This is a blog post that i am so ecstatic to share with you all. I had the most magical trip across Antrim’s coast. This trip encompassed so many things that i enjoy from Game of Thrones, Gaelic Mythology to road trip style adventures. The views along the route were something that ill remember forever and the fun i had with my boyfriend as we clumsily tried to find random locations along the route, up tiny bending off roads.
Game of Thrones is probably one of my all time favourite shows, excluding the last season. Which broke my heart ! As an Irish girl living in Ireland, it seemed like absolute madness that I never visited all the major filming locations. They are on my doorstep, mostly free and famous for their natural beauty. Seeing most of the major filming locations was such an amazing way to finish off the decade. I’m delighted that The Causeway Coast was the final trip of the decade too and I couldn’t recommend it more. If your looking for a memorable Irish trip in 2020, look no further than Northern Ireland and the charming coast of County Antrim.
This was a four day excursion from Dublin, Belfast then along the entire North/West Coast towards Portrush. Part one of the trip is documented in detail in the below post called ‘Beaming Belfast’. Be sure to have a read of the 24 hours in Belfast where I visited all the major sites and enjoyed the Belfast Christmas Markets.
Our route; After an amazing 24 hours in Belfast City we left and made our way to Carrickfergus then to Ballycastle. Eventually finishing up all the way over the coast route to the pristine beaches of Portrush .. See the map below
- Carrickfergus Town and Castle – One of Ireland’s oldest towns as a whole and a castle that is 800 years old.
- The Polar Bear of Ballygalley
- Murlough Bay – Mind blowing and remote beauty overlooking cliffs and water of Fair Head and Torr Head. This location is also known as Slavers Bay in Game of Thrones where Tyrion & Ser Jorah are discovered by a slave ship and after captured.
- The Vanishing Lake of Loughareema
- Cushendun Caves – Also known as the shore of The Stormlands in Game of Thrones, where the witch Melisandre gives birth to the shadow monster. Also be aware that google maps will bring yo up a tiny road right upto the location, but i would really recommend parking your car somewhere off this side road. Its handy that it brings your right up but its almost IMPOSSIBLE to get back. Very little room to do a 3 point turn, turned into a 20 point turn and if you reverse back you will be reversing onto a sharp bending main road.
- Ballycastle Town – We had a lovely meal at Central Wine Bar right in the town. We were lucky to be there on their 50% back night.
The Bushmills Inn Hotel
Located in the village of Bushmills, perfectly situated along the Causeway Coast. This was a little bit of a luxurious treat for us, but something we felt we deserved after a year of hard work. It was romantic, warm and unique. Not like your usual boring and sterile hotel, this had true character and charm. The hotel was also only a stones throw away from The Bushmills Distillery, meaning you can take a short walk back after a few glasses of whiskey. This 4 star luxurious retreat dates back to 1600’s and is filled with history. This multi-award winning hotel has it all, a secret library, a cinema in house and AA Rosette winning restaurant. What i liked most about this hotel was it had all the frills you would hope for in a award winning location, but it also didn’t have the uncomfortable snobbery, it felt like home.
I love anything unconventional and The Bushmills Inn Hotel certainly delivered
I also wanted to mention our experience in the renowned restaurant at the hotel. We spent £95 in total for our evening of indulgence and what really stood out for me was not only the quality of the food on offer (which you would absolutely expect) but the variety of options for both vegetarian’s (like myself) and vegans. Usually one could expect one decent dish on offer but The Bushmills Restaurant had several across starters, mains and desserts.
Here’s what we ordered
Vegetable katsu curry (vegan) crusted courgette, roast aubergine and red pepper, coconut and lime rice, pickled shallot and radish, watercress & Roast breast of duck – Tandoori spiced, served with pineapple and pomegranate, lime pickle, crispy puffed rice, coconut cream
Cheese experience straight after dinner
A fine selection of Irish cheeses. with grapes, red onion & plum chutney and cheese biscuits
Dessert to share
Sticky toffee pudding with a rich toffee sauce and fresh cream (It is of the upmost importance to order this dessert if you visit)
I also enjoyed a half bottle of red wine and a glass of baileys to compliment my dessert and Alex enjoyed two pints of local craft ale.
To book a night at The Bushmills Inn please follow the link here https://www.bushmillsinn.com/
The Bushmills Inn & Hotel also does some incredible special offers and packages, for anyone who loves a bargain.
- Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge – This was our first major destination today, and we made it our business to hit the road as early as possible. We left Ballycastle and made our way to the tourist site before major crowds. There is an incredible walk way along the cliffs up to the rope bride gates, less than an hour. The bride was man-made 250 years ago and it is optional if you want to pay to cross the bridge or simply enjoy the walk up to the bride which is free.
- The Giants Causeway – This is a MUST visit in Ireland. Given the fact we left so early we decided to have a full Irish breakfast at the Causeway Hotel, which is located right beside the entrance to The Giants Causeway. I have to say this worked out amazing and absolutely unintentional, the breakfast was delicious and we also then got free parking as a result. It is optional to drop into The Giants Causeway Visitor Centre and for those who don’t you can access The UNESCO World Site for free by walking through the car park tunnel.
- The Old Bushmills Distillery – If you are a whiskey lover like me then you cannot do a Northern Ireland trip without dropping in for a full tour of The Bushmills Distillery. It opened in 1784 and is named after the town of Bushmills. I had so much fun here and it was a real delight to visit during the build up to Christmas as they had beautiful festive drinks on offer. The tour lasts roughly 40 minutes and costs £9 per adult, which is well worth it ! For more info and to book a tour follow the link here; https://bushmills.com/distillery/
This was our last day and rather than just heading home, we decided to make the most of every hour that we had. We decided to wake up before breakfast at The Bushsmill’s Inn Hotel and head towards the major sites around us.
- The Dark Hedges – This is a NOT TO MISS location if you are exploring Northern Ireland and The Causeway Coast. If you are a Game of Thrones you will know this is the famous location of The King’s Road. After much research we decided to be there insanely early to avoid the crazy crowds in the hope of capturing a very special photo. We were literally there waiting for the sun to come up and when it did, just wow ! It was so worth it and we shared the site with only one other photographer. Make sure to preserve the site by parking at the hotel called The Hedges Hotel, which offers a 2 minute walk way to the tree’s.
- Dunluce Castle – A beautiful medieval castle in ruins. It is also on Game of Thrones as Castle Greyjoy.
- White Rocks Beach, Portrush – There is several beaches close by but we decided to end our trip at this stunning beach. Well worth bringing a good pair of boots and walking the length of Whiterock’s Beach.
Huge thank you to The Bushmills Inn Hotel for offering me a media discount on the cost of my stay at their hotel, it was a pleasure to stay with them. Also thank you to The Bushmills Distillery for complementary tour passes. This in no way impacts the authenticity of this blog post or its content.