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Causeway Coastal Route

Exploring Northern Ireland is easy. In the countryside, the roads are excellent, well signposted and largely toll free. Distances between towns are short and driving is on the left hand side of the road, same as in New Zealand.

Suggested Itinerary
Day 1: Belfast – Island Magee – Ballygally (44km)
Spend today discovering The Gobbins. Start your adventure at the Visitors Centre where you learn all about the story of this rugged coastal pathway. For those not able or keen to undertake the full journey, there are other cliff-top walks to enjoy in the same location.

Day 2: Ballygally – Cushendun – Bushmills (80km)
Take the coastal route north, stopping at the quaint village of Cushenden with its idyllic Cornish Cottages and caves on the beach made famous as a filming location for Game of Thrones.

Day 3: Bushmills – Portrush – Giant’s Causeway – Bushmills (26km)
Head to Portrush exploring the cliff facing castle of Dunluce dating back to the 14th century. In the afternoon, explore the World Heritage Giant’s Causeway. Marvel at the unique rock formations and learn of the myths and legends that surround this famous landmark.

Day 4: Bushmills – Derry (65km)
Visit the world’s oldest whiskey distillery, The Old Bushmills Distillery. Get there early as this is a hugely popular attraction. Continue on to the medieval walled city of Derry and enjoy a walking tour of the town. Learn about Bloody Sunday at the Museum of Free Derry. 

Day 5: Derry – Donegal (77km)
Drive the scenic route through the top of the Glenveagh National Park. Follow the coast through traditional fishing villages, stopping along the way for a brisk beach walk or even a surf, before reaching Donegal.

Day 6: Donegal – Sligo – Dublin (224km)
Stop in Sligo to view or walk to the top of Knocknarea, a limestone hill dominating the skyline and offering wonderful views across Sligo Bay to the lakes and mountains. Pack a picnic and stop lakeside for lunch. 

Customise this itinerary to travel at your own pace. Explore more of the south or join the Wild Atlantic Way from Donegal.

Highlights worth seeing along the way
The Rinkha, Island Magee –
 Stop by at this family owned store and choose one of 24 flabours of delicious creamy ice-cream.
Rathlin Island –
Located just 20 kilometres off the North Antrim coast and halfway between Ireland and Scotland, this island is known for its spectacular scenery and sea birds. Visit May - June when the puffins have settled back onto the island.
Mary McBride’s Bar, Cushendun – Stop here for great pub food. It’s one of Ireland’s smallest pubs, it’s authentic and full of character.
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge – If you’re up for a challenge, cross the precarious bridge which crosses a 24 metre-deep and 18 metre-wide chasm along the north coast. Pre-booking online is essential to cross the rope bridge. 
Flash in the Pan, Portballintrae – Savour award-winning Fish ‘n’ Chips.
Causeway Specialty Market – This is held in Coleraine on the 2nd Saturday of every month and is very proud of its locally grown fresh produce and handicrafts.
Slieve League Cliffs, Donegal – Locals, (and others) say these cliffs rival the Cliffs of Moher. At 601 metres, they are spectacular and boast some of the highest sea cliffs in the whole of Europe.
Silver Strand, near Donegal – Make sure to include a stop at this remote unspoilt beach.

Our favourite places to stay 
• Ballygally Castle, Ballygally
• Causeway Lodge, Bushmills
• City Hotel, Derry
• Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal

Choosing your Rental Car
Take into consideration the size of the vehicle you require. We strongly recommend a minimum 1.4 litre for two adults. If the vehicle is to be used for day touring from a central base and not for transporting your luggage, a smaller vehicle may be adequate. We suggest you book your car before leaving home as this will save money and ensure you get the car of your choice.

View for more HOT UK & Europe road trips

Image credit: © Tourism Ireland

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