The small boats and vessels moored at the cosy harbour of Cushendun.
With over 200km of diverse coastline and a strong maritime history, Northern Ireland is the perfect destination for a relaxing touring holiday.
Home to some truly beautiful harbours and coastal villages, we’ve put together a choice to inspire your next short break or weekend getaway.
The pretty conservation village of Strangford is the perfect stop-off point for a relaxing lunch or stroll around the harbour. From here you can explore Strangford Lough, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Northern Ireland’s first marine nature reserve. Hop on board the ferry and sail across the lough to Portaferry. Take a tour of Portaferry Castle’s historical grounds, or simply walk along the marina and take in the breathtaking views all round.
Home to the largest seabird colony in the United Kingdom, Rathlin is the perfect coastal village to spend some quality time. Board the ferry at Ballycastle - a small, unspoiled seaside town – before disembarking on the island where you can explore its harbour and the many and varied walking trails that it has to offer.
Found at the end of a small winding road along the Causeway Coastal Route, you’ll find Ballintoy Harbour - made famous as a filming location for the Game of Thrones® series. The harbour features secluded bays, rock pools and sandy coves that you can spend time exploring before stopping off at the nearby village of Ballintoy. This picture-perfect stop-off point is home to a charming array of shops and restaurants where you can sit back and relax with a refreshing afternoon tea.
Located at the foothills of Glencoy – one of the nine Glens of Antrim, and on the shores of Carnlough Bay, Carnlough is where you’ll find our next village harbour. With the 3* Londonderry Arms Hotel a mere stone’s throw away and Glenarm Forest only one mile from the village, it is the ideal place for a relaxing break by the sea.
Further along the Causeway Coast in County Antrim, you’ll arrive in the coastal village of Glenarm. Here you can visit Glenarm Castle, ancestral home of the McDonnells, Earls of Antrim. With its glorious walled garden packed full of natural and manmade features, enjoy refreshments in the charming tea-room in the 19th century Mushroom House before setting off to explore this harbour village.
Located on a raised beach at the outflow of the Glendun and Glencorp valleys, you’ll find the pretty village of Cushendun. Originally designed in 1912 as a village of only seven houses, this designated conservation area is home to charming craft shops and tea rooms. It is here that you’ll find the beloved sculpture of ‘Johann’ the goat – a famous Cushendun resident.
Home to the first lighthouse built in Ireland in 1836 and the famous lifeboat station which played an important role in rescuing survivors of the MV Princess Victoria in 1953, Donaghadee Harbour boasts a long seafaring history. Popular with anglers and maritime enthusiasts alike, Donaghadee is reputedly home to the oldest pub in Ireland, Grace Neill’s and boasts spectacular views across the Irish Sea.
Found along the Western end of Whitepark Bay, the tiny village of Portbradden is one of the most picturesque and recognised fishing harbours in Northern Ireland. With nearby caves to explore, walking trails to traverse, and reputedly home to Ireland’s smallest church, it is a must-stop along the Causeway Coast.
A short drive from the historic ruins of Dunseverick Castle you’ll find Dunseverick Harbour. Still in use by local fishermen, the harbour is a pleasant place to stop off on your coastal tour. Legend has it that Saint Patrick once visited here. It was also the point where many people set off on the emigration trail in the 1800s. Today, the harbour and its surrounds are the perfect picnic stop off point as well as offering a number of walking trails to explore.