Lighthouse perched on the cliff edge on Rathlin Island.
Travelling to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open this July? Why not explore more of the Causeway Coastal Route on a short break.
We’ve put together our top things to do in the area. From visiting the Giant’s Causeway, to traversing the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, there’s lots to see and do in Portstewart and beyond.
1. Marvel at the Giant’s Causeway
Catch the beautiful narrow-gauge heritage train on the Giant's Causeway & Bushmills Railway route and arrive in style at the iconic hexagonal stones. Take in the amazing visitor centre and experience the power of the mighty Mr Finn McCool. Clues of his existence including the Giant’s Boot and Wishing Chair – lie all around.
2. Walk Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Once you dare to walk the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, remember there’s only one way back to collect your National Trust certificate. Yes, you’ll have to do it again. But it’s so worth it. You will be hard pushed to find better scenery and natural beauty on the island, an old salmon fishery that you cross to.
3. Sail away to Rathlin Island
Escape to another world on Rathlin Island via the ferry from Ballycastle across the Sea of Moyle. Take a tour of the upside down lighthouse built into a cliff face, and enjoy isolated walks, tranquil nature and one of the largest seabird colonies in the UK. You might even spot some seals.
4. See the sunset at Dunluce Castle
When the sun’s rays are low over Dunluce Castle, your iconic holiday snap of the Antrim coastline is waiting to happen. This evocative castle lost its kitchen when it fell into the sea one stormy night. Its stories, together with those of the nearby abandoned village of Dunluce, still being uncovered by archaeologists, are well worth exploring.
5. Taste the finest Irish whiskey
The heat and the smells are lovely as you take a tour through the still actively working Old Bushmills Distillery on the banks of the River Bush. They will leave you ready for a great tasting experience at the end. Then have lunch, browse the lovely shop for souvenirs, or buy a nice single malt and let the distillery personalise the label for you.
6. Drive the iconic Causeway Coastal Route
You need a day or two or a long weekend to really delve deep into the iconic Causeway Coastal Route by car. It runs through unrivalled scenery and links ancient castles, amazing geological formations, golden beaches and picturesque seaside towns and villages. Cycling it brings amazing sights and challenges too, such as the dreaded steep ascent of Torr Head.
7. Get on the Game of Thrones trail
As the world of Game of Thrones is never far away, some ‘set jetting’ should be on your County Antrim itinerary. Re-live scenes or stand in the spots where the blockbuster TV series was filmed. Be sure to see the mysterious Dark Hedges, the foreboding Cushendun Caves and picturesque Ballintoy Harbour. For gossip and behind-the-scenes tales, talk to the locals or book a tour.
8. Surf Atlantic waves at White Rocks
The quintessential County Antrim water-sport experience is to surf the waves on a ride towards the beautiful white chalk cliffs of Whiterocks Beach. Powerful waves are around much of the year at this exposed beach break, within walking distance of the busy holiday resort and surfing hotspot of Portrush.
9. Explore Carrickfergus Castle
You can’t run out of adventure and stories at the impressive Carrickfergus Castle – there’s 800 years of history to absorb in what is one of the most important and best documented medieval castles in the whole of Ireland. It’s well worth seeing the keep, the banqueting hall, medieval life exhibits and the collection of cannons that once formed part of the defences.
10. Get lost in the Glens of Antrim
Escaping to the Glens of Antrim brings nine opportunities to get lost amid unspoilt, unexploited picture-perfect landscapes. Famed in legend and lauded song, the glens’ wild beauty, myth and magic offers something unique to those willing to explore them.
For those who want to extend their stay, we’ve put together some itineraries to help you plan your trip.
For more information on getting there and places to stay, check out our Irish Open one-stop shop.