If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, you need to have these Causeway Coast things to do on your radar.
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Without exaggeration or hesitation, the Causeway Coast is my favorite place on Earth.
If you don’t already know, I grew up in Ireland outside of Dublin for a good portion of my childhood. When people ask me where I recommend they visit, my answer consistently includes Northern Ireland’s stops on the Causeway Coast.
On the Causeway Coast, you’ll find exactly what you imagine Ireland to be like: epic sea cliffs, castle ruins, quaint Irish towns and otherworldly rock formations.
From the legendary Giant’s Causeway to the thrilling Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge and more, here are the 16 best things to do on the Causeway Coast of Ireland.
1. Giant’s Causeway
First and foremost, Giant’s Causeway, named after the folklore giant Finn McCool, is an out-of-this-world landscape unlike anywhere else. Here, you’ll be witness to some of the most massive, well-preserved volcanic basalt columns on the planet.
The perfectly hexagon-shaped rocks stack across the entire coastline, creating a huge collection of majestic stepping stones.
You can visit Giant’s Causeway by driving, or by taking a tour from Dublin or from Belfast. I highly recommend visiting Giant’s Causeway at sunrise for the best views and fewest crowds. You can learn all about visiting the Giant’s Causeway at sunrise here.
2. Dunluce Castle
Just down the Causeway Coast from Giant’s Causeway is the breathtaking Dunluce Castle.
Dunluce Castle is an iconic castle-in-ruins that hangs over the ocean on a steep cliff. Here, not only will you walk through rich medieval history, but you will also see inspiring views of neighboring cliffs, crashing waves and impressive white sea arches.
For the best view of Dunluce Castle, drive from east to west on Dunluce Road A2. On this road, you’ll drive up a small hill and be met with a jaw-dropping first impression of Dunluce Castle.
3. Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
On the other side of Giant’s Causeway lies the thrilling Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge.
As the name suggests, Carrick-A-Rede is a swaying rope bridge that connects mainland Northern Ireland with a small-but-mighty cliff island.
The bridge was once used by fisherman who fished on the island. Now, visitors can cross the bridge to the island for magnificent views and some of the bluest water in Ireland.
If you’re up for a heart-racing Irish experience (by the way, there is no harness), you can’t miss crossing Carrick-A-Rede.
Pro tip: A National Trust membership will grant you free entrance into many of these Causeway Coast things to do, including the Giant’s Causeway shuttle, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge and more.
4. The Dark Hedges
Close by, The Dark Hedges, a collection of fairytale trees that arch over a countryside road, offer a mystical, enchanting Ireland road trip stop.
Honestly, this quick Causeway Coast stop is worth it just for the photo opportunity. But, what really put The Dark Hedges on the map was the popular series Game Of Thrones. The Dark Hedges was a film location in Game Of Thrones season two episode one.
Unsurprisingly, The Dark Hedges is not the only Games Of Thrones film location on the Causeway Coast, but we’ll discuss this more later.
5. Causeway Coastal Route
Likewise, if you’re short on time or just want to take a scenic drive in Ireland, driving the Causeway Coastal Route will not disappoint.
While driving the Causeway Coastal Route, you’ll pass many of the Causeway Coast attractions mentioned here, as well as endless sea views, cliffs, beaches, Irish ruins and adorable seaside towns.
6. Mussenden Temple
A little farther down the Causeway Coast, you’ll come across the famous Mussenden Temple.
At Mussenden Temple, you’ll walk through giant, and relatively new, castle ruins. Past the castle ruins stands the iconic temple building on the edge of a cliff. If you walk to the edge, you’ll see one of the best beach views in the country.
Side note, we had the best iced chai latte of our life at the coffee truck here. It was so delicious that we had to order another.
7. Downhill Beach
Next, Downhill Beach is quite possibly the best swimming beach in Northern Ireland.
Its perfectly turquoise, usually shallow and comfortably sandy. (Although, this is Ireland. So, the water is freezing — expect more of a cold plunge than a tropical summer swim.)
As you could guess by the name, Downhill Beach is located just down the hill from Mussenden Temple. In fact, you can get one of the best views of Mussenden from the beach.
8. White Park Bay Beach
Another noteworthy beach on the Causeway Coast is White Park Bay Beach.
Not only is White Park Bay Beach home to soft sand and gorgeous blue water, but this unique Irish beach is also home to cows. Yes, you read that right: cows. White Park Bay gives you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet cows on the beach.
Be careful, though. Don’t get too close to the cows. They will charge and could kill you if they feel threatened.
9. Bushmills Distillery
Next, beverage aficionados can’t miss the chance to visit the Bushmills Distillery while in Northern Ireland.
Back toward Giant’s Causeway, in the heart of the Causeway Coastal Route, locals brew the famous Bushmills Irish Whiskey.
Additionally, touring the distillery building itself is a historic experience, boasting traditional Irish cottage architecture.
10. Bushmills (Causeway Coast Things To Do)
Similarly, the town of Bushmills is one of the best things to do on the Causeway Coast.
In Bushmills, you can indulge in a traditional full Irish breakfast (complete with baked beans, roasted tomato and black pudding in true Irish fashion) and shop for souvenirs.
11. Portrush, Portballintrae And Portsteward
Now, there are numerous other towns that neighbor Bushmills worth visiting, especially if you’re hunting for a cute ocean-view dinner or pub pint of Guinness.
The most notable towns are Portrush, Portballintrae and Portsteward, all of which are within a 20 minute drive from each other.
12. Carrickfergus Castle
On the far eastern side of the coast, just north of Belfast, resides Carrickfergus Castle.
Carrickfergus Castle is a well-preserved medieval castle that features canons, staged interiors, a tall fortress, and pleasant park walkways and benches right on the Irish sea.
If you want to get a true taste of medieval life in Ireland, Carrickfergus Castle is the place to do so.
13. Games Of Thrones Film Location Tour
As you already know from some of the previous Causeway Coast things to do, Northern Ireland is home to dozens of Games Of Thrones film locations, including The Dark Hedges, Carrick-A-Rede and Castle Ward.
14. North Coast Alpacas
On the contrary, if you’re looking for a fun family-friendly activity to do near the Causeway Coast, definitely check out North Coast Alpacas.
With North Coast Alpacas, an alpaca trekking company owned and operated by the sweetest local couple, you can walk the friendliest, goofiest alpacas through an Irish pasture with an elevated view.
This was, without a doubt, a trip highlight for my family on our last trip back to the Causeway Coast.
15. Kinbane Castle
Fascinated by ruins and historic towers? You won’t want to miss Kinbane Castle.
Even though Kinbane is rubble today, it is evident that it was once a stellar fortification. You will feel as though you are walking through history here.
Plus, like the rest of these things to do on the Causeway Coast, there are impeccable sea views right from the castle.
16. Rathlin Island (Causeway Coast Things To Do)
Finally, home to an impressive variety of seabirds, such as puffins, gannets and gulls, Rathlin Island is particularly intriguing for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Rathlin Island is, thus, also home to the RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre and the “upside down lighthouse.”
Rathin Island is visible from Carrick-A-Rede, particularly from the walk to the rope bridge from the entrance.
However, if you want to go out to the island, ferries run to Rathlin Island regularly. Just be sure to book your ferry tickets in advance. (Keep an eye out for dolphins while you’re on the ferry!)
Where To Stay On The Causeway Coast
When visiting the Causeway Coast, you’ll want to stay in the towns closest to the main attractions, such as Bushmills, Portrush or Portballintrae. Each of these cities is less than 30 minutes from all of the main attractions.
Here are my top recommendations for accommodations in each city.
I’ve personally stayed in all of these cities, and I love them all. Most recently, we stayed in this ocean-view Blackrockview Townhouse in Portballintrae, which was absolutely stunning.
The sea views from the front windows were unmatched, and the balcony was perfect for coffee in the morning and watching the sun set over the water in the evening. Plus, there was a fantastic beach just steps away.
Causeway Coast FAQs
Where is the Causeway Coast in Ireland?
The Causeway Coast in Ireland is located in Northern Ireland between the major cities of Belfast and Derry-Londonderry.
How long does it take to drive the Causeway Coast?
Without stopping, the Causeway Coast takes just under 3 hours to drive.
Including stops, such as the popular Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle and Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, plan to spend at least 2-3 along the Causeway Coast.
The Causeway Coastal Route is 130 miles (209 kilometers) in length.
Which coast of Ireland is better?
The Causeway Coast of Ireland is better for visitors interested in jaw-dropping landscapes, ancient castle ruins and picturesque seaside towns. For visitors looking most forward to Ireland’s pub scene, the east coast of Ireland is better, especially in cities near Dublin.
Which of these Causeway Coast things to do are you looking forward to most? Have any questions? Let me know by leaving a reply below, or by following and sending me a message on Instagram.
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