48 Hours on the Causeway Coast
It is one of the most beautiful journeys anywhere in Ireland. When you consider that this stretch of iconic coastal landscape includes a World Heritage Site, historic ruined castles, one of the world's top 10 golf courses and the world's oldest whiskey distillery, you begin to understand it's more than a short break; it's an absolute must visit and it's one that you don't have to go too far to enjoy - Northern Ireland's warm welcome is just a couple of hours away.
Take The Coast Road
If you're driving from the South, stop off in the thriving city of Belfast - the southern gateway to the Causeway Coastal Route.
The nine deeply sculpted Glens of Antrim need to be seen to be believed. The stunning views offered throughout mean you could spend a tremendous day driving this meandering coastal route, but do take time inland from the crashing sea to visit Glenariff Forest Park and the unique Waterfall Walkway, situated in the 'Queen of the Glens'.
The Glens swirl with myths and legends, whether it's Glenaan with the legendary warrior-poet Ossian's grave or Glenshesk sweeping towards the ruins of historical Bonamargy Friary. Beautiful coastal towns such as Cushendall and the charming Cushendun, most of which is owned by the National Trust, are picturesque and welcoming places to stop for lunch and to while away a few hours.
In the Footsteps of Giants
The Giant's Causeway itself is an unbelievable sight to behold. Was its staggering 40,000 interlocking basalt stone columns leading into the Irish Sea the result of millions of years of seismic activity, or was there magic in the air? Certainly on a clear day it's easy to believe that it was indeed the creation of the giant Finn McCool to enable him to walk to Scotland and take on his arch rival, the Scottish giant Benandonner. Whatever you believe, don't wait for a fine day as it's stunning in all weathers.
Get Your Boots On
If you feel like a real stretch of the legs, the dramatic coastal path that leads to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is well worth the effort. And if you can brave the exhilarating rope bridge challenge, crossing the 24m deep and 20m wide chasm, then the views and sense of achievement are hugely rewarding! Other fabulous walks are along some of the windswept beaches washed by Atlantic rollers (great for surfing) or the sheltered bays such as stunning Whitepark Bay.
Too much walking? Then why not let a steam locomotive take the strain? The scenic Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Railway runs to the home of the world's oldest whiskey distillery, Old Bushmills, where you can try a drop of 'uisce beatha', - well they do say that the 'water of life' is the perfect restorative! Near to Bushmills is atmospheric Dunluce Castle, clinging to its rocky crags for 800 years. Stunning Mussenden Temple is part of the impressive 18th century Downhill Demesne with ruins, gardens and breathtaking walks along the cliff top.
Where better to start than the world famous Royal Portrush Golf Club where the Dunluce Links course is played regularly by the game's top pros and a host of celebrities from around the world. The ocean here is great for surfing and other water sports. Scuba dive to wrecks (some off the beautiful Rathlin Island, a rare place of extraordinary ecological value), body board or windsurf - the choice is yours.
You don't have to believe in mythical giants to think that this coast is truly magical.