An Unforgettable 18-Day Road Trip That’s Packed With The Best Places to Visit in Ireland

Day #16 – The Causeway Coastal Route

Rated one of the top five road trips in the world, the Causeway Coastal route 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, but for those of you looking to drive the entire 195 mile route, you’ll be treated to endless adventure opportunities.

Get up, fed and on the road for 9:00.

Here’s everything you need to know about day 16!

What we'll be doingWhere we'll be sleepingWhat you'll need
    • A stroll along Portstewart Strand to Shake off the Cobwebs
    • The crumbly castle of Dunluce
    • The Giant’s Causeway
    • Dunseverick Castle
    • Ballintoy Harbour
    • Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge
    • Kinbane Castle
    • The Torr Head Scenic Route
Beechview Cottage, Cushendun
  • Rain gear
  • Water

Day 16 Stop #1 – A Stroll on Portstewart Strand to Shake off the Cobwebs

Your b&b to the strand – 2-minute drive (arrive for 8:30)

Our first stop of #Day16 is Portstewart Strand.

portstewart strand
Photo by Chris Hill

This two-mile stretch of golden sand is one of the finest beaches in Northern Ireland, and offers brilliant views of Inishowen headland and Mussenden Temple.

Have a ramble here to kick-start the day.

Day 16 Stop #2 – Dunluce Castle

Portrush to Dunluce – 10-minute drive (leave Portrush at 9:20, arrive to the castle for 9:30)

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

dunluce castle antrim
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

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

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

According to legend, on a particularly stormy night in 1639, part of the castle’s kitchen next to the cliff face collapsed into the icy waters below.

dunluce castle antrim
Photo via Alamy

Legend tells that when the kitchen dropped into the sea, only a kitchen boy survived, as he was sat in the corner of the kitchen which remained intact.

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

Day 16 Stop #3 – The Giants Causeway

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

Now, if it wasn’t so early in the morning, I’d have added in the Bushmills tour as it’s only 5 minutes from Dunluce, but at 10 in the morning, the last thing I want to recommend is an indoor tour.

If you follow this route and it’s raining, add the Bushmills tour to you itinerary.

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.

the giants causeway coastal route
Photo by Arthur Ward

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.

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.

giants causeway
Photo by Arthur Ward

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.

Tip: Park the car along the side of the road (if safe to do so) a little before you reach the visitor center. From here you’ll be able to take the cliff walk above the Causeway – the perfect spot for some aerial views.

Day 16 Stop #5 – Dunseverick Castle

The Causeway to Dunseverick Castle – 15-minute drive (leave the Causeway at 12:10, arrive to the castle for 12:25)

Now we’re getting into the belly of the Causeway Coastal Route – as you drive from the Causeway to Dunseverick Castle, you’ll begin to appreciate why this stretch of road is revered across the globe.

Dunseverick Castle antrim
Photo via Wikipedia

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.

Day 16 Stop #6 – Ballintoy Harbour

Dunseverick Castle to the Harbour – 10-minute drive (leave the castle at 12:55, arrive to Ballintoy for 13:05)

Our next stop is going to be of particular interest to Game of Thrones fans.

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

ballintoy harbour game of thrones
Photo by Patrick Lennon

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.

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

For those that were immersed in the series, the harbour featured in the scene where Theon Greyjoy arrives back in the Iron Islands and where he later admires his ship.

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

Day 16 Stop #7 – Lunch

The Harbour to The Red Door Cottage Tea Room & Bistro – 3-minute drive (arrive for 13:45)

We’ve had a busy morning, so the next stop is 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.

Day 16 Stop #8 – The Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

The Lunch Spot to the rope bridge – 5-minute drive (leave the café at 14:45, arrive to the rope bridge for 14:50)

When it comes to exploring a country, the more hands-on and unique the experience the better, and it rarely comes more unique than a stroll across the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.

For those afraid of heights – and for those in search of an adrenaline boost – the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge hangs over 25 foot above the icy waters below.

carrick a rede bridge
Photo by @storytravelers

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 a sturdy wire.

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

Day 16 Stop #8 – Kinbane Castle

The rope bridge to Kinbane Castle – 15-minute drive (leave Carrick-a-rede at 15:50, arrive to the castle for 16:05)

Kinbane Castle is another place that just rocks you a little (no pun intended).

For me, places like this have the power to halt me in my tracks and make the mind wander back and wonder what Ireland must have been like back in 1547 when this castle was built.

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.

Day 16 Stop #8 – Cushendun via The Torr Head Scenic Route

We’re not going to allocate a time here. Our last stop for the day is Cushendun, so take your time and spend as much time as you see fit.

I didn’t realise this route had a name until long after I stumbled upon it.

I was driving from Cushendun with a friend and we got half-lost/half-intrigued by a sign-post and we decided to take our chances.

We met a handful of cars and were treated to the view in the video below – magic.

We’re going to branch off the A2 road and take the ‘alternative route’ to Cushendun that clings to coast and takes us along narrow roads and up steep hills high above the sea.

If you’re a nervous driver, or if you’re driving a large vehicle like a caravan or a mobile home, this route isn’t for you.

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
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.

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

torr head ireland
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

This was another place I had never heard of until the trip I mentioned previously. I was blown away by the view which treated us to a glimpse of Scotland out on the horizon (see above).

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.

Day 16 Stop #9 – Cushendun for the Night

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

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.

Where the road trip will take us on day #17 (includes arguably the most unique cliff path walk in Ireland)

We’re going to spend day 17 finishing off the Causeway Coastal Route before diving head-first into Belfast City.

We’ll kick the day off with a delightfully unique walk that you may not have ever heard of and then spend the day touring around Belfast, soaking up the city’s rich history.

Click into 18 below – go on, do it… now!