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Written by Savi, 31 Comments

Part 1 of our 2 part series on the stunning coastal drive to Giant’s Causeway. You can read Part 2 of the Causeway Coastal Drive here.

We (aka your resident Travel Bunnies) love to tackle anything that comes our way – Safaris, Adventure, Cruises, City Breaks, Beach Holidays. But if there’s one thing that gets our pulses racing, it’s Road Trips.

It would be an underestatement to say we’re fond of road trips. That’s because we friggidiggin LOVE them. It makes the probability of stumbling upon hidden gems so much easier and travelling so much more fun. One can absorb things at ones’ own pace and savour them, before moving onto the next pit stop.

The  coastal drive to Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is a hundred mile stretch that boasts of some jaw-droppingly spectacular scenery. It is centred around the nine glens (valleys) of Antrim. It’s been mentioned by National Geographic as one of the most scenic drives in the world, yet Northern Ireland never seems to feature on wish-lists.

We’re sure you’ve heard a lot about Spanish beaches, Italian wines, and French cities, but Northern Ireland is one of the most stunning, yet under-rated parts of UK, nay Europe.

 

When To Go

Summer, summer, summer (July-October)

 

Visas

Northern Ireland is a part of the UK. A valid UK visa is all you need for this road-trip.

 

Currency

Northern Ireland is a part of the UK, so the currency used is Sterling Pound (£)

 

Where to stay 

A cottage, somewhere deep in the countryside, is definitely your best bet for such a trip. Staying in a cottage is a perfect way of experiencing the countryside at close quarters.

We stayed at the Tavnaghoney Cottages near Cushendall and would highly recommend them, especially if you’re travelling in a group.

Drive to Giant's Causeway cottage
The Tavnaghoney Cottages

 

11-Drive to Giant's Causeway cottage 6
The view outside the cottage 🙂

 

Here’s what the itinerary looks like –

Drive to Giant's Causeway
The Causeway Coastal Route – A Suggested Itinerary

 

a) Belfast

The drive to Giant’s Causeway starts at the Belfast Airport. There are a number of car-rental booths at the airport. We suggest booking online to avail the best offers.

You could spend a day or two exploring the city of Belfast and all it has to offer. If you opt for this, make sure you rent the car afterwards – it’s no fun driving in the city. Alternatively, drive straight from the airport to your rented cottage nestled in the countryside. You will get a taste of the sublime scenery almost as soon as you leave the airport. Ambling sheep, grazing cows, and the serene air of the countryside will lull you into contemplating the divine joys of life.

Causeway Coastal Route Drive
Driving deeper into the Northern Irish countryside

 

03-Drive to Giant's Causeway cottage itinerary
With scenery like this, who could complain?!

 

 

b) Glenariff Forest Park

I’ve already raved about the Glenariff Forest Park. I wasn’t lying when I said there is something quite magical about it, almost as if the air is peppered with fairy-dust. The Glenariff Forest Park is a large rural space, complete with woodlands, rivers, and gorges.

Spend your day picnicking and exploring the park. Make sure you walk up to the waterfalls. Don’t blame us if you come out dreaming of goblins, pixies, and elves. This place is enchanted – it really is!

Entry – Free, Parking – £4.50/day (as of September ’13)

Drive to Giant's Causeway
Waterfalls at The Glenariff Forest Park

Drive to Giant's Causeway Glenariff Forest
Walking around in The Glenariff Forest Park

 

Drive to Giant's Causeway  Glenariff
The two of us at the Glenariff Forest Park

 

 

c) Cushendall and Cushendun

As you drive further along the Antrim Coastline, you will reach a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. Cushendall is a charming town, the meeting point of three Glens of Antrim. The Glens are associated with a number of legends and myths about fairy-folk and mischievous elves. Fittingly, these little towns have an aura of magic about them.

We suggest going for a leisurely stroll by river Dall. Cushendall is also the perfect place to replenish your supplies if you are staying in a self-catering cottage as it has a couple of large supermarkets.

 

Causeway Coastal Route cottage
Picture-perfect countryside

 

 

d) Torr Head

A short drive through rugged cliffs, green glens, and forest trails leads one to Torr Head, a peak looking out to the Irish Sea. It’s hard to articulate the magnificence of this place, but I’ll give it a shot.

The stark blue sea lies ahead as you stand on limescale rocks with green fields and sheep for company. Torr head makes it so easy to feel at one with nature. Take a look

Entry– Free, Parking– Free

Causeway Coastal Route
Torr Head – Finally There!!
Causeway Coastal Route Torr Head
Look at that view – notice the sheep in the background?

 

Drive to Giant's Causeway
Majestic Torr Head

 

 

e) Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge

Can you believe that the most exciting part of this drive is yet to come? Soon after crossing Cushendall, the serpentine road curves towards the sea. The rest of the drive is spent driving right by the sea. No wonder, it’s a favourite locale for adverts featuring cars and bikes.

Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge is definitely the most exhilarating stop on this drive. A short coastal footpath leads visitors to this rope bridge stretched precariously between two cliff-tops. The bridge was first erected by fishermen to catch salmon, but is a popular tourist attraction now.

Vid breezed through it but I stepped on the bridge with trepidation, my heart in my mouth. In fact, I might have held my breath till we crossed on to the other side. In my defence, we visited on an extremely windy day when the bridge was swaying like there’s no tomorrow. Eek.

This one is definitely not for the faint-hearted or those who suffer from vertigo.

Entry– £5.60 (as of September ’13), Parking– Free

Causeway Coastal Route hike
The Coastal Footpath leading to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

 

Causeway Coastal Route rope bridge
The Coastal Footpath leading to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

 

Drive to Giant's Causeway
The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

 

Causeway Coastal Route Carrick-a-rede
Vid at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

 

We wound up our days with BBQ’s at our cottage and I tried my hand at BBQ’ing Sid with a giant fork 😉

Drive to Giant's Causeway cottage
BBQ pit at our cottage

 

Drive to Giant's Causeway cottage 2
Sid and I – That’s how we roll 😉

 

There’s a lot more to this scenic drive besides enchanted forests, spectacular panoramas, and rope bridges perched over jutting cliffs. Read about it in Part 2 of the Causeway Coastal Route 🙂

 

 

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31 thoughts on “The Drive to Giant’s Causeway: Right out of a Fairy Tale

    1. It’s gorgeous isn’t it? Words fail to do justice to this one. Look out for the places in tomorrow’s post on Northern Ireland – so pretty, they’re surreal!!

  1. Such gorgeous pictures! I’d really like to explore more of Ireland, and northern Ireland in particular. It’s funny how the places that are so close by and easily accessible when you’re living in one place all your life don’t seem so interesting…then when you’re on the other side of the world, they suddenly jump right up the top of your wishlist, eh?!

  2. Hey! Your trip is phenomenal and exactly what we were looking for. How did you layout these 5 days in respect to number of days spent in hotels? I’m trying to book accommodations and trying to figure out where to go and for how long.

    1. Hey Amy

      We stayed in a a quaint li’l cottage in Cushendall for 5 nights. It isn’t necessary to book more than one hotel/cottage because distances are short. You can easily see everything if you base yourself in one of the towns along the Antrim Coastline.

  3. Savi.. loved, loved, loved it. Its breathtaking. Thank you sooooo much for introducing us to such lesser-known gems of places. Just wanted to know which lens do you guys use?

    1. Surabhi so glad to hear you enjoyed reading it ! For this trip, Vid used a Nikkor 35mm and a 55-200mm lens. He has since upgraded to a better camera and now uses the 28-300mm and 50mm lens 🙂

  4. woowww. such a beautiful city .. i have applied for a UK visa and i m going to definitely visit northern islands .. and this post has already has blown my mind . !!!

    1. Kushagr,

      Hope you get your UK visa soon 🙂 You should definitely go to Northern Ireland. The scenery is out of this world. Don’t forget to visit London 😉

  5. Hi, I stumbled across your blog while on the internet looking for things to do/see while on our trip to Cushendun in September, my dad was from Derry in Northern Ireland and I went there aged 14, im now 45 and my dad died 10 years ago, so i want to go back to his roots, and show my husband northern ireland and also to see the beautiful coastline, I absolutely love your blog, your pics are stunning and Its been really helpful thank you so much, im now reading all the other places you’ve visited as there are so many that i want to go to especially iceland , thanks again x

    1. Hey Eileen – your comment put huge smiles on our faces 🙂 Thank you so much. Hope you have an amazing time in Northern Ireland – it’s absolutely stunning. Just drop us a comment/email if you have any questions.

  6. Hey! lovely review! Listen, what about winter? I’m going to northern ireland from 29th december to 4th Jan. Is that a good time for this trip? Also, for renting a car, you need to be above 23 years of age?

    1. Hey Saumya – the weather can be a bit hit and miss at that time of the year. You’ll be lucky if you get a couple of hours of sunlight or snow – mostly it’s just grey and rainy. Yep you do need to be above 23 to rent a car with some rental agencies. Hope this helps 🙂

  7. Amazing pics and scenery…my husband and I are planning a road trip in September 2017 either to Scotland or northern Ireland. What do you recommend ? Is driving in Ireland difficult for Indians ? We will be driving for the first time in a foreign land.

    1. Hi Poorva,

      Northern Ireland is great for a road trip 🙂 You shouldn’t have any problems driving there especially since it’s the same driving direction as India, so always good for the first time 🙂

      Have a great time there – it’s truly spectacular!

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