A Guide to Portstewart: Discovering the Hidden Gems of Northern Ireland’s Coastal Jewel
Nestled along the rugged shores of Northern Irelands Causeway Coast. A haven for both the adventurer and the solace-seeker, this picturesque town is a must-visit on the Causeway Coast. As the waves crash against the golden sands of Portstewart Strand and the sun sets behind the iconic Dominican College, one can’t help but be captivated by the town’s ethereal beauty. Whether you’re tracing the footsteps of ancient settlers, indulging in local delicacies, getting an ice-cream from Morellis or simply breathing in the salty sea breeze, Portstewart promises an unforgettable experience
Portstewart Crescent is a charming coastal area situated in Northern Ireland, specifically in Portstewart.
The promenade in Portstewart is a picturesque walkway along the coast of Northern Ireland. Stretching over a two-mile distance, it offers breathtaking views of the North Coast of Northern Ireland.
As you stroll along the promenade, you can appreciate the natural beauty of Portstewart Strand, a stunning beach that attracts visitors from near and far. The golden sands and crashing waves create a serene atmosphere, perfect for a peaceful retreat or a fun-filled day with family and friends. The promenade also provides easy access to other notable attractions in the area, such as the historic Mussenden Temple and the quaint Barmouth, a charming little town offering its own unique charm. Whether you’re taking a leisurely walk or simply enjoying the refreshing sea breeze, the promenade in Portstewart is a delightful spot to explore.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the promenade in Portstewart during your visit to County Londonderry. It’s the perfect place to soak in the beauty of the coast and immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Northern Ireland. From relaxing beach strolls to admiring the rugged cliffs, the promenade offers a variety of activities for visitors of all ages. So, lace up your walking shoes and discover the wonders that await you along the promenade in Portstewart.
Nestled on the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland, the charming seaside town of Portstewart boasts a picturesque harbour that is a must-visit for anyone exploring the area. Situated at the heart of Portstewart, the harbour offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the renowned Portstewart Crescent and the nearby Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the bustling promenade, lined with quaint shops and cafes, or watch as fishing boats sail in and out of the harbour, their catches of the day bringing life to this vibrant coastal community.
In addition to its idyllic waterfront location, Portstewart Harbour serves as a convenient hub for exploring the wider region. Just a short drive away, visitors can explore the vibrant town centre of Portrush, known for its lively atmosphere and popular attractions such as the Royal Portrush Golf Club. The nearby towns of Coleraine and Londonderry offer further opportunities for exploration, with their rich history and cultural heritage. For those seeking a taste of city life, Belfast is within easy reach, offering a plethora of museums, galleries, and vibrant city streets to wander. With its charming harbour and its strategic location along the coast, Portstewart Harbour is a gateway to an array of exciting experiences along the stunning coast of Northern Ireland.
The Cliff Path
The Cliff Path offers breathtaking views and a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. This picturesque trail winds its way from Portstewart Strand to the charming town of Castlerock, showcasing the natural beauty of the area. As you stroll along the path, you can marvel at the golden sand dunes of Portstewart Strand on one side and the majestic cliffs on the other. The Cliff Path is a hidden gem that is perfect for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
The Cliff Path provides a unique opportunity to explore the stunning coastline and immerse yourself in the rich history of the area. Along the trail, you will discover remnants of ancient castles and fortifications, adding a touch of intrigue to your journey. As you make your way closer to Castlerock, the path meanders through lush green fields and panoramic vistas, offering a true sense of tranquility. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply looking for a leisurely stroll, The Cliff Path is an experience not to be missed during your visit to Portstewart.
The Portstewart Strand is one of Portstewart’s most beloved attractions. Located on the coast of Northern Ireland, this stunning stretch of beach captivates visitors with its golden sands and breathtaking views of the North Coast. Whether you’re a local resident or a tourist visiting Portstewart, a leisurely stroll along the Portstewart Strand is an absolute must.
One of the best ways to enjoy the Portstewart Strand is by taking a walk along the nearby Cliff Path. This scenic route provides a mesmerizing panorama of the coastline, offering glimpses of the rugged cliffs and crashing waves. As you make your way along the path, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore some hidden gems, such as O’Hara’s Castle, which is nestled on the cliffside.
The Portstewart Strand has something to offer year-round. During the warmer months, it’s the ideal spot for sunbathing, picnicking, or even trying your hand at water sports. The beach’s close proximity to the town center of Portstewart means you can easily grab a refreshing ice cream cone from one of the parlors on the bustling Portstewart Promenade before settling down on the sand. And even in the cooler months, the Portstewart Strand remains a captivating destination, with its tranquil atmosphere and the opportunity to take long, peaceful walks along the vast shoreline.
As one of Northern Ireland’s designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Portstewart Strand is a true gem of the region. Its pristine sand is one of Northern Ireland’s greatest assets, attracting visitors from near and far. Moreover, the beach is protected by the National Trust, ensuring its preservation for generations to come. So whether you’re a nature lover, a beach enthusiast, or simply seeking a relaxing environment to unwind, the Portstewart Strand is a destination not to be missed.
Portstewart Golf Club
Parks in Portstewart
Portstewart, a beautiful seaside town located on the stunning Lough Foyle, is home to several parks that offer visitors a chance to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. With its proximity to golf courses and its recognition by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Portstewart is a haven for nature lovers.
One of the most popular parks in Portstewart is the Portstewart Strand, which holds the prestigious Blue Flag for its inclusive beach. It is one of the finest beaches in Ireland where cars are still allowed, making it convenient for visitors to explore the coastline. The strand’s golden sands stretch for miles, providing ample space for relaxation and beach activities. Additionally, the beach offers stunning views of the surrounding coastline, creating a picturesque setting for a leisurely stroll.
Portstewart also has many places where visitors can unwind amidst nature. From the tranquil Portstewart Crescent to the scenic grounds of Dominican College, there are plenty of green spaces for families and individuals to enjoy. Whether you prefer a peaceful picnic or a brisk walk, these parks provide an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere of Portstewart.
From its prestigious Blue Flag beach to its charming parks, Portstewart offers a variety of options for outdoor enjoyment. Whether you are seeking relaxation or adventure, this seaside town has something for everyone to enjoy. So, when visiting Portstewart, be sure to take the time to explore these beautiful parks and immerse yourself in the natural splendor of this breathtaking coastal destination.
Where are the best places to eat in Portstewart
Portstewart is home to a variety of dining establishments that offer delectable cuisine combined with stunning views. For those seeking panoramic views, there are several options along the scenic coastal area. One notable spot is the promenade, which is lined with restaurants and cafes offering breathtaking vistas of the sea. Another must-visit is the harbor, where diners can savor their meal while enjoying the picturesque sight of boats bobbing in the water. For history buffs, a visit to O’Hara’s Castle is a must. This charming restaurant, built in 1834, not only serves delicious food but also provides a glimpse into Portstewart’s rich heritage.
If you’re in the mood for a day trip to explore the surrounding areas, Portstewart’s ideal location between Portrush and Coleraine makes it a convenient starting point. Just outside Portstewart lies the famous Portstewart Strand, where visitors can take a leisurely stroll along miles of golden sandy beaches. National Trust members can also enjoy access to Downhill Beach and Castlerock Beach, both situated within a short distance from Portstewart. Additionally, the nearby Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the Pleasure Beach in Portrush offer exciting attractions for a fun-filled day trip. When the sun sets, Portstewart’s nightlife scene comes alive, with various pubs and bars offering a vibrant atmosphere for those looking to unwind and enjoy the local entertainment.
As you explore the mouth of Portstewart and the greater island of Ireland, rest assured that there are numerous culinary delights waiting to be discovered. From restaurants offering breathtaking views to those steeped in history, Portstewart boasts a diverse dining scene that caters to all tastes. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor, the gastronomic options in this charming coastal town are sure to leave a lasting impression. So, hop in your car or set off on foot to explore the best places to eat in Portstewart and indulge in a truly memorable dining experience.
Where to stay while visiting Portstewart
Portstewart is a popular holiday destination in Northern Ireland, known for its beautiful coastline and important natural attractions. The town offers a range of accommodation options for visitors looking to stay and fully enjoy all that Portstewart has to offer.
When it comes to finding a place to stay in Portstewart, one of the town’s highlights is its proximity to the stunning Portstewart Strand. This blue flag beach is considered one of Northern Ireland’s finest, with its long stretch of golden sand and crystal-clear waters. It’s important to note that cars must leave the beach by a certain time, as the beach will be closed to vehicles during the day. Along the beach, there are facilities for beach equipment loan, allowing visitors to make the most of their time on the sand. Additionally, staying close to the beach offers the convenience of being just a short distance from the town centre, where visitors can find a variety of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options, including the vibrant Aura Nightclub.
Portstewart provides a range of accommodation choices, catering to different preferences and budgets. Whether you’re seeking a luxury hotel experience or a cozy bed and breakfast, there are options to suit every traveler. Many of the accommodations in Portstewart boast stunning views of the coast and offer a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. With its simply amazing surroundings and one of Northern Ireland’s finest beaches, staying in Portstewart ensures a memorable and enjoyable visit to this charming seaside town.
Just a short distance from Portstewart, visitors can find a variety of nearby places that offer something for everyone. For those seeking some excitement and entertainment, the Havana Night Club is a popular destination. With its vibrant atmosphere and lively music, it is the perfect spot to dance the night away.
Nature enthusiasts will be delighted to discover the golden sand beach nearby. With its stunning views and crystal-clear waters, this beach is a haven for beachgoers, especially during the high season. Whether you prefer to relax on the sun-kissed sand or participate in various beach-related activities, this spectacular beach has it all.
Golf enthusiasts will rejoice, as numerous golf clubs are situated in the vicinity. These clubs provide excellent facilities and well-maintained courses, ensuring a memorable game for players of all skill levels. Additionally, some of these golf courses offer breathtaking views, nestled on the edge of a cliff, creating a unique and picturesque setting.
Castlerock is a small seaside village 5 miles west of Coleraine and the Western Gateway of the Causeway Coast route on the north coast of Northern Ireland. It is a perfect blend of the present and the past. This town has less than fifteen hundred inhabitants. Still, it attracts many visitors in the season due to a variety of places to visit, being nearby, a naturally beautiful landscape, and great amenities.
Castlerock is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and it starts at the lower River Bann estuary, 5 miles west of Coleraine, in the direction of Londonderry and Limavady.
It is within the Benevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is surrounded by nature in many forms.
There is a small selection of tea shops, local shops, pubs, and restaurants, as well as a Community Centre and Village Green in the heart of the town.
The exceptional Blue Flag beaches at Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, and the excellent championship golf course draw visitors each year.
Castlerock’s Heritage and Architecture
Castlerock’s remaining architecture demonstrates its Settlement History. A Heritage walking tour in town showcases many late 19th century buildings, including The Villas (1860), the Presbyterian Church (1880), Castlerock Train Station (1853), and Twelve Apostles (1882), and Christ Church (1882). The Tunnel and Railway were constructed in about 1845.
The famous row of Castlerock houses known as the “Twelve Apostles” is located above the beach. They are pretty small but cute inside, and several have been renovated and extended at the back to take advantage of the magical location.
Castlerock Beach and Castlerock Promenade
Castlerock beach, with its golden sand, is slightly less than a mile long, and the fresh air, breathtaking views, and friendly people make it well worth visiting. Castlerock’s dunes lie west of the lower River Bann estuary, with Portstewart Strand located on the other side of the estuary.
The Rural Beach Seaside Award was awarded to Castlerock Beach in 2014. The award is based on the 15 ‘Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful criteria. This environmental charity aims to make Northern Ireland a more pleasant and cleaner place to live.
Castlerock Beach is beautiful and the perfect environment to play with the kids, canoe, surf, swim, fish, ride horses, and more. Parking and toilets are available, and dogs are permitted at certain times of the year. Seasonal RNLI beach lifeguards are available from June 1 to September 15.
The Promenade offers opportunities to cycle and walks while enjoying the views of the Donegal hills. A winding walk down to Castlerock Beach is also available from Donegal hills. Exploring the small bays is a perfect way to reach the Promenade and central Castlerock Beach, while you can also climb rocks and fish in rock pools.
Castlerock by Train
Castlerock’s peaceful and relaxed holiday destination can be reached by train from Londonderry or Coleraine. The train station was opened in the mid-19th century and was one of the main catalysts for the growth of what was once only a tiny fishing hamlet.
The trip from Londonderry to Castlerock by train is fantastic, and it passes spectacular views of Inishowen, Donegal, and stunning scenery alongside Lough Foyle.
Before arriving at Castlerock Train Station, there is a long tunnel ride through Tunnel Brae. This is a unique and spectacular train ride; to a fortunate few, it’s their daily commute. Regular public bus service is also available.
Castlerock Golf Club
Castlerock Golf Club overlooks more than half of the dunes and main beach.
Castlerock is a championship course rated one of ‘Ireland’s finest courses. It was founded in 1901. The Golf Course is a peaceful haven set in the naturally beautiful landscape and offers nine holes on the Bann Course and 18 spots on the Mussenden Course.
A Pro Shop, Clubhouse, Bar, and Restaurant are also available.
Beaches Near Castlerock
Downhill Beach is below and to the west of Mussenden Temple and is the beginning of a seven-mile strand of dunes and sand, going all the way to Magilligan Point, where it ends at Benone Strand. This beach is one of Ireland’s longest and has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award.
It stretches to Donegal, Magilligan Point, and Lough Foyle ferry. It is possible to drive right onto the beach and park.
A walk near the west side of Tunnel Brae will take you towards Mussenden Temple high on the clifftop. If you’re fortunate enough, you may even see a train come speeding out from the tunnel. It’s an experience not easily forgotten.
One of the most popular beaches on the Causeway Coast, Benone Strand, attracts locals and visitors. The Benone Strand’s golden soft sandy beach stretches out for seven miles and offers spectacular views of Donegal and Benevenagh Mountain. Downhill and Mussenden Temple are in one direction, with Lough Foyle and Magilligan Point on the opposite side.
You can reach Lough Foyle and Magilligan Point via a leisurely walk along the peaceful and stunning beach.
This beach is also great for adventure sports like Kite Surfing, Jet Skiing, Surfing, and Gliding. A lifeguard is on duty during the high season from July to August. Dogs are not allowed on Benone Strand between May and September, but horse riding is available at certain times. Fishing, Canoeing, Cycling, Swimming, and Walking are open all year round.
The Magilligan area has both conservational and historical significance. Magilligan Point’s Martello Tower is an example of the small defensive forts built during the 19th century to defend against a possible attack by Napoleon’s forces. This 32-square-mile reserve is adjacent to Lough Foyle.
Hezlett House, One of the Oldest Buildings in
When driving to Castlerock via the main A2 turnoff, the 17th-century Hazlett House can be seen one mile south of the town on the corner of Sea Road.
This is a fantastic example of a well-preserved Thatched Cottage. At Halloween each year, the ancient cottage is transformed into a scary haunted house.
The National Trust now owns Hazlett House, and visitors can step back in time as they explore the well-manicured cottage grounds and the inside of the cottage to experience what life was like in the late 1600s. This is one of Northern Ireland’s oldest buildings, and hot drinks and snacks are offered at the reception area.
Maintained by the National Trust, Downhill Forest is located to the South East of Castlerock. The forest comprises 80 hectares of mixed woodland and is the perfect place to walk or orienteer at the permanent course. The Forest Café provides refreshments along the way.
C S Lewis
It is interesting to know that C. S. Lewis, the author of the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Lion, and other classics, a young child spent many holidays at Castlerock travelling from Belfast. It is effortless to envisage that his imagination was sparked by the surrounding environment’s majesty, myth, and heritage.
Close to Downhill Estate’s second entrance, you will find School Lane, where you can take a stroll through the grounds of the ruined home initially owned by Frederick Augustus Hervey. The historical Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demense were built in the late 1700s by the 4th Earl of Bristol high on the cliff tops in glorious surrounds overlooking the north Atlantic Ocean.
The Mussenden Temple sits perched right on the cliff’s edge with unparalleled inland, cliff, and coastal views. A visit here will be a treat for all your senses decadent and will stay with you for the rest of your life. It is a fantastic experience to stand in the spectacular circular stone building virtually hanging over the edge of a 280 ft. towering cliff.
Although the House is in ruins, mainly due to a fire in 1851, there is still enough to see to enable you to imagine the beautiful life in this Stately Home of its time. The National Trust has supplied numerous informative signs to help visitors paint the picture. There are breathtaking 360-degree views from this gorgeous location.
Downhill Demesne, sometimes called Downhill House, is a spectacular mansion built by the eccentric Earl Bishop in the 18th century. Majestically located within open grounds, it is an excellent destination for a day trip. The sheltered gardens of Hezlett House are ideally suited for a leisurely, enjoyable picnic.
On the edge of the cliffs that look over Downhill Strand, a circular stone building called Mussenden Temple is located. It is near Castlerock and within Downhill Demesne’s grounds. The Temple is open to the public around the year during the day and is run by the National Trust. Built in 1785, the Temple first served as a library, and its walls were once lined with bookcases.
Guide to Portrush
Welcome to the home of Portrush online, our fun-loving seaside town that grew from a humble fishing village into the top-rated holiday destination for Northern Ireland locals and those worldwide. Portrush County Antrim has been the place to holiday since Victorian times. With our beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and fantastic food, we know you’ll love it.
The Causeway Coast Holiday Capital!
In Portrush, you can have a peaceful or action-packed holiday with many attractions set in the spectacular Causeway Coast scenery, with something to please the entire family all year round! Situated just a short drive along the coast road from world heritage site The Giants Causeway, overlooked by the famous Dunluce Castle and bounded by Royal Portrush Golf Club
Home to around 7000 people who call Portrush county Antrim home, with students from the University of Ulster Coleraine campus and visitors to the Port increasing numbers up to more than 50,000 in the summer months.
open Year Round
Portrush, or Port Rois in old Irish, is set on a mile-long peninsula sticking out into the Atlantic Ocean, with stunning blue flag beaches on either side and a historically significant rocky edge for its northern tip to explore. Three main roads run parallel to form the peninsula’s spine. Running in a one-way system, the first road is Kerr Street from the train station to the Harbour, with the pedestrian area, Currys (Old Barry’s) Amusements, the largest amusement park in Northern Ireland and Portrush Harbour. The next round is Main Street with its arcades, restaurants, cafes and shops heading from Ramore Head to East Strand. Mark Street runs along the centre and has many fantastic homes and B&Bs. All three roads lead to Ramore Head at the point of the Portrush peninsula.
Explore Places To See around Portrush
Ramore Head is an Area of Scientific Special Interest. The original Portrush Rocks (not the painted versions you’ll find dotted around the town) were first “discovered” in 1799 by Reverend William Richardson and written about by the Royal Society.
This started a scientific debate between the Neptunes and the Plutonists that lasted for several decades. The Plutonists believed that all rocks came from volcanic magma, whereas the Neptunists thought the stones were formed from seawater.
The trail around Ramore Head is an excellent place to take in the stunning clifftop views to Donegal and Inishtrahull Lighthouse, North to the Scottish Islands of Islay and east to Rathlin Island and the Giants Causeway. Ramore Head is also a great place to see various birdlife, including many breeding populations of kittiwake, black guillemot and eider.
Between Easter and mid-October, the recreational facilities are open for tennis, bowls and a children’s Adventure Park. Ramore Head provides excellent enjoyment for the family, take a picnic and relax on the grass.
Portrush Harbour, just a short walk down from Ramore Head, was built-in 1827; however, it dates as far back as 1468 and was used up until the second world war, mostly for passenger steamers to and from Scotland. Now used primarily for fishing, leisure and home to the RNLI’s two lifeboats, the William Burr and The David Roulston. The Harbour is also home to many bars, cafes, and restaurants like The Famous Harbour Bar. You can also take a fishing and food tour from here to watch the surfers, swimmers and fishing boats go by on one of the benches.
A walk down Main Street, you’ll pass historic iconic buildings such as the ‘The White House, one of the world’s first mail-order stores with its first catalogue going out in the 1890s, The Belfast Bank Building, the Arcadia and the Londonderry Arms. There are lots to do, from traditional bingo, slots, and penny fall to excellent cafes and restaurants. The main street also links the Harbour and two of the three spectacular Portrush Beaches, West Strand & East Strand, leading onto White rocks beach and Royal Portrush Golf Club.
Blue Flag Beaches of Portrush
Portrush county Antrim is the only town in the UK with three blue flag beaches. Only eight in Northern Ireland have the award, the West Strand (Mill strand) and East Strand in town and White rocks on the coast towards Bushmills and Dunluce Castle. Each beach brings its own unique experience.
West Strand Beach Portrush
West Strand starts in town at the Harbour and stretches to ‘under the railway bridge towards Portstewart. All along the beach, a 1 km walking and cycle path offers stunning views of the town and Donegal. On both ends of the Strand there are large car parks and toilets.
This is a perfect beach for all water-related activities and walks for yourself and your dog!
The Strand is on the other side of the Portrush peninsula (Ramore Head). Behind the Arcadia This 2 miles long stretch of golden sands is perfect for swimming, walking (including dogs) and admiring the sweeping views. This golden sand stretch is also home to several international events such as the Portrush Airshow and has hosted large concerts.
The world-famous Royal Portrush Golf Club is next to the beach and ancient dunes. The Course was home to 2019 and soon to be the 2025 Open Championship, the most extensive Open by attendances to be held outside of St Andrews.
Whiterocks Beach Portrush
Whiterocks Beach provides a different vibe from the two ‘in town’ Strands. It is a continuation of the East Strand and is best known for its white limestone chalk cliffs between 142 and 65 million years old and Dunluce Castle views. The beach is accessed by walking, cycling or driving down the winding road to the shoreline car parks. This is a famous beach for surfing. Views from the cliff tops, beach and the Ocean are memorable.
Entertainment in Portrush
Currys (Barry’s) Amusements is probably Portrush’s most famous attraction, one of Ireland’s largest amusement parks. Barry is ideally situated between Portrush Railway Station, The Harbour and overlooking Mill Strand. Barry’s has been entertaining families since 1925 and is still thriving, providing hours of entertainment for all the family with the thrills of a ghost train, helter-skelter, cyclone, hobby horses, dodgems and roller coasters.
The Causeway International: Northern Ireland International Airshow’ is a two-day flagship air event held annually in September in the seaside town of Portrush The fantastic air displays on each day by the likes of the Red Arrows, Lancaster Bombers, and even aerial fireworks display plenty of entertainment on the ground in Portrush County Antrim.
North West 200
Each May, the town hosts part of the famous Motorbike Road Racing event, The Nw 200, established in 1929, held on a 9 mi (14 km) street circuit known as the Triangle between the towns Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush. The Course is one of the fastest globally, with average speeds of 120 mph (190 km/h) and top speeds over 210 mph (340 km/h). The NW 200 is the largest annual sporting event in Northern Ireland, with the race weekend attracting over 100 riders and 150,000 visitors worldwide.
This lively spot is the hub of local nightlife in the area. Kelly’s is ‘Northern Ireland’s Premier Night club’ based just outside Portrush town on the coastal road across from Royal Portrush Golf Club. It has a lot to offer with numerous nightclubs, including ‘Lush’ Nightclub, which hosts world-famous DJs. There is also the Deerstalker Hotel, Bar and Grill.
The town is filled in the summer and has an upbeat holiday vibe as families flock there. Portrush County Antrim is quieter in the winter, but you’ll still find the holiday atmosphere even in the colder weather.
Royal Portrush Golf Club
Portrush County is most definitely Irish the home of golf, with Royal Portrush golf course taking centre stage as the 2019 Open Championship home and the 2012 Irish Open. The world-famous Dunluce Links Royal Portrush Championship Golf Course is prestigiously placed right behind the East Strand beach with ancient sand dunes overlooked by Dunluce Castle ruins from where it takes its name. However, within a 20-minute drive, nearly a dozen more courses, including championship courses at Portstewart, Ballycastle and Castlerock, are well worth a round.
Attractions Near Portrush
The Giants Causeway
Just a few miles from Portrush coast lies the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s only world heritage site. This fascinating place is home to over 40000 interlocking hexagonal basalt columns that rise from the sea. An excellent visitor centre at the Causeway is operated by the National Trust. Here you can find out about and experience flora and fauna, the geology, the history and even the myths surrounding the Causeway. You can see Portrush from the end on a clear day if you are lucky.
Dunluce Castle is overlooking Portrush from the east, just along the Coast. Perch on a rocky outcrop, Dunluce castle has starred in many blockbusters but most recently in the HBO Series Game Of Thrones. The castle has spectacular views over Portrush, the Causeway Coast and the Atlantic Ocean.
Mussenden Temple & Downhill
Heading West from Portrush along the North Coast road is Mussenden Temple. The Temple is located in the stunning surroundings of Downhill Demesne on the North Coast of Ireland, not far from Castlerock in Co. Londonderry and only 15 minutes drive from Portrush. The Temple sits precariously on the edge of towering 120ft cliffs overlooking Loch Foyle and the Atlantic Sea towards Donegal and the Atlantic Ocean.
Ballycastle County Antrim in Northern Ireland is a small town on the Causeway Coast. Ballycastle lies between ancient rocks, forests, and glens. The town has five thousand inhabitants and is the Causeway Coast’s Eastern Gateway to the Causeway Coastal Route.
Eastern Gateway of the Causeway Coast
The town of Ballycastle is a popular tourist destination located 47 miles north of Belfast along the causeway coastal route, often known locally as the North Antrim Coast, and 19 miles East of Coleraine.
It is a perfect base for a Causeway Coast Holiday on the northern coast of Northern Ireland and is also a top-rated day-trip destination.
Auld Lammas Fair
Its age-old Auld Lammas Fair has made Ballycastle famous, and the festival celebrates the harvest. In August, the festival dates back to the 17th century and attracts more than 150,000 visitors from Northern Ireland and elsewhere to historic Ballycastle.
The Ould Lammas Fair is an exciting event to explore with hundreds of market stalls that offer all kinds of hand-crafted pieces, produce, and artisan wares. The harvest is celebrated with the music of all locations and types, delicious food choices, sweet and savoury, and many other fete festivities.
Baile a Chaistil
The Irish name of Ballycastle is ‘Baile a Chaistil’, which means the ‘town of the castle’.
The Blue Flag Ballycastle Beach (Strand) offers excellent views of the Mull of Kintyre and Rathlin Island just off the shore. Ballycastle Strand is slightly less than a mile long and is perfect for water sports, swimming and surfing. It is close to Ballycastle town, making it very popular with both visitors and locals. Although there is no seasonal lifeguard service at Ballycastle Strand, the beach is safe for swimming.
The West side of the beach begins at the Ballycastle Marina’s pier, where the Glenshesk River flows into the ocean. The Ballycastle Seafront is an exciting mixture of graciously rounded landscaped gardens running from the Marina to the Foot Bridge that crosses the Glenshesk River and leads to the main beach.
The Eastern end of Ballycastle beach is Pans Rock. This fascinating rocky outcrop juts out to the sea and is famous for fishing and rock climbing.
The Ballycastle Golf course offers a championship course with 18-holes and is open to both non-members and members around the year.
Ballycastle’s heritage is vibrant, and more than 50 buildings are listed within the ‘18th Century Conservation Area’. The Historic Buildings Council for Northern Ireland describes Ballycastle as having the biggest traditional shop frontages in Ireland. (http://www.hbcni.gov.uk/ (pdf)
One can easily walk around for hours to experience Ballycastle’s rich past by visiting its well-preserved old buildings. This experience is unequalled anywhere else in Ireland. The Georgian sandstone Holy Trinity Church can be found behind The Diamond, the heart of Ballycastle Town. It was built between 1752 and1756 and features sundial and clock spire faces.
Another building of interest is the Ballycastle Market House. This two-storey building dates back to about 1830.
The Ballycastle Museum contains loads of historical information about the town and is open every July and August.
Although mostly ruins, declared a State Care Historical Monument, Kinbane Castle is 5 kilometres from Ballycastle by the ocean’s edge on the road leading to Ballintoy Colla MacDonnell built the castle in 1547.
Bonamargy Friary, as Ballycastle Friary is also known, was established in 1485 and declared a State Care Historic Monument. Bonamargy Friary and the graves found there, such as several of the Earls of Antrim’s graves and Sorley Boy MacDonnell, have great historical significance. The Friary is situated on Ballycastle’s Golf Course, on Ballycastle and off Cushendall Road. From there, it is only a short walk to Ballycastle’s seafront.
There are many natural wonders in the area of which Fair Head is one. This impressive headland rises out of the bay and is 643 feet high, making it a significant rock-climbing location and offering outstanding natural beauty. The National Trust owns much of Fair Head’s areas and conserves its natural beauty.
The 1695 feet high heather-covered Knocklayde mountain offers breathtaking views over Ballycastle, Fair Head, Scotland, and Rathlin Island.
The Ballycastle Marina is Blue Flag rated, and the Ballycastle Harbour is still operating. The Marina is one of only 2 in Northern Ireland with this prestigious accolade. The Marina started in 1999, is situated within the inner harbour and has 74 berths. Toilets and parking are available, and the Ballycastle Visitor Information Centre is also located at the Marina.
Rathlin Island Ferry in County Antrim
The Rathlin Island Ferry Company currently operates between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle.
As the only inhabited offshore island of Northern Ireland, Rathlin has a population of just more than 100 inhabitants. Home to thirty different bird species, it is a Special Area of Conservation and is popular with Bird Watchers. Rathlin Island is the northernmost point of the Glens Area of Outstanding Beauty and the Antrim Coast.
Ballycastle Golf Club
The Guide to Coleraine
If you are planning to visit a place, extensive research is called for so that you may know what to expect. It is one way of managing your expectations since you end up knowing what the place has to offer. For those who are planning to visit Coleraine, here is a guide with details of everything you need to know about the town.
The Meaning of the Name
The name comes from the Irish word ‘Cúil Raithin,’ which means nook of the ferns. Thanks to its unique name, pristine beaches, and stunning design, the town has managed to attract tourists, and it is known to have numerous travellers from all over the world coming in to have a close look at the former district. The unique name it possesses was given to the town by St. Patrick. It is so far one of the peaceful towns on River Bann and in the Northern part of Ireland.
Population Of Coleraine
The region has seen a tremendous population growth due to its large size and fantastic position. According to the 2001 population census, the town had a population of 24,089. The number of people went up by a small percentage making it have a population of 24,634 in 2011. Due to its fast advancements, the town’s population is expected to go further once the next census finishes. Initially, the census of the area used to take place every five years. But that changed and now the population is taken after every ten years.
What type of Town is it?
The Northern town of Ireland is an incredible holiday resort. It is one of the few attractive places on the Causeway Coast. The area is known for its modish streets and fantastic hotels. It also has many recreational centres with an impressive landscape that most visitors find attractive. One of the reasons why the town is notable is because it is home to the biggest Barbour clothing seller in all of Ireland called the Smyths country sports. There are also excellent holiday hotels spanning all over the place, making it an ideal location to go and have fun with family or friends. Its lovely beaches and breathtaking coastlines are some of the reasons why it is one of the most attractive towns in Ireland.
How to get to Coleraine
The town is well connected with other major towns and cities thanks to its network of roads and railway lines. You can thus access it using a taxi, a bus or the train. The journey will only take you a couple of hours or minutes, depending on where you are coming from. For instance, from Portrush, the town is 5.7miles away. You can thus access it either using a train, which will take you 26minutes. Remember, the train leaves every 15minutes. By road, you can access the town either via A29 or via Gateside road. If you are coming from Castlerock, the city is 6.7miles away by road and 9.4miles by rail. You can also access the area from other towns like Ballycastle, Ballintoy, and Portstewart by road or railway.
Where is Coleraine?
The town is found in Ireland. It is one of the largest and smartest places in the county of Londonderry. It also belongs to the United Kingdom’s sovereign state, and it is one of the most toured areas in Northern Ireland. Being part of Causeway and Glens district, you can easily access the town using the available roads as well as the connected railway lines. It’s a busy town and also the place where the largest polish community exists.
The informal capital of the famous Causeway coast seats strategically at the lowest part of River Bann. Some of the famous places that surround the town include Limavady, Ballymoney, Armoy, Ballycastle, Ballyntoy, Portrush, and Castlerock, among many others. It is the strategic location that has made the town a famous place where most international and local visitors go to spend quality time.
In the west part of the town, there is hilly and wooded terrain. The slopes of the hills face the east of the hills face River Bann. Plenty of farming happens in the east of the town. That is where people rare livestock such as sheep and pigs and also plant various crops, including barley. There are other lovely places, more so North East of the Bann River has the Indian Ocean that contains reefs and a beautiful coastline that tends to attract crowds.
How to get to Coleraine from Belfast by Car, Train & Bus
Getting to the Town from Belfast is not only easy but also fast. There are three modes of transport that you can use to get there. They include using a car, rail, or bus. The distance between the two towns is 56.4miles. To access the town by rail, you have to go to the Europa bus centre where you are going to board a train. The train will take 1hour 45minutes due to the 15 stops it has to take before getting to the destination. You will then alight at the Coleraine Bus centre and walk or catch a cab to wherever you are going.
By car, there are two routes that you can take. The fastest way is via M2, which is 56.4miles away and takes 1hou 10minutes to get to your destination. There is also another route, which is via M2, and A54, and has a distance of 55.8miles apart. The journey will take you 1hour, 18minutes. The second route is only 8minutes slower. The good news about travelling from Belfast to the town is that there is no traffic and so you get to have a remarkable time on the road.
Geology of Coleraine
The town sits at the mouth of River Bann. That is why it has silt soil in some regions. Some parts of the town, such as at the valley where River Bann exists has fertile soils that are great for agriculture. It is one of the best places to plant crops such as barley, as indicated above. The geology of other areas in the region also indicates some deposits of limestone. It is also stated that the limestone contains more than half the calcareous matter, and that is why it is burnt.
A brief history of the Coleraine
The town dates back to 5935BC, which is when the first settlements began. The history of the town with the current name started after St. Patrick arrived. He was received warmly by Nadslua, who even went ahead to offer him land where he could build his church. The location at which the construction of the church took place is where the town first began. During the early days, the site had many ferns that boys used to burn for their amusement. That is what made St. Patrick Name the church Cúil Raithin, which translates to nook of ferns.
The name was further anglicised, and that is how its current name came about. At the beginning of the 17th century, the London Companies decided to develop two towns in Londonderry County, one of them was ‘Cúil Raithin.’ These companies were established by King James 1 to manage plantations in the region. The companies consisted of wealthy merchant guilds, and their work was to control and direct the estates. That is why there are traces of ramparts around the town. During those days, it was the only way to ensure the protection of the town from hostile visitors.
The structure of the town, as well as the general layout, was a plan made by the London companies. The defenses they built to protect the town are still visible. Some of the factors that attracted the London companies to the town include the availability of salmon, the fertile soils that exist around the Bann River, and, most importantly, the easy access to the sea. Note that before the conversion of people in the area to Protestants, the town was a renowned Christianity centre and a learning centre.
From 1689 to 1691, the town acted as a resistance centre for Protestants against the rule of King James II during the war of the two kings. The Protestants fled to Derry, where later that year, Sir Charles Carney fled from the town with his Jacobite garrison after Seizing of the Carrickfergus, which saw the Williamites control the region throughout the war.
In the 19th century and some parts of the 20th century, the town underwent significant developments. The river port underwent expansion. There was the development of the railway and industries. That is when the population started catapulting, and the town became notable. The town has ever since developed and now it is one of the most incredible places in Ireland. It has a remarkable transport network with roads having a one-way system which sees the smooth movement of traffic throughout the area.
There are also various parks and several walking trails, as well as impressive cycling tracks. They even have the national cycle network, which started its operation in 2001. The Bann River and the Atlantic Ocean are the two main reasons where there are so many water activities in the town. Ever since the town began, it has grown massively, and it can fit a city status.
Recent history or Troubles in the Town
Recently, the town has undergone some troubles which saw the deaths of numerous people in separate bombings. The first bombing took place on 12th June 1973, where the Provisional Irish Republican Army detonated a car bomb on the Railway road killing six people. The second explosion happened when a group of four paramilitary officers exploded after their bomb went off when going through Farrenlester. The third bombing saw the IRA group detonate yet another explosive, which caused huge destruction of property in the town centre.
Despite the massive destruction of property, nobody got injured in the third bombing. The Coeraine Town Hall was, however, the most affected. It underwent major structural works that saw it open two years and nine months later.
Local places of interest
The town has very many places that are going to interest you. If you follow the history of the town and the remarkable development that followed after, you will conclude that the town is indeed a gem. That is why it attracts millions of visitors annually. Some of the main places of interest include:
Buildings in the Town
Being of the most treasured areas in Londonderry district, the town has some of the best architectural structures in Ireland. It consists of both early buildings and modern ones that are nicely constructed and well designed. Some of the most significant buildings in the area include Mussenden Temple, which if found in Downhill, Castlerock. It is also one of the famous tourist attractions sites in the town. Other buildings include Cromore House and the Cromore House. There is also the Liffock House, which is also called the Hezlett House. It is an excellent museum and gallery that contains an extensive collection of art that you can view. These buildings are memorable for their unique architectural designs, as well as their breathtaking finishes. Buildings such as the Liffock house have live plants covering most of the walls. The plant cover gives it a unique look and makes it stand out from the rest of the buildings in the town.
These places also have a fantastic landscape where you can take pictures and keep your memory of the town. The current architectures are also doing a great job when it comes to erecting stunning buildings that have modern designs and catchy finishes. The beautiful incorporate of contemporary architecture, and ancient design makes the place have a unique and impressive appearance.
The churches in The Town
The town is trendy for its numerous churches that span throughout the area. People in the Town are believers, with most of them being Protestants. The residents respect their places of worship. The churches have stylish designs and that alone is enough to attract anyone who wants to have an insight into how the people there worship. Some of the most prevalent worship places include the Presbyterian, The Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as well as the Baptist church among others. They also play a huge role in unifying the people in the town, and their existence plays a considerable role in the current peace in the town.
The old town hall
One of the most stunning places of interest is the Coeraine Town Hall. Situated at the heart of the town, the old town hall holds most of the town’s memory thanks to its existence. It is located between the diamond road and opposite the Bank of Ireland, making it easily accessible from almost any part of the town. The Coeraine Town Hall was built with warm golden sandstones, the Italiante style gives it an elegant look and the various details included give it a stunning appearance that you can’t help but marvel at. There however have been quite a number of refurbishments done on the town hall to restore it to its former glory.
After the detonation of a car bomb in 1992, the town hall suffered massive structural damage, and in 1994 renovations began, and it was once again reopened in 1995 August. In 2012, there was an installation of a stained glass window to honour her Majesty the Queen’s diamond. It has ever since retained a pristine appearance attracting even more people from all over the world. The tall arch window and its curved nature give it an incredible look. The clock tower on one end makes it look beautiful, and the large wooden door gives it an antique feel. It is one historical and monumental building that you can’t help but admire. The town hall is where you can find the visitor’s information. You can access the material from Monday to Saturday.
Mount Sandel Fort
Another area you can tour in the Town is Mount Sandel Fort. The remains of the once beautiful fort are in the middle of the Mountsandel forest. It is a site that is taken care of by the state, and that is why it is not only well kept but also enlivening. The fort existed in the Iron Age and is one of the most cherished monuments in the town. It is beautifully raised and so while at the top you can see various sections of the forest as well as other regions of the town. You will find the fort on a steep hillside that falls on River Bann. It is a place with a fantastic breeze as well as impressive trails.
Before reaching the fort, you will have to take a 2mile walking trail that goes circular. The upper path is usually less strenuous. While walking through the forest, you can come across the Bann River, given that it is on its banks. Once you reach Mount Sandel Fort, you will find a grassy landmass that is great for walking, playing, or walking further the trail until you come out on Mountsandel road. The Mesolithic site is something that is going to ensure you have an incredible time in the town. It is often known as the riverside of the town.
River Bann is a remarkable landmark of the town. The river existed long before the town, and that is why it is always of great significance. It is also the longest river in Northern Ireland with a combined length of 129km or 80miles. It is the place where the first people settled. The river is divided into two parts, the upper Bann and the Lower Bann. The upper Bann comes from the Mourne Mountains and drains into Lough Neagh. The lower part of the river carries water from Lough Neagh and drains its water in the sea below the town.
The river played a vital role at the beginning of the industrialization of the famous Ulster linen company in the town. River Bann is also a great source of both eel and salmon. On its banks, there are prehistoric remains like the famous Mount Sandel Fort. The river also goes through the Mountsandel forest, and that is why you can easily see it when you are at Mount Sandel Fort. It is one place that you can enjoy fishing and other water activities if at all, you are an enthusiast. It is by far one of the largest physical features in the town and a place you must see.
The Jet Center
The Jet Center offers all sorts of fun activities, and it is a place where everyone gets entertained, children and adults alike. There is a cinema where you can watch some of the latest movies. The arcade, on the other hand, is where they bring every kid’s game in one place and lets them enjoy throughout. Adults can also enjoy bowling, which on one of their elegant bowling spaces. If you are a fan of golf, there are the Jet centre mini-golf grounds where you can compete on the available golfing mini-parks. The best part about this golfing is that you don’t need to be a golf expert for you to enjoy. You can be a starter and still have fun playing. There is an alley cat soft play centre where kids can bounce and slide all over the place as they have fun.
Among the things that make the town fabulous is there a wide range of shopping centres. If you want a place that will make shopping exciting and pleasurable, then you better go to the pedestrian town centre. There are so many chain stores in the area where you can enjoy purchasing some of the stylish clothes available as well as souvenirs. Some department stores also have restaurants where you can shop, and once you are tired, you can sit down and have a bite.
There is a wide range of products that favourite shopping places like Dixon and More offer. There are also other shopping places like the Diamond shopping centre, which is along the Hannover PI. You can also shop for clothes at Silver spirit boutique, Bishop Footwear limited, and New look. These places offer everything you want from sporty wears, accessories, and footwear. All you need to do is find out how to navigate the streets fast.
Coleraine Town Center
There are so many activities that you can also go and participate in at the town centre despite taking pictures in the streets and going shopping. You can always dine in places such as Monalisa, Turf ‘n Surf, Whoosh, and Lost and found. You can take your kids to places like JumpLanes Indoor Trampoline Centre, where they are going to keep themselves busy jumping and moving around. There is also the score football centre club if at all you are into sport, especially football. It is one great place to have fun and unwind.
Riverside Retail Park
Take a tour at the Riverside retail park and come across 300,000sq ft of restaurants, shops, and other retailers. Whether you are looking for electronics or silverware that you can carry with you back home, the riverside retail park is where to be. Some stores offer sporting clothes and other clothing that you may want. The area has a big parking space so that you don’t waste too much time looking for parking instead of enjoying yourself in town. With everything enclosed in one place, it is fair to say that it is one of the best places to shop, dine, and have fun while you are in town. As you tour the town, remember that it is twinned with La Roche-sur-Yon for over 25 years.
This is so far the best guide of the town which shows the potential of a city. The place is magnificent, with many areas and sites to explore. From the riverside retail park to the source of River Bann, there are so many things that you can explore. It is one town that allows you to have a memorable trip thanks to its beautiful landscape, amazing sceneries, and ancient historical sites. It is a sensational destination where you are going to find the renovated town hall that has beguiling finishes as well as the breathtaking Mount Sandel Fort. The town guarantees absolute fun and a memorable stay.