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.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I have been using your guide for the past few months to plan my Ireland trip set for April 2019. I figured it was about time I dropped a comment!! 🙂 Your guide has helped me tremendously as it seems to encompass everything we are looking to find in Ireland…. raw natural beauty, unique experiences, good coffee, and good beer! Can’t thank you enough. I hope to comment again once we return!

    • Ah, thank you. I’m glad. Getting comments like this make it worth it.

      I hope you’re trip goes well.

      Cheers,

      Keith

  2. This is seriously the best travel guide ever. I was getting stressed because I’ll be solo traveling all of March and haven’t planned much (by design) and this gives the perfect outline of exactly the things I want to do and see. So thank you for the enormous amount of time this must have taken. So much appreciated.

    • Haha! Cheers dude.

      Glad you found it useful. This took roughly 3 weeks of research and writing… and rewriting.

      I hope the trip goes well.

      Keith

  3. We’re traveling to Ireland in November, 2019 and thank you very much for your outline and information. Question: On maps, it shows Northern Ireland almost like another country. Do you need anything to pass from Ireland to Northern Ireland and back, or is it all in the same? Seems trivial, but it could make a big difference if we plan to do things in Northern Ireland and then we could possibly not have the proper travel documents. Also, do you know if your passport is all you need or if you need a travel visa? Thanks for your time. Have a great day!. WandanTexas

    • Hi Wanda,

      You’re welcome.

      Northern Ireland is technically part of the UK, so it is regarded as a different country.

      Currently, there is no form of ‘hard’ border, but there’s been a lot of talk about the potential of one with Brexit looming.

      If you’re driving a rental car, this is where things can get tricky. I had one from Europa car recently and was told I’d be automatically charged (they have GPS devices within the rental) whenever my car passed into Northern Ireland – the max total charge was 90 euro, I believe.

      If you’re renting a car, be sure to check this in advance.

      I hope this helps.

      Keith

  4. Hi,
    This is a great guide, but if you had a few extra days…
    Three Castle Head is also stunning. You are close enough to it when you are heading for brow head. Well worth it!
    Lough Hyne in Skibbereen is also beautiful, lovely forest walk and salt water lake to swim in. Night time kayaking with the bioluminescent water a must!
    Enjoy,
    Joanne

    • Thanks for the recommendations Joanne.

      Love Lough Hyne in particular. Did the forest climb with my dad last summer on a hot day in July – great spot!

  5. Question for Keith and others. We have a wonderful opportunity to spend a month in Ireland and in previous trips we’ve enjoyed many of the same activities you do…hiking, enjoying the featured sights and geography in general, informal dining, great pubs, etc. We have never been north of Westport, county Mayo. Would it be worth it to spend a week in the Sligo / Donegal region? If yes, we would rent a house for the week. Is there a town that would be central to this region that you could recommend as a home base? We would be there in late August/early Sept 2020.
    Thanks in advance for your response (or anyone else who could add their thoughts)

    • Hi Bill.

      Abbbbbbbbbbbsolutely spend a week in Sligo and Donegal.

      There’s a tonne of things to do in both, regardless of whether you decide to do something active or just chill.

      Personally, I’d spend half in Sligo and half in Donegal.

      Here’s a guide to 48 hours in Sligo that should help, along with a 3-day guide to the best things to do in Donegal.

      In terms of where to stay – I love Strandhill and Rosses Point. For Donegal, it’s hard to beat Ardara.

      I hope this helps!

      Keith

  6. 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

    • 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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