Lighthouse perched on the cliff edge on Rathlin Island.
Travelling to The 148th Open this July? Besides the golf, there's lots of great things to see and do away from the greens of Royal Portush.
We’ve pulled together a few ideas for inspiration - whether you're looking to turn your trip to the North Coast into a short break, or fancy fitting a few must-see destinations into your road trip.
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
If you dare to walk the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, remember there’s only one way back to collect your National Trust certificate! But it’s so worth it. You will be hard pushed to find better scenery and natural beauty on the island that you cross over to, which historically was an old salmon fishery.
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 the cliff face, enjoy tranquil nature walks and one of the largest seabird colonies in the UK. You might even spot some seals!
4. Watch the sunset at Dunluce Castle
When the sun’s rays are low over Dunluce Castle, that's the time to snap your iconic holiday photo of the Antrim coastline. This historical castle lost its kitchen when it fell into the sea during a party 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 all encompassing as you take a tour through the Old Bushmills Distillery on the banks of the River Bush, which leave you ready for the great tasting experience at the end. Then have lunch, browse the shop for souvenirs, and treat yourself to a nice single malt with personalised label.
6. Drive the iconic Causeway Coastal Route
Take a couple of days to delve deep into the iconic Causeway Coastal Route by car. It travels through unrivalled scenery and connetcs ancient castles, geological formations, golden beaches and picturesque seaside towns and villages. Cycling it brings amazing sights and challenges too, although watch out for the steep ascent of Torr Head.
7. Get on the Game of Thrones® trail
The world of Game of Thrones® is never far away, and while you're in the official Game of Thrones® Territory, it's the perfect time for some ‘set jetting’ on your County Antrim itinerary. Re-live scenes or stand in the actual 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 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 plan your trip.