Causeway Coastal Route Destinations

Mussenden Temple is the site of the Dragonstone in Game of Thrones
Mussenden Temple is the site of the Dragonstone in Game of Thrones | © Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Callum Davies
4 August 2020

Giant’s Causeway is the most famous attraction in Northern Ireland. But why travel straight there when you can work your way up the coast and see sights such as Dunluce Castle and Rathlin Island along the way? Here are the best destinations en-route.

The Causeway Coastal Route is a path that covers almost the entirety of the Northern Irish shore. It’s an ideal way to experience the country and make the famous Honeycomb formation your end, or starting, destination.

The Dark Hedges

Park
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The Dark Hedges of Stranocum in Northern Ireland - travel photography
© 4k-Clips / Alamy Stock Photo
You might not think that a long row of trees is worth stopping for, but The Dark Hedges are different. First planted in 1775, this garrison of 150 beech trees makes for a spectacular sight, especially at dawn or dusk. It’s just 20 minutes by car from The Causeway itself so you can easily see both in the same day. Plus, what self-respecting Game of Thrones fan would miss a chance to see the King’s Road?

Torr Head

Natural Feature
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You need to veer a little bit off course to reach Torr Head, situated between Cushendun and Ballycastle, but it’s worth a few extra miles on the odometer. An incredible strip of picturesque road leads you along the coast for one of the best views of the Atlantic you’ll find anywhere. It’s one to avoid if you don’t like winding roads, but if you have the stomach for it, take the time.

Dunluce Castle

Archaeological site, Bridge, Historical Landmark
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UK, Northern Ireland, County Antrim, Bushmills, Dunluce Castle ruins
© Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Is there anything more atmospheric and striking than a castle on a cliff? Northern Ireland has a few dotted around and Dunluce is one of the oldest and largest. It has survived numerous battles in its day, although ‘survived’ might be generous. Ruin or not, it’s less than five miles from Giant’s Causeway, so it’s definitely possible to see both in the same day. There’s also an adjacent cafe called the Wee Cottage Café.

The Gobbins

Natural Feature
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As well as being very difficult not to read as ‘goblins’, The Gobbins is one of the most unique, interesting stops along the Coastal Route. It’s a path of bridges built into the cliffside, which allows visitors to get up close and personal with the Irish coast. Walking along the exhilarating route brings you close to not only the roaring ocean below, but also bird and sea life. On a clear day it makes for a great view of the Scottish coast on the other side. The Gobbins is on the southern border making it a great place to start the route.

Rathlin Island

Natural Feature
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Ruins on the coast of Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland
© ARV / Alamy Stock Photo
Trade the car for a boat along the way to experience Rathlin Island. The ferry from Ballycastle takes around 40 minutes and you could spend an entire day exploring the small island if you were so inclined. From the harbour village you can walk the island, rent a bike or visit the RSPB Bird Centre (£5 a head for adults, £2.50 for children and concessions) and meet some puffins and other seabirds.

Mussenden Temple

Building
Map View
Overlooking the long, sandy beaches of Downhill, the Mussenden Temple is surrounded by great walking routes as well as the actual temple itself, a relic from the 18th century in the grounds of Downhill Houese estate. Reached via the town of Coleraine, the temple is just half an hour from Giant’s Causeway and a great stop if you’re headed in the direction of Derry (or Londonderry) to end your trip.
These recommendations were updated on August 4, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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