North Antrim Coast drive- must see's?(20 Posts)
We are heading to Belfast, 4 nights, then Derry, 3 nights, with a car. Obvioulsy we want to see the NAC; can anyone recommend the 'must see sights along the way?
We might look at the east side on a day trip from Belfast one day, and the west side from Derry.
We had one day to travel the coast and we started at Whiterocks Beach, Portrush. We visited Dunluce Castle, the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-rede. We stopped frequently to take photos. The scenery was fantastic. I’d love to go back.
You can see the cause way and not pay the Café, Shop and small Exhibiton is really not worth it
Bushmills is worth a tour and the road bridge
Titanic belfast also well worth a visit.
Do you have children?
W5 in Belfast is amazing for the family.
We went to see Croke Patrick and on to NewCastle - it was summer time and a lovely day. not a great beach and very touristy beach town, but we had great fun.
Do you like gardens? Mount Stewart is stunning and if you are going soon the autumn colours should be spectacular.
You have the beech road thing that appears on GoT, impressive but full of cars. Port Stewart is a nice town. Harry's shack on the beach was recommended to us by a friend, we booked but couldn't find it. It is on the same road to the golf course and then onto the beach, not sure what winter times are.
I was very disappointed with Derry. It was mid July, there were smouldering bonfires, lots of union jacks. In an Irish reg car I was a bit nervous. We walked the walls, the town within is a bit dilapidated.
I was blown away in the Bloody Sunday museum (at the base of the wall near the bogside). I didn't really know the history in detail before then. Could have been in and out of Derry in half a day.
Carrick-a-reed rope bridge nothing major. Again was high summer so had a massive queue to get on and off the island.
Giants causeway blew me away. Yes it's tiny in reality. But the rock formations are incredible never the less. You dont have to go through the visitors centre and pay you find the steps to the left which will take you down to it. You can then hike out past the huge organ type rocks and up the bluff back to the carpark if the day is dry.
If you have National Trust passes already then I'm going to buck the trend and say, go to the visitor centre. Specifically, pick up the audio guides, I really liked them, but as we had NT it was free.
Carrick-a-Rede bridge, I still haven't actually done it but it's meant to be brilliant. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/carrick-a-rede
Cars are banned on the Dark Hedges road as of the end of this month so it should be more like what you'd expect.
I am thoroughly biased towards Portstewart as that's where I lived while at Uni. If you can, stop along the prom and either go for fish & chips, or just a walk alongside it. The stormier the day, the better, imo.
Almond I'm sorry you saw Derry at the worse times. You may have also noticed that it was short on actual Derry people - a lot of them cross the border to Donegal during July!
Speaking of, if you want beautiful beaches, head further west from Derry into Donegal, Inishowen has absolutely stunning beaches. Unfortunately some access is still cut off following terrible flood damage in August, but you can head to Malin Head, the most Northerly point in Ireland (and recent Star Wars set) and Culdaff and/or Ballyliffin beach are particular highlights. If you like interactive history you might enjoy Doagh Famine Village, although you might need to double check when you're going as it turns into a Christmas wonderland, complete with Santa and elves. (Actually, I'm not sure about now, but it used to be very, very good if you do want to visit Santa, I can't promise you or the kids will be able to fully understand the Inishowen accents though.) www.doaghfaminevillage.com/
There's also been a lot of work done to try and repair access to Glenevin waterfall in Clonmany but I think it will be closed for a long while yet.
Is there anything in particular you like to see or do?
The Titanic museum is amazing! My 7 and 10 year old haven't stopped talking about it. They loved the SS Nomadic too (included in the price of the Titanic). W5 is practically next door. It's fab.
My DH took the kids to W5 recently and said it was disappointing. Many exhibits broken etc.
Agree Mt Stewart lovely, but do try to do the coastal route up to Bushmills, it's so pretty. But it can be slow.
Bushmills itself is lovely, Bushmills Inn is really good, gorgeous pub and wonderful food.
Ballintoy harbour beautiful, nice coffee shop.
Giants Causeway is a must, don't bother with Centre. And don't pay! Park away from main car park-down where the train is, then just walk down and it's free. You can get the bus back up to save time.
If you're in Belfast do the Cultra Folk Museum! It is fab, fab, fab! The transport part has a good Titanic exhibition too.
You could do Mt Stewart on a Belfast day, it's only half an hour away.The shop at My Stewart is very good.
We also loved the Titanic Museum too! I’m keen to go back and see more of Belfast and Northern Ireland.
Spend some time on the beaches - they’re all beautiful there.
There's a "coastal route"road from Belfast, but tbh, I'd not bother taking it unless you had a lot of time. You'd prob be fine just seeing the main sights in one day ( the day you drive from Belfast to Derry!)
Head straight up the motorway ( still some nice scenery!) to the big attractions - same as others have said-carrick a rede, giants causeway (if you don't have NT membership you can pay £6 to park at the model railway car park about 4 mins walk from the main car park. Depending on when you go the main car park can be queued out) When approaching the causeway car park, you'll see a massive arch to the right of the visitors center- that's the free entrance to the stones. There's a shuttle bus - £1 each way or free if NT member.
Portrush and portstewart have some amazing beaches.
Portrush - morellis for ice cream, panky doos for quirky cakes, Barry's for corny amusement rides and the Ramore or 55 north for dinner.
Portstewart - the strand beach is great and you can drive on certain times of the year. It's a NT site so there is a small fee.
Harry's shack is on the beach. I haven't been but have never heard a bad review.
Wear comfy shoes and windproof jackets. North coast seems to get v windy.
No trip to Derry is complete without a quick detour to get your photo taken next to the ‘Welcome to Muff’ sign
I’ll go against the trend and say that I think the visitor centre at the causeway is pretty good - especially if you aren’t familiar with the legend and history of the place. The audio guides are excellent. Yes you can walk to the stones for free but I think it’s worth paying to see the exhibition and get the audio guide so you actually have some info on what you’re looking at.
Harry’s shack usually seems to be fully booked
Harry’s shack is on the beach at portstewart strand - you have to pay to park unless you have NT membership. It’s grand apart from that
Hi, all, thanks very much for all the suggestions!
After 3 days in and around Belfast-
We drove the north Antrim coast in a long day, - in no particular order: photostop at Carrickfergus castle, weaving in and out of a couple of the 'better' glens; Ballintoy harbour (DH is a GOtter..), Dark Hedges with a people free photo! Torr head, rope Bridge, Giant's Causeway fro the price of a drink at the pub ; Dunluce - then we ran out of light.
2 days in and around (London)Derry including Inishowen.
A fantastic trip and thanks for all the suggestions.
Very interesting. I admit that most of my familiarity with the names came from the 6 o'clock news of the 1970s... ; I also admit DS1 and I went to the Ulster museum instead of The Titanic (DH and DS2); but Belfast, in general felt quite dynamic, the people were really friendly; though it was sobering to walk up the Falls Rd, through a gate in the Peace Wall, into around the Shankill Rd district. You couldn't miss the deprivation and poverty that drives social uprising, can you?
That, and a visit to (London)Derry was hugely informative about what the causes of The Troubles were and why both sides were so entrenched; yes, maybe still are, but the Integrated Schools were good to see, and various peace initiatives, along what is obviously very recent new development and infrastructure.
The scenery around Belfast was stunning, we drove down the Ards peninsula and across to Warrenpoint (another name that attaches in my mind with -'massacre'); through the Mountains of Mourne and back to Belfast.
I guess one vivid thought I carry is 'how can such a beautiful, stunning place with its small cities, little villages all snugly sitting in their glens and valleys- be the scene of such recent atrocity?'
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