The beautiful little village of Cushendun is a lovely spot to unwind when you’re driving the Causeway Coastal Route.
God, that was a lot of ‘Cushenduns’ for one sentence!
Moving on! In the guide below, you’ll find everything from things to do in Cushendun to where to eat, sleep and grab a post-adventure pint.
Some quick need-to-knows about Cushendun in Antrim
Although a visit to Cushendun in Antrim is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Cushendun is located on a sheltered harbour at the mouth of the River Dun and Glendun, one of the Nine Glens of Antrim. It’s a 10-minute drive from Cushendall and a 20-minute drive from both Glenariff Forest Park and Torr Head.
2. A great base for the Causeway Coastal Route
Cushendun is one of the many towns and villages on the Causeway Coastal Route. The route is often considered one of the most spectacular drives in the world, taking in much of the coast along Northern Ireland.
3. A gorgeous seaside village
While you could easily spend your time exploring more of the coast, Cushendun is a nice little spot for completely relaxing away from the crowds. The tiny village is in a very picturesque setting on a sheltered harbour and has a few quaint places to stay for a chilled getaway.
The village of Cushendun has a unique history and stunning landscape that has contributed to its protected status. It was the site of battles between the warring O’Neill and McDonnell clans.
Their feud eventually culminated in the gruesome beheading of the O’Neill leader, Shane O’Neill. You can still see the ruins of the Castle Carra where these battles took place today.
A designated conservation area
Cushendun village has been mostly owned by the National Trust since 1954, with it being a designated conservation area due to its stunning landscape and historic buildings.
The village itself was designed by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912 at the request of Baron Cushendun. It was deliberately designed in Cornish appearance, with whitewashed cottages and the neo-Georgian, Glenmona House.
Seaside getaway for visitors
Today the village is a quaint spot to escape the city and enjoy the stunning coastline. It has a few accommodation options and restaurants to make it a quiet place to enjoy a weekend away.
There are also plenty of things to do in Cushendun and nearby, whether you’re interested in hitting the beach or exploring the surrounding valleys.
Things to do in Cushendun
There are plenty of things to do in Cushendun and you’ll find some of the best places to visit in Antrim a short spin away.
Below, you’ll find some of the more popular things to do in Cushendun, from the caves and the beach to some nearby attractions.
1. The Cushendun Caves
Close to the southern end of the beach, the Cushendun Caves are an incredible natural formation thanks to 400 million years of erosion. The rocky cavities shot to fame when they became one of several Game of Thrones filming locations in Ireland.
The caves were the backdrop for the Stormlands in the show and is where Melisandre gave birth to the shadow assassin. The area is free to visit and is a really spectacular spot along the coast, although certainly not much of a secret anymore.
2. Cushendun Beach
The sandy Cushendun Beach in front of the village stretches along the bay and is the perfect place for a morning stroll or cool dip. It’s a relatively quiet spot compared to other beaches along this coast, so it’s great for a relaxing wander.
On a clear day you might even be able to look across to Scotland’s southern coast, just 15 miles away. At the southern end of the beach, the Glendun River meets the sea, and you’ll find a small car park there.
There is also another car park to the north of the village. The calm water here makes it safe for swimming, although there’s no lifeguard service.
3. The Glens of Antrim
The Nine Glens of Antrim radiate out from the plateau to the coast and are considered an area of outstanding natural beauty. Within the small area you can admire a range of landscapes, from glacial valleys to sandy beaches and rolling hills.
This makes Cushendun a nice little base from which to explore the other Glens of Antrim and surrounding towns during your visit, with so many beautiful places to explore form waterfalls to beaches.
4. Castle Carra
Just north of the village in a green field, you’ll find the remains of Castle Carra. Dated back to either the 13th or 14th century, the square tower was once occupied by Shane O’Neill and saw much of the battles between the O’Neill and McDonnell clans.
It ultimately led to the death of Shane O’Neill, who’s severed head was even sent to Dublin Castle. Today, the castle is mostly in ruin and almost being overgrown by the surrounding ivy. However, it’s easy to visit just outside of town for a quick photo stop.
5. Cregagh Wood
Just back from the village of Cushendun, this nature preserve is a nice place for a stroll. You’ll find a pathway through the woods of around 2km one way where you might even be able to spot some rare red squirrels.
You can find parking at St Patrick’s Church on Glendun Road, just 300m away from the entrance to the Cregagh Wood.
It’s designed as a one-way walk, but you can simply return the same way along the waymarked path. It’s a moderate rated walk, with a steep incline at the beginning so be prepared with good footwear.
Pubs and restaurants in Cushendun
There’s plenty of pubs and restaurants in Cushendun for those of you looking for a feed or a post-adventure pint.
Below, you’ll find info on the brilliant Mary McBride’s and the mighty Corner House (the food here is gorgeous!).
1. Mary McBride’s Bar
Once considered the smallest bar in Ireland, this hole in the wall pub is full of character, history and atmosphere. You’ll find good pub grub including steak and Guinness pie and seafood chowder, as well as a range of desserts such as cheesecakes and apple pie.
The bar stocks a range of drinks from Irish whiskeys to coffee, so you’ll find something for everyone. The atmosphere is at its best on weekends though, when you’ll find live music and themed nights throughout the year.
It’s definitely a must visit while in Cushendun and it’s also home to door number 8 of the Game of Thrones doors, so if you’re a fan you’ll want to check it out.
2. The Corner House
Right across from Mary McBride’s Bar, this National Trust-owned restaurant is a nice spot for some good food and a relaxing time. Serving coffee, cakes, scones, cooked breakfast, burgers, seafood chowder and much more, it’s the perfect place for some well-deserved lunch.
They also have a great outdoor seating area and courtyard for those warmer days so you can enjoy the sunshine with your meal.
Accommodation in Cushendun
If you fancy staying in the village, there are several Cushendun accommodation options on offer, from guesthouses to B&Bs, however, several are located out of the village.
Note: if you book a stay 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. Glenn Eireann House
Located just outside of town, Glenn Eireann House is a great little B&B with a range of room options from double up to family rooms for five people. The polished building offers a shared lounge, flat screen TV, free Wi-Fi and a garden to enjoy when the weather is nice.
All guests can enjoy a continental breakfast each morning before heading out to explore the beach and caves, which are just 4km from the property.
2. Rockport Lodge
For the perfect seaside getaway, the Rockport Lodge is located right on the beach at the northern end of the bay. The one and two bedroom houses available have a patio, fully equipped kitchen, fireplace, lounge with TV, washing machine and private bathroom.
You can sit back on the patio and look straight across the ocean or easily wander along the beach for your morning stroll.
3. Sleepy Hollow B&B
Just outside of Cushendun, this B&B gets rave reviews for the extremely friendly hosts and beautifully polished rooms. Each morning you can enjoy an Ulster fried breakfast, before heading out to explore more of the coast and surrounding area.
The property offers free parking and free Wi-Fi to all guests, as well as, a beautifully furnished lounge and dining room to share.
FAQs about visiting Cushendun in Antrim
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what are the best things to do in Cushendun to where to grab a bite to eat.
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 Cushendun?
A visit to the beach and a wander down to the caves are the height of the things to do in Cushendun, however, there’s plenty to see nearby.
What are the best restaurants in Cushendun?
For food in Cushendun, look no further than The Corner House and Mary McBride’s Bar.
What are the best places to stay in/near Cushendun?
Sleepy Hollow B&B, Rockport Lodge and Glenn Eireann House are all great options, but note that not all are in the village.
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.