Guide To The Giants Causeway

The Giants Causeway at sunrise looking out over the basalt columns towards the sea

The Ultimate Guide of the Giant’s Causeway

The Giants Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is a unique natural wonder and one of the highlights of Northern Ireland. It is a breathtaking sight just 9 miles along the Causeway Coastal Route from Portrush.

The Unesco World Heritage Site is situated near Bushmills on the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. It is regarded as the most sought-after tourist spot in Northern Ireland, attracting visitors from across the globe. For many tourists visiting Belfast and Northern Ireland, a tour of the Giant’s Causeway is a highly anticipated experience.

The Antrim Causeway Road is known for its stunning landscapes and is a popular destination for those interested in Game of Thrones and legends of the Giant’s Causeway. Visitors can enjoy walking the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, exploring the romantic ruins of Dunluce Castle, and visiting charming villages and towns in Northern Ireland. Additionally, Belfast offers a unique experience, including celebrating Christmas.

A view over the Giants Causeway Toward Portrush

Facts and history of the Causeway.

The Unesco World heritage Site?

The Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered a remarkable area of global geological significance. Each year, more than a million visitors come to witness this natural wonder on a Tour or at one of the visitor centre’s exhibition

The Causeway Stones are a promontory on the Causeway Coast comprised of interconnected polygonal basalt columns formed by volcanic activity. This section of the Antrim Coast boasts over 40,000 basalt Columns, these weathered rock formations were formed about 60 million years ago

How was the Giant’s Causeway formed?

The Causeway was formed around 50 to 60 million years ago during intense volcanic eruptions. The molten basalt lava that was thrown up through Antrim’s chalk beds formed a lake of lava. As the lava cooled and contracted, cracks formed the neatly packed columns of hexagonal stones and pillars that we see today, which are known as the 8th Wonder of the World.

Hexagonal patterns, similar to those seen at the Giant’s Causeway, can be found across the world, including locations such as the Devil’s Postpile in the US, Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa in Scotland, Swartifoss Waterfall in Iceland, and Los Prismas Basálticos in Mexico, among others.

See here for a great article on other places as spectacular as the World Heritage Site

Giants Causeway Legend

In ancient times, there was an Irish giant Finn McCool, or Fionn Mac Cumhaill in Irish, who lived in Ireland. He was known for being 54 feet tall and possessing incredible strength. Finn was married to Oonagh and resided on the Antrim Coast.

Over on a Scottish Island, there was a giant named Benandonner who considered himself to be the strongest giant in the world. He would antagonize and taunt Finn from across the waters. One day, Finn became extremely angry and threw a chunk of earth at him. Unfortunately, the chunk missed and fell into the Irish Sea, forming the Isle of Man. The hole created by the earth chunk became known as Lough Neagh.

Both Finn and Benandonner built causeways to connect Scotland and Ireland, with each giant working for weeks on their respective paths.

Finn and Benandonner met at the paths’ intersection. Finn was surprised by the enormous size of the Scottish giant. Benandonner hadn’t noticed Finn yet, so, in a hurry, Benandonner went back home seeking Oonagh’s assistance. Oonagh, being clever, disguised Finn as a baby and placed him in a large cradle. When Benandonner knocked on the door, Finn pretended that the baby was crying. Seeing the “baby,” Benandonner wondered how massive the Irish Giant Fionn must be if the baby was that huge. Filled with fear, Benandonner quickly returned home, destroying the causeway behind him so Finn couldn’t pursue him.

Where is the Giant’s Causeway?

The Giant’s Causeway is located on the Antrim Coastal Route, just a 15-minute drive from Portrush near the village of Bushmills. It is also in close proximity to Dunluce Castle and the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, approximately 10 and 15 minutes away, respectively. The Causeway Coast has been a popular filming location for Game of Thrones and there are several pubs and restaurants along the route that display the carved tours from the fallen trees in the Dark Hedges.

What is a Giants Causeway tour?

A Giants Causeway Tour is a guided excursion that takes visitors to one of Northern Ireland’s popular attractions, the Giants Causeway. The tour usually includes transportation from Belfast or Dublin, a knowledgeable tour guide, stops along the Causeway Coastal Route such as Dunluce Castle or the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and an opportunity to explore the unique basalt columns of the Giants Causeway.

Tour the Giant’s Causeway from Belfast

If you want to go to the Giants Causeway from Belfast City and have rented a car, it is an easy drive. The distance is around 51 miles and it takes about an hour and a half. You can park at the Giant’s Causeway Railway Park near Bushmills Village. The tram ride to the Causeway takes 20 minutes. If you take the tram, parking is free and the ticket prices are £5.00 for adults and £3.00 for children.

Visitors have the option to park at the Giant’s Causeway Railway park for a fee of £6.00 per car per day. From there, they can easily walk to the stones without any additional cost.

What is the best time to book a Giants Causeway tour?

The recommended time to book a Giants Causeway tour is during the summer months of June through August when the weather is usually warmer and drier. It is advised to book in advance due to the high demand during this time.

What is the Causeway Coastal Route?

The Causeway Coastal Route is a scenic roadway located along the northern coast of Northern Ireland. The route features various attractions, including the Dark Hedges, Dunluce Castle, and the Giants Causeway.

What other attractions are typically included in a Giants Causeway tour?

Along the Causeway Coastal Route, popular attractions such as Dunluce Castle, Carrickfergus Castle, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and the Bushmills Distillery are often included in most tours, in addition to the Giants Causeway.

How long does a Giants Causeway tour typically last?

A typical Giants Causeway tour typically lasts between 1 to 3 hours, depending on the tour company, itinerary, and any additional stops…..and how fit you are as its a long steep walking trails such as the Blue Trail

Are there Giants Causeway guided tours?

When you go on a pre-booked tour, all Giants Causeway tours are led by an experienced tour guide who will provide information about the attraction, the surrounding area, and answer any questions you may have.

There are also audio guides included in the visitor experience ticket price. These use hand held audio guides from the national trust award winning storytelling team, so can enjoy a guided tour of the visitor’s centre, world hertiage site and the four walking trails at your own pace. We highly recomend the Blue trail for discover some spectacular views of northern ireland’s visitor experience.

What is the cost of a Giants Causeway tour?

The cost of a guided Giants Causeway tour varies depending on factors such as the tour company, itinerary, and additional stops. Prices generally range from £25 per person for a basic bus tour to £100 to £300 per person for more luxurious or private tours along the county antrim stepping stones.

Full details of tours can be found here

As part of the visitor experience entrance price you can pick up an audio guide at the rear entrance to the Visitor’s centre. They are available in many languages

Giant’s Causeway Tour from Belfast

Experience the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Giant’s Causeway on a full-day trip from Belfast. With the guidance of a knowledgeable tour guide, journey through the stunning countryside of Northern Ireland by luxury coach. Finally, reach the Giant’s Causeway and marvel at the breathtaking scenery.

Day Tour from Dublin to the Giant’s Causeway

The drive from Dublin, Ireland to the Giant’s Causeway takes approximately 3 hours. Additionally, there are various tours available from Dublin that allow you to explore the Causeway Coast.

The Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre

In 1986, a Visitor Centre was opened to coincide with its addition to list of Unesco world heritage sites. Unfortunately, it was damaged by a fire in 2000. However, a new state-of-the-art educational visitor centre was built and opened in July 2012.

Is there a fee to see the Giant’s Causeway or is there a way to visit for free? The Giant’s Causeway is free to visit and there is a charge for the car park at the Causeway Visitor Centre, which provides parking and access to the Centre, not the Causeway itself. You can also use the Car Park at the Giants causeway Railway for £5 and walk the 50m or so up the hill when you visit giant’s causeway.

We would recommend using a car park as the police are notorious for issuing tickets on the Causeway Road which would put a damper on your visitor experience

How much does it cost to go to the Giants Causeway? If you wish to use the Visitor’s Centre and its parking you will be charged per Adult £13.50, and per Child £6.75.

How to get into Giants Causeway for free

The National Trust Giant’s Causeway visitor centre is located approximately one mile away from the Causeway itself, and is not directly connected to it. Some visitors may mistakenly believe that parking and paying at the visitor centre is the only way to access the Causeway. It is advisable to consider alternative options as the visitor centre may not fully benefit the local community and the admission fee for seeing the Causeway may be considered excessive.

The cost of parking at the Visitors Centre is an extortionate £13.50 per person and 6.75 per child in the vehicle so it isn’t a one-off fee per car.

Hikers have the option to start at Portballintrae and walk along the coast to the Causeway, which runs alongside the tram line and Bushfoot Golf Club. You can also walk along the side of the train tracks from Bushmills

Visitors can also experience the hospitality of The Nook pub, conveniently located beside the Causeway. If requested, parking is available free of charge. We had a delightful lunch at the pub and enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of the open fire before taking a leisurely walk to the Causeway. From The Nook, it is a brief stroll to the tunnel behind the visitor’s centre, where a bus can be caught to reach the Causeway.

The final option, although not strictly free, is to buy a national trust membership. This will get you in for free along with other national trust sites such as Mussenden Temple, Portstewart Strand and more along the county antrim coast.

How long does it take to see the Giant’s Causeway?

The average time to explore the Giant’s Causeway is approximately 2-3 hours. To save energy, you can take the small bus located behind the Visitor’s Center after the tunnel. The bus fare is £1 for a roundtrip down to the Coast and back up.

Giant’s Causeway Weather

It is recommended to visit the Giant’s Causeway during the summer season, either early to late spring or early to late fall, in order to avoid crowds and experience pleasant weather. However, due to the location the weather can be changable and often windy. We have visited many times where its warm and sunny at the visitor’s centre thenonce you get passed hamilton’s seat the wind chills you to the bone. Many have been found sheltering from the wind beneath the chimney stacks or at the interpretation area

What to see at the Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway Coast route offers various hiking and walking options, including four trails within the site suitable for all abilities and ages. As you continue through the tunnel, follow the roadway down the steep slope until you reach the Stookans or Windy Gap, which is completely exposed to the elements.

The Giant’s Causeway consists of three sections: Little Causeway, Middle Causeway (also known as the Honeycomb), where visitors can observe the impressive black basalt hexagonal columns.

Giant’s Causeway, The Organ Pipes

The Pipe Organ is a rock formation located above Port Noffer, characterized by tall and straight columns that resemble organ pipes. It can be observed by following the path beyond the Causeway for a short distance.

The Grand Causeway includes the Wishing Well, Wishing Chair, and the Giant’s Gate, all of which are associated with the legend of Giant Macool.

From here, you can proceed to Port Noffer, which offers a contrasting environment characterized by its sheltered location. This area is known for its abundant bird species and vegetation.

Giant’s Causeway Boot

Visitors can climb the small slope from the Giants Boot to reach the Organ and admire the massive columns. Continuing along, they will come across the headland where the Amphitheatre, a viewing platform, is located. From this spot, one can enjoy the breathtaking landscapes of Antrim and take in the views of Rathlin Island and the North Atlantic.

Did you spot the Giant’s Harp and eyes?

By taking the time to climb the steep path with 162 steps, you can access the Shepherd’s Path that leads to the North Antrim Cliff Path. Within half a mile, you will arrive back at the Visitors Centre.

Best time to visit the Giant’s Causeway?

I enjoy visiting the Causeway during the spring and fall, as it attracts a good number tourists without being excessively crowded. Additionally, I appreciate the area during January and February despite the harsh weather conditions, as the sound and sight the Atlantic Ocean crashing against the rocks is captivating.

Guide To The North West 200 Motorcycle Races 2023

Riders coming down the coast road to mILL ROAD CORNER ON THE NORTH WEST 200

Possibly the best and fastest road race in the world

Welcome to the ultimate guide to the North West 200, one of the world’s fastest road races! In this guide, we will take a closer look at the history of the Vauxhall International North West 200, the rider lineup for the upcoming 2023 race, the key riders and competitors to watch out for, the breathtaking attractions of Northern Ireland, and the latest news and updates surrounding this thrilling event.

The North West 200 is one of the world’s most exhilarating and renowned motorcycle road races, held annually on closed roads in Northern Ireland. It features several categories, with the Superbike races being the highlight and crowd-puller of the event.

Superbike races at the North West 200 feature high-powered, 1000cc versions of standard road bikes, modified for competition. These bikes reach speeds over 200 mph on the public roads that make up the 8.9-mile circuit, known for its blend of long straights, fast bends, and challenging chicanes.

The race draws the best riders globally, creating a fiercely competitive field, battling not only against each other but the challenging and unique nature of the road course. The triangular circuit runs between the towns of Portstewart, Coleraine, and Portrush, creating an electrifying atmosphere as spectators line the streets, often within inches of the high-speed action.

Safety is paramount, with stringent regulations and measures in place. Despite these, the race is known for its dangers and has seen several accidents over its history.

The North West 200 is more than a race; it’s a week-long festival of motorcycling, where camaraderie, skill, and sheer thrill come together. It draws fans from all over the world, who come not only for the Superbike races but the entire racing spectacle, celebrating a rich tradition in motorbike racing.

The North West!

The North West 200, held annually in May around the “Triangle” of Portstewart/Portrush/Coleraine, is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest sporting events and one of the world’s fastest road races. 

This is the place to go if you want an adrenaline rush. As you can be up close to the action, you can feel the wind as the bikes speed past, hear the noise reverberating through your chest, and smell those fumes, which, as any bike rider knows, just smell great.

History Of the North West 200

The North West 200 has a rich history that dates back to its first race in 1929. Over the years, it has grown in popularity and has become one of the most anticipated events in the motorcycle racing calendar. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a world-renowned road race, the North West 200 has captivated the hearts of racing enthusiasts.

See our article here on the History of the North West 200


Thursday 11th May – Race Schedule (5pm to 9pm)




Saturday 13th May – Race Schedule (9:15am to 9pm)








Tuesday 9th May – Practice Schedule (9.15am to 3.15pm)

1st Session – NEWCOMERS ONLY 09.45

2nd Session – SUPERSPORT 10.30

3rd Session – SUPERBIKE 11.30

4th Session – SUPERTWIN 12.30

5th Session – SUPERSTOCK 13.30

Thursday 11th May – Practice Schedule (9:15am to 3.15pm)

1st Session SUPERTWIN 09.45

2nd Session SUPERSTOCK 10.45

3rd Session SUPERSPORT 11.45

4th Session SUPERBIKE 12.45


The Road Races (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 has been approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly and received Royal Assent. The changes to the road closing legislation now give the International North West 200 organisers, in exceptional circumstances, the ability to move a practice or race day, either one day forward or one day back, giving 24 hours’ notice to the Department for Infrastructure.

Should extreme weather be forecast, the 2023 contingency days could be: Wednesday 10th May and Friday 12th, May 2023.

In lieu of using one of the above full contingency days, organisers may also extend the road closing times on Tuesday 9th and Saturday 13th May 2023 as follows:

Existing Road Closing Contingency 

Tuesday – 9.15am – 3.15pm 5.00pm – 9.00pm

Saturday – 9.15am – 7.00pm 7.00pm – 9.00pm

Any subsequent amendments to the race week schedule will be advertised to the public via the International North West 200 website, BBC NI TV & Radio and the NW200 Facebook and Twitter feed.

See the circuit maps and learn more about vantage points to watch the race. Most locations are free; you park and walk to the course. Our chosen spot is anywhere along the first couple of kilometres.

Rider Lineup for 2023

The 2023 North West 200 race is expected to feature an impressive lineup of talented riders from all over the world. One rider who has consistently dominated the North West 200 is the legendary Michael Dunlop. Known for his exceptional skills and fearless approach, Dunlop will undoubtedly be one to watch.

Exciting Superbike Race

One of the highlights of the North West 200 is the thrilling Superbike race. With speeds reaching up to 200mph, this race is a true test of skill, endurance, and bravery. The competitors push themselves and their bikes to the limit as they navigate the challenging twists and turns of the North West Coast.

What to Expect in the 2023 Race

The 2023 North West 200 race promises to be an exhilarating event filled with nail-biting moments and intense battles for supremacy. One rider who has consistently showcased his dominance in previous races is Michael Dunlop. With his unmatched experience and speed, he is expected to be a strong contender for the top spot.

Dunlop’s Dominance

Michael Dunlop has established himself as the King of the North West with his impressive track record. He has claimed victory in multiple races and continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on a motorcycle. Dunlop’s skill and determination make him a force to be reckoned with in the 2023 race.

Thrilling Superstock Race

In addition to the Superbike race, the Superstock race is another highly anticipated event at the North West 200. This race features production-based motorcycles, adding an element of relatability for motorcycle enthusiasts. The Superstock race is known for its fierce competition and close finishes, making it a must-watch for spectators.

Supertwin Showdown

The Supertwins race brings a unique flavor to the North West 200. With lightweight and nimble bikes, the competitors showcase their skills and tactics in this fiercely contested race. The Supertwins race is often filled with unpredictability and surprises, making it a crowd-favorite every year.

Key Riders and Competitors

Aside from Michael Dunlop, numerous other riders have made their mark on the North West 200. Alastair Seeley, known as the King of the North West, has a remarkable lap record of wins in this prestigious event. Glenn Irwin’s rise to success has also been impressive, and he is considered one of the top contenders in the upcoming race. The Honda Dream Team, consisting of talented riders, is also expected to make a strong showing.

Alastair Seeley: The King of the North West

Alastair Seeley’s name is synonymous with the North West 200. With a record-breaking number of wins, he has cemented his status as the all-time great of this race. Seeley’s skill, experience, and intimate knowledge of the circuit give him a competitive edge over his rivals.

Glenn Irwin’s Rise to Success

Glenn Irwin’s journey to success has been nothing short of remarkable. He has established himself as a formidable force on the motorcycle racing scene and has had considerable success at the North West 200. Irwin’s determination and natural talent make him a strong contender in any race he participates in.

The Honda Dream Team

The Honda Dream Team is a formidable group of riders who have come together to conquer the North West 200. With their collective skills, experience, and the support of Honda, this team is expected to make waves in the upcoming race. Their formidable lineup includes talented riders such as Davey Todd and Jeremy McWilliams.


  • Eight races, four exciting classes: Supersport, Supertwin, Superstock, Superbike
  • 4 hours of exciting timed practice sessions – Tuesday & Thursday
  • Thursday Night Racing – 3 Races
  • Saturday Racing All Day – 5 Races
  • Riders Meet & Greet
  • Vintage Bike & Car Run
  • Paddock Walkabouts
  • Live Music & Entertainment
  • Family Motor Festival
  • Family Fun Village
  • Miss North West 200
  • Fireworks Display


Special Offers, Grandstand Tickets, Paddock Passes and Race Programmes, will be available on the official websiteOfficial Ticket prices and sales. However, we recommend you book your accommodation now!

Accommodation for the North West 200

Tip: click the highlighted text to see accommodation options. 

As you can imagine, with such a popular annual event, hotels and B&Bs in Portrush and Portstewart get booked out quickly for North West 200 week.

Fastest Laps At The NW200

Weather conditions since 2010 have also been inclement, more often than not, but 2016 finally saw perfect weather conditions, so the outright lap record was broken, unsurprisingly. Whilst the Superstock race saw a number of riders set their personal best laps, quicker than what they did in the Superbike race, it was the latter where the outright lap record was set with Michael Dunlop’s dominant victory seeing him lap at 123.207mph, half a second inside Josh Brookes’ old mark.

Despite superb weather in 2018, neither the Superbike nor Superstock lap records but after two years of various movements within the fastest 25 riders, records were finally broken in 2022 when racing resumed after two tears being missed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dunlop’s outright lap record was convincingly broken by no less than five riders with Peter Hickman claiming the record with a stunning lap of 124.799mph in the opening Superbike race. That means he now holds the unique record of being the current outright lap record holder at the NW200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix.

With good weather in 2022, lap records were broken in every class, a sign of motorcycle development in the hiatus with eight of the fastest 25 times coming in the year. Richard Cooper went from the fastest newcomer in 2019, with a speed of 120.659mph and 24thfastest on the charts, to the third fastest rider of all time. Davey Todd was another big moving going from 19th quickest to fourth.

Top 10 riders have now lapped the course at more than 120mph.

1 Peter Hickman 1000cc BMW 2022 Superbike 4m18.753s 124.799mph

2 Glenn Irwin 1000cc Honda 2022 NW200 4m19.048s 124.656

3 Richard Cooper 1000cc Suzuki 2022 NW200 4m19.280s 124.545

4 Davey Todd 1000cc Honda 2022 Superbike 4m19.344s 124.519

5 Dean Harrison 1000cc Kawasaki 2022 Superbike 4m21.572s 123.454

6 Michael Dunlop 1000cc BMW 2016 Superbike 4m22.095s 123.207

7 Josh Brookes 1199cc Ducati 2022 NW200 4m22.236s 123.141

8 Alastair Seeley 1000cc BMW 2017 Superstock 4m22.755s 122.898

9 Lee Johnston 1000cc BMW 2022 Superstock 4m22.764s 122.894

10 Ian Hutchinson 1000cc BMW 2016 Superstock 4m23.175s 122.702

Camping At The NW200

Suppose you are into camping or have a caravan/campervan. In that case, you can take a spot for the week in the official event campsite for £300, including two paddock passes. Note that there is no electric hookup. See more information about the official campsites.

There are also 

Highview Holiday park

Highview Holiday Park in Portrush is a family-friendly camping destination. Offering caravan and tent sites with picturesque views, it’s a stone’s throw from beautiful beaches and local attractions. Amenities include electric hookups, laundry facilities, and a play area, making it an ideal base for the North West 200 and the Causeway Coast.

Maddybenny Farm Campsite

The Maddybenny farm is nicely tucked in behind the track just north of Portrush and with views over Portrush and Scotland. It has 10 hardstanding pitches on gravel for caravans and motorhomes, plus 14 grass tent pitches (some also suit caravans). 

There are 16 electric hookup points too. Set in picturesque surroundings, with mature gardens and plenty of free-range hens, ducks and guinea fowl. Dogs allowed. 

It’s an ideal place for a family holiday, and the campsite has just been enlarged, giving campers the luxury of lots of extra space.

This is where visitors can enjoy a quiet break within easy reach, The North West 200 Track.

Juniper Hill Caravan Park

Juniper Hill Caravan Park in Portrush is strategically positioned for the North West 200 motorbike race. With stunning coastal views, this well-equipped site offers caravan pitches and modern facilities. Its proximity to the race circuit and local amenities makes it a favoured choice for spectators and race enthusiasts looking for a convenient and scenic stay.

Several spots can be found on This Irish Camping Site, such as Wild CampingAire de Service and other places to camp or Glamp in Northern Ireland.

Another option is to make your way to a neighbouring town and, ideally, one well connected by public transport since parking around Portstewart or Portrush that week can be tricky, especially with road closures.

Train links: Portrush and Coleraine have a train service that, although relatively infrequent, is only 10 minutes or so. If you can’t find cheaper accommodation in Coleraine (it is pretty limited as I write this), you can easily catch another train either up the line towards Derry~Londonderry (try Castlerock) or down the line towards Belfast (try Ballymoney).

Bus links: While busses may be impacted by road closures and congestion, you can catch a bus from Portrush (usually hourly), which travels along the coast stopping at towns such as PortballintraeBushmillsBallintoy and Ballycastle. This option works well if you are travelling with family who are not keen on motorsports and prefer sightseeing, a trip to the Bushmills distillery or beach life.

Getting To Portrush

Ramore Restaurant and harbour at night

Getting To Portrush

Getting To Portrush

How to get to Portrush by Public Transport?

There are several bus, coach and train services along with great value travel tickets are available for spectators. Follow @Translink_NI or the hashtag #OpenTravel for the most up to date travel information.

Translink is advising everyone looking to travel with them to plan their travel in advance, leave extra time for journeys and remember there will be limited space onboard services for any bulky items.

Translink has been working hard to ensure that a regular service across its bus and rail networks is in place, in addition to delivering extra services for those travelling to The 148th Open, however, you may find delays are more than likely around this time.

Travelling by Rail to Portrush

From Belfast

Translink operates a regular timetable, usually every hour or less between Belfast and Coleraine. You can find the schedule here, or use their app/website here. The journey from Belfast Central takes around an hour and 20 minutes through the Antrim countryside.

From Coleraine, you may have to change (see timetables) for trains to Portrush. Trains run every hour, and the journey takes around 10 minutes. There are two stations in Portrush. Dhu Varren, which is on the western entrance overlooking West Strand and Portrush Station in the centre of town. 

From July 14 – 21, there will be extra trains as well as extra carriages (allowing more people on) on the regular timetabled train services. The majority of the extra trains will be early morning trains from Belfast. For these services along with additional evening services from Portrush and Coleraine, there will be ticket pre-booking available online at Translinks website 

On the final Sunday of the Open (21 July), there will be a weekday timetable will operating to and from Belfast – Portrush to offer more options for those travelling to see the final…and hopefully one of our local players lifting the claret jug.

Throughout the week, all trains from Belfast will travel directly to Portrush, so no need to change.

From Derry-Londonderry

The Derry-Londonderry rail line if one of the most scenic train trips in the world. The route weaves along cliffs, through tunnels under temples, past over two runways and along the banks of Loch Foyle.

Many famous train enthusiasts, such as Micheal Palin and Micheal Portillo, have written fantastically about the Derry-Londonderry line.

You can see our trip earlier this year from Coleraine to Derry.

<<Insert Clip here>>

The trip takes around 35 minutes and is one we recommend.

During The Open, there will be an hourly service with more carriages on the trains stopping at Coleraine, where a bus shuttle will be available to take you to Portrush.

Translink will be running a shuttle bus service will run from Portrush to Coleraine Rail Station, where you will be able to catch a train back to Derry-Londonderry. The bus will connect with the arrival of trains from Derry~Londonderry from Mon 15 – Sun 21 July.

Getting to Portrush by Bus

Translink runs several bus options for getting to Portrush the Causeway Rambler, Ulster Bus and Goldline depending where you are coming from.

From Belfast and Derry-Londonderry

When coming from Belfast, you can use the regular 218 Goldline (Timetable here) coach service from Belfast or 234 Goldline from Derry~Londonderry (timetable here). 

Both of these services arrive at Coleraine Rail and Bus station, where you can easily jump on theUlsterbus 140bus service to Portrush. 

For the Open, Translink will be operating the Goldline service on a weekday timetable on the Sat & Sun.

We have heard that there will be an additional special day return coaches operating between the Europa Buscentre, in Belfast, to Portrush with pre-booking available online. Please check on the TransLink website for more details.

Local Ulsterbus Services

During the Open week, the local Ulsterbus service between Coleraine, Portrush and Portstewart (140 service) will run every 10 minutes to facilitate passenger flows to/from The Open. This service will also be the service to get the train to Belfast and Derry-Londonderry.

Ulsterbus Service 402

The 402 service will run along the Causeway Coastal route between Ballycastle and Portrush every 30 minutes during the week of the Open Championship, and it will also run earlier in the morning and later in the evening. 

Ulsterbus Service 134

The 134 bus runs between Coleraine and Limavady, and it will operate an additional morning and evening service during the Championship.

By Road

Please note that there is no public parking available at the course. All spectator parking will be located at Park & Ride facilities.

If you are travelling to Portrush during Open week by car or motorbike, you will be directed to managed Park & Ride sites by electronic signs, message boards and event specific signs provided by The AA. If you are driving in then we advised to turn off your sat nav and follow the appropriate signage on approach to Coleraine/Portrush.

Getting to Portrush from Belfast

Follow the M2 towards Antrim. Take the A26 to Ballymena and follow the M2/A26 towards Coleraine/Portrush. On approach to Coleraine, follow the yellow (AA) and electronic signs for Public Parking.

Getting to Portrush from Derry-Londonderry

Follow the A2 towards Limavady. Take the A37 then continue on the A29 towards Coleraine/Portrush. On approach to Coleraine, follow signs for Public Parking.

Getting to Portrush from the South (Armagh/Mid Ulster)

Follow the A29 towards Coleraine/Portrush. On approach to Coleraine, follow signs for Public Parking.

Getting to Portrush via the Causeway Coastal Route

This is possibly the best route to take to get to Portrush, clinging to the Atlantic coast from Belfast to Portrush (and onto Derry-Londonderry) the Causeway Coastal Route is adorned with stretches of sandy beaches, picturesque fishing villages, rolling gorse-covered valleys and fuchsia-edged clifftop paths. Taking in the fantastic scenery from the car is incredible, but the other senses could be missing out! The sounds of the crashing waves, the birds soaring up above, the salty taste from the sea on your lips and the wind whistling past your ears – these are all part of this legendary land’s beauty.

The journey takes around 2 and half hours if you do it in one go, but we recommend you make at least half a day and stop off at the many amazing spots along the way, places such as The Gobbins, Carrick-a-rede Rope bridge, The Giants Causeway and much much more. Check out our road trip here.

If you are a game of Thrones fan, you could check out our guide to all of the filming locations in Northern Ireland here, as it follows the Causeway Coastal Route for the most part.

As you enter, Portrush follow signs for Public Parking.

Getting to Portrush from Dublin & The South

For those coming from Dublin or the South of Ireland, we recommend travelling via Belfast or Derry, and you can find out how to get to Portrush from these above. 

Park and Ride Facilities for Portrush

If you are coming to the Open by car (or motorbike), you will be directed to the many Park & Ride sites by the electronic signs and event specific signs.

PLEASE IGNORE YOUR SAT NAV… it’ll only get you lost due to the road closures etc.

There will be no car parking available at Royal Portrush Golf Club or in Portrush over the Championship week; however, there will be pick up and drop off locations close to Portrush.

Charges for the use of the Park and Ride will apply. Park and Ride tickets can be pre-booked on The Open website.

Use of the Park & Ride car parks is not only for those coming to The Open, and anyone who wants to take advantage of these facilities to speed up their journey to and from Portrush during the week of the Championship is encouraged to do so. 

These locations will be signposted by black and yellow AA signs on the approach to Coleraine and Portrush from all directions. Further details on Park & Ride operating times and prices are available at

Car park tickets may be purchased online in advance or on arrival.

Local Road Access Restrictions around Portrush

To assist with traffic management and reduce congestion near Royal Portrush and the surrounding area, temporary traffic regulations and parking restrictions will be introduced. These will be enforced by traffic attendants and the Police Service of Northern Ireland to minimise disruption to residents and businesses, assist traffic flow and increase safety and security for all road users. It is advisable to allow extra time for journeys during The Open and business owners may wish to consider making their customers aware of the changes.

Under the Road Traffic Regulation (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, access to the following roads will be restricted between the hours of 6.00am and 10.00pm from Sunday 14 July to Monday 22 July 2019 (inclusive):

  • Bushmills Road/Dunluce Road – between Crocknamack Road and Whiterocks Road
  • Ballybogey Road – between Ballymacrea Road/Ballymagarry Road and Dunluce Road
  • Portstewart Road – between Glenvale Crescent and Coleraine Road

No through traffic will be permitted along Bushmills Road and Dunluce Road to or from Portrush town.

Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council will issue access passes to residents and businesses affected by road access restrictions in June. Access for customers will be maintained. Golflinks Holiday Homes and The Skerries Holiday Park will distribute passes directly to their residents.

Parking Restrictions

Also, parking restrictions (no waiting/no stopping) will be in place on several roads in Portrush. Alternative parking will be provided for residents affected by the parking restrictions who do not have access to off-street parking. A map outlining the temporary restrictions can be found online.

General Car Parking in and around Portrush

The following car parks are available for public use during the dates specified:

  • Dunluce Avenue Car Park
  • Dunluce Centre Car Park
  • Sandhill Drive Car and Motorhome Park
  • West Strand Car Park
  • White Rocks Car Park
  • East Strand Car Park
  • Lansdowne Road Car Park.

On-street parking locations in Portrush Town Centre will be available as usual during the summer

A dedicated car park for business owners and staff will be provided at the Lansdowne Recreation Grounds. Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council will circulate details of how to apply to permits.

Beach Access

Beach access for pedestrians will not be inhibited or obstructed during the event at any of the beaches.

However, car access and parking will not be available at East Strand and West Bay during the following dates:

  • West Strand Car Park 14th – 22 July (inclusive)
  • The southern part of East Strand Car Park (30% of the site) 10 June – 4 August
  • All East Strand Car Park 1 July – 31 July (inclusive)
  • Whiterocks Area 14 July – 22 July (inclusive)

The above carparks will be subject to vehicular access restrictions to facilitate the operational requirements of The Open. Consequently, vehicle access and parking at these sites will not be available to the general public. Pedestrian access to the beaches will remain available at all times and arrangements will be in place to facilitate those who live and work in the area.

The Causeway Coast and Glens is home to a wealth of beautiful beaches including Benone, Portstewart Strand, Whitepark Bay and Ballycastle, along with hidden gems like Portballintrae and Cushendun and we would encourage people to explore these areas and enjoy our expansive coastline which stretches across the Borough.



Guide to Coleraine

Seen as the informal capital of the Causeway Coast on the northern coast of Northern Ireland, Coleraine has great historical significance and provides all the modern amenities you may need. 

According to the 2011 Census, the population of Coleraine was 24,634.

Coleraine is usually bustling during the day but becomes quieter at night. The towns of Portrush and Portstewart are nearby and collectively form an area called “The Triangle”, known for its nightlife.

The town is busy all year round and is thriving as it is a favourite destination of many International and National visitors who visit the Causeway Coast. Coleraine is also very close to many of the world’s most impressive pristine beaches, natural attractions, and coastal views.

In the 1960s a Coleraine was chosen as the location for a new university campus, as part of what has become the new Ulster University, the first outside of greater Belfast. This brought and continues to bring many students to the area each winter to the causeway coast and glens areas. They mostly stay in Portstewart or on the University Campus, as such a railway station was built opposite the east entrance.

What Does The Name “Coleraine” Mean?

 Cúil Raithin or Coleraine means “Nook of Ferns” and St Patrick gave the town its name. It is home to 25,000 inhabitants and the peaceful town lies on the longest river in Northern Ireland, the River Bann.

Coleraine Town Centre – The Diamond Centre

Coleraine Diamond

The official town centre is known as ‘The Diamond Centre’ and this area is usually bustling with people. The impressive sandstone Town Hall was built in 1859. Also known as ‘Tidy Town,’ Coleraine has won several awards and there are numerous of places to sit and watch the world go by among the dazzling floral displays.

Shopping in Coleraine

Shopping in Coleraine is pleasurable and safe due to the town centre only being open to pedestrians. Several high street chain stores have shops in Coleraine and this is supplemented by many cafes, independent local businesses, pubs, and restaurants. The locals love the two independent department stores, Dixons and Moores, as these provide great all round shopping for everyone. They each have a restaurant and have been part of the local scenery for many years.

Culture and Leisure

There are many opportunities for both outdoor and indoor leisure pursuits. There is a leisure centre in town that is open 7 days per week and offers a gym, pools, sports hall, café, and health suite.

In Coleraine, you can indulge in many forms of outdoor activities, including swimming, soccer, gliding, cycling, fishing, water sports, archery, sky diving, rugby, climbing, snorkelling, tennis, clay pigeon shooting, athletics, surfing, diving, bowling, putting, golf, boating, orienteering, and pony trekking.

A choice of three main local parks may be visited, and each offers something different for visitors. There are also many coastal, inland, parkland, and forest walking trails around Coleraine.

The Arts and Entertainment

The North Coast’s Premier Entertainment Centre, Jet Centre is a hugely popular local attraction. It is situated over the new bridge, on the road west to Londonderry and just off the roundabout. This indoor complex offers entertainment for children and adults alike. The centre features ten-pin bowling, multiple cinemas, a pool hall, a diner, and an amusement arcade.

Jet Centre is also home to ‘Alley Cats,’ a massive indoor climbing play park with nets, ropes, balls, and slides, offering endless thrill possibilities for children. You will also be able to enjoy a cuppa and relax whilst being right next to the action.

One of Northern Ireland’s oldest professional theatres, Coleraine’s Riverside Theatre, is well-loved and known. It offers world-class entertainment as well as Outreach, an excellent youth drama programme.

The theatre is operated jointly by the Borough Council and the University of Ulster, and several excellent, well-known actors have at some stage performed there. These include one such local hero, James Nesbitt. In 1978 he gave an exceptional performance in Oliver as Fagin, and his international career continues to go from strength to strength.

Coleraine Tempestuous History

Coleraine and the surrounding area have significant historical value as it is the first known settlement of humans in Ireland in about 5935 BC. At the start of the 17th century, it also became the first town in the ‘Plantation of Ulster’. As you explore the area, you will find plenty of evidence of this uncommon heritage.

Coleraine’s pre-plantation history is turbulent. At the time, Ireland was divided into kingdoms which were each governed by a Chieftain. Due to the clashes of Coleraine’s clans, the town was settled many times over the years.

In 1607, King James 1 colonised Ulster after the Flight of the Earls in what was known as ‘The Plantation of Ulster.’ The Honourable Irish Society’ was then formed to fund the building of a new fortified town. They were enticed by promises of timber and salmon fishing.

Coleraine Potted History

Mountsandel is a Mesolithic site that is dated from about 5935 BC and it contains some of the earliest evidence of human settlement in Ireland. Saint Patrick named the town after he was offered a piece of ground covered by ferns to build a church. A potted history of Coleraine can be found by visiting Coleraine Potted History

The Troubles

Coleraine in CountyLondonderry Northern Ireland saw 13 fatalities during the Troubles, ten resulting from two car bomb explosions with contrasting contexts.

On June 12th 1973, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated a car bomb on Railway Road without providing an adequate warning. As a result, six Protestant civilians in their 60s and 70s were tragically slain. The second most deadly incident happened two years later, on October 2nd 1975; all four fatalities, in this case, were members of the loyalists.

Two civilians without links to paramilitaries were among the three people shot and murdered in Coleraine. Danny Cassidy, a Sinn Féin electoral worker, was identified as one of them. At the same time, the other two were believed to be targeted by the Ulster Freedom Fighters and the UVF.

Coleraine Today

Coleraine is nowadays an affluent large town that is accessed easily by bus, train, and car. As the town utilises a one-way system everywhere, the traffic moves smoothly and there are ample parking opportunities.

Coleraine has abundant walking trails, both in the town itself and in the surrounding parks, beaches, forests, rivers, and rocks. The world-class cycling tracks include the National Cycle Network, which opened in May 2001 and crosses the Millennium Bridge.

As the Atlantic Ocean and the River Bann are easily accessible, many types of water recreational pursuits are possible. Coleraine is a big town and is ready for City Status. It is also near Portstewart, Portrush, Castlerock, Bushmills, Ballycastle, and Portballintrae and within a few minutes drive to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Giant’s Causeway, the Mussenden Temple, and Dunluce Castle.


Coleraine, located close to the Causeway Coastal route, that attracted more than two million visitors annually.

Castlerock, a small village located northwest of Coleraine, is home to a beach which continues from the one found at Portstewart, separated by the mouth of the River Bann. 

Portrush and Portstewart are just a few miles north of the town and are the main tourist attractions in the area. With a number of spectacular, Blue Flag, beaches, promenades and of course the famous Barrys (now Currys) amusements. 

Mussenden Temple is also not far away. Frederick Augustus Hervey constructed the latter in the 18th century and has views of County Donegal and Scotland. Downhill House, the residence of Hervey and managed by the National Trust, suffered disrepair after WWII.

The Giants Causeway, The region is also home to the Giants Causeway a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Carrick -a rede – The Ropebridge is only a few miles away on the Antrim Coast road and is a spectacular site to see.

Dunluce Castle – Th ruins of this Irish castle are know far and wide through its setting in many movies, tv programs and even music videos.

The North West 200

The Causeway Coast plays host to one of the fastest road races, in the world, the ‘North West 200’ every May. The public roads between Portstewart, Portrush, and Coleraine get turned into high-speed (up to 200 miles per hour) tracks, and it is one of the last of its kind in Europe.

The race is unbelievably thrilling to watch, and standing next to the roads presents the best views of the powerful bikes speeding by. The event makes for a busy time at the Causeway Coast, as an additional 150,000 people come to watch Ireland’s biggest outdoor sporting event every year.

Places of interest

The east side of the town is characterized by Mountsandel Forest, containing the ancient site of Mount Sandel fort. This has been identified as the oldest site of human settlement in Ireland, containing wooden houses dating back to 7000 BC. The fort can be reached through the Mountsandel forest near Coleraine Courthouse or another located two miles south of Mountsandel near the village of Loughan.

There is a Town tour, funded as part of the 400 year celebrations of the town by causeway coast and glens district council, with all of the historical buildings that can be found here

Mountsandel Fort

The remains of Mountsandel Fort can be found in the middle of the magnificent Mountsandel Forest. Now declared a State Care Historic Monument, the Fort dates back to 7000BC and the early Iron and Mesolithic Ages. It is located at the edge of a steep river bluff that drops into the River Bann on the side of the river opposite to the town.

Mountsandel Wood

Mountsandel Fort can be reached via a 2-mile walking trail. As the trial is circular, either the upper or lower or path can be taken along the banks of the River Bann and through the forest.

Coleraine has been frequented in the past by Neolithic and Mesolithic man, Saints, Vikings, Norsemen, Chieftains, Barons, Earls, heroes and Rebels. Man has known for thousands of years that Coleraine is a stunning place to live!

Phoenix Peace Fountain

In Anderson Park the Phoenix Peace Fountain can be found for public enjoyment. Originally a gift from the USA, each symbol on Phoenix Peace Fountain has a specific meaning. To be able to read the full dedication on its six base platforms, you’ll have to walk completely around the fountain. The world famous Giant’s Causeway ancient rocks’ hexagonal shapes can be recognized easily.

The modern commercial harbour and Marina is a mile from town, in the direction of Portstewart and slightly off the main road. It offers excellent facilities that include powered moorings for sailing of all kinds as well as fishing, water skiing and canoeing. There are also 7 championship golf courses within a few miles of Coleraine.


Coleraine was the headquarters of the Coleraine Borough Council until 2015 when it was merged into the Causeway Coast and Glens District Council. The latter is currently based in the former Coleraine Borough Council headquarters.

The East Londonderry constituency for Westminster Parliamentary and Northern Ireland Assembly elections comprises the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area and the adjacent County Londonderry, even though parts of this constituency are located in County Antrim.

In 2014, the residents elected 3 councillors from the Democratic Unionist Party, 2 from the Ulster Unionist Party, 1 from the Progressive Unionist Party, 1 from the Northern Ireland Conservatives and 1 from the Social Democratic and Labour Party.


Coleraine’s climate is maritime, featuring cool summers and mild winters. The nearest Met Office weather station used to be at Ulster University Coleraine, but no records are available anymore. The nearest observing station is Magilligan, roughly 5 km away or the Giants Causeway roughly 9 km away. Rainfall typically peaks over 100 mm in October, while May has the lowest average of under 60 mm.




Ballycastle County Antrim in Northern Ireland is a small town nestled in Antrim County. Ballycastle lies between ancient rocks, forests, and glens. The town has five thousand inhabitants, and it is the Causeway Coast’s Eastern Gateway to the Causeway Coastal Route.

Eastern Gateway of the Causeway Coast

The town of Ballycastle is a popular tourist destination located 47 miles north of Belfast along the causeway coast, often known locally as the Antrim Coast, and 19 miles East of Coleraine.

It is a perfect base for a Causeway Coast Holiday on the northern coast of Northern Ireland and is also a top-rated day-trip destination.

Auld Lammas Fair

Its age-old Auld Lammas Fair has made Ballycastle famous, and the festival celebrates the harvest. In August, the festival, which dates back to the 17th century, attracts more than 150,000 visitors from Northern Ireland and elsewhere to historic Ballycastle.

With hundreds of market stalls that offer all kinds of hand-crafted pieces, produce, and artisan wares, the Ould Lammas Fair is an exciting event to explore. The harvest is celebrated with the music of all locations and types, delicious food choices, sweet and savoury, and many other fete festivities.

Baile a Chaistil

The Irish name of Ballycastle is ‘Baile a Chaistil’, and it means the ‘town of the castle’.

Ballycastle Strand

Ballycastle Strand

The Blue Flag Ballycastle Beach (Strand) offers excellent views of the Mull of Kintyre and Rathlin Island just off the shore. Ballycastle Strand is slightly less than a mile long and is perfect for water sports, swimming and surfing. It is close to Ballycastle town, making it is very popular with both visitors and locals. Although there is no seasonal lifeguard service at Ballycastle Strand, the beach is safe for swimming.

The West side of the beach begins at the Ballycastle Marina’s pier, where the Glenshesk River flows into the ocean. The Ballycastle Seafront is an exciting mixture of graciously rounded landscaped gardens running from the Marina to the Foot Bridge that crosses the Glenshesk River and leads to the main beach.

The Eastern end of the beach is at Pans Rock. This fascinating rocky outcrop juts out to the sea and is famous for fishing and rock climbing.

The Ballycastle Golf course offers a championship course with 18-holes and is open to both non-members and members around the year.


Ballycastle’s heritage is vibrant, and there are more than 50 buildings listed within the ‘18th Century Conservation Area’. The Historic Buildings Council for Northern Ireland describes Ballycastle as having the biggest of traditional shop frontages in Ireland. ( (pdf)

One can easily walk around for hours to experience Ballycastle’s rich past by visiting its well-preserved old buildings. This experience is unequalled anywhere else in Ireland. Located behind The Diamond, the heart of Ballycastle Town, the Georgian sandstone Holy Trinity Church can be found. It was built between 1752 and1756 and features sundial and clock spire faces.

Another building of interest is the Ballycastle Market House. This two-storey building dates back to about 1830.

The Ballycastle Museum contains loads of historical information about the town and is open to the public every July and August.

Historic past

Although mostly ruins, declared a State Care Historical Monument, Kinbane Castle is 5 kilometres from Ballycastle by the edge of the ocean on the road leading to Ballintoy Colla MacDonnell built the castle in 1547.

Bonamargy Friary, as Ballycastle Friary is also known, was established in 1485 and declared a State Care Historic Monument. Bonamargy Friary and the graves found there, such as several of the Earls of Antrim’s graves and that of Sorley Boy MacDonnell, have great historical significance. The Friary is situated on the edge of Ballycastle’s Golf Course, on Ballycastle and off Cushendall Road. From there, it is only a short walk to Ballycastle’s seafront.

There are many natural wonders in the area of which Fair Head is one. This impressive headland rises out of the bay and is 643 feet high, making it a significant rock-climbing location, apart from offering outstanding natural beauty. The National Trust owns much of Fair Head’s areas and conserves its natural beauty.

The 1695 feet high heather-covered Knocklayde mountain offers breathtaking views over Ballycastle, Fair Head, Scotland, and Rathlin Island.

Ballycastle Marina

The Ballycastle Marina is Blue Flag rated, and the Ballycastle Harbour is still operating. The Marina is one of only 2 in Northern Ireland with this prestigious accolade. The Marina started in 1999, is situated within the inner harbour and has 74 berths. Toilets and parking are available, and the Ballycastle Visitor Information Centre is also located at the Marina.

Rathlin Island Ferry in County Antrim

The Rathlin Island Ferry Company currently operates between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle.

As the only inhabited offshore island of Northern Ireland, Rathlin has a population of just more than 100 inhabitants. Home to thirty different bird species, it is a Special Area of Conservation and is popular with Bird Watchers. Rathlin Island is the northernmost point of the Glens Area of Outstanding Beauty and the Antrim Coast.




Castlerock is a small seaside village 5 miles west of Coleraine and the Western Gateway of the Causeway Coast route on the north coast of Northern Ireland. It is a perfect blend of the present and the past. This town has less than fifteen hundred inhabitants but attracts many visitors in season due to a variety of places to visit being nearby, a naturally beautiful landscape, and great amenities.

Natural Beauty

Castlerock is an area of outstanding natural beauty and it starts at the lower River Bann estuary, 5 miles west of Coleraine in the direction of Londonderry and Limavady. 

It is within the Benevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is surrounded by nature in many forms.

There is a small selection of tea shops, local shops, pubs, and restaurants, as well as a Community Centre and Village Green in the heart of the town.

The exceptional Blue Flag beaches at Benone, Downhill, and Castlerock, and the excellent championship golf course draws flocks of visitors each year.

Castlerock’s Heritage and Architecture

Castlerock’s remaining architecture clearly demonstrates its Settlement History. A Heritage walking tour in town showcases many late 19th century buildings including The Villas (1860), the Presbyterian Church (1880), Castlerock Train Station (1853), Twelve Apostles (1882), and Christ Church (1882). The Tunnel and Railway were constructed in about 1845.

The famous row of houses known as the “Twelve Apostles” is located above the beach. They are quite small but cute inside, and several have been renovated and extended at the back to take advantage of the magical location.

Hezlett House, One of Oldest Buildings in

Northern Ireland

When driving to Castlerock via the main A2 turnoff, the 17th century Hazlett House can be seen one mile south of the town on the corner of Sea Road.

This is an amazing example of a well-preserved Thatched Cottage. At Halloween each year, the ancient cottage is transformed into a scary haunted house.

Hazlett House is now owned by The National Trust and visitors can step back in time as they explore the well-manicured cottage grounds and the inside of the cottage to experience what life was like in the late 1600s. This is one of Northern Ireland’s oldest buildings and hot drinks and snacks are offered at the reception area. 

Castlerock Beach and The Promenade

Catlerock Strand

Castlerock beach with its golden sand is slightly less than a mile long, and the fresh air, breathtaking views, and friendly people make it well worth visiting. Castlerock’s sand dunes lie west of the lower River Bann estuary, with Portstewart Strand located on the other side of the estuary.

The Rural Beach Seaside Award was awarded to Castlerock Beach in 2014. The award is based on the 15 criteria to ‘Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’.  This environmental charity aims to make Northern Ireland a more pleasant and cleaner place in which to live.

Castlerock Beach is beautiful and the perfect environment to play with the kids, canoeing, surf, swim, fish, ride horses, and more. Parking and toilets are available and dogs are permitted at certain times of the year. Seasonal RNLI beach lifeguards are available from June 1 to September 15.

The Promenade offers opportunities to cycle and walk while enjoying the views of the Donegal hills. A winding walk down to Castlerock Beach is also available from Donegal hills. Exploring the small bays is a perfect way to reach the Promenade and main Castlerock Beach, whilst you can also climb rocks and fish in rock pools along the way.

Downhill Forest

Maintained by the National Trust, Downhill Forest is located to the South East of Castlerock. The forest consists of 80 hectares of mixed woodland and is the perfect place to walk or orienteer at the permanent course. The Forest Café provides refreshments along the way.

C S Lewis

It is interesting to know that C. S. Lewis, the author of the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Lion, and other classics, as a young child spent many holidays at Castlerock travelling from Belfast. It is very easy to envisage that his imagination was sparked by the majesty, myth, and heritage of the surrounding environment.

Historical Significance

Close to Downhill Estate’s second entrance, you will find School Lane where you can take a leisurely stroll through the grounds of the ruined home originally owned by Frederick Augustus Hervey. The historical Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demense were built in the late 1700s by the 4th Earl of Bristol high on the cliff tops in glorious surrounds overlooking the north Atlantic Ocean.

The Mussenden Temple sits perched right on the cliff’s edge with unparalleled inland, cliff, and coastal views. A visit here will be a treat for all your senses rich and will stay with you for the rest of your life. It is an amazing experience to stand in the spectacular circular stone building virtually hanging over the edge of a 280 ft. towering cliff.

Although the House is in ruins, mainly due to a fire in 1851, there is still enough to see to enable you to imagine the grandiose life in this Stately Home of its time. The National Trust has supplied numerous informative signs to help visitors paint the picture. There are breathtaking 360-degree views from this gorgeous location.

Downhill Demesne

Downhill Demesne, sometimes called Downhill House, is a spectacular mansion built by the eccentric Earl Bishop in the 18th century. Majestically located within open grounds it is a great destination for a day trip. The sheltered gardens of Hezlett House are perfectly suited for a leisurely, enjoyable picnic.

Mussenden Temple

On the edge of the cliffs that look over Downhill Strand, a circular stone building called Mussenden Temple is located. It is near Castlerock and within Downhill Demesne’s grounds. The Temple is open to the public around the year during the day and is run by the National Trust. Built in 1785, the temple first served as a library and its walls were once lined with bookcases.

Castlerock Golf Club

Castlerock Golf Club overlooks more than half of the dunes and main beach.

Castlerock is a championship course and is rated one of ‘Ireland’s finest’ courses. It was founded in 1901. The Golf Course is a peaceful haven set in the naturally beautiful landscape and offers 9 holes on the Bann Course and 18 holes on the Mussenden Course.

A Pro Shop, Clubhouse, Bar, and Restaurant are also available.

Castlerock by Train

The peaceful and relaxed holiday destination of Castlerock can be reached by train, either from Londonderry or Coleraine. The train station was opened in the mid-19th century and was one of the main catalysts for the growth of what was once only a tiny fishing hamlet.

The trip from Londonderry to Castlerock by train is amazing, and it passes spectacular views of Inishowen, Donegal, and stunning scenery alongside Lough Foyle.

Just before arriving at Castlerock Train Station, there is a long tunnel ride through Tunnel Brae. This is a unique and spectacular train ride and to a fortunate few, it’s their daily commute. A regular public bus service is also available.

Downhill Beach

Downhill Beach is below and to the west of Mussenden Temple and is the beginning of a seven miles strand of dunes and sand and going all the way to Magilligan Point, where it ends at Benone Strand. This beach is one of Ireland’s longest and it has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award.

It stretches all the way to the ferry at Donegal, Magilligan Point, and Lough Foyle. It is possible to drive right onto the beach and park.

A walk near the west side of Tunnel Brae will take you towards Mussenden Temple high on the clifftop. If you’re fortunate enough, you may even see a train come speeding out from the tunnel. It’s an experience not easily forgotten.

Benone Strand

One of the most popular beaches on the Causeway Coast, Benone Strand, not only attract locals but also visitors. The Benone Strand’s golden soft sandy beach stretches out for seven miles and offers spectacular views of Donegal and Benevenagh Mountain. Downhill and Mussenden Temple are in one direction with Lough Foyle and Magilligan Point on the opposite side.

Lough Foyle and Magilligan Point can be reached via a leisurely walk along the peaceful and stunning beach.

This beach is also great for adventure sports like Kite Surfing, Jet Skiing, Surfing, and Gliding. During the high season from July and August, a lifeguard is on duty. Dogs are not allowed on Benone Strand between May and September, but horse riding is available at certain times. Fishing, Canoeing, Cycling, Swimming, and Walking are available all year round.


The Magilligan area has both conservational and historical significance. Magilligan Point’s Martello Tower is an example of the small defensive forts that were built during the 19th century to defend against a possible attack by Napoleon’s forces. This 32 square mile reserve is adjacent to Lough Foyle.


portstewart prom from harbour hill at dusk


Portstewart in Northern Ireland is a classy tourist destination on the north coast with a gorgeous harbour, a spectacular beach, the championship Portstewart golf club, promenade, great cafes, parks, restaurants, outdoor swimming pools, and ice cream parlours, as well as a children’s pleasure beach and sand dunes to explore.

Portstewart has many places to relax while watching the world go by and is one of the major tourist attractions on the Causeway Coast. This seaside Port on the north Antrim coast was well loved in the Victorian era, and it has managed to retain both its public appeal and heritage.

Not many golf clubs in the British Isles have 3 course, but Portstewart County Londonderry is one of them.

Peaceful Haven

Portstewart Pom from the Big Wheel

Portstewart is a beautiful Seaside Town on the north coast of Northern Ireland in the county Londonderry and there is plenty to do for the whole family. This gorgeous holiday destination gets lots of visitors who love to spend time on the Causeway Coast but are looking for a more peaceful sanctuary. The relaxed atmosphere provides a pleasurable escape from the everyday hustle and bustle.

Despite the peaceful atmosphere, there is lots to do in Portstewart for both adults and children and in the summer months, parking space close to the town centre is at a premium as the locals flock in to spend some time at the Promenade.

Portstewart Crescent

Portstewart Crescent is just off the Promenade and it has been recently been refurbished. There is a fair amount of parking close by. The outdoor play area provides hours of fun and offers a boating lake, paddling pools, paddle board, fountain, park, shops, karting, bandstand, and cafes. There is also a viewing area with plenty of outdoor covered seating.

The first of its kind fountain in Europe, comprises 33 small water jets which are arranged in three rows of 11. The water pulses to the beat of the music and this creates a captivating light, water, and music show.

Dining and Entertainment in Portstewart

Portstewart has many eateries. On the Portstewart Promenade, the well-known Morelli’s serves award winning ice cream that is absolutely delicious and is available in many mouth-watering flavours. A Knickerbocker Glory is totally impressive. Morelli’s is open daily from 9 am until 10 pm and hot food is served until 8pm. Morelli’s has been founded in the early 1900’s and it is very popular with visitors to Northern Ireland and locals.

The Anchor Complex is the centre of Portstewart nightlife scene and it features the Aura Nightclub, Anchor Bistro and Anchor Bar, often visited by tourists and locals alike.

Dancing is available upstairs at the Havana Night Club, or you can enjoy a drink in the bar and dine in the restaurant at Shenanigans on the Promenade.

The Flowerfield Arts Centre is the first Arts Centre that was established in Northern Ireland, and it hosts great concerts and creative events.  The Arts Centre has Art Exhibitions around the year and offers a substantial range of arts and crafts courses for children and adults. These include dying, jewellery making, calligraphy, weaving, and much more. It is set in a Victorian Mansion that has a colourful history and was built in 1855.

Old O’Hara Castle

Old OHaras Castle

Built in 1834, O’Hara Castle now functions as Dominican College, and the building provides an impressive backdrop as you look out over the golden sand dunes to the Atlantic Ocean from the Portstewart Promenade. The waves crashing over the black rocks is a truly impressive sight.

The cliff path forms part of the Causeway Coast Way, and come be taken from Dominican College to the Portstewart Strand and provides some of the most stunning coastal views in the world’s. Soak up the amazing vistas of the River Bann estuary, the beach, Donegal, Lough Foyle, and Scotland in the distance.

Portstewart Strand

Portstewart Strand at Sunset

The strand at Portstewart lies on the Atlantic Ocean, is 2 miles long and this Golden Sand Beach is Blue Flag certified and is one of Northern Ireland’s finest beaches. The prestigious Blue Flag award is earned be beaches that meet the highest standards for safety, water quality, and environmental information and education.

Portstewart Strand’s Western boundary is at the River Bann estuary, while the Portstewart Golf Club forms the Eastern boundary. Portstewart Strand is run by the National Trust and it is one of Northern Ireland’s most visited.

Its inherent beauty and pristine waters make Portstewart Strand perfect for swimming, paddle boarding, surfing, and fishing. You can also jog, take a stroll, ride horses or take a walk with your dog. It is simply amazing to wander through the sand dunes.

Access by car is right at the beach, which makes things much easier, especially if you have kids with you. You can set up your picnic supplies from your car’s boot, bring any gear you want without lugging it around, and even enjoy a covered siesta with priceless views.

Although you have to pay to bring your car to the beach in high season, it’s well worth it. National Trust members get parking for free.

There is also a shop that sells beach related equipment, hot drinks, and ice creams. The Mussenden Temple, another attraction on the Causeway Coast, can be seen from Portstewart Strand standing high and majestic on the awe-inspiring cliff.

Portrush West Strand Beach

West Strand Portrush from the air looking over the harbour and town

Portrush West Strand

West Strand looking west

The Portrush West Strand, on the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland, also known as Mill Strand or West Bay, stretches between the black rocks at West Strand Road and the South Pier Portrush Harbour and is a very popular resort beach in Northern Ireland on the north coast. As this magical beach is in very close proximity to all the action in the town centre and amusements nearby, Portrush has a great holiday feel around the year.

Portrush West Strand is Blue Flag certified, meaning the classically arching beach is beautiful, safe, and clean! There is a Lifeguard on duty each day during the season between July 1 and September 30, from 11 am until 7 pm.

West Strand Beach

West Strand Looking Back Towards Portrush

The West Strand Beach is perfect for diving, surfing, swimming, kite surfing, paddle boarding, and wind surfing, and well as for horse riding, walking, cycling, jogging, paddling, playing, or simply relaxing!

Taking a walk along the ancient sands of this stunning beach from the harbour to the rocks provides many different experiences. Starting the walk at the harbour will allow you to capture some of the famous exciting Portrush atmosphere and feel the ancient sands beneath your feet. At low tide you may be able to see the buried peat deposits buried below the beach, remnants of ancient trees at the northern end.

There are also several restaurants and pubs in the area that are very popular. Cycle or walk along the Promenade or simply get your feet wet in the water and moist sand on the shoreline. The Atlantic Ocean beckons on the one side of West Strand Beach, while on the other you will find, views of cute sea-front houses, paving, and parkland.  A raised walkway running along the eastern boundary beach, the Promenade has quite a few sets of steps allowing you to get down to the sand easily.

It is always exciting to walk past Barry’s Amusements, as you can often hear the high pitched squeals of delight coming from inside and you know what fun everyone is having inside. Once you’ve passed Barry’s, you can turn at Eglinton Street to move into the West Strand’s landscaped parkland, under the railway bridge off the Portstewart Road (A2).

West Strand Beach Entrance

Portrush West Strand Entrance

West Bay is also accessible by car, and at the bridge side (a black stone railway arch at the eastern boundary), and the west strand car park has enough parking as well as toilets at the adjacent car park. There is also disabled parking, disabled toilets, and disabled access to the promenade and from there to West Strand Beach and West bay.

The parkland has a huge grassy area to run with your dogs or children, although Portrush West Strand has summer dog restrictions. This is an idyllic place for a ‘park and read’ – you can immerse yourself in a great book while enjoying the ocean view.

West Strand Beach on the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland is very popular due to its beauty and location, especially during the hot summer months, when people move between all the different fun activities they can choose from at Portrush and the beach. This beach tends to be peaceful and relaxed at sunset, but fun-filled and vibrant during the day.

 Getting to West Strand Beach

Portrush West Strand Beach is is situated only a short walk from portrush train station, where there are hourly services to Coleraine, where you can get connecting trains to Belfast, Derry and Dublin. There is also a daily bus service that provide easy access to the busy seaside resort and the famous west bay beach

White Rocks Portrush

The east strand beach at Whiterocks Portrush along the Causeway Coastal Route is ideally situated adjoining East Strand, and between them, they form a 3 mile golden sandy beach, just outside the small town of Portrush. Whiterocks beach frequently attains the prestigious Blue Flag award, and the long wide beach, sweeping golden sands, giant sand dunes, and crashing ocean waves make this stunning natural location one of nature’s gorgeous playgrounds.

Portrush Coastal zone is also home to many coastal and marine exhibitions.

Portrush White Rocks Beach

The Whiterocks beach is safe and clean, and provides a vibe that is completely different from the two Strands in town. Whiterocks is an idyllic spot for people of all ages, and is well loved by water sports enthusiasts for boating, surfing, swimming, diving, paddle boarding, surf kayakers, horse riding, fishing, and many other types of watersports.

There are Lifeguards on duty at Whiterocks Beach in high season between June 21 and September 7 daily between 11 am and 7 pm, and on the weekends in May and June.

The east strand at Whiterocks Beach is accessed via a narrow access road from the A2. The drive winds down to the ocean, and there are a number of picnic and free car parking spots and a large car park on the way down. Shower and toilet facilities are available at the bottom. Whiterocks can be reached by taking a bus, biking, or walking.

Especially children fall in love with this beach as there are so many things to stir their instinctual love of nature and stimulate their imagination.

Running free and wild down the dunes, climbing on the black rocks at the edge of the ocean, building sand castles, swimming, throwing a Frisbee, just about anything is possible.

Whiterocks Beach

Magical experiences that we all treasure so much can easily be created right here at Whiterocks Beach on the Causeway Coast. The huge white limestone cliffs are covered with grass and are the origin of the beach’s name. They are truly majestic and at times run in double tiers. The rocky area continues around the coastline up to Dunluce Castle. Hunt around the sedimentary rocks below for caves that can be explored, or those that are not water sports enthusiasts simply relax and enjoy the views of the headlands that jut out into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Whiterocks Coastal park enjoys a stunning natural location with the majestic limestone cliffs stretching all the way from Curran Strand to Dunluce. These cliffs have formed any fascinating shapes of the years which are well worth exploring, including the wishing arch Elephant Rock. Apart from the elephant rock, there is also the Lion’s Paw and among the many caves and arches Shelagh’s Head the wishing arch can be found.

Panoramic views of the Islands of Scotland, Donegal and the Causeway Coast

The headlands and limestone cliffs at Whiterocks Beach offer spectacular views of the islands of Scotland, Donegal and the Causeway Coast, and have been designated as an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI).

At Magheracross, a custom built area allows sensational views of Whiterocks and Portrush in one direction, and the Dunluce Castle in the other. This is a perfect setting to watch the sunset.

The closest place to get some food is at the Royal Court Hotel, which is located across from the access road to the beach and overlooks the Whiterocks.

They have a restaurant and licensed bar that serves snacks and meals daily.

Getting to White Rocks

White Rocks is only a short drive along the magnificent coastal drive past Royal Portrush Golf Club, home to the Open championship, from Portrush County Antrim. Car parking is a available in the small main car park and Portrush whiterocks car park.

You can also walk along east strand to curran strand to dunluce castle, where you will see the lion’s paw are headlands of distinguishable forms which rise out along the north coast.