The 2020 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

The most detailed itinerary we've created

Day 22 (Antrim) – Taking the Ireland road trip to the Causeway Coastal Route

The Causeway Coastal Route, which was rated one of the top five road trips in the world, offers the perfect combination of rugged coastline, dramatic towering cliffs and gorgeous little villages and towns.

I’ve done this route on 2 occasions over the course of 1-day, and found that it was enough.

However, if you’re looking to hike or walk the route or if you fancy driving the entire 195 miles, you’ll need much longer.

Get up. Get fed. And get on the road for 9:00.

1 – Portstewart Strand

// Your b&b to the strand – 45-minute drive (arrive for 09:45) //

portstewart strand
Photo by Chris Hill

Our first stop of the day takes us to Portstewart Strand – a 2-mile stretch of golden sand that’s widely regarded as one of the finest beaches in Northern Ireland.

You’ll be treated to brilliant views of Inishowen headland and Mussenden Temple as you ramble here to kick-start your day.

2 – Dunluce Castle (the first Game of Thrones attraction on this Ireland road trip)

// Portstewart Strand to Dunluce – 30-minute drive (arrive for 11:00) //

dunluce castle antrim
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

You’ll find the iconic ruins of Dunluce Castle perched on dramatic cliffs along Antrim’s magnificent coastline.

A source of wanderlust for travellers the world over, the castles quirky appearance and rich history has seen it receive enormous attention online in recent years.

Its appearance in Game of Thrones alongside the Dark Hedges may have helped…

You can do the tour if you like or admire it from the outside.

3 – The Giants Causeway

// Dunluce to the Giants Causeway – 15-minute drive (leave Dunluce at 10:20, arrive to the Causeway for 10:35) //

the giants causeway coastal route
Photo by Arthur Ward

Next on the list is a place where, according to legend, an Irish giant named Finn MacCool began his quest to defeat a cocky Scottish giant.

An official Unesco World Heritage Site since 1986, the Giant’s Causeway was formed around 50 to 60 million years ago as a result of a volcanic eruption.

giants causeway
Photo by Arthur Ward

What emerged from the eruption led to the creation of a corner of the world so wonderfully unique that it has been nicknamed the 8th wonder of the world.

As you cast your eyes around you you’ll see some of the estimated 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that make up this natural masterpiece.

4 – Dunseverick Castle

// The Causeway to Dunseverick Castle – 15-minute drive (arrive for 11:30) //

Dunseverick Castle antrim
Photo by Ondrej Prochazka (Shutterstock)

Saint Patrick is recorded to have visited Dunseverick castle in the 5th century to baptise a local man who later became a Bishop of Ireland.

Park in the little car park next to the castle and take the short stroll over to its crumbly remains.

The original stone fort that occupied the position was attacked by Viking raiders in 870 AD.

5 – Ballintoy Harbour

// Dunseverick Castle to the Harbour – 10-minute drive (arrive for 12:10 ) //

ballintoy harbour
Photo by Chris Hill

You’ll find Ballintoy Harbour at the end of a small narrow steep road down Knocksaughey Hill.

The harbour is surrounded by limestone cliffs and by the late nineteenth century it was used for the production of lime and shipping sett stones.

And yes, Ballintoy Harbour was used as a filming location in HBO’s Game of Thrones for exterior Pyke shots and as the Iron Islands.

Spend some time rambling around and sucking down that fresh ocean air.

6 – Lunch

// The Harbour to The Red Door Cottage Tea Room & Bistro – 5-minute drive (arrive for 13:00) //

We’ve had a busy morning, so it’s time for a feed.

Take the short spin (it’s more like a 3-minute drive than 5) to The Red Door Cottage Tea Room & Bistro for a bite to eat.

Take the weight off for a while and fuel up for the afternoon ahead.

7 – The Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

// The Red Door Cottage to the rope bridge – 5-minute drive (arrive for 14:20) //

The first rope bridge was erected between the mainland and Carrick-a-Rede Island way back in 1755, as the little island provided the perfect platform for local salmon fishermen to cast their nets off into the Atlantic.

If you’re planning on crossing, fret not – the bridge in place today is made of sturdy wire.

The perfect spot for some hands-on exploring with heaps of photo opportunities along the way!

8 – Kinbane Castle

// The rope bridge to Kinbane Castle – 15-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //


To say the location is dramatic and other-worldly would be doing Kinbane Castle a colossal injustice.

Built on a small rock promontory called Kinbane Head which extends out into the sea, the scenery surrounding the castle is just breath-taking.

Isolated ruins, jagged cliffs and the powerful Atlantic Ocean combine to make this a place that’ll cement itself in your mind forever.

9 – Cushendun via the Torr Head Scenic Route

// This drive should take you between 1 and 3 hours, depending on how often you hop out of the car //

We’re going to branch off the A2 and take the scenic route to Cushendun.

This road clings to coast and takes us along narrow roads and up steep hills high above the sea.

Keep driving until you see the small sign for the astounding Murlough Bay. Take the narrow track to the cliff top car park. From here, you can stop and stroll or you can take the track down to sea level and park and walk.

Murlough bay antrim ireland road trip
Photo by Matthew Woodhouse

You could spend the day at Murlough Bay. It’s secluded, quiet and boasts an endless amount of raw natural coastal beauty.

torr head ireland
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

When you’ve had your fill, make your way back to the Torr Head Scenic Route and head for Torr Head.

When you get back on the road, keep your wits about you – you’ll need to negotiate many a narrow hairpin bend as you make your way to Cushendun for the night.

10 – Cushendun for the Night

We’re going to recommend that you stay in Beachview Cottage for the night, so get checked in and chill out for a while

For dinner, we’re going to take the short drive to Mary Mcbrides Bar.

It’s been a long day, but we’ve used the daylight hours well and packed in a lot.

Kick back and chill for the evening with a well-earned pint.

49 COMMENTS

  1. Keith absolutly amazing as usual, you need a medal or a freedom of ireland one for all this, but think you already have that lol

  2. Simply amazing! My fingers hurt for you. ?

    I’ve been researching and plotting our trip to Ireland for months. It’s a lot of work! I can’t thank you enough for sharing all of the suggestions and information that you have. You’ve helped me and yet have also added to my to-do list because now I have to rearrange my plans to include a lot of your suggestions. ?

    We’re planning on staying for 4-6 weeks and I’ve been looking for a road trip that was longer. I was so excited to find yours. We probably won’t do as many of the hikes that you have listed because I don’t think we would survive all of them, but definitely will fit in a few.

    Thank you again!

      • Yes, first trip over. We’re planning September 2020. And when I just saw your newest itinerary for 4 weeks… WHOA! Thank you, thank you! It’s perfect! I can’t tell you how much researching you’ve saved me. We’d like to do a bit of meandering around and getting lost, but it’s nice to have an outline to follow for those days that we want to accomplish something specific. I do appreciate your awesome efforts and if I do book anything that you’ve listed links for, I’ll be sure to use them!

        • Ah, cheers Terri – appreciated you taking the time to comment!

          A lot goes into creating these guides, so it’s brilliant to get feedback like this.

          Thanks a million and feel free to give me a shout if you need any help with the planning!

          Cheers,

          Keith

  3. Filled with so much needed information, thank you!!!!
    My 2 cousins and I are planning a 6-7 day road trip in October and will definitely be pulling many of your suggestions to build our itinerary. We can’t wait.
    I will check back afterwards and let you know how it all worked out. I’m sure it will be amazing.
    I have enjoyed all your articles. They are simple, clear and informative.
    Again thank you!

    • Thanks for the kind words Darlene.

      I’m glad it was useful.

      Enjoy the trip and definitely let me know how you got on!

      Cheers,

      Keith

  4. This is fantastic!!!!! Thank you for all your work! I can see we will be making use of your suggestions when we go over to The Emerald Isle soon.
    Kathy

  5. Amazing !!! As I could see, you need to rent a car to do this 25 days road trip around Ireland, otherwise you will need to get transport tips as well.

    Regards Keith. I will visit Ireland soon.

    • Hi Arturo – yep, a car is needed for this one.

      We’ve a getting around Ireland without a car guide in the works!

    • Hi Bridget,

      I’ll be completely honest with you – I’ve no idea.

      It’ll completely depend on what you do, where you stay, and where you eat.

      Personally (I live in Ireland) I find that my biggest costs on trips here are food and accommodation.

      I know this doesn’t in any way answer your question!

  6. Fantastic, having just done the Scottish NC500 we really want to visit Ireland and this is just what I’ve been looking for. It will prob be 2021 before we are able to do an Ireland trip but we wanted to take 3-4 weeks over it and this will be a huge help, many thanks for all your hard work & research.

  7. This is unbelievable. I’ve loved your website for ages. Living in Mayo and loving all your tips – and the way you deliver them – for planning a few days away to places I never heard of before not so far from me! I shared your giant road trip link just now in two groups I’m in – Ireland -Tips for Travellers and Ireland Travel tips … hope that’s okay with you. Your website is an incomparable resource I think they will all visit and love. Best of luck to you Keith. What you’re doing is brilliant.

    • Hi Siobhan!

      Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the guide.

      Writing and researching this one nearly killed me!

      Thanks a million for sharing. Much appreciated.

      I hope you’re getting the sun in Mayo.

      Keith

  8. Thank you for your hard work in researching and writing this guide. I’ve made one trip to Ireland already (on a tour) but plan to return next year with my family (no tour). Your guide will help immensely on what to do and see.

  9. Hi Keith!
    I’ve been following your newsletters since the beginning of this year. Simply indescribably good! Simply best!
    Your descriptions are at least as good as scones, Irish breakfast and Guiness, no – even better, the good taste lasts much longer! We love Ireland!
    We spent 12 days on roadtrip in Co Cork and Kerry in April and will be back in October for 7-10 days, but we still don’t agree on where to go. The ideas are many, either Dingle and Killarney or Connemara / Achill Island or Northern Ireland/Donegal or Wicklow incl. Wexford / Waterford. Do you have a tip regarding the usual weather conditions during this period?

    Kind regards from Berlin!
    Andreas

    • Hey!

      Sorry – I’ve been away on holidays for the past week and I’m only catching messages here now.

      Thanks for the kind words. Glad they’re proving to be useful!

      October is my favourite time of the year to travel around Ireland.

      There’s orange leaves scattered across the trees, the air is cool and crisp, and there’s far less crowds of tourists milling about the place. Accommodation is also generally cheaper than the months leading up to it.

      The one thing you can never really predict is the weather. The days are shorter in October and you could have clear, crisp days or wild and wet ones. It’s the luck of the draw on that side of things.

      Where to go is a tough one.

      If it was me, I’d start in Galway and work down along the coast and around to Cork.

      You can easily veer off and drop into the likes of Limerick as you work your way South.

      What route did you do during your visit in April?

      Cheers,

      Keith

  10. Hi Keith, what an incredible job you have done! I have only just come across your website and it is fantastic! It will certainly make planning our upcoming road trip much easier.
    Having only just started browsing, I can see that you have included approximate travel times from/to each place, which is great. Looking at the 4 Week Guide, is there an approximate average driving time each day, (eg 3-4 hours) or does the driving time vary considerably each day? Many thanks in advance. Diane

    • Hi Diane,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and for the kind words!

      So, in the 4 week guide there isn’t an approx driving time.

      It’s something that would definitely be useful adding, so I’ll pop it onto the to-do list.

      The driving time definitely varies quite a bit over the 4 weeks.

      If you’re the type of traveller that prefers to base themselves from one spot for several days and explore what’s around them, you could chop and change it a bit to suit.

      If there’s anything in particular you need help with, shout!

      Cheers,

      Keith

    • Deadly! Thanks for taking the time to comment, Tony.

      I did a spin out to West Cork with the aul lad last summer.

      Lough Hyne, Brow Head and Mizen were the highlights. Serious spot altogether!

      Enjoy the trip!

      Keith

  11. Hi Keith,

    Thank you so much! Amazing tips for road tripping in Ireland!!! I will definitely be copying majority of your trip, it looks incredible!

    Quick question, how much roughly did you spend on petrol in the 4 weeks? For those of us that want to make sure we’re budgeting more than enough for an awesome trip.

    I’m from Australia, and have never been to Ireland… I’m looking at doing a 4-5 week road trip through Ireland & Northern Ireland in August/September next year, so your notes are just an incredible help!

    Thanks again.
    Katies

    • Hi Katie,

      Apologies – I’m only seeing this message now!

      So, I didn’t actually do this journey in its entiriety – it’s more of a guide for people that are here for 4 weeks and that need a hand with the route, where to stay, etc.

      I couldn’t even give you an estimate on how much fuel for the 4 weeks would cost, sorry! I know that’s not much help!

      Very jealous of your trip. That’s a lovely chunk of time to play with. You’ll be able to see loads.

  12. I just wanted to say thank you thank you thank you! Its very apparent how much work went into sharing your travels with us and I must say this is by far the most through blog and itineraries I’ve found! Reading all of your suggestions and specifics on details has made it so much easier and less stressful planning my trip. Thank you again! <3

    • Ah, cheers Mallory! Appreciate you taking the time to stop by and pop in a comment.

      My hand is still cramped from writing this one 😉

  13. Hi Keith
    Firstly, what an amazing site and SO much information! Thank you for the incredible amount of work you done to produce it ☺
    We are planning our trip in May June 2020 and are hiring a motorhome. We are in our 60’s and retired farmers in Australia. We had our first trip to Ireland 3 years ago and did ‘the full circle’ on organised coach tours. It was a fantastic trip and we loved it so much we want to come back and do ‘our own thing’.
    We will have 3 weeks in the motorhome and we are mainly interested in scenery and old pubs, also hoping to do a few days on a gypsy caravan tour. My biggest concerns are taking the motorhome on the many narrow roads and also finding places for overnight stops – we call it free camping. Can you give us some advice please

    • Hi Gaye,

      Thanks for the kind words – I’m glad you’ve found it useful!

      I’m afraid I’m a complete novice when it comes to all things motorhomes/motor camping, but I’ll try my best.

      There are roads in Ireland where you simply won’t be able to fit a motorhome down them (the Torr Head Scenic Route in Antrim, for example). I wouldn’t worry too much about this, as signage tends to be good (but that’s arguably a sweeping statement).

      As far as finding places to park overnight goes, I’ve seen plenty of campers parked up near beaches (Keem Bay in Mayo was the most recent) and in parking areas in villages and towns.

      Once you use sound judgement, I’m sure you’ll be fine!

      Have a fantastic trip.

      Keith

  14. Hi Keith,

    Love what you’ve done.
    I like you’re 28 day itinerary but am wondering if this is do-able without changing accommodation quite so much and perhaps staying 3 or 4 days in a region and doing road trips from those bases.
    If so, any ideas as to how to go about this?

  15. Hello,
    I am looking to go to Ireland for about 4 weeks but do not want to do any driving. What would you suggest if this is the case?

    Linda

    • Hi Linda – we haven’t actually published any guides to getting around Ireland without a car as of yet. They’re in the works, though. I’d recommend you use rome2rio to understand how to get from point A to point B.

      It’s a great site for linking numerous modes of transport together. You’ll need to use public transport and avail of organised tours, at times, which shouldn’t be an issue.

      It’s worth noting that a good few of the places in this guide won’t be reachable by public transport and many tour providers won’t include them on their itinerary.

      Have a great trip.

      Keith

  16. To Keith,
    We really want to do your 4 week trip and even though you are very thorough and detailed, I am STILL confused about how best to divide the trip so we can perhaps do this and not stay in 20 different accommodations.
    Is it at all possible to break it down into perhaps 3 and 4 day stays at a time. I’m sorry but I’ve been stuck on this for days.
    Erika

  17. Hi,
    Thank you so much for all this useful info. I am planning a trip on 5/7-5/16, leaving from Dublin, I think we are going to focus on Kerry and Clare. We will most likely leave Dublin Airport around 1PM (if all goes as planned) and want to stop in Kilkenny and Rock of Cashel, staying overnight in Cork. Will we be able to get there before nightfall?
    Thanks, Natalie

    • Hi Natalie,

      It depends on a couple of things: where in Cork are you staying and will you be driving or using public transport?

      Cheers,

      Keith

  18. Keith,
    I will be driving, and not sure where in Cork, we just wanted to get down towards Co. Kerry. Thanks for responding.
    Natalie

  19. Thank you for such a great guide. My husband and I have a week in Ireland in August and your site has really been helpful. There is so much to see and do. Your site is helping me figure out what we have to see and what we will plan to see on a future visit.

  20. Keith,my husband and I are planning a 4 to 6 week trip to Ireland in May/June of 2020. I viewed your itinerary and was very excited. Will you be able to send me a copy.
    Thank you,
    Mary

  21. Thanks very much for this, planning a month in Ireland this summer and this seems to have done all the hard work of planning for us.

  22. Hi Keith! We are hoping to visit for a month this coming November. Hoping vaccines will be done and travel is allowed. If we wanted to spend more time in each place say 3 to 4 days what would be the absolute places to visit scaling back from your list? Your recommendation will be appreciated. Thanks!!

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