Great Family Vacation Ideas on the Antrim Coast

Holidays in Ireland on the Antrim Coast

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Great family vacation ideas can easily be found in Northern Ireland, in the areas north of and surrounding the beautiful city of Belfast, the region’s capital. A famous quote states “there are 40 shades of green” in Ireland, and I think you will agree as you travel around this beautiful island.

Great Vacation Ideas on the Antrim Coast
Tours of Ireland will Reveal it has More than 40 Shades of Green


The agricultural and coastal areas have outstanding natural beauty, especially in the rugged Antrim coastline north of Belfast.

During your excursion of the Glens of Antrim, you will naturally discover many great family vacation ideas.

On your right, you will see stunning views of the sea, while to your left your eyes will be glued to the lush green and rugged mountains of the region called the Glens of Antrim.

Your heads will be turning in every direction.

Holidays in Ireland the Rugged Coast of Antrim
Take a Walk Along the Stunning Antrim Coast

Heading north of Belfast, you will pass through a number of glens and quaint fishing villages.

Great family vacation Ideas – Park your car and take a walk along the coast, or stop in one of quaint villages and go fishing.


After passing through Glenarm, you will arrive at the village of Whitehead, Larne, Ballygally, Carnlough and as you continue your travels, you will discover the coastal villages of Glenariff, Cushendall, Cushendun and Ballycastle.

Great Family Vacation Ideas Cottages on Antrim Coast
One of the Many Lovely Homes and Cottages along the Antrim Coast

Day Trips by Bus – Great Family Vacation Ideas

If you choose not to rent a car, there are bus tours of Ireland from Belfast, which include stops in the Glens of Antrim, Old Bushmills Distillery, the Giants Causeway and the Carrick-a-rede-Rope Bridge.

My journey to the Antrim Coast was part of a day trip which started in Dublin by train and continued by bus when I reached Belfast.

The bus picked up the members of my tour group at the Belfast train station and the tour guide had a great sense of humour and his service was excellent.

Get ready for an exciting and adventurous trip into magical Ireland.

Visit the Nine Magnificent Glens of Antrim

  • Glenarm
  • Glencoy
  • Glentaise
  • Glenshesk
  • Glendun
  • Glenann
  • Glencorp
  • Glenballyemon
  • Glenariff

While driving through these glens, there are spectacular views of Mull of Kintyre, Scotland, which are visible on a clear day.

Great Family Vacation Ideas Visit the Antrim Coastline
Intriguing Stone Walls Line Parts of the Antrim Coast

Antrim Villages for Great Family Vacation Ideas

Larne

This is the arrival point for ferries from Scotland and has been a landing point since Mesolithic times.

This industrial town may not be the most glamorous introduction to Antrim County but the flint found here indicates some of the earliest evidence of human inhabitants on the island dating back 9,000 years ago.

Ballygally

Visit Ballygally Castle, which dates back to 1625 and is supposedly haunted.

Built in the Scottish Baronial style, today it is also a three star hotel.

The castle showpiece is the Ghost Room.

Carnlough

Carnlough is a picturesque village with a fine sandy beach and delightful harbour utilized by both pleasure boats and fishing boats used for the sea angling, as well as fresh water angling.

Next to the harbour of Carnlough is the charming inn, the Londonderry Arms Hotel, once owned by Winston Churchill.

This lovely inn is located in a breathtaking setting at the foot of Glencloy.

Great Family Vacation Ideas – Visit Glenariff and Glenariff Forest Park

Nine rivers flow through the Antrim mountains to the sea and the Antrim coast road brings all the glens within easy access to visitors.

Great Vacation Ideas in the Glens of Antrim
Include a Drive Through the Lush Glens of Antrim in Your Vacation Ideas

This area contains some of the most spectacular scenery and in the park scenic paths and four-way marked trails run through thick woodland and wildflower meadows, leading to fast flowing water tumbling through rocky gorges and waterfalls.

Other trails lead to mountain viewpoints and hiking here would be an adventure to include in your great family vacation ideas.

For your convenience, the park has a café, toilets and an exhibition centre.

Cushendall

Three of the nine Glens of Antrim converge towards Cushendall, and that is why it is known as the “Capital of the Glens”.

Vacation Ideas Cushendall
Visit Cushandall on Your Tours of Ireland

This popular resort village has brightly painted houses.

Vacation Ideas Restaurant in Cushendall
Enjoy a Hearty Meal and Beer at Joe’s Restaurant on Your Holidays in Ireland

The 19th century edifice in the center of the village known as the Curfew Tower, built in 1817, was used as a lock-up for notorious thieves.

Five miles inland from Cushendall is the Glenariff Forest Park.

Cushendun

The small coastal village of Cushendun is located 20 kilometres south of Balleycastle and has a sheltered harbour in a setting of outstanding natural beauty.

Ballycastle

Home to Ireland’s oldest town fair, the Laamas fair, which dates from 1606.

See the lovely harbour and sandy beach. It is from here that Guglielmo Marconi’s assistant sent the first wireless message across the water to Rathlin Island in 1898.

The Ballycastle Fragrens B B is a 17th century house is fully modernized and located at the harbour end of Quay Road in the centre of Ballycastle.

Holidays in Ireland Antim Causeway Countryside
You Will See Sheep and Lovely Countryside on Your Holidays in Ireland

Rathlin Island

Across from Ballycastle is the boomerang shaped Rathlin Island.

While you are in Balleycastle, as part of your great family vacation ideas, consider taking the 50 minute boat ride over to the island.

This charming island has high white cliffs encircling much of its perimeter and the craggy Bull Point on the western tip is home to thousands of seabirds, kittiwakes, puffins and razorbills.

A trip to Rathlin is a quiet retreat limited to a pub, a cafe, a guesthouse, a hostel and a campground but there is a local minibus service that takes visitors to view the birds at Bull Point.

If you long for peace and solitude with rugged natural scenery, this is the place for you.

Unique and Great Family Vacation Ideas

Explore Dunluce Castle on the Causeway Coast

When visiting the Causeway coast, be sure to check out the sandy bays, dramatic ruins, and the craggy headlands that characterize the stunning coastline.

As you approach the Causeway, you will find the eerie ruins of Dunluce Castle sitting high atop a rocky steep crag.

Dunluce Castle dates back to the 13th century and was the main fortress for the MacDonnells, who were the chiefs of Antrim.

Great Family Vacation Ideas at Dunluce Castle
Great Family Vacation Ideas – Visit Dunluce Castle

The castle is well preserved with twin towers, a gateway and cobblestone walkways.

When I was at Dunluce Castle, there was a caravan of white transport trailers and movie crews. This is a famous setting for film-making.

Experience the Historical Town of Bushmill and Old Bushmill’s Distillery

The quaint town of Bushmills has a great river for salmon and trout fishing and an attractive town square, but the main feature and highlight is the historical and world famous Old Bushmills plant on the edge of town.

Tours of Ireland Bushmills Distillery
On Your Tours of Ireland Visit the Historical Old Bushmills Distillery

Old Bushmills prides itself as being the world’s oldest distillery, dating from 1608 but probably producing the spirit at least 200 years before that.

The wonderful collection of whiskeys at Old Bushmills is made from a blend of a single malt and a single grain.

Tours of Ireland Bushmill Still
Old Bushmills Former Kiln – Some Dating Back to the 1600’s

You can take a tour of the distillery and end it with a whiskey sampling session in the 1608 Bar where you also enjoy a hearty meal while viewing the former malt kilns.

There is also a small museum with old distilling equipment on display.

Antrim Coast Top Spots for Great Family Vacation Ideas

Discover the Magic of the Giant’s Causeway

The magical and unique landscape of the Giant’s Causeway makes this place one of the coolest of great family vacation ideas.

Located near the town of Bushmill and near the Old Bushmill’s Distillery, you can visit the Giant’s Causeway on the same day.

Great Family Vacation Ideas the Giant's Causeway
The Dramatic Giant’s Causeway is Worth Visiting on Your Holidays in Ireland

The bizarre formation of an estimated 37,000 basalt columns has contributed to the many popular legends about the Giant’s Causeway.

Great Family Vacation Ideas Giants Causeway Rock Formations
Great Family Vacation Ideas – Walking on the Rocks is Fun for Everyone

The most famous legend tells how the giant, Finn MacCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill) had the causeway made to provide a pathway across the sea over the island of Staffa in Scotland (with similar rock formations) to visit his lady love.

Vacation Ideas Giants Causeway Seaside
View of the Giant’s Causeway from the Cliffs Above

Most of the columns are hexagonal but some have four, five, eight or ten sides and you can walk around and on top of the magnificent rocks.

Great Family Vacation Ideas Giants Causeway View
The Walkway to the Giant’s Causeway Along the Sea

It is no wonder the Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage site located on the edge of the sea with spectacular views of the craggy coastline.

Great Family Vacation Ideas Relaxing on the Rocks
You Can Rest and Relax After Your Half Mile Walk from the Entrance

Make sure to wear comfortable footwear as the gorgeous walk to the gigantic rock columns is a half mile long from the entrance.

Also near the entrance of the Giant’s Causeway trail is the Causeway Hotel, a charming rest spot and restaurant with fine dining located at 40 Causeway Road.

Great Family Vacation Ideas at the Giants Causeway
Either Walk to the Giant’s Causeway or Take a Shuttle Bus

Plan ahead as you may want to make a reservation in advance at the restaurant, as it may be fully booked and you would have to wait a while to be seated.

Note, you do have the option to either walk on the beautiful cliff side trail and steps leading down to the Giant’s Causeway, or taking a shuttle bus, which runs regularly and will drop you off and pick you up at a very convenient location.

For more information check the Giant’s Causeway directory for details.

Enjoy the Thrill of the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

East of Ballintoy, and not far from the Giant’s Causeway, is one of Ireland’s most unusual and scary tourist attractions.

The name originates from the Scottish Gaelic “Carraig-a-Rade” which means the “rock in the road“.

Previously, the road was a sea route for Atlantic salmon heading wetward past Carrick Island and the bridge was used by local fisherman, but the salmon population dwindled due to over-fishing.

Now the bridge is used by visitors wanting to experience the thrill of the bridge swinging high above the sea below.

Vacation Ideas Carrick a rede Rope Bridge
Vacation Ideas – For a Thrilling Experience Visit the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge

The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge hangs 80 feet (25m) above the sea and the views below are wild and stunning.

Vacation Ideas Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge in Antrim
The Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge View Taken from the Carrick Island

The bridge is made of wooden planks strung between wires and twists and wobbles as you walk across the planks.

Vacation Ideas Carrick-a-rede Rope Brdge Fun
That’s Me Having Fun on the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge

Originally, the rope bridge provided access to the salmon fishery on the tiny Carrick Island, on the other side of the bridge.

Vacation Ideas Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge Views
The Beautiful View of the Caves Below the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge

The views of the coast and the sea below are stunning and exhilarating.

Important Tips When Visiting the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge:

  • The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a 1 kilometer walk from the Reception/entrance.
  • There is a long path with many steps and cliffs along the route.
  • Surfaces can be slippery during and after rain.
  • Do not go near cliff edges or climb because the grass may be slippery.
  • A wheelchair accessible platform with a telescope is provided 450 yards along the path from the entrance.
  • You may bring your dog but must keep it on a lead, and they are not permitted to cross the bridge.
  • Visiting the site is generally quieter during the mornings.

From the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge and Carrick Island, there are amazing views of Rathlin Island and parts of Scotland.

If you travel further east along the coast, you can visit Kinbane Castle, another 16th century castle with spectacular views.

Great Family Vacation Ideas on the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has sights from every era of Ireland’s history with magnificent and varied coastal and Lakeland scenery for great holidays in Ireland.

Great Family Vacation Ideas Antrim Coastal Flowers
Sea Side Views and Cliffs of the Beautiful Antrim Coast

The awe-inspiring lush mountains and forests offer great family vacation ideas including camping opportunities.


The charming villages and coastal hamlets are great fishing destinations, and the dramatic and spectacular rock formations of the Causeway coastline will leave you with many memorable conversations for a long, long time.

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