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Road Trips in Northern Ireland

Jump in your car and discover hidden gems, geological wonders of the world, secluded bays and real-life fantasy locations, just a short drive from Belfast. Here are some of our top road trip suggestions.

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Giant's Causeway and Coastal Road Trip

Image: @storytravelers

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County Antrim’s Causeway Coastal Route runs north from Larne, and is the gateway to the Nine Glens of Antrim with Glenariff Forest Park at its heart. On the north coast you’ll find the Giant’s Causeway, one of only two World Heritage Sites in Northern Ireland. Nearby, challenge yourself to cross the 100 feet (30 metres) high Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, first erected by salmon fishermen 350 years ago.

Old Bushmills Distillery is Ireland’s oldest working whiskey distillery. Watch whiskey making and enjoy a wee taster too. Experience a guided tour and discover some of the trade secrets from over 400 years of distilling. See the ruined splendor of Dunluce Castle before visiting Downhill Demesne, with spectacular views over the sea and Mussenden Temple perched on the edge of the cliffs.

Rathlin Island

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Rathlin Island is Northern Ireland’s only inhabited island and is also home to one of the largest seabird colonies. Take the Rathlin Ferry Service from Ballycastle in County Antrim, with up to ten sailings a day in the summer season. As well as the amazing wildlife spectacle, visitors can explore the lighthouse, which is a spectacular feat of engineering. The Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre, perched on the cliffs overlooking the colony, is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic tourist destinations. In summer, the seabird colony is a real assault on the senses with tens of thousands of birds, including puffins, razorbills, guillemots and kittiwakes, jostling for space on the cliff face. 

Lough Neagh

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Lough Neagh is the largest fresh water lake in the British Isles, said to have been formed by the mythical giant Finn McCool during his clash with Scottish rival Benandonar. An Area of Special Scientific Interest, visit the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre at Oxford Island, where you'll find tourist information, bird watching facilities, woodland, ponds, wildflower meadows and picnic and play areas. Enjoy stunning panoramic views of the lough from the lough side cafe at Antrim Lough Shore Park.

Take a Lough Neagh Tour, departing from Belfast city centre to the shores of Lough Neagh, an area world renowned for its folklore, flora, fauna and eel, guests are transported to an untapped wilderness likened to the Florida Everglades. Experience this untouched landscape, meet the locals and to sample the unique charm and fantastic culinary delights. Read more >>

Seamus Heaney HomePlace 

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Take a trip to Bellaghy in County Londonderry and step into Seamus Heaney HomePlace, which celebrates the life and legacy of the Nobel prize-winning poet. Standing at the heart of the place and people which so inspired him, HomePlace includes a stunning exhibition which interprets Seamus Heaney’s work. It's filled with personal stories and artefacts, dozens of family photographs, video recordings from friends, neighbours and cultural figures, and the voice of the poet himself reading his own words. Read more >>

Nearby attractions include The Jungle, a 20 minute drive away, which promises exhilarating experiences like zorbing and high wire tree top adventure as well as overnight accommodation in the form of glamping pods with BBQ facilities and hot tubs. A 25 minute drive north east will bring you to the luxurious Galgorm Resort and Spa. Stay the night and indulge in a session at their outdoor Thermal Village Spa and 9 hole golf course.

Explore County Tyrone 

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Immerse yourself in the story of Irish emigration at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh. From the thatched cottages of Ulster and a full scale emigrant sailing ship to the log cabins of the American Frontier, experience what life was like during the 18th and 19th centuries in Ulster. Meet costumed characters on your way around, with traditional crafts to show, tales to tell and food to share. Notable buildings include the famous Mellon Homestead, as well as buildings from America which have been relocated to the museum. Read more >>

Keep the adventure alive with a trip to Todd's Leap, an outdoor activity centre just 30 minutes from the Ulster American Folk Park. Try off-road driving, paintball, clay pigeon shooting, zip lines, body zorbing and many more adrenaline-fuelled activities.

Just over 10 minutes away from Ulster American Folk Park, discover the gateway to the Sperrin Mountains in Gortin Glen Forest Park. Join the Ulsterway walking path, waymarked trails or the five mile drive within the park that offers breathtaking views.

Fermanagh Lakelands 

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Visit Florence Court nestled in the majestic setting of the County Fermanagh countryside. Explore the extensive estate through landscaped grounds, forest trails and the well-kept Walled Garden. Take a guided tour of the stunning Georgian mansion and hear stories about the Cole family that lived there for over 250 years. Every aspect of life in this classical Irish house, with its fine interiors and exquisite decoration, are brought to life. Outside there are numerous places to explore including a sawmill, forge, ice house and thatched summer house.

Stay under the stars at Finn Lough Resort in Enniskillen, where you can enjoy sunset drinks around a fire pit and sleep in a bubble dome! With activities like fishing, cycling, tennis and watersports there's plenty to keep the whole family entertained.

The Gobbins 

The Gobbins is a unique coastal experience, a reimagined ‘best kept secret’ along Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route. Walking the cliff path is an adventure that will excite all the senses. The dramatic and challenging two-mile-long cliff-face path includes spectacular tubular and suspension bridges, caves, steps, and tunnels that are all carved through the rock. The Gobbins is a fascinating attraction that is soaked in heritage and offers visitors breath-taking views of the rugged North Coast. Read more >>

Strangford Lough 

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Embark on a road trip to explore the beautiful Strangford Lough and Ards Peninsula. Stop off at Mount Stewart which has one of the most inspiring and unusual gardens in the National Trust's ownership. Take a tour of the opulent house and discover fascinating heritage, history and artworks as well as magnificent views from Temple of the Winds. Take the ferry from Portaferry to Strangford, which takes both foot and car passengers, sailing every day of the year except Christmas Day. 

From one magnificent house to another, continue your journey to Castle Ward which boasts spectacular views of Strangford Lough. Learn about the heritage of the family who lived there, dress up in Victorian clothes and walk the woodland pathways. Castle Ward is also the location for Winterfell Castle in the HBO hit television show Game of Thrones, and you can explore the location by bike, try archery and even meet the direwolves with Winterfell Tours

On your return journey to Belfast, you'll pass Castle Espie Wildlife and Wetlands Centre. Nestled in a tranquil setting, Castle Espie offers great views of Strangford Lough and is home to Ireland's largest collection of native and exotic water-birds.

Game of Thrones

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Game of Thrones is one of the most popular and successful fantasy TV series ever made. Our rugged coast lines, historic castles and breathtaking scenery are the perfect setting for this epic story. Filming took place in the Titanic Studios in Belfast and across various locations throughout Northern Ireland including the Cushendun Caves, Murlough Bay, Ballintoy Harbour, Larrybane, Antrim plateau, Castle Ward, Inch Abbey and Downhill Strand. Get the full experience and tour the filming locations while you're here. Read more >>

Hire a campervan from Bunk Campers and journey to the heart of Westeros, with your transport and accomodation in one. Enjoy the freedom and independence of your campervan as you tour from Winterfell to the King's Road and the Isle of Pyke in your home on wheels. Read more >>

Discover St Patrick 

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Discover the legacy of St Patrick on this 92 mile driving route that links sites connected to the Irish Patron Saint. The Saint Patrick Centre situated below Patrick's burial site in Downpartick is an interactive exhibition about his life. Visit Down County Museum, located within the walls of the former county gaol, and discover the past through the story of St Patrick and the human and natural history of the region.  

Famed in legend and folklore as the seat of kings, Armagh was chosen by Saint Patrick as the centre of Christianity. Today there are two cathedrals, both named after the Saint. Enjoy the scenery in the county, from the peaty shores of Lough Neagh to the orchard regions around Portadown and Loughgall. Download the St Patrick's Trail Guide >>

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