The Best Causeway Coastal Route Itinerary: 6 Spots in 1 Day
I will admit: I’m easily excited by destinations. I’m madly in love with this crazy globe and her jaw-dropping nooks and crannies. Northern Ireland was a last minute decision: I found cheap flights, and a week later I was on the plane to Belfast. I only had two full days to explore Northern Ireland, so I spent one discovering Belfast, and the other driving all around the stunning Causeway Coastal Route!
Not only is Northern Ireland stunning, it is also quite small. This means that if you’re short on time there is LOADS you can see on a day trip. Expect steep cliffs, amazing views, and incredible sights. Here’s my Causeway Coastal Route itinerary for one day!
6 Places to Stop Along the Causeway Coastal Route
While I rented a car and drove, you can easily do a tour! Just remember you’re driving on the opposite side of the road. This tour from Belfast will visit many of the spots on my list. If you’re in a bigger group, then you may like this private tour better.
You’ll have to start your trip somewhere, and the capital of Northern Ireland seems like the most logical option. I would recommend taking a day to explore what it has to offer.
Belfast is small, but lovely. It’s a bit of a diamond in the rough due to its industrial past. However, it’s full of amazing restaurants, bustling pubs, and is decorated with lots of street art.
Getting to the Causeway Coastal Route from Belfast is pretty easy:
Take the highway (1 hour)
Drive along the coast (2 hrs)
The first one is quicker, but the second one prettier. I recommend taking the highway on the way up and then making your way back slowly. This way you see the sunset over the coast!
2. The Dark Hedges
Game of Thrones fans will definitely know this avenue of trees as King’s Road! Obviously if you don’t watch the show, this is still worth a visit because it’s absolutely stunning. They go all the way back to 1775 when a man named James Stuart built a new house and planted over 150 beech trees along the entrance road! Look out for the Grey Lady while you’re there.
If you’re looking for an address, look up the Dark Hedges in Ballymoney.
3. Ballintoy Harbour
This is another spot you’ll often see in Game of Thrones, though it might be harder to recognize without all the special effects. In real life, Ballintoy Harbour is a small fishing harbor about one kilometer from the village of Ballintoy.
Down in the harbor you can grab a cup of coffee, but the main draw here is the view.
4. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
This bridge is for daredevils (or people without fear of heights!). This rope bridge dangles above a roaring sea, and with a nice fresh Northern Irish breeze (or rather: strong gusts of wind). You’ll definitely feel it wobble about while you’re crossing it. It’s 20 meters across and 30 meters high and can only handle 8 people on it at one time. In the last year, it’s already seem half a million visitors!
Why would you even, you say? Well, the island on the other side used to be quite important for fishermen and is now home to some of the most stunning views.
Price: about £6.
5. Giants Causeway
The Giants Causeway is clearly the most popular stop on the route (the road’s been named after it, after all), and it’s clear to see why. It’s looks like it came straight from outer space.
The rock formation exists of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that got created after a volcano eruption. The phenomena has had it’s spot on the Unesco World Heritage list since 1968.
You can visit Giant’s Causeway for free, but make sure to not use the official parking site. Just park somewhere else, and bypass the visitor’s building. s far as I know it’s completely legal to do so. I found the Causeway incredibly fascinating and beautiful.
6. Dunluce Castle
Last, but definitely not least: you can always make me happy by showing me a nice castle, even if it’s not much more than a bunch of ruins.
Its location on top of the cliff makes Dunluce Castle quite spooky. It has been perched on the cliff since the 13th century, but fell to disrepair after 1690 when the family who owned it fell upon hard times after some failed battles.
Part of the castle dropped into the sea in the 19th century. Back on the mainland there used to be a village next to the castle, but that was destroyed in the Irish Uprising of 1641. It’s estimated 95% of the village lays undiscovered.
Northern Ireland has easily one of my favorite visits, and a large part of that is the gorgeous sights I saw along the Causeway Coastal Route. Definitely make it a part of your UK Bucket List!
You can fly to Belfast for £40 from London, and because of it’s compact size, it’s easy to see lots in short amounts of time. If you have an extra day you may even go up to Derry or the mountains. What more could you want?
Have you ever driven along the Causeway Coastal Route? What did you think?
General Travel Tips
- For accommodation, I always check Airbnb or Booking.com for the best prices.
- If your insurance at home doesn’t cover travel, you may want to look into SafetyWing for an affordable option.
- I always recommend checking Get Your Guide for the best tours in Europe and Tiqets for specific attraction deals.
Love love love this post!!! Saving it as we speak! :-)
We want to get to the “Dark Hedges” early. Most of these sites are west of them on the upper coast. What is on the Eastern Coast if you choose to take the scenic coastal route?
We’re actually staying in Ballycastle, so we’ll likely drive South and try and do the Dark Hedges super early. We were thinking we’d then do breakfast/brunch in Belfast, do a little exploring, and then take the Costal Causeway North to do Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-rick, Dunluce and the Harbour. Since we’ll be finishing up in Ballycastle (and not having to drive back South to Belfast), how much time should we allow ourselves if we want to do it all?