Car touring, The Dark Hedges, County Antrim

Northern Ireland has some fantastic scenic drives - many of which you can cover in a day or short break - with countless stunning places to take that memorable photograph.  Here are just some of our top suggestions:

1. Causeway Coast and Glens

The Causeway Coastal Route is a 120-mile driving route (with nine scenic loops) running along the coast between Northern Ireland's two main cities. It was voted 5th in the world's top scenic views (Jacobs Creek, 2006) and when you drive it, you'll see why.

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Torr Head: this rocky headland between Cushendun and Ballycastle marks the closest point betwen the Irish and Scottish coasts, with stunning views of the Mull of Kintyre, Fair Head, the Antrim Coast and Rathlin Island
Portbradden Harbour: this picturesque little harbour and hamlet is located at the western end of Whitepark Bay. While you're there be sure to visit the beautiful St. Gobban's Church - one of the smallest in Ireland.
Gortmore Viewing Point, Bishop's Road, Limavady: the site of an impressive artwork depicting Manannan Mac Lir, the Celtic God of the Sea as part of the Limavady Sculpture Trail, the viewpoint offers breathtaking views of Benone Strand and the Atlantic Ocean, Binevenagh Mountain (which gives its name to the surrounding Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty), Magilligan Point and across Lough Foyle to Donegal.

2. The Sperrins Mountains

The Sperrins are Northern Ireland's most extensive mountain range and can be explored on four scenic driving routes (North, South, East and Central), which were included in National Geographic's prestigious list of the world's 101 scenic drives for 2012.

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Gortin Lakes, County Tyrone (Image courtesy of Tyrone and Sperrins destination)

Barnes Gap: situated on the Central Sperrins Driving Route, this striking glacial feature comprises a deep incision in the ridge of hills lying to the south of the beautiful Glenelly Valley, with great views of the main Sperrins chain.
Pigeon Top: located on the South Sperrins Driving Route to the west of Omagh, this prominent viewpoint and picnic area offers some fantastic views of surrounding hills such as Bessy Bell, and further afield. 
Slieve Gallion: situated off the East Sperrins Driving Route near Moneymore, this mountain lies at the eastern edge of the Sperrins with a road leading much of the way to the top. Take in the excellent views over Lough Neagh, the Sperrins, Antrim Hills and Mourne Mountains.

3. Fermanagh

Dominated by the twin lakes of Upper and Lower Lough Erne, Fermanagh is a watery paradise with some stunning beauty spots.

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Lough Navar Forest: the scenic forest drive boasts some of Fermanagh's best views, across the vast expanse of Lower Lough Erne.
Marlbank Scenic Loop: this quiet scenic route passes through the unique limestone landscape of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark and impresive views include those overlooking Lough MacNean.
Carnmore Viewpoint: located in the Slieve Beagh hills in rural south east Fermanagh, the viewpoint is worth a visit for its commanding views of the surounding countryside with its drumlins and small loughs

4. Lough Neagh

Touching five of Northern Ireland's six counties, Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles and boats a variety of attractions and some great, unspoilt scenery.

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Maghery Country Park: tucked away in the south western corner of the lough, the park has some great views of the shoreline and out to Coney Island.
Ballyronan Marina: this pretty, Blue Flag marina is one of the largest on the lough with scenic walks and a woodland nature trail.
Cranfield Church and Holy Well: located in a secluded location on the northern shore of Lough Neagh, the medieval church occupies a picturesque setting overlooking the shore.

5. Strangford Lough

A designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Strangford Lough is Northern Ireland's first marine nature reserve and is the British Isles' largest sea inlet with some stunning scenery and well known attractions around its shores.

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The Floodgates: located a short distance out of Newtownards on the road to Portaferry, this embankment has some beautiful views across mudflats to the iconic Scrabo Tower and south along the lough.
Kearney village: this carefully restored, traditional fishing village has beautiful views towards Scotland and the Isle of Man, plus some lovely walks. 
Nendrum Monastery: this important pre-Norman monastic site on Mahee Island, acessed by two bridges from the mainland, occupies a beautiful location overlooking Strangford Lough and its islands.

6. The Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion

The dramatic Mournes landscape was the inspiration for Belfast-born writer C.S. Lewis' magical Kingdom of Narnia. It and the nearby Ring of Gullion in County Armagh, another designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, offer some of Northern Ireland's best scenery.

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St. John's Point Lighthouse: this striking black and yellow lighthouse along a rocky shore makes for an impressive photo in its own right and also offers a stunning view across Dundrum Bay towards the high Mournes. 
Greencastle Royal Castle: this impressive building incorporates a mix of 13th to 16th century features, and its elevated position commands a fantastic view of the Mourne Mountains and across Carlingford Lough to the Cooley Mountains. 
Slieve Gullion Forest Park: a scenic drive to the upper parts of the forest offers some impressive views of the surrounding volcanic landscape. The drive also provides access to the trail leading to the top of the mountain itself, which is home to Ireland's highest surviving passage tomb.