Planning a road trip in Northern Ireland? This is your guide to understand what to see in 2 days. It’s a short time but with a car, a lot can be done as everything is situated within short distances. This was a great weekend getaway from London!
Northern Ireland, even for the non Game of Throne watchers is a great place to visit to soak in the scenic landscapes. The causeway coastal route has so many beautiful scenic drives – Northern Ireland is just incredible to visit for a road trip,
There are 2 airports in Belfast and I flew into Belfast International Airport (BFS). From here, I rented a car straight away and set off for a road trip through beautiful NI. You can rent a car from Sixt or any of the other major rental car companies.
Staying in a castle is a must! Ballygally Castle was is only 30 minutes from Belfast so I opted to stay here + it’s haunted apparently (spooky!) They have a “ghost room” where you can visit – a woman jumped to her death from this room because her husband locked her up there.
There was free parking here which made it easy to have a rental and explore the nearby places.
Road Trip Northern Ireland Day 1
Stop 1: Ballycastle
🕐Need 3 hours here including lunch.
🚗Parking was simple and cheap. There’s a car park on Ann Street right in the center of the town.
The town of Ballycastle is charming and cute. Just wander along and look at the pretty storefront facades. Every store was so perfectly adorable from the outside. I also stumbled upon a flower shop called the Ballycastle Garden Center. It had a nice garden as you can see in the pictures below.
Also, if you want to eat at a nice place this town is your best bet as it’s where most of the restaraunts are. I enjoyed breakfast at Thyme & Co. Then, came back at the end of the road trip to have dinner at The Diamond Bar as it was the only place that did not require a reservation (it is really good too!). Most places were full and needed a reservation – the town was quite busy at night.
Ursa Minor – bakery, great for breakfast
Thyme & co – another great breakfast spot
The Diamond Bar: a pub with really great food. Try the delicious goujons which are the same thing as fried chicken tenders!
Stop 2: Kinbane Castle
This was probably one of the prettiest stops. The castle is really tiny as you can see – its perched on a small peninsula with amazing sea views. Be sure to walk up all the way to the top! The castle was built in 1547 and is made of white limestone which gives it its name.
🕐Around 30 minutes
🚗There’s a parking lot right outside the walkway to the entrance.
Stop 3: Dark Hedges
The Dark Hedges is an avenue of large beech trees, which were planted by James Stuart to impress visitors arriving to the Gracehill House. It has become an exploding famous destination after being seen on Game of Thrones. Be sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds or go in the afternoon around 3 when it all settles down.
🕐Around 20 minutes
🚗There’s a paid parking lot at The Hedges Hotel. It is located just a two-minute walk from the Dark Hedges, along with the marked path.
Stop 4: Dunluce Castle
Danluce Castle is a now-ruined, medieval castle and the seat of the Clan McDonnell.
🚗There’s a free parking lot right outside the entrance.
🕐Only 5 minutes since I made the mistake of arriving here after it was closed so I could only see it from the outside! Be sure to check closing times and go before 5pm! The tickets are €5.50.
Stop 5: Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a rope bridge connected by 2 cliffs over the Atlantic Ocean.It was built over 250 years ago by fishermen and is suspended over 100 ft of water – oh my!
🕐Around 2-3 hours. This was probably the longest stop as the bridge was a bit of a walk from the entrance.
🚗There’s a parking lot right outside the entrance. However, if the place is closed you can park right past it on the street and still enter and walk your way up.
Unfortunately, the bridge was closed when I visited. Maybe this was a good thing because it seems a bit scary but I think I could have braved crossing it! You can still visit the bridge even if it’s closed and take a picture from the outside as you see above. If it’s open and you do want to go there’s a charge of €9.
Stop 6: Giant’s Causeway
Probably the most famous site across Northern Ireland is the Giant’s Causeway.
It is a natural formation of stones consisting of 400,000 interlocking basalt columns made from an ancient volcanic eruption.
🕐Around 1 hour. Go at sunset!
🚗There’s a parking lot right before you enter the pathway down to the Giant Causeway. Entrance is free.
I recommend going here at sunset to admire the pretty views.
Road Trip Northern Ireland Day 2
Stop 7: Blackhead Lighthouse
Blackhead Lighthouse was built at the turn of the 20th century, near Whitehead in County Antrim.
🕐Around an hour and half
🚗Don’t follow google maps to the lighthouse as it will send you to a road you aren’t allowed to drive to. Make sure you set your GPS to the free parking lot here and then you need to walk 1/2 mile to the lighthouse which takes a minimum of 30 minutes.
On the way back to Belfast, this lighthouse is worth a stop. Especially because the walk down leads to some stunning views.
Stop 8: Belfast
Belfast is Northern Ireland’s capital and known as the birthplace of the RMS Titanic.
🕐Around 4 to 5 hours including lunch.
🚗There’s a parking lot at Victoria Square.
Belfast was the last stop and would be great for brunch and a few activities before jetting back home.
♡ I would definitely stop by the Botanical Gardens in Belfast as it was a beautiful free park with lots of beautiful flowers and plants all around.
♡ Visit the site where the famous Titanic was built.
♡ Enjoy a 360 view at the dome located at the top of the Victoria Square Shopping Center.
♡ St George’s Market: Open Friday to Sunday it is Belfast’s oldest attraction and one of the best markets in the UK and Ireland.
♡ Have a drink at the Duke of York and peruse Commercial Court, a really uniquely decorated street.
The Pocket: Don’t make my mistake! they moved location and I went to the one on google maps which sadly didn’t exist.
Hadski: really great food!
Crown Liquor Saloon