The Causeway Coastal Route is one of Ireland’s most popular coastal hiking routes. It’s known for extreme steep cliffs, spectacular views, and one of the filming locations of the HBO series Game of Thrones.
Northern Ireland is actually part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Southern Ireland (Now known as the Republic of Ireland) separated from Northern Ireland in the 1922 partition. Before this Ireland as a whole was part of the UK.
The island is still politically divided although as a visitor you won’t see much of a difference in terms of general appearance. Everyone has “similar” accents and they all speak English. Although North Ireland is mostly protestant while Ireland is mostly catholic.
Where is the Causeway Coastal Route
The Causeway Coastal Route starts from Belfast to Londonderry (Derry), this Northern Ireland road trip has everything from castles to stunning landscapes, Game of Thrones filming locations, whiskey distilleries, sandy beaches, and UNESCO world heritage sites.
Things to know about Causeway Coastal Route
Currency in Northern Ireland
Pound Sterling (£) is the official currency, but Euro’s (€) and major credit cards are also accepted at some places.
Visa for Northern Ireland
Although South Africans don’t require a visa for Ireland, we do require a visa for Northern Ireland which is part of the UK.
How long does it take to drive the Causeway Coastal Route?
The distance from Dublin to Northern Ireland is 150km. Northern Ireland is reachable by car, bus or train. There is an average of 8 trains and 10 buses a day between Dublin and Belfast, leaving approximately every 1h40 minutes to 2 hours.
What to do in the Causeway Coastal Route in one day
9:00 – Visit the Gracehill House
In 1775, James Stuart built the Gracehill House and named it after his wife, Grace Lynd. The family planted an avenue of over 150 beech trees along the entrance to the Georgian estate. It was intended as a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they approached Gracehill House.
10:00 – Stroll through The Dark Hedges
Game of Thrones fans will recognize this as The King’s Road. This is actually Bregagh Road where a unique, tranquil and spellbinding tunnel of ancient beech trees creates a spectacular fusion of light and shadow.
Planted in the 18th century by the Stuart family, these beech trees are actually dead and they have become a natural phenomenon and one of the most photographed attractions in Northern Ireland.
11:00 – Find Scotland
Scotland and the North Antrim Coast are just twelve miles apart.
12:00 – Cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
In 1755, salmon fishermen made the first rope bridge to reduce reliance on a boat to reach the island.
The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. It spans 20 meters (66 ft) and is 30 meters (98 ft) above the rocks below. Today it’s a major tourist attraction with around 300,000 visitors per year.
13:00 – Admire The Giants Causeway
Legend states that an Irish giant challenged a Scottish giant to a duel, and thus they built the causeway across the channel in order to do battle; however, the truth is the natural wonder is comprised of around 40,000 polygonal basalt rock columns, formed by the ancient volcanic landscape and stretching along the coastline like a series of gigantic stepping stones.
This is one of the four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in “Ireland” and an amazing stop on the Causeway Coastal Route!
14:00 – Grab a bite at Fullerton Arms
Located in the center of Ballintoy, Fullerton Arms serves traditional British food and amazing drinks.
15:00 – Find the Game of Thrones Doors
In January 2016 a storm Gertrude hit, felling trees from the famous Dark Hedges (known as The King’s Road filming location by Game of Thrones fans). The wood from these trees was carved into the 10 Game of Thrones Doors that are now dotted around Northern Ireland. Tours to see the carved doors are also available.
- Door 1: The Cuan guest inn in Strangford
- Door 2: Fiddler’s Green Bar and B&B in Portaferry
- Door 3: Percy French Restaurant in the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle
- Door 4: Blakes of the Hollow pub in Enniskillen
- Door 5: Frank’s (Owens) Bar in Limavady
- Door 6: Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy
- Door 7: Gracehill House near Ballymoney
- Door 8: Mary McBrides Bar in Cushendun
- Door 9: Ballygally Castle Hotel
- Door 10: The Dark Horse in Belfast
16:00 – Enjoy world-famous whiskey
King James granted the Governer of County Antrim a license to distill Bushmills in 1608, making this the oldest Whiskey Distillery in the WORLD.
The Distillery Tour Centre is open 7 days a week. Visitors can go on guided tours of the working distillery with all the associated sights and scents, tutored whiskey tastings, and a specialist whiskey shop.
17:00 – See Dunluce Castle
Perched on basalt cliffs 100 feet above the North Atlantic, this 17th-century medieval castle was built by the McQuillans, who came from Scotland in the 1200s as hired mercenaries. They held the castle for about 55 years before it was taken by the MacDonnells.
Dunluce means fortified residence.
These families were embroiled in near-constant conflict to control the area of North Antrim known as ‘The Route’. The history is so amazing, definitely worth reading about!
18:00 – Have a pint of Guinness
Guinness contains antioxidants like those found in red wine and dark chocolate, which are not found in other beers.
I enjoyed The Giant Causeway Tour from Dublin with Paddywagon Tours and learned so much about the Causeway Coastal Route.
A special thank you to our guide/bus driver Val, who not only went out of his way to make sure everyone was comfortable and having fun. He was super organized; had a great sense of humor, enthusiastic and genuinely loved his country. Honestly, Valentine was one of the nicest people I met in Ireland!!
Amazing Ireland Travel Guide
- Unique things to do in Dublin on ANY budget
- Why you should visit Wexford
- Amazing Black Taxi Tour of Belfast
Travel Insurance for Ireland
Use travel insurance while visiting Ireland so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of adventurous activities to do in Northern Ireland, and it’s best to have peace of mind while driving, hiking and trying some of the best food in the world.
Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.
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