Best for: Outdoorsy types, looking for iconic Irish landscapes
The journey: 130 miles
Belfast – Derry
Begin in Belfast. Hugging the Atlantic coast, Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route has earned its title as one of the world’s great road journeys – hire a car and watch Ireland’s iconic landscape unfold. Only 20 miles out, the towering basalt Gobbins cliff path clings to the water’s edge and can be walked in good weather. Stop to journey across the striking tubular bridge on foot and navigate your way through walkways carved into the rocks. Follow the coast around to Cushendun Caves and stop at Glenarm for a cream tea or head inland to Glenariff Forest Park’s spectacular waterfalls.
Cross the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge to Carrick-a-Rede Island. This 20-metre journey, suspended 30 metres above the ocean, exposes you to all the elements – but the stunning views of Rathlin Island and beyond make it all worthwhile. Catch your first glimpse of the truly spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site, Giant’s Causeway. The basalt columns (all 40,000 of them) tumble into the Atlantic Ocean, inspiring tales of giants. Lunch in the village of Bushmills, or stop at the Old Bushmills Distillery for a souvenir bottle of their distinctive single malt whiskey. Pause to take in the beauty of Dunluce Castle, as dramatic and distressed as its raw coastal backdrop.
Where to stay: The FitzWilliam Hotel in Belfast, a boutique hotel with a great location. A luxury theme runs throughout, from the plush accommodation to the trendy cocktail bar and nearby Grand Opera House. Stay at the City Hotel Derry, for an idyllic setting, a stone’s throw from Derry’s historic sights and buzzing city life.
Catch your first glimpse of the truly spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site, Giant’s Causeway. The basalt columns (all 40,000 of them) tumble into the Atlantic Ocean, inspiring tales of giants.