You and a rental car – this makes a perfect day trip from Belfast to the surreal Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland.
Along the Causeway Coastal Route
The Causeway Coastal Route is not only a charming coastal route along the Atlantic Ocean lined by remote villages which are decorated with the Union Jack or the Red Flag of Ulster. No, it numerous sites to offer. Of course, some of them are actually film locations of our beloved Game of Thrones. What else!
We started early that day and came back quite late, so we had more time on the way for ourselves. Be prepared for this country being really popular at the moment. You have to share the sites with many people.
Torr Head & Torr Road
There’s not much to say about the Torr Road other than the streets being really narrow and a necessary evil to reach the Torr Head. It branches of the Causeway Coastal Route and is closed for busses and campers.
Torr Head is a small peninsula and the shortest distance to Scotland. With a clear view you can even see Scotland. It’s a really impressive and beautiful landscape.
Not far from Carrickfergus City Center, there’s a castle built in the 12th century in Norman style. It’s located along the Antrim Road and is probably Ireland’s oldest castle.
The Dark Hedges
Some miles away from the coast, let’s say a little detour from the Coastal Route. The beech lane was planted in the 18th century and it really looks impressive. As it was really well visited, we decided not to spend too much time here.
The best time to come might be early in the morning or in absolute low season. At least if you want to take good pictures (with no people in it). The Dark Hedges are famous for being film location for the King’s Road in Game of Thrones.
Old Bushmills Distillery
Making a guided tour, a tasting and then leaving happily. That’s at least how we imagined it. Unfortunately we found out too late you have to make sacrifice in main season when visiting one of the oldest Whiskey producers in the world. They offer everything but during this time there’s no production. Just FYI, the guided tour without all the action wasn’t interesting for us anymore.
One of my favourites. On the one hand because the ruin thrones on a picturesque cliff, on the other side there’s the story/history: It was built around 1400 and was a strategically important base over the following centuries which are why there’ve been constant fights and intrigues all the time.
In the middle of the 17th century, the castle was left and stood there. The would-be reason: In the middle of the 17th century the new kitchen fell into the sea including the employees. Oh my gosh!
White Rocks Beach
A beautiful beach surrounded by a white rock formation. And as we could see this place was really popular among locals in summer. I will never understand how people can call it a beach holiday with water temperatures this cold.
But everyone seemed to be happy, the landscape was amazing and everyone was happy.
And last but not least: Northern Ireland’s most famous site – Giant’s Causeway. We arrived in the early afternoon at first but left again since all parking lots were full and the many busses scared the s… out of us.
We came back in the late afternoon and it was definitely less crowded. Though there were still many people. But not so crazy anymore.
There are approximately 40.000 basalt columns with an age of 60 million years. This is probably the reason for the Giant’s Causeway being UNESCO World Heritage since 1986. According to a Irish legend the Giant’s Causeway was built by a giant. More about it here!
Jan had been here before and wasn’t very much surprised of this place’s beauty. I’ve seen pictures before and also read about it. But it was even more impressive seeing it with my own eyes. The really good weather and the beautiful light this day did their stint.
Tip: Come early or in the late afternoon if you want to avoid the crowds. Don’t avoid it because it’s too touristy.
P.S.: Of course, there are more sites to see on the Coastal Route. But for this, you have to plan more time. Or just set priorities like we did.