What it's like
If you walk the Causeway Coastal path first, then almost anything else you do in Ireland will be slightly inferior - that’s how special it is. And there’s much else to detain you on the north coast: the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery at Bushmills; Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge; and Portrush’s fabulous beaches and cheesy entertainments.
The Antrim Hills are less frequently walked, but are certainly charming. They’re bleak; they’re boggy; but they give you that wonderful feeling of being away-from-it-all, even though you’re rarely more than a few miles from a village. There are two well-marked trails (The Moyle Way and The
Antrim Hills Way) which will give you a good feel for the area. At just over twenty miles each they can both be done comfortably in a short break.
You’re never far from evidence of the Antrim Plateau’s volcanic past. From the Sallagh Braes near Larne, to Slemish - the dolerite plug where St Patrick once tended sheep - to Fair Head, looming over Rathlin Island. And, of course, the famous Giant’s Causeway itself.
It’s hard to resist Belfast. It’s well worth doing one of the various trails around this troubled city. Perhaps best is the public art trail from the Lagan Lookout, down the riverside and linking up with the towpath which will take the enthusiastic to Lisburn.
Tours of Belfast’s murals are well-established diversions: a sign of the times is that one of the more recent glorifies not gunmen but the David Healy goal that sank England.
- The Causeway Coast Way If you don't fancy the full 33 miles, the ten-mile stretch from Ballintoy to the world-famous Giant's Causeway must be one of the very best coastal walks in the British Isles.
- From Carnlough to Glenariff Relatively short stretch of the Ulster Way which crosses isolated moorland to the Queen of the Antrim glens for marvellous views.
- Cave Hill For incomparable views of Belfast, Cave Hill is the spot - whether you just want a short walk in the country park or to traverse all the Belfast Hills to Black Hill
Must see and do
- Visit Rathlin Island NI's only inhabited island, home to seabird reserve and seal colony. www.antrim.net/rathlin/
- Eat some dulse Local delicacy of edible seaweed. A bit like chewing an old salty balloon.
- See the Tropical Ravine in Belfast's Botanical Gardens A wonderfully musty old glasshouse that brings a little bit of the jungle to Ulster's capital city. www.belfastcity.gov.uk/parksandopenspaces/tropicalravine
Destination County : Antrim