The glorious Causeway Coastal Route hugs the dramatic eastern and northern coastline of Northern Ireland. Its stunning cliff walk views across the Irish Sea to Scotland and over the Atlantic Ocean to Donegal are beyond comparison. Starting in Belfast and continuing all the way to Derry-Londonderry this drive of a lifetime, is the perfect route around which to plan a cheeky mid-week jolly or weekend getaway.

Along the Antrim coast

Before you properly get going you might want to check in at the Ballygally Castle Hotel (4*) on the east County Antrim coast. They have been welcoming guests to these parts since the 1960s and they still know how to make you feel at home. If you’re after something a little more indulgent, you might consider moving a little inland and availing of the spas and swimming pools (yes plural) at Galgorm Hotel (4*) north of Ballymena, a little inland, – you’ll deserve it after all the travelling around.  

Get your short break on the Causeway Coast off to an educational start with a bit of local history at the 800-year-old Carrickfergus Castle, one of the finest examples of a Norman castle in Ireland.  

For those who like to get some thrills with their fresh air, we’d recommend the suspension bridges and tunnels of the exhilarating The Gobbins Cliff Path.  

Park up in the picturesque 17th-century village of Glenarm for an afternoon visit to the superb walled garden in Glenarm Castle before treating yourself to their delicious cream tea.  

Game of Thrones® followers should seek out Steenson’s Économusée in the village and watch the artisan jewellers at work – they are famous for the pieces they crafted specially for the hit series. 

Another jewel in the Antrim crown is the idyllic waterfall trail in Glenariff Forest Park. This place offers several different routes and each is utterly enchanting.  

If it’s close to lunch or it’s getting time for dinner, then a stop at Harry’s in Cushendall or Mary McBride’s little gem of a pub in scenic Cushendun is on the cards. 

Base yourself in Ballycastle or Bushmills 

Stay the night at the lovely Salthouse Hotel (4*) in Ballycastle and treat yourself to some time in the spa before getting up early for the ferry from Ballycastle over to Rathlin Island. The tiny spot is renowned for its spectacular scenery, wildlife and as a wonderful sanctuary for puffins. The island’s Seabird Centre, at the so-called upside down lighthouse, will tell you all about them. 

Back on the mainland, you’ll need nerves of steel to get across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It’s a long way down so when you get back, from the other side that is, you’ll be glad to know that the world’s oldest whiskey distillery at Bushmills is only up the road. After you’ve sampled their uisce beatha take a stroll around the town and drink in its rich heritage. Those looking to base themselves here for their short break might consider the quirky Bushmills Inn Hotel (4*). Good food, cosy rooms and lots of little fire-lit nooks and crannies give you a sense of being in your own shebeen. 

There are also some great restaurants here, including Tartine at The Distillers Arms. This was originally home to the famous distillery’s owners and today it is a top-class modern brasserie with more awards than old soldier.

Where it all begins – the Giant’s Causeway 

Of course, don’t come all this way without visiting the spectacular site that gives the route its name. The Giant's Causeway is a geological wonder. It is Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site, steeped in myth and legend and its 40,000 perfectly formed rocks are sure to leave an impression. 

If you fancy sleeping beside the stones, the local Causeway Hotel (3*) has been here for nearly as long and they sure know how to look after you. 

There's beautiful beaches, surfing, ice cream parlours, fine dining and more in lovely Portrush, a sea side resort that comes alive in summer and offers a spectacular retreat in winter. Enjoy a meal at 55 Degrees North overlooking the golden East Strand beach before catching a trad music session at the Springhill Bar. 

If you have the time, and more importantly the energy, think about taking a boat trip along the coast with Portrush Sea Tours or Aquaholics Dive Centre and Sea Safari. As well as all the sights already mentioned, you’ll take in Ramore Head, the Skerries and wonderful Dunluce Castle. 

There is inspiration everywhere you look along the Causeway Coastal Route and this is only a sea-bitten taste of it. You’ll also find plenty of short break inspiration by looking through our other blogs, articles and directories for where to stay, what to see and what to do all along the Causeway Coastal Route.