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A Giant Journey

Explore one of the most incredible coastlines in the world

Northern Ireland is easily accessible from the United States with United Airlines providing year round direct flights to Belfast International Airport from New York’s Newark Airport (Flying time: 7 hours).

Belfast International Airport is approximately 18 miles from the center of Belfast. Belfast is also easily accessible from Dublin via domestic flights or car with Dublin Airport approximately 100 miles from Belfast city center (1hr 45 min driving time).

Coastal Highway

Get ready for the road trip of a lifetime

Known as one of the world’s great road journeys, this incredible stretch of tarmac hugs the coast of Northern Ireland while huge swells roll in from the Atlantic.

Fairy-tale landscapes

The romantic remains of Dunluce Castle appear teetering on the rocky headland. The 14 century stronghold was abandoned in 1641 after part of the kitchen collapsed into the sea during a storm. In the adjoining graveyard are more victims of the crashing Atlantic: buried sailors from the wrecked Girona, while treasures recovered from the wreck can be seen at the Ulster museum in Belfast. Small wonder this place is said to have inspired CS Lewis to create Cair Paravel in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Squeezed into this 195 mile stretch of road are the legendary Giant’s Causeway, the swaying, vertigo-inducing Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the magnificent Mussenden Temple, perched perilously high 120ft above the sea.

In fact, there are so many fantastical landscapes that it’s been chosen as one of the many Northern Ireland filming locations for the smash-hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

The enigmatic basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway undoubtedly stand as a gem of the Antrim Coast– but they are just one of many in a crown of spectacular coastline treasures.

The road traverses bridges, arches and hairpin turns, passing sheer cliff coves. Continuing past rocks that have wrecked ships, cliffs that nurture rare fauna, and deserted white beaches that stretch for miles.

This route is a lesson in history, heritage and geology, but above all, in the astounding power of nature’s creation. Stretching between the two spirited cities of Belfast and Derry~Londonderry, it’s a journey to be savored.

Torr Head

Weave along this rugged jut of land, and as the raging waters crash below, look out onto Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre. History hits you full on, with the ruins of 6th century stone fort Altagore Cashel taking you back to simpler times. The signposted scenic route to Ballycastle sees the trail snake precariously around steep slopes between Fair Head, Murlough Bay and Torr Head.

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

Heart thumping, knees quaking: this is the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge; a swaying little bridge that hovers almost 100 feet over a dramatic chasm. If you’ve made it along the cliff-top walk, the bridge is the only thing between you and the churning Atlantic waves below – but don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe. Afterwards, head to the nearby Old Bushmills Distillery, Ireland’s oldest working distillery, where you can enjoy a tour and a much-needed whiskey.

Glens of Antrim

Feargal Lynn is a musician, storyteller, guide and local historian. Spend time with him in his native Glens and learn how isolation helped make them what they are today. All nine of the Glens, bar one, sweep downhill from the boggy upland moors to the sea. “And that,” says Feargal pointing to the mysterious waters of the North Channel, “used to be the only way out of here.” And it’s this isolation that has left the Glens of today with cultural riches and a traditional sense of communal identity.

Good To Know

  • The Giant’s Causeway is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • There are four walking trails at the Giant’s Causeway, which boast amazing views of the area. They have been recently upgraded and are color coded. You can even walk to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, 12 miles away along a coastal path.
  • The Causeway is accessible in a day trip from Belfast, as it takes about 1 hour 30 minutes by road. It is 2 miles from Bushmills village, 11 miles from Coleraine, and 13 miles from Ballycastle.
  • A 33 mile walk from Portstewart to Ballycastle passes by the Giant’s Causeway along the Causeway Coast Way.
  • The walk to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is made up of gravel paths and stone steps, so good walking shoes are recommended.

The Giant’s Causeway

Now for the gem of this serrated coastline, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Giant’s Causeway – 40,000 basalt columns, formed by molten lava cooled into hexagonal dark stone steps. The Causeway legend claims the great Celtic warrior Finn MacCool built the basalt highway to Scotland to challenge a rival giant, Benandonner, to battle. But Finn’s first glimpse of the enormous Scot sent him scurrying back to Ireland, where his quick-witted wife disguised him as a child. Benandonner arrives, sees the hulking baby, reasons ‘If that’s the kid, I don’t want to meet the father’ and turns tail back to Scotland, ripping up the highway behind him.

However, scientists believe that the Giant’s Causeway was formed by an ancient volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. Either way, this haphazard grouping of over 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns is nothing short of outstanding. There’s also a fantastic visitor center for you to discover more, and maybe make your own mind up as to where the Causeway came from.

Planning and booking

If you’re thinking about exploring Northern Ireland’s Game of Thrones Territory, we have a three-day itinerary covering these fantastical places. Your real-life Game of Thrones adventure starts here...

Itinerary

Discover great places to stay around the Game of Thrones locations, plus the exciting things you can do and see in Northern Ireland.

Getting around

There are many ways of getting from a to b in Ireland, and we’ve got all the information you need.