Visiting The Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge: Parking, Tour + History

A no-bs guide

Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge
Photos via Shutterstock

A ramble across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is arguably one of the most unique things to do on the Antrim Coast.

The first rope bridge was built 1755 to facilitate salmon fishing. Over the years, the material used for the bridge advance for safety purposes.

The current Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge now hangs 25 feet above the chilly waters below and it’s a cosy one meter wide.

Below, you’ll find info on everything from the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge ticket prices to what to see nearby.

Some quick need-to-knows before you visit the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

the carrick-a-rede rope bridge
Photo by iLongLoveKing (shutterstock.com)

A visit to the Causeway rope bridge was once nice and straightforward. The last year hit, making everything a lot more complicated. Here are some need-to-knows for 2021:

1. Location

You’ll find the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Northern Ireland, a stone’s throw from Ballintoy Harbour. It’s a 10-minute drive from Ballycastle and a 20-minute drive from the Giant’s Causeway.

2. Opening hours (2021 update)

Carrick-a-Rede tour is, at the time of typing, still closed. You can still visit, park and do the coastal walk, but you can’t cross the bridge. This is due to structural assessments taking place on the bridge. More info here.

3. Parking

There’s a Pay By Phone system in place at the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge at the minute (info in the car park). Parking will set you back £1 for one hour, £2 for  two hours and £4 for over four hours.

4. Prices

The Carrick-a-Rede ticket prices are impossible to find online, at the time of typing, as the attraction is currently closed. As soon as they become available, we’ll update this guide.

5. How long you’ll need

You’ll want to allow around 1 to 1.5 hours for your visit. Less if you visit off-peak, when it’s quiet, and more if you visit during the busy summer months.

The story behind the now-famous rope bridge in Northern Ireland

The name, Carrick-a-Rede, comes from the Scottish Gaelic ‘Carraig-a-Rade’ which means “The Rock in the Road” – an obstacle for the migrating salmon.

Interestingly enough, salmon have been fished at Carrick-a-Rede and Larrybane since 1620, and that’s where our story begins.

Once upon a time

Although fishing at Carrick-a-Rede began around 1620, it wasn’t until 1755 that the first rope bridge between the mainland and Carrick-a-Rede Island was erected.

During the 19th century, many fishermen frequented the waters around the bridge, with catches of up to 300 salmon common until the 1960’s. The little island provided the perfect platform for casting nets off into the icy waters below.

The different bridges

Over the years, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge changed (imagine what the first rope bridge here must have looked like!).

That was until 2008 when a construction firm from Belfast erected the current wire rope bridge which stands firmly under those who cross it today.

The last fish (and fishermen!)

A combination of pollution and fishing pressure out at sea resulted in a decline in the salmon population around Carrick-a-Rede.

It was in 2002 that hundreds of years of fishing came to an end and the last fish was caught. Alex Colgan, a fisherman from Ballintoy, was the last to fish at Carrick-a-Rede.

Things to be aware of before you cross Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

Carrick-A-Rede things to know
Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re planning on crossing the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, there’s a few need-to-know that’ll make your trip a bit more enjoyable.

1. Dress appropriately

The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge couldn’t be more exposed. You’ll need warm (and probably waterproof) clothing if you’re visiting during winter. Even during the warm summer months it can get incredibly windy here.

2. Be prepared to wait

So, loads of people don’t just cross the now-famous rope bridge in Northern Ireland all at the one time – there’s a queue… On both sides. If you visit when it’s busy, be prepared to wait. On both sides.

3. Getting a photo can be tricky

When we crossed the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge last, we tried to grab a quick photo (and I mean quick!) on the way. The lad manning the island side of the bridge shouted out to us to move on, so keep that in mind.

4. It’s fairly high

For those afraid of heights – and for those seeking an adrenaline boost – the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge hangs over 25 foot above the chilly waters below and is a cosy one meter wide.

5. The crossing is short and sweet

The journey from one side to the other is more a casual stroll than a daring quest so, if you do struggle with heights, you can take the journey at your own pace and enjoy the views. It takes around 20 – 30 seconds to cross.

Places to visit near the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

One of the beauties of the Northern Ireland rope bridge is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best things to do in Antrim.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Carrick-a-Rede (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Whitepark Bay (8-minute drive)

whitepark bay beach
Photos by Frank Luerweg (Shutterstock)

Whitepark Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in Northern Ireland and it’s a short, 8-minute spin from Carrick-a-Rede for those of you that fancy a stroll on the sand. When you finish on the sand, take the 5-minute drive to nearby Dunseverick Castle.

2. Kinbane Castle (10-minute drive)

kinbane castle on the causeway coastal route
Photo by shawnwil23 (Shutterstock)

The ruins of Kinbane Castle are one of the most overlooked attractions on the Antrim Coast. Although they’re a bit tricky to reach, the coastal views that surround it make the location beautifully dramatic.

3. More Antrim Coast attractions (5 minutes+)

ballintoy harbour
Photo by shawnwil23 (Shutterstock)

You’ll find some of the best places to visit in Northern Ireland on the coast near the bridge. Here are some spots to check out:

FAQs about visiting the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge free?’ to where is the famous rope bridge in Northern Ireland.

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.

Is the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge open?

At the time of typing, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is closed for safety checks. See link in the guide above for most up-to-date info.

How much does it cost to cross Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge?

When I visited here last it cost £6.50 to £7 to cross, if I remember correctly. However, this may change in 2021 when it reopens.

How long is the walk to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge?

From the car park it takes around 20 minutes. However, if the queue is backed up the path, it’ll take longer. The crossing itself takes 20 to 30 seconds.

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

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