Northern Ireland's stunning Causeway Coastal Route is any traveller's dream. Sandy beaches, quaint fishing villages, and some of Ireland's most iconic attractions (including the famous Giant's Causeway) are just some of the highlights you’ll discover on a road trip through the Causeway Coast and Glens.

There is truly something for everyone to enjoy on here in the Causeway Coast and Glens; whether you're seeking adventure or just want to relax, unwind, and get back to nature, the Causeway Coastal Route of Northern Ireland offers a wealth of choices and natural beauty to explore.

Causeway Coastal Route Itinerary

Planning a trip soon? Here's a perfect itinerary that allows you to see it all, ideal if you've flown to Belfast or Dublin airports. Get ready to experience Northern Ireland's greatest road trip!

Glens of Antrim

The first stop on your itinerary (if travelling from Belfast or Dublin) is the stunning Glens of Antrim. Forests and fields of green stretch for miles, with quaint towns and villages dotted throughout. It's a perfect peaceful retreat, while allowing you to take in some of Northern Ireland’s most breathtaking scenery. Take the A26 and A43 from Belfast International airport to arrive at the first stop on your itinerary.

Glenariff Forest Park

Glenariff Forest Park, nestled in County Antrim, is a place of exceptional beauty and stunning scenery. As you tread the enchanting 3km Waterfall Walkway, you’ll find yourself immersed in a National Nature Reserve, where each step reveals the harmonious dance of water and wild foliage. Take time to nourish your soul with the soothing sights and sounds of these magnificent waterfalls and dense woodland.

Drive time to Glenariff Forest Park from Belfast International: 40 minutes


Situated between Glenariff and Cushendun, Cushendall is a conservation town at the foot of Lurigethan Mountain. The Curfew Tower, rising proudly in the village centre, carries echoes of a tumultuous past. Constructed in 1817 by Francis Turnley, the town’s landlord, its purpose was clear: to confine riotous prisoners. Today, this historic tower stands under the ownership of Scottish musician and artist Bill Drummond, a guardian of its enigmatic legacy. Venture off the main road, and you’ll discover Ossian's Grave—a megalithic court cairn perched on Lubitavish’s hillside, near the Glenann River. Here lies the resting place of Ossian, the Celtic warrior poet.

There is a minor road from the shore near Cushendall Golf Club that winds uphill to the remains of the ancient church and graveyard of Layde, a quiet place from which to enjoy views of Red Bay and the lush countryside surrounding Cushendall. Stay on the A43 from Glenariff Forest Park for a short drive to take you to this beautiful town.

Drive time to Cushendall from Glenariff Forest Park: 12 minutes


A short distance away, Cushendun stands out as a captivating gem for travellers seeking a blend of history, architecture, and natural splendour. Stepping into this charming village feels like stepping back in time, with its rows of whitewashed cottages reflecting the Cornish-inspired design that graces its streets. Beyond its quaint facade lies a history rich in tales of rival clans and ancient battles, evident in the haunting ruins of Castle Carra, north of the village.

Cushendun isn't just a feast for the eyes; it offers a tranquil seaside getaway as well. With its sheltered harbour and quiet, sandy beach, visitors can unwind amidst the soothing sounds of the sea, exploring the coastline or indulging in the local cuisine that further adds to the village's laid-back allure.

Drive time to Cushendun from Cushendall: 10 minutes

Ballycastle and Rathlin Island

After departing from Cushendun, you’ll want to take the Torr Road to Ballycastle. This drive adds an additional 10 minutes to your journey time, but you’ll thank yourself for taking the scenic route each time you turn a corner on this narrow and winding coastal road. If you want to play it safe, or the weather isn’t on your side, take the main A2 road instead and on your way, check if the ‘Vanishing Lake’ of Loughareema happens to be full or empty that day.


Ballycastle is a seaside town on the north-easternmost coastal tip of the island of Ireland in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The town retains much of its old charm with independent retailers on every corner. Highlights include the golden sandy beach, peaceful and serene Pan’s Rocks footbridge at the far end of the beach and incredible places to eat and drink in the town centre and around the seafront area.

Venturing beyond the bustling town centre, visitors can discover the rich tapestry of history and heritage that envelops Ballycastle. The area is steeped in lore, from the enigmatic ruins of Kinbane Castle perched on a dramatic headland, to the ancient ecclesiastical site of Bonamargy Friary which dates back to the 1500s. For those with a keen interest in cultural traditions, the town is renowned for the Ould Lammas Fair, reputedly Ireland’s oldest traditional market fair, which brings a festive atmosphere to the streets every August. Whether it’s delving into the past or enjoying the contemporary comforts of coastal life, Ballycastle offers a unique blend of experiences to all who visit.

Drive time to Ballycastle from Cushendun (via Torr Road): 35 minutes

Drive time to Ballycastle from Cushendun (via Loughareema Road A2): 24 minutes

Rathlin Island

The ferry from Ballycastle to Rathlin Island travels just six miles across the Sea of Moyle. Amidst the rugged landscape of this beautiful island, let your mind wander and discover a tranquillity and beauty that is so unexpected. A short walk from the harbour is the Boathouse Visitor Centre (operating seasonally from June-September), where visitors can discover some of the exciting history, learn about present day island life and see some artefacts from shipwrecks around the island. Enjoy many of the walks the Island has to offer including along the shore to Mill Bay where you may see some of the resident seals basking or at play.

From April to July is puffin season so don’t miss the opportunity to see them along with lots of other sea birds! You can learn more about the avian wildlife of Rathlin with a visit to the West Light Seabird Centre, operated by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds which conducts important conservation work on the island.

Sailing time from Ballycastle: 20-40 minutes

Kinbane Castle

After crossing back from Rathlin Island to Ballycastle on the ferry, make your way to explore the ancient ruins of Kinbane Castle. The area surrounding Kinbane Castle is a Scheduled Historic Monument, it also offers spectacular views of Rathlin Island and Dunagregor Iron Age fort. This is becoming an extremely popular spot with tourists and photographers, all keen to capture their own unique perspective of the area.

As you wander the rugged landscape around Kinbane Castle, the whispers of history echo with every step. The castle, a silent sentinel, stands as a testament to the Scottish-Irish chieftains who once ruled these lands. The panoramic vistas from the castle grounds are truly breathtaking, with the wild Atlantic waves crashing against the cliffs and the distant outline of the Scottish isles on the horizon. It’s a place where nature and history converge, offering a serene retreat for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Drive time from Ballycastle Marina: 7 minutes


A short drive from Ballycastle you’ll find yourself in the tiny village of Ballintoy. Though it may be small, it is bursting with charm and abundant in things to see and do that far exceed its size. This quaint hamlet is a treasure trove of natural beauty and local culture, offering visitors a chance to explore its picturesque harbour, walk along the scenic coastline, and immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of history that the area holds.

Whether it’s the allure of the dramatic coastline, the warmth of the village locals, or the array of hidden gems waiting to be discovered, Ballintoy is a destination that promises an unforgettable experience.

Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge

Connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge across the Atlantic Ocean, Carrick-a-Rede Island (home to a single building – a fisherman’s cottage) is the final destination. Suspended almost 100 ft (30 m) above sea level, the rope bridge was first erected by salmon fisherman 350 years ago. The journey to Carrick-a-Rede Island is as thrilling as it is picturesque. The rope bridge, a swaying path above the churning ocean, offers an adrenaline rush like no other.

Once on the island, the solitude is profound; the only sounds are the sea’s roar and the call of seabirds. The cottage stands as a humble reminder of the fishermen who once braved these waters for their catch. It’s a place where the past and present merge, where visitors can reflect on the courage of those who have crossed this bridge over the centuries. It’s not just a test of bravery but a chance to connect with the intrepid spirit that defines this rugged coast. Will you be brave enough to cross it?

Drive time from Kinbane Castle: 7 minutes

Ballintoy Harbour

This small fishing harbour can be found at the end of a small, narrow, steep road down Knocksaughey Hill, which passes by the entrance to Larrybane and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. It has been used as a filming location in HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones®. This stunning harbour location has been used for exterior Pyke shots and as the Iron Islands. The allure of Ballintoy Harbour extends far beyond its cinematic fame. It is a place where the past whispers through the salt-laden air, and the present seems to stand still amidst the timeless beauty of the sea.

The harbour is not just a scenic backdrop but a living, breathing part of the community where local fishermen still venture into the waters, much as they have for generations. Visitors can enjoy the tranquillity of the harbour, or explore the nearby coastal walks that offer some of the most spectacular views in Northern Ireland. Keep your eyes peeled for the ‘secret beach’ when you visit, offering incredible views out to Sheep Island.

Drive time from Carrick-a-rede: 5 minutes

Whitepark Bay

This spectacular sandy beach forms a white arc between two headlands on the North Antrim coast. In this secluded location, even on a busy day there is plenty of room for quiet relaxation. The beach is backed by ancient dunes that provide a range of rich habitats for bird and animal life. Whitepark Bay is not only a haven for those seeking peace and solitude but also a paradise for nature enthusiasts and historians alike. The dunes are a living museum, home to a plethora of flora and fauna.

The bay’s untouched beauty makes it an ideal spot for contemplative strolls, wildlife spotting, or simply sitting back to watch the sunset paint the sky in hues of gold and pink. It’s a place where one can truly feel the pulse of the natural world and the ancient heritage of Northern Ireland.

Drive time from Ballintoy Harbour: 5 minutes

Bushmills and the Giant’s Causeway

Continue on your journey to the enchanting village of Bushmills, renowned for its quaint streets and eponymous distillery. Bushmills is steeped in a rich heritage of whiskey-making that dates back to 1608, offering visitors a tantalising glimpse into the art of traditional Irish spirits. Bushmills acts not only as a gateway to the geological marvel of the Giant’s Causeway but also as a haven of cultural and historical treasures, making it an unmissable highlight in your Causeway Coast adventure.

The Giant’s Causeway

Before approaching the village, you’ll see plenty of signage for The Giant’s Causeway – an absolute must-see if it’s your first time here. This geological site might be one of the reasons that’s brought you to Northern Ireland in the first place; attracting upwards of one million visitors per year, it is one of the most photographed landscapes across the island of Ireland.

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, The Giant’s Causeway is an awe-inspiring coastal feature steeped in myth and fascinating geology. This natural masterpiece, formed from about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, is the result of ancient volcanic activity, creating a unique tessellated landscape that has intrigued visitors, past and present. The Visitor Experience offers guests the opportunity learn more about the site, and audio guides are available in a variety of languages.

Drive time from Whitepark Bay: 10 minutes

Old Bushmills Distillery

On the edge of the village, you’ll find the Old Bushmills Distillery which offers fully encompassing tours of the premises and distilling process. Take in the sights and smells, and enjoy tutored whiskey tastings, a specialist whiskey shop and a well stocked gift shop with exclusive Bushmills merchandise. Whether you’re a whiskey connoisseur or a curious traveller, the distillery’s blend of tradition and innovation promises a memorable visit that’s both educational and enjoyable.

Drive time from The Giant’s Causeway: 9 minutes

Dunluce Castle

Next, make your way towards one of Northern Ireland’s most spectacular sights - Dunluce Castle. These iconic ruins bear witness to a long and tumultuous history. First built on the dramatic coastal cliffs of north County Antrim by the MacQuillan family around 1500, the earliest written record of the castle was in 1513. The castle’s storied past is palpable as you wander through its remains, where echoes of medieval life mingle with the sounds of the crashing waves below.

For a truly scenic approach, we recommend taking the Ballaghmore Road from Bushmills taking you via Portballintrae, another small village on the Causeway Coast. This route offers stunning coastal views, and you can stop to take a stroll along Runkerry Beach to take in some fresh sea air.

Drive time from Old Bushmills Distillery via Portballintrae: 8 minutes


Portrush, a vibrant seaside town on Northern Ireland’s famed Causeway Coast, offers a delightful blend of leisure and adventure to complement your 48-hour itinerary. The town’s lively harbour is dotted with boats and framed by a variety of shops and eateries, inviting visitors to indulge in the local food scene and explore the exciting nightlife. With its rich maritime history and a plethora of activities, from championship golf courses to arcades and amusements, Portrush provides a spirited and picturesque stop on this wondrous coastal journey.

Whiterocks Beach

Before approaching the town of Portrush, you’ll find Whiterocks Beach situated on the same A2 road. Awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Award several times, Whiterocks Beach has become a favourite with locals and a must-see destination for international visitors.

The beach enjoys a stunning natural coastal location, with the limestone cliffs of the White Rocks stretching from Curran Strand to Dunluce Castle. On the way, you’ll want to stop at Magheracross Viewpoint where you’ll be treated to views over the vast Atlantic Ocean. This breathtaking spot is just a short drive from your previous stop of Dunluce Castle on the right side of the road, you can’t miss it!

Drive time from Dunluce Castle: 5 minutes

Detours from Portrush

Depending on your schedule, you might have some extra time to explore Portrush and its surrounding areas. Travelling with the kids? An afternoon spent at Curry’s Fun Park in the spring and summer seasons is an absolute must, with plenty of arcades and amusements a short walk away, too. If you want to explore another nearby seaside town, take the short 5-minute drive to Portstewart for a stroll along the Promenade or the Port Path. If you’ve got time to squeeze in a round or have an extra day to spend in Northern Ireland, The Royal Portrush Golf Club is home to some of the best and most challenging links golf courses in the world.

Castlerock and Limavady

After the hustle and bustle of spending time in busy Portrush, it’s time to wind down with a relaxing drive towards Castlerock, Downhill and the Limavady area. It is here you’ll have the chance to visit the fascinating Downhill Estate and Gardens, before making your way to another one of the Causeway Coast and Glens four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Binevenagh.

If you have time for a detour, you’ll pass through the outskirts of the town of Coleraine after departing Portrush. The town is celebrated for its fascinating stories of early settlement, quite the contrast from the abundance of quaint cafes, family-friendly restaurants, and high-street shops that you’ll find around the bustling town today.

Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne

Take the A2 via Coleraine to visit the iconic Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne. The Temple was built in 1785 and forms part of the Downhill estate of Frederick Augustus Hervey, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol. Mussenden Temple was built as a summer library and its architecture was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome. It is dedicated to the memory of Hervey's cousin Frideswide Mussenden.

The coastal views from these cliffs are spectacular, allowing you to take in the sights of Downhill Beach below you and out to the hills of Donegal. Afterwards, backtrack through the luscious forest and take a gentle stroll through the gardens of Downhill, which are maintained year-round by the team at the National Trust. Feel free to take a detour to Castlerock, Downhill and Benone beaches before arriving at your next destination - the stunning Binevenagh Mountain and Nature Reserve.

Drive time from Portrush: 29 minutes

Binevenagh Mountain

Follow the Seacoast Road from Downhill and venture to Binevenagh Mountain. Featured in HBO's Game of Thrones®, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is situated in the Limavady area of the Causeway Coast and Glens. Dramatic basalt cliffs dominate the surrounding countryside, and panoramic views from the mountain top take in Roe Valley, the Sperrin Mountains, the North Coast and across Lough Foyle to Donegal.

A variety of different walks and trails are available throughout this area, which is ideal for keen hikers. Alternatively, you can find a stunning viewpoint atop Bishop’s Road where you’ll find a unique sculpture of Manannán mac Lir, the Celtic God of the Sea.

Drive time from Downhill Estate: 19 minutes

From Binevenagh, you may want to journey onwards towards the market town of Limavady which is less than a 15 minute drive away. This town has plenty of independent boutiques, perfect for picking up gifts for your loved ones back at home. On the outskirts, you’ll find the scenic Roe Valley Country Park, with miles of enchanting woodland to explore.

Of course, you’ll need a perfect base for spending each night on the Causeway Coast and luckily, there are hundreds of options available to you. Choose from luxurious hotels, warm and welcoming B&Bs, cosy self-catering units, or go on a glamping adventure in the countryside.

Browse all accommodation in the Causeway Coast and Glens here >>>

Though we've packed this itinerary full of ideas for your road trip along the Causeway Coastal Route, there's many hidden gems and secret places to discover - so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to see them all. Don't be afraid to go off the beaten track - even if you get lost, the friendly locals are always willing to help you get back on the road.

Have you already booked your next holiday to Ireland? We'd love to see your snaps of the Causeway Coast and Glens, so be sure to tag us on Instagram @visitcausewaycoastandglens, and use the hashtag #VisitCauseway

We look forward to welcoming you to Northern Ireland's famous Causeway Coastal Route!