Want to dive head-first into wild and rural Ireland? The scenic route along the eastern coast of Northern Ireland will take you from Belfast to Giant’s Causeway, passing by the Antrim valleys on the way… a trip that takes your breath away!
Touch down in Dublin and hire a car from the airport or catch a cheap flight to Belfast directly, but you’ve been warned: driving through Ireland’s countryside is spectacular and it would be a shame to miss out on the drip from Dublin to Belfast.
The capital of Northern Ireland certainly has enough to keep you entertained if you only have a weekend. Start with a tour of the city centre stopping at the City Hall and the famous Queen’s University. Then head on over to the Titanic Museum to learn about the famous ship that was built in Belfast’s ship yards but sunk so tragically in 1911.
After a trip to the Ulster Museum, hail yourself a black cab to take you on a tour of the city’s north-western neighbourhood. It’s here, at Shankhill and Falls, that you’ll find where to tensions between loyalists and catholics the strongest.
A dip in to the country’s history
Many of the murals are effigies to heroes from both sides or represent the nationalist struggles between the two communities. The wall of peace, separating the protestant from the catholic districts, is covered in graffiti messages of reconciliation left by tourists from around the world.
After this political history lesson, an important one for understanding the history of the country, it’s time to hit the road and head to Giant’s Causeway. This site is a classified UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a real natural phenomenon. At the foot of the cliffs are some 40,000 hexagonal columns standing straight out of the ground, forming a platform that slants down into the sea.
According to legend, the Giant’s Causeway was built by an Irish giant who wanted to out-do his Scottish rival. Of course, that’s entirely possible but it could also have been caused by a geological phenomenon when lava-formed rocks are cooled very quickly, something that probably happened 60 million years ago. Erosion has also helped to form these amazing hexagonal columns.
Giant’s Causeway coastal route
The Giant’s Causeway isn’t the only attraction found at this corner of the country. The Northern Irish coast is strewn with castles and impressive viewpoints… it isn’t called the “scenic route” for nothing! Lush green fields, dotted with little white sheep, immense pine forests along the sea and cliffs that drop into the sea. Villages with colourful houses, small picturesque fishing towns and even large sandy beaches squished between two rocky cliffs, the perfect places to meet locals and enjoy a picnic.
On the same road towards Giant’s Causeway, don’t miss the chance to stop at Dunluce Castle to admire the ruins perched on top of a cliff. Travel a few more kilometres and you’ll find the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge that hangs 24 metres above a rocky drop. Breathtaking cliffs stand on either side, formed by the wild crashing of the waves over time.
Finally, finish your trip with a tour of the Old Bushmills Distillery and have a taste of one of Northern Ireland’s finest whiskies. This is the oldest still functioning distillery in Ireland.
Been for Northern Ireland? Tell us about your trip!