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Around Ireland In 18 Days: A Coastal Road Trip Of A Lifetime (Full Itinerary)

Around Ireland In 18 Days: A Coastal Road Trip Of A Lifetime (Full Itinerary)

Day 17. Finishing off the Causeway Coastal Route and Tipping on to Belfast

It’s hard to believe it, but we’re coming to the final stretch of our road trip.

We’re going to finish on a high, with one of the most unique coastal experiences in Ireland, before heading for a hike and pints in Carlingford.

Get up for 7:30 and on the road for 8:30.

1. The Cushendun Caves

cushendun caves

Photo by Nick Fox (shutterstock)

If you stay in the place we recommended for night 16, you’ll be a handy 5-minute drive from the Cushendun Caves.

I love caves. They creep me out a little bit, which makes them all the more alluring. The Cushendun caves were formed over 400 million of years of extreme weather conditions.

They then shot to fame a few years back when they were used for filming during the Game of Thrones Series. They don’t take much time to explore, so head down and have a little ramble around.

2. The Gobbins Cliff Path Walk

Gobbins Antrim

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

We’re off to visit the Gobbins, next. This is a lengthy 1 hour and 11 minutes drive from the caves (allow for 2 and a half hours and arrive for 11:30).

The drive that’ll take you to the Gobbins is one to savour and take at your own pace. You’ll pass through picturesque little villages and drive alongside towering cliffs.

Stop the car when you feel like it and explore at will. We’re heading for a delightfully unique coastal experience – the Gobbins Cliff Path Walk.

The path wraps its way around the basalt cliffs over County Antrim’s jagged coastline – an architectural marvel considering it was designed over 100 years ago. Read more here.

3. Lunch in Belfast

the perch belfast

Photo via theperchbelfast.com

When you finish up at the Gobbins, you’re a 40-minute drive from Belfast. When you arrive, it’s time to fuel up for the afternoon and evening ahead.

Make a beeline for the Ginger Bistro (or wherever tickles your fancy!). Get in, get fed and chill for a little while. We’ve a nice busy afternoon exploring Belfast ahead.

4. The Crumlin Road Gaol (arrive around 15:00)

crumlin road goal in belfast

Photo via Crumlin Road Gaol

The Crumlin Road Gaol, which dates back to 1845, closed its doors as a working prison in 1996 and is now a popular tourist attraction.

Opt for the guided tour of the prison which is led by a qualified tour guide who’ll take you through the history of the gaol.

The story begins at a time when women and children were held within its walls, through to the political segregation of republican and loyalist prisoners and ultimately its closure.

For those that take the tour, it’s hard not to feel a chill at times. It’s most notable when you’re standing at the tunnel that used to connect the Gaol to the Crumlin Road Courthouse.

It’s quite surreal walking the same route that thousands of prisoners took many years ago as they awaited to discover their fate.

5. A Black Cab Tour

belfast black cab tours

A black cab in action: By Tony Pleavin

When you finish up at the Gaol, it’s time to head off on a Black Cab tour (you need to book this in advance and arrange a location for collection).

You can’t visit Belfast without taking a Black Cab tour. The great thing about many of those that provide the Black Cab Tours is that you can choose exactly what you want to see.

For this trip, we’re going to recommend a tour of the political murals. The murals of the Falls and Shankill tell a graphic story of what is known as “The Troubles” in Ireland’s recent history.

I haven’t done of of these tours in a long, long time but, going by the cracking reviews online, Paddy Campbell’s Belfast Famous Black Cab Tours are well worth going with.

Jump in the cab, get comfy, and let your guide taking you through the city’s turbulent history.

6. Dinner and Drinks

the crown liquer saloon

Photo via Visit Belfast

When your cab tour finishes, it’s time to check into wherever you’re staying. If you’re looking for somewhere central and that’s good value, try the Holiday Inn.

After you’ve chilled for a while, head to Holohan’s Pantry for a bite to eat. From here, we’re going to head to a traditional pub with a tonne of character – the Crown Liquor Saloon.

Once know as one of the mightiest Victorian gin palaces, the pub dates back to 1826, and has played host to many a great night over the years. Enjoy your evening. We’ll get a bit of a lie-in in the morning.

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John Duke

Monday 4th of April 2022

Morning Keith O Hara I have been looking at your 18 days tour of Ireland I am arriving on the 14th April at Rosslare can I start my tour on day 2 I am driving a small camper van can you tell me about camp sites on my around please and do I have to book or just turn up my name is John Duke

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 6th of April 2022

Hey John! You'll find campsites in most counties along that trip. The best way to do it is to just give it a Google and then suss out a spot with good reviews (I've never stayed in a campsite in Ireland, so I wouldn't like to lead you astray). In terms of booking. I'd recommend doing so if you're visiting during the busier months of the year, like summer. I hope this helps!

Julie

Tuesday 11th of January 2022

This was a great trip to read through. I understand how tired you are after writing so much - my husband and I are coming to Ireland from the U.S. in May 2022 for 3 weeks, and I've been planning everything myself for many months. Lots of great suggestions for places to visit, things we shouldn't miss, etc. Also, many of the things you suggested are already part of our plans, so it made me feel like I had done a good job! Thanks for all of the great help - we can't wait for the trip to begin!

Jan

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Really digging this blog!! I have the travel blog so bad and Ireland is next on the list - your recommendations are speaking to me! Thanks for taking the time to create all the wonderful road trips / ideas.

Akshay Bansal

Tuesday 14th of January 2020

Hi Keith,

I am considering travelling to Ireland this summer via road-trip and AirBnBs. While researching, I found your blog and found it very helpful and resourceful.

I am travelling from New Delhi (India) with my extended family (infants, toddlers, siblings, wife, parents etc.). Assuming this might be our only trip to Ireland together as a family, I am interested in covering Ireland comprehensively within a limitation of 11-13 days.

Is it possible to shorten the suggested 18-day itinerary to the above duration by bypassing some of the locations or sites. I understand this would mean we missing a few locations, but need your help.

Uli Moissidis

Sunday 11th of August 2019

Hi Keith, I am planning our road trip to Ireland in october and I love your Instagram account. I like to use your suggestions for our schedule. On day 11 you suggest to leave Westport and Achill on the same time (16:55) ? So this is a pretty long day ;-) I prefer to stay an extra night on Achill Island. What do you think? Thanks Uli

Keith

Monday 12th of August 2019

Aha! OK, that's clearly a mistake on my part. I'll get those times updated!

I love Achill, personally.

There's nothing bad that can come from a second night spent there.

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