If you’re debating staying in Larne in Antrim, you’ve landed in the right place.
As the gateway to the Nine Glens of Antrim, Larne is the perfect coastal spot to base yourself in during a visit to Northern Ireland.
The small port town is a stone’s throw from many of the best Antrim Coast attractions and it’s home to some great pubs, restaurants and places to stay.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything from things to do in Larne to where to eat, sleep and drink. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to knows about Larne
Although a visit to Larne in Antrim is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Larne is located on the east coast of County Antrim. It’s a 20-minute drive from Carrickfergus and a 30-minute drive from both Belfast City and Ballymena.
2. Part of the Glens of Antrim
Larne is right amongst the Glens of Antrim. Stretching northwest from the plateau to the coast, the beautiful valleys can easily be explored from the town within a short drive away.
3. A great base for the Causeway Coastal Route
As one of the first towns that you come across on the eastern end of the Causeway Coastal Route, Larne is considered a great place to base yourself in for exploring more of this incredible drive. You can either begin your journey along the scenic route heading north from Larne or simply take short day trips from town.
The coastal town of Larne is a major passenger and freight port on the east coast of County Antrim.
The name Larne is taken from Latharna, which means “descendants of Lathar”. This is thought to refer to Lathar, a son of the pre-Christian King Ugaine Mor, according to legend.
Similar to other surrounding towns like Carrickfergus, Larne is thought to have been inhabited for many centuries. It’s likely that it was part of some of the earliest inhabited areas in Ireland.
There is evidence of Viking activity in the area back to the 10th and 11th century. In 1315, Edward the Bruce of Scotland landed at Larne en route to conquer all of Ireland in the war against Norman England.
Strategic importance of Larne
Larne has always been considered a strategically important town throughout history. From the 16th century and throughout the Troubles, Larne has been considered a vital link, particularly with its strategic port.
Things to do in Larne (and nearby)
Although there’s only a handful of things to do in Larne, the big draw of this town is its proximity to some of the best places to visit in Antrim.
Below, you’ll find some places to visit in the town along with heaps of things to do a stone’s throw away.
1. Carnfunnock Country Park
Just north of town along the coast, Carnfunnock Country Park is a 191-hectare park full of plenty of outdoor fun for the whole family. You’ll find woodlands and gardens to explore on one of the many walking trails, with some offering beautiful views of the sea.
The kids will love the adventure playground, golf driving range, orienteering course and large maze, which all deliver hours of fun. There are even additional activities added in summer, including a bouncy castle, miniature railway and trampolines.
If you’re travelling around, they also offer caravan and camping, so you can be close to all the activities for a whole weekend.
2. Larne Museum and Arts Centre
If you want to take a look at some local history then head over to the Larne Museum and Arts Centre. This classic small town museum is housed inside an 100-year old building.
You’ll find a permanent display on the history of the area, including military and maritime history in the main exhibition. There’s also temporary exhibitions and local art shown regularly inside the gallery, so you can check out the latest offerings while you’re in town.
This is a handy option for those of you on the lookout for things to do in Larne when it’s raining.
3. Browns Bay Beach
Browns Bay Beach is widely regarded as one of the best beaches near Belfast and you’ll find it just across the other side of Larne Lough.
The secluded bay and sandy beach is a very safe place to head for a swim or a stroll at any time of the year. The views are also incredible looking up to the north along the Antrim coast on a clear day.
There is a good size carpark on the side of the road above the beach, from where there is plenty of grass for a picnic or you can head down the steps or ramp to access the sand.
4. Chaine Memorial Tower
One of Larne’s landmark features, the Chaine Memorial Tower stands on the edge of the coast at the western entrance to Larne Lough. The tower is known locally as the pencil because of its tall, skinny shape.
It was built in 1887 as a memorial for James Chaine, who helped developed the Larne Harbour and went to serve in Parliament. It stands 27m high and 7.5m wide at its base. It’s the perfect spot for a sunset or sunrise spot, for beautiful views across the sea.
5. The Gobbins
One of the most underrated attractions around Larne is The Gobbins. Just 15km south of town, this epic cliff walk tour is worth your time if you’re up for a spectacular experience on the Causeway Coast.
The Gobbins is a 2.5 hour guided walk along a VERY narrow path that literally wraps itself around the cliffs along the coast. It’s not for those afraid of heights, as it crosses some hairy bridges and sketchy stairs, but the views make it all worthwhile.
6. Carrickfergus Castle
Just 20km to the south is the famous Carrickfergus Castle. One of the best-preserved Norman castles in all of Ireland, it dates back to the 12th century and has withstood many sieges from countless enemies over the years.
The castle stands on the coast in Carrickfergus town overlooking the sea. You can visit the inside of the castle on a guided tour to learn more about the history of the area, or just admire the impressive sight from the waterfront area. It’s beautifully lit up at night and makes for a perfect evening stroll.
Restaurants in Larne
There are plenty of solid places to eat in Larne if you’re looking for a feed after a long day on the road. Below, you’ll find some of our favourites:
1. Upper Crust
A nice little café on Main Street in Larne, Upper Crust has plenty of menu options for everyone. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it’s a convenient spot for any time of the day with reasonably priced meals. From burgers to homemade pies and cooked breakfasts, it’s comfort food at its best.
2. Brooklyn Bay Diner
A popular favourite amongst visitors and locals, this family-friendly diner is located closer to the port in town. They serve up a delicious breakfast menu from 10am to 3pm, or you can go for some classic American favourites for lunch or dinner. From steak to ribs and burgers, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy.
3. Steadyeddie Noodle Bar and more
Located on Main Street in Larne, Steadyeddie is a fun noodle bar that most people agree is one of the best restaurants in Larne. Whether you opt for eat-in or take-away, you can choose from a range of your favourite Asian meals including Thai curries, sweet and sour and oyster sauce. For the quality and serving size of the meals, you can’t go wrong with a very affordable feed here.
Pubs in Larne
There’s a handful of pubs in Larne for those of you itching to kick-back with a post adventure-tipple after a day of exploring. Here are our favourite spots:
1. Matties Meeting House
Just outside of Larne town and heading north up the coast, you’ll find this cosy place with country pub vibes. They also have a great outdoor courtyard area, which is perfect for a pint with some mates. Otherwise, the simply decorated, wood fired indoor dining is where you’ll find locals enjoying a pub meal any night of the week.
2. Billy Andys
Heading in the opposite direction south of town, Billy Andys is another fantastic country pub that is worth a stop in for a drink or a meal. The traditional pub has plenty of atmosphere, with a cosy bar that hosts live music on weekends. If you’re after a food, they also have a 100 seater restaurant serving up locally sourced produce at reasonable prices.
3. Olderfleet Bar
If you’re looking for something in town, Olderfleet Bar is located right on the harbour in Larne. This friendly bar and restaurant serve up your favourite pub grub meals and drinks in a traditionally decorated dining area. However, the real highlight on a sunny day is the outdoor area, complete with wooden deck chairs so you can kick back and enjoy the weather with some friends.
Accommodation in Larne
If you’re thinking about staying in Larne in Northern Ireland (if you’re not, you should!), you’ve a pick of places to stay.
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. Ballygally Castle
Definitely one of the most unique places you could stay in Larne, this castle was built in 1625 and will have you feeling like royalty. It’s full of character with original exposed beams in the roof, a ghost room, dungeon, and lounge with open fireplace and antique furniture.
2. Curran Court Hotel
Located right in Larne town near the harbour, this hotel offers clean and spacious double and twin rooms. Each room has an en suite bathroom, free internet, flat screen TV, and tea and coffee making facilities. It’s a very convenient place to stay for exploring the town, and it even boasts its own restaurant if you want to dine in for lunch or dinner.
3. Seaview House Bed and Breakfast
This elegant bed and breakfast is nicely located in Larne town, close to many of the attractions. With modern single, double and family rooms they offer something for everyone. It’s worth noting that the property is both family AND pet friendly, so it’s perfect if you’re travelling with your whole tribe. All guests get to enjoy a full complimentary breakfast, or you can easily walk into town for plenty of other dining options.
FAQs about visiting Larne 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 Larne 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 Larne?
If you’re looking for things to do in Larne and nearby, The Gobbins, Chaine Memorial Tower, Browns Bay Beach and Larne Museum and Arts Centre are worth a look.
Is Larne worth visiting?
Larne makes a great base to explore the Glens of Antrim and the Causeway Coast from. We probably wouldn’t go out of our way to visit the town itself, but it’s a good spot to stay.
Are there many pubs and restaurants in Larne?
Pub wise, Olderfleet Bar, Billy Andys and Matties Meeting House are all mighty spots. For food, Steadyeddies, Brooklyn Bay Diner and Upper Crust 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.