As part of our road trip through Ireland, we also spend five days in Northern Ireland. Expect dramatic sceneries over the Atlantic Ocean along the coastal road, history lessons in (London)derry, there are many top attraction and sights to visit.
I have listed the Best Things To Do in Nothern Ireland below.
Giants Causeaway Coastal Route
The highlight of Northern Ireland. The Giant's Causeway Coastal Route is a spectacular stretch of coastline, renowned for its geological marvel, the Giant's Causeway, comprised of interlocking hexagonal basalt columns formed by volcanic activity. This scenic route from Belfast to Londonderry spans approximately 120 miles, taking you on a breathtaking journey along the rugged shores of the North Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, there are stunning views, charming villages, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the mesmerizing Dark Hedges from the Games of Thrones. Part of the route is the scenic drive tour from Bally Castle to Bushmills.
Explore this UNESCO World Heritage site with its unique hexagonal basalt columns, steeped in ancient legends. Yes, you might regconize it from Games of Thrones. I would recommend going there either really early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid all the tourists (like we did). There are a few paid car parks.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Satisfy your adventurous spirit by crossing this exhilarating wire rope bridge suspended over the Atlantic Ocean. Wobble your way over this swaying bridge 30 metres above the sea, I was a bit scared ;-). Tickets needed and expect flocks of tourists.
The Gobbins Coastal Path
The Gobbins is a dramatic cliff path at Islandmagee on the Causeway Coastal Route. It runs across bridges, past caves and through a tunnel, along The Gobbins cliffs. Expect stunning coastal views and beauty of the Irish coastline. Tickets needed.
(Old) Bushmills Distellery
Learn more and sample Irish Whiskey at Old Bushmills Distillery. Take a guided tour and enjoy a tasting session at one of the world's oldest licensed distilleries. The town Bushmills is a perfect stop for exploring the Causeway Coast but also the town itself is attractive. We had fabulous dinner and a guinness at the Bushmills Inn. This 17th-century old Inn has a lot of character with wooden booths and fire places. For coffee or lunch go to Bilberry Mill Cafe or Mike's Coffee Shop, both located on the main street of Bushmills.
Dark Hedges Games of Thrones
Walk beneath the hauntingly beautiful beech trees featured in Game of Thrones, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. Want to go on a Games of Thrones tour, than visit other locations from the Games of Thrones in Northern Ireland: Ballintoy Harbour, Downhill Demesne, Cushendun Caves, Castle Ward Estate, Inch Abbey, Tollymore Forest Park, Fiddler's Green and Blakes of Hollow.
Perched dramatically on a cliff edge, the ruins of the medieval Dunluce castle offers panoramic views of the North Atlantic Ocean. We just drove by the castle on our way to Mussenden Temple.
Worth a visit and a perfect stop on your way to or from (London)derry. Mussenden Temple is a striking neoclassical structure located on the cliffs near Castlerock. It was built in the late 18th century and is located dramatically on the edge of a cliff, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, stunning views everywhere ;-). The temple is part of the Downhill Demesne estate. Do not park at the National Trust Car Park but park your car on the road near Bishop's Gate (free) and walk your way up to the Temple.
Glenariff Forest, often referred to as the "Queen of the Glens," is a picturesque deep glacial valley known as the "Queen of the Glens" due to its outstanding beauty and lush greenery. The forest is renowned for its stunning waterfalls, walking trails and is therefore a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike.
The Mourne Mountains, located in County Down, Northern Ireland, dominate the skyline as you head south from Belfast towards Newcastle. Slieve Donard (850 meters) is the highest peak in this range and in all of Northern Ireland. Mourne Mountains is one of the most beautiful corners of Northern Ireland and is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The easiest mountain to climb is Hen mountain (354 meters)
The Antrim Coast is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, dramatic coastal scenery and pretty beaches like White Park Bay. This rugged stretch of coastline spans approximately 80 miles and is characterized by steep cliffs, hidden coves, and picturesque seaside villages.
We really enjoyed Londonderry/Derry. A city with a rich history and a prominent role in the country's past conflicts. Derry's City Walls, Bogside with the murals and the Bloody Sunday and Hunger Strikers' Memorials are a must see. On Waterloo Street you'll find some nice pubs with terraces for a pint at Sundowners where you also find the famous Peadar O'Donnell's pub. You can also try the Scullery Coffee Shop on the same street.
Titanic Belfast Museum
We did not go to Belfast. But if there is one thing to see it is the Titanic Belfast Museum. Museum of the world's most famous ship on the site of the former shipyards. Discover the story of the ill-fated Titanic through an interactive exhibits and a tour of the shipyard where it was built.
Frequently asked questions about Ireland
How to spend 3 days in Northern Ireland?
There are so many things to do in Northern Ireland. My highlights from 3 days in the country are the following.
Day 1 you could visit the city Belfast. Visit the Titanic Belfast Museum, the Peace Walls in Belfast.
Day 2 you can do a self drive tour of the Causeaway Coastal Route with highlights including the Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge with a lunch in Bushmills. Continue your tour towards Dunluce Castle and Mussenden Temple.
Day 3 visit the city (London)Derry. Visit the Troubles Memorials in the Bogside neigbourhood including the People's Gallery and the Bloody Sunday and Hunger Strikers' Memorials. Wander around the city walls and enjoy a drink at one of the pubs on Waterloo Street like the Peadar O'Donnell's pub. On you way home you might have a chance to see the Peace Bridge.
Is there a boarder between Ireland and Northern Ireland?
You can travel freely between both countries. The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is open. There is no physical border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and you will not pass through UK immigration control if arriving to Belfast through Dublin. There are no passport controls when travelling between both countries.