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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

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.