If you’re debating staying in Cushendall in Antrim, you’ve landed in the right place.
Cushendall is a pretty little coastal town in a stunning location on Antrim’s Causeway Coast.
With a sandy beach backed by the rolling green hills of the Glens of Antrim, it’s a very serene place to explore for a few days.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything from things to do in Cushendall to where to eat, sleep and drink. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about Cushendall
Although a visit to Cushendall in Antrim is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
2. Part of the Causeway Coastal Route
Cushendall is part of the beautiful Causeway Coastal Route. This scenic drive takes you along the northern coast of the county and through the nine Glens of Antrim. The town makes for a nice base to explore more of the beaches and attractions around this part of the coast.
Cushendall has a plenty of character with old Georgian buildings and natural beauty to admire in the surrounding area.
The town was previously known as Newtownglens but it’s now referred to as Cushendall. It’s thought that the name comes from the Irish meaning, “foot of the River Dall”.
Brief history of Cushendall
The village was first established and grew in the 1600s. It came under many different ownerships over the years and saw its name changed from Cushendall to Newtownglens and back to Cushendall.
It really began to flourish under Francis Turnly who acquired the town as part of an estate in 1809. He was responsible for many of the impressive buildings and the beautiful coastal road that you still see today.
The Heart of the Glens festival
Since August 1990, the town has held the annual Heart of the Glens festival. The fun nine days of events and activities is worth being in town for!
Things to do in Cushendall (and nearby)
There’s plenty of things to do in Cushendall and there’s an almost endless number of places to visit nearby, from hikes and walks to historical sites and much more.
Below, you’ll find everywhere from Cushendall Beach and Glenariff Forest to Cushendall Beach and much more.
1. Cushendall Beach
In front of town, Cushendall Beach is a pretty small beach just stretching for 250 metres along the coast. The sandy strip is perfect for early morning strolls and picnics, with views of the mountains and rolling hills to either side.
The sand is backed by grassy areas which are popular for relaxing on a warm sunny day. To the northern end of the beach there’s a car park and public toilet facilities. You’ll also find the Cushendall Golf Club backing onto the beach to the southern end.
2. Glenariff Forest
Just south of town, you’ll find Glenariff Forest Park which is a perfect place to lose yourself amongst the trees. This 1000-hectare park has woodland, lakes and picnic areas all joined by walking trails of various levels.
From easy strolls to longer walks up to 9km, there’s plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery. Located just 15 minutes away from Cushendall, it’s worth a stop.
3. The Glens of Antrim
Cushendall is perfectly located right amongst the Nine Glens of Antrim. These valleys stretch out from the coast and are considered an area of outstanding natural beauty. With plenty of beautiful landscapes to admire from glacial valleys to beaches and mountains, it’s a very nice place to explore.
With many different towns amongst the glens, Cushendall is often considered at the heart of the area. You can easily admire the scenery surrounding the town or make day trips both north and south along the coast.
4. Cushendun Caves
For Game of Thrones fans, making a trip just 10 minutes up the coast to Cushendun is a must. At the southern end of the beach in this town you’ll find the stunning natural rock cavities that have formed slowly over millions of years.
The Cushendun Caves were used as a set for some important scenes from the popular TV series, so they now attract plenty of people who want to get a nice view of this impressive landform. They make for interesting photos and can easily be explored on a short stop.
5. Red Bay Castle
Just back along the Coast Road in Cushendall, this ruined castle offers beautiful views and a nice photo stop on the Causeway Coastal Route. The first castle to be built in this spot is thought to be back in the 13th century. However, the current ruins are likely from the 16th century and built by Sir James MacDonnell.
The castle is directly above the Red Arch tunnel and the views from the headland on which its built is exceptionally impressive over the harbour.
6. Torr Head Scenic Route
Just 17km to the north of Cushendall along the coast, you’ll find the spectacular headland known as Torr Head. This worthwhile attraction on the Causeway Coastal Route offers incredible views across the ocean towards Scotland.
The rugged peninsula is also home to the remains of the ancient fortress known as Altagore, which dates back to the 6th century. There is a small parking area at the base of it and you can wander up from there.
Restaurants in Cushendall
There are plenty of solid places to eat in Cushendall if you’re looking for a feed after a long day on the road. Below, you’ll find some of our favourites:
If you’re after some excellent seafood, Harry’s is one of the most popular restaurants in town. They get great reviews for friendly staff and delicious food with good portion sizes. Obviously, the seafood is a winner, with chowder, salmon and fresh scampi, being regular favourites.
2. Upstairs at Joe’s Seafood Bar and Steakhouse
Just down the street, you’ll find another fantastic seafood restaurant in Upstairs at Joe’s. This beautiful place has both indoor and outdoor seating areas, with the outdoor area covered from the weather so you can enjoy it all year round.
3. Café Cova
If you’re looking for a cosy café for brunch, then Café Cova is definitely a top choice. Another spot located on the main street in Cushendall, it’s particularly popular for its breakfast menu options. The pancake stack is a big hit, as is the full cooked breakfast which is great after a walk along the beach in the morning.
Pubs in Cushendall
There’s a handful of pubs in Cushendall for those of you itching to kick-back with a post adventure-tipple after a day of exploring. Here are our favourite spots:
For a good old fashioned Irish pub, McCollam’s is a great place to have a drink with the locals. You’ll likely find a traditional Irish music session going on, adding to the friendly atmosphere and conversation. Located on the main street in town, it’s an overlooked spot for a pint.
2. The Central Bar
This popular bar in Cushendall serves up a good pint of Guinness, with both locals and visitors returning again and again for a drink here. They also often have live music on a weekend, so it’s always got a great atmosphere going on.
Accommodation in Cushendall
Although you’ll find a wide list of great places to stay in our Cushendall accommodation guide, I’ll pop our favourites in below.
Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
1. The Village Bed and Breakfast
Located right in the middle of town, this bed and breakfast offers clean and comfortable rooms within a short walk to all the best restaurants in town. They offer single, double, triple and family rooms, so you’ll find something to suit your stay.
2. Glendale Bed and Breakfast
This beautiful family-run bed and breakfast is located a short walk from the main town and not far from the beach. They offer double and family rooms on the property, with a private garden area and parking.
3. Central Bar Guesthouse
Another comfortable bed and breakfast in the middle of town, Central Bar Guesthouse is a short walk from virtually anywhere in town, including the beach. Each of the double and family rooms have a private bathroom, TV and free Wi-Fi. There is also a full Irish breakfast served up every morning just down at Café Cova for all guests.
FAQs about visiting Cushendall in Antrim
Since mentioning the town in a guide to Northern Ireland that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking various things about Cushendall in Antrim.
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 best things to do in Cushendall?
If you’re looking for things to do in Cushendall and nearby, Cushendall Beach, Glenariff Forest, The Glens of Antrim and The Cushendun Caves are worth a look.
Is Cushendall worth visiting?
Cushendall makes a great base to explore the Glens of Antrim and the Causeway Coast from. There’s a nice beach here and plenty of great spots for a feed.
Are there many pubs and restaurants in Cushendall?
Pub wise, The Central Bar and McCollam’s are both mighty spots. For food, Harry’s, Upstairs at Joe’s Seafood Bar and Steakhouse and Café Cova pack a tasty punch.
Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.