Derry~Londonderry and Antrim
Derry~Londonderry to Belfast via the Causeway Coastal Route: 181km (112 miles)
Derry-Londonderry to Bushmills
Exploring the city further, you’ll be spoilt for choice: think glamorous fine-dining at
Browns Restaurant and Champagne Lounge, creative locally-inspired pintxos at the Walled City Brewery (North Derry Salami empanadas, anyone?) or seasonal cooking at Beech Hill Country House Hotel. Browse the weekly and monthly food markets for Dart Mountain Cheese, Flossie’s Fudge or local turf-smoked salmon.
Harry's Shack, Portstewart, County Antrim
Causeway Coastal Route is next, which meanders along the Antrim coastline as far as Belfast. Our first stop is Harry’s Shack on Portstewart beach. Chef Derek Creagh and restaurateur Donal Doherty have been making international waves from their sand-strewn beach shack, serving masterful seaside fare including fish fresh off the Greencastle boats and vegetables from their walled garden on Inishowen Peninsula.
Then it’s just got to be Bushmills village and a visit to the world-famous
Old Bushmills Distillery, before dining out at The Bushmills Inn’s AA Rosette restaurant. Follow that with a drop of malt sitting by a roaring peat fire.
Bushmills Inn, County Antrim
Bushmills to Ballygally
Make your way to the legendary UNESCO World Heritage site of the
Giant’s Causeway before a spectacular coastal drive to historic Glenarm where Glenarm Castle makes for a charming sojourn. Refresh and refuel in the Tea Rooms overlooking the kitchen garden, where afternoon tea features Glenarm Organic Salmon from the nearby salmon beds.
Giant's Causeway, County Antrim
Keep going to Ballygally, and to where
Ballygally Castle Hotel’s Afternoon Tea is inspired by the fact that HBO’s Game of Thrones was filmed nearby. Where else would you feast on Dothraki Trifle with mini Dragon’s eggs? Overnight guests can enjoy the hotel’s focus on local produce at breakfast, which includes Clandeboye Estate Yoghurts produced with milk from Holstein and Jersey cows.
Ballygally Castle Hotel, County Antrim
Maritime buffs love the inspired Titanic Menu at Rayanne House (just outside Belfast in Holywood) where the Titanic’s first-class menu is recreated with views of the lough she sailed from.
Glenarm Shorthorn Beef
Glenarm Castle estate produces Glenarm Shorthorn Beef, which is aged in Peter Hannan’s purpose-built Himalayan salt chambers in Moira, County Down, before appearing on some of the region’s best menus.
Ballygally to Belfast
You could head straight back to Belfast, or you could head a little further south instead to check out not one but two Great Taste Awards Supreme Champions in the village of Moira, County Down. Besides his supreme Himalyan salt-aged Glenarm Shorthorn Beef, Peter Hannan sells all manner of fresh and preserved produce at
The Meat Merchant. Down the road, butchers McCartneys of Moira are famous for their award-winning sausages, which come in dozens of flavours, including several seasonal treats.
Backtrack to Belfast via Lisburn, home to Ireland's oldest independent brewery. Not surprisingly, the menu at
Hilden Brewery’s restaurant, The Tap Room, features dishes cooked with its own beer, as well as paired with it.
Hilden Brewery, County Antrim
Back in Belfast, take your pick from a host of gourmet experiences, whether dining at the Michelin-starred
OX or Eipic at Deanes or one of the city’s many excellent casual dining options. Pop into the Aladdin’s cave that is Sawers Belfast (established 1897) to fill your suitcase with gourmet goodies. Even if you don’t stay at The Merchant Hotel, you’ll want to sample at least one creation from their rightly famous cocktail list.
Eipic at Deanes, Belfast