planning your trip, including accommodations and additional activities, visit Walking Holiday Ireland.

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Author: Walking Holiday Ireland

Cliff Waijenberg is a passionate hiker, nature enthusiast, and the proud founder and owner of Walking Holiday Ireland. Cliff has always been captivated by the Emerald Isle's breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural history. His love for the outdoors and genuine desire to share Ireland's hidden gems with travellers worldwide led him to establish Walking Holiday Ireland.

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