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26 Of The Best Things To Do In Antrim (Causeway Coast, Glens, Hikes + More)

26 Of The Best Things To Do In Antrim (Causeway Coast, Glens, Hikes + More)

If you’re on the lookout for things to do in Antrim in 2021, you’ve landed in the right place!

People visiting Antrim tend to flock to either Belfast City or the coast and, while both are great, there’s plenty more to this county.

From hikes and leisurely walks to the incredible 9 Glens of Antrim and more, there’s and endless number of places to visit in Antrim.

In the guide below, you’ll discover a clatter of things to do in County Antrim at any time of the year, from the world-famous Giant’s Causeway to the often-missed Rathlin Island.

The best things to do in Antrim (a quick overview)

The first section of this guide will give you a nice, speedy overview of the most popular places to visit in Antrim, like the Causeway Coast and the Antrim Glens.

The second section of the guide goes into the specific things to do in County Antrim, like the incredible Torr Head and the often-missed Murlough Bay.

1. Gorgeous towns and villages

things to do in county antrim

Photo by Paul J Martin/shutterstock.com

Before you decide on what to do in Antrim, it’s worth having a little think about where you’d like to stay during your visit.

Some of the best places to visit in Antrim are the gorgeous little towns and villages scattered along the coast and around the county. Here are a handful to check out:

2. The Antrim Coast

dunluce castle antrim

Photo by Daz Stock (Shutterstock.com)

The Causeway Coastal Route is a 313km/195-miles trail that’s home to castles, cliffs and some of the best scenery in the land.

While you can see a good chunk of it in a day, you’re better off tackling it over the course of two, or three if you want to explore on foot. Here are some of it’s most notable attractions:

3. Game of Thrones locations

ballintoy harbour

Photo by shawnwil23 (Shutterstock)

There are several Game of Thrones filming locations in Ireland, many of which can be found dotted around Antrim.

From the harbour in Ballintoy to the cliff-side ruin of Dunluce, these locations are as dramatic as they come. Here are some of the most popular:

4. Unique places to visit in Antrim

rathlin island antrim

Photo by mikemike10 (Shutterstock.com)

There’s plenty of unique things to do in County Antrim if you fancy straying a little off-the-beaten path during your visit.

And, the chances are, you’ll have most of these places all to yourself, as people visiting the county tend to flock to the same tourist hotspots. Here are a few to dive into:

5. The historic Belfast City

queens university

Photo by Gena_BY (Shutterstock)

There’s an endless number of things to do in Belfast, from hikes and walks to historical sites and great food.

There’s also some lovely traditional pubs in Belfast to kick-back in. Here are some of our favourite things to do in the city:

6. Walks and hikes

Ariel view of The Fair Head Cliffs

Photo via Nahlik on shutterstock.com

Arguably one of the best things to do in Antrim involves lashing on a pair of walking boots and heady off along the coast or up into the mountains.

There are plenty of rambles in this county, from tough aul slogs, like Cave Hill, to handy enough strolls, like the one in Lady Dixon Park in Belfast. Here are some to get you started:

7. Castles galore

Carrickfergus Castle Antrim

Photo by Nahlik (shutterstock)

The most popular Antrim tourist attractions among those visiting from abroad, in our experience, tend to be the castles.

Luckily, there’s plenty to choose from, with a mix of world-famous castles like Carrickfergus Castle, to often missed medieval structures, like Dunseverick Castle. Here are the most popular:

8. Gorgeous beaches

antrim tourist attractions

Photo left: Monicami. Photo right: Ballygally View Images (Shutterstock)

The breath-taking Antrim coastline is home to some of the best beaches in Northern Ireland, as you can see from the photo above.

Regardless of whether you fancy a dip, want to give surfing a crack or if you just want to soak up the views, there’s a sandy stretch to tickle every fancy. Here are our favourites:

Our favourite places to visit in Antrim

So, the second section of this guide tackles our favourites/what we think are the best places to visit in Antrim.

These are places that we’ve visited, loved and have been banging on about ever since to anyone that’ll listen!

1. Glenariff Forest Park

glenariff forest park walks

Photos via Shutterstock

Glenariff Forest Park is special – there’s no two ways about it. Although less well-known than some of its Causeway Coastal Route contemporaries, Glenariff is one of the nine Antrim Glens.

The park, which covers an impressive 1,000 hectares, is a glorious wonderland of lakes, woodlands, waterfalls and wildlife.

There are several trails to tackle here, ranging between 0.4 miles/0.6 km to 5.9 miles/9 km in length. See our full guide.

2. The Torr Head Scenic Route

torr head scenic drive

Photo left: Shutterstock. right: Google Maps

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Antrim, you can’t go wrong with the Torr Head Scenic Route (not suitable for campers/large vehicles).

The route is around 14.5 miles (23km) in length, although it often feels much longer, as you navigate bends, cliff side roads and narrow stretches of tarmac.

It stretches from Ballycastle to Cushendun and there’s plenty to see along the way. Just make sure to take your time and drive carefully.

3. The Black Cab Tours

Belfast black cab tour

Photo by Tony Pleavin via Ireland’s Content Pool

The Belfast Black Cab Tours are widely regarded as one of the best things to do in Antrim for good reason – they pack a punch from beginning to end.

Run by drivers that lived through The Troubles, the tours offer an insight into the city’s turbulent past (as you’ll discover via the murals).

Over the course of your tour, you’ll see the Belfast Peace Walls and visit The Falls Road and The Shankill Road while learning about the conflict that took place in the area.

4. The Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge

the carrick-a-rede rope bridge

Photo by iLongLoveKing (shutterstock.com)

There are few Antrim tourist attractions that offer an experience as unique as the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.

There has been a bridge, which hangs 25 feet above the icy waters below, connecting the mainland to the island since back in 1755.

The tour here is great, but not when it’s manic busy – so try and arrive as early as you can to avoid crossing with crowds. More info here.

5. Divis and Black Mountain

Divis trail

Photo by Arthur Ward via Tourism Ireland’s Content Pool

The Divis and Black Mountain walk is arguably one of the most overlooked things to do in Belfast by those that visit.

The walk, which is reasonably handy if you have a moderate level of fitness, treats those that conquer it to panoramic views of the city.

There’s a little cafe next to it and the trail up and down is very straightforward. Well worth doing if you’re visiting the capital.

6. Crumlin Road Gaol

crumlin road gaol

Photo left: Dignity 100. Photo right: trevorb (Shutterstock)

Crumlin Road Gaol is another of the more unique places to visit in Antrim, and it’s the perfect spot to visit if you’re in Belfast when it’s raining.

Crumlin Road Gaol is the only remaining Victorian era prison in Northern Ireland, and the tour here offers an illuminating insight into the city’s past.

Over the 150 years, the gaol housed everyone from murderers to loyalists and republican prisoners. Here’s what to expect if you visit.

7. Dunluce Castle 

dunluce castle antrim coast

Photo by Daz Stock (Shutterstock.com)

You’ll find the ruins of Dunluce Castle along the Causway Coastal Route, near the Giant’s Causeway and The Dark Hedges.

According to legend, on a stormy night in 1639, part of the castle’s kitchen collapsed into the icy waters below. It’s said that when the kitchen dropped into the sea, only a kitchen boy survived, as he was sat in the corner of the kitchen which remained intact.

There are few castles in Northern Ireland with a location as dramatic as Dunluce. You can take the tour if you like or admire it from afar.

What to do in Antrim if you fancy an active break

If you’re wondering what to do in Antrim that’ll give your legs a big aul stretch, you’re in luck – there are plenty of hikes and walks in Antrim to tackle.

From some of the county’s most breath-taking coastline to some lesser known hills and peaks, there’s a walk to suit every level of fitness in the guide below.

1. Slemish Mountain

Slemish Mountain at Sunset

Photo by ShaunTurner on shutterstock.com

Slemish Mountain is, according to legend, where Saint Patrick worked as a shepherd after being captured by pirates and taken to Ireland at the age of 16.

The mountain rises to an elevation of 437 m (1,434 ft) and can be summited on a 1.2 mile hike that takes between 1 and 2 hours, depending on pace.

The Slemish Mountain walk is one of many hikes in Antrim that tends to be missed by many that visit, as it lays slightly off-the-beaten-path.

2. Cave Hill

places to visit in antrim

Photo left: Arthur Ward via Tourism Ireland. Photo right: Maciek Grabowicz (Shutterstock)

You’ll find Cave Hill Country Park a stones throw from Belfast City, where it’s home to some of the vest views in the county (it’s also home to Belfast Castle).

There are several trails here, ranging from tough to handyish, depending on fitness levels. The most popular is the Cave Hill walk.

It’s from this trail that you’ll be treated to the views in the photos above. Here’a a full guide to the walk.

3. Murlough Bay

Murlough Bay ballycastle

Photos via Shutterstock

Murlough Bay is an outstanding area of natural beauty that’s located along the Antrim Coast, not far from Torr Head.

Known for its unspoiled landscape, Murlough Bay is exceptionally beautiful (and very remote). Now, how you see it is up to you.

If you’re stuck for time (or if you/a travel companion has limited mobility) there’s a parking area that’ll treat you to stunning views. There’s also tough walk, as you’ll discover in this guide.

4. Belfast’s many parks

Stormont Park

Photo left: Nahlik. Photo right: Gerry McNally (Shutterstock)

If you’re visiting the capital and you fancy escaping the hustle and bustle for a bit, you’re in luck – there are plenty of walks in Belfast that’ll make you feel like you’ve left the city behind.

The city is home to a plethora of public parks, each of which is home to one or more walking trails to tackle at a leisurely pace. Here are some of the best:

5. Fair Head

fair head cliffs

Photos via Shutterstock

The Fair Head Cliffs are some of the most unique on Ireland’s coastline and they rise to an impressive rise 196m (643 feet) above sea level.

There are several trails to head off on here but, be warned, the conditions here are wild, and those visiting should use extreme care and avoid walking anywhere near the edge.

If you’re looking for things to do in Antrim that most tend to miss, a visit to Fair Head is well worth adding to your itinerary (here’s a full guide to Fair Head).

6. Hillsborough Forest Park

Hillsborough Forest Park guide

Photos by James Kennedy NI (Shutterstock)

The 200-acre Hillsborough Forest Park is located in the Georgian village of Hillsborough near Belfast, not far from Hillsborough Castle and it’s glorious gardens.

Start your visit with a coffee from the little truck in the car park and then head off on the 2km Lake Walk, that takes around 45 minutes or so to complete.

If you’re looking for some worthwhile day trips from Belfast, you can’t go wrong with a few hours spent rambling around here.

Unique things to do in Antrim

Some of the top things to do in Antrim are, in my opinion, the places that either 1, take you off-the-beaten-path or 2, treat you to a nice, unique experience.

This section of the guide is packed places to visit and things to see in Antrim that tend to get missed by many visiting the county.

1. The Gobbins

Gobbins Antrim

Photos by Cushla Monk + Paul Vance (shutterstock.com)

The Gobbins is often described asthe most dramatic cliff walk in Europe, and for good reason! It’s a short, 35-minute drive from Belfast, not far from Carrickfergus Castle.

The walk was originally aimed at Edwardian thrill-seekers that wanted to experience a chunk of the dramatic Antrim coastline up close.

You can head off on a 2.5-hour tour here (good fitness needed) that’s well worth a look. Here’s a guide to the tour.

2. Cushendun Caves

Cushendun Caves antrim

Photo left: JeniFoto. Photo right: Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

The Cushendun Caves shot to fame when they became one of several Game of Thrones filming locations in Antrim.

Located on the southern end of Cushendun Beach, the caves are easily accessed (it’s around a 10-minute walk down to the caves if you park by the beach).

The caves formed the backdrop for the Stormlands and was the setting for a couple of important scenes from the series in season 2 and again in season 8.

3. The Old Bushmills Distillery

bushmills distillery tour

Photo via Bushmills

The Old Bushmills Distillery is the oldest licensed distillery on earth and it’s one of the most popular whiskey distilleries in Ireland.

For over 400 years, the little village of Bushmills has been producing some of the best whiskey in the land. 

The distillery, which opened in 1608, attracts around 120,000 visitors each year and the tour is well-worth doing even if you don’t actually drink whiskey.

4. Rathlin Island

antrim coast attractions

Photos by Andrea Srotova (Shutterstock)

If you’re looking for off-the-beaten-path things to do in Antrim, look no further than a spin out to Rathlin Island.

The island is just 6 miles/10 km from the town of Ballycastle and you can reach it by ferry (it takes just 25 minutes).

There are several walking trails on the island along with a Seabird Centre and a heap of history to uncover. Discover things to do on the island in this guide.

5. Street art and murals

belfast murals guide

Photos via Google Maps

The Belfast murals are arguably the best known political murals in Europe. They’re best visited on a Black Cab Tour, but you can also see them on a self-guided ramble.

Just make sure to visit during the day, as some are located in areas of Belfast to avoid at night, like The Falls Road and The Shankill Road.

There’s also plenty of street art in Belfast, if you’d like to dodge the politics. And, if it’s raining, there are loads of art galleries in Belfast to nip into.

Places to go in Antrim: Where have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that there’s plenty of things to do in County Antrim that we’ve unintentionally missed in the guide above.

If there’s something that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments section below and we’ll check it out!

FAQs about the best things to do in County Antrim

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what are the best things to do in County Antrim if you only have a day to where to go to escape the hustle and bustle.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What are the most best places to visit in Antrim?

Our favourite places to visit in Antrim are Glenariff Forest Park, Cave Hill Country Park and Dunluce Castle.

What are the best things to do in Antrim for an active break?

If you’re wondering what to do in Antrim that’ll get you out of the car and treat you to heaps of scenery, try the Slemish walk or the hike up Cave Hill.

What are the most unique places to visit in Antrim?

A visit to Rathlin Island, a walk around Murlough Bay, a spin along the Torr Head Scenic Route and a trip to Fair Head are some of the most unique things to do in County Antrim.

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