Romantic Trips and Cosy Stop-Overs
Just the two of you, a stretch of road, some stunning scenery and the promise of a cosy stop-over at the end.
Northern Ireland is full of scenic road trips and we're so compact who knows where the road might lead you. Here are some of the top trips to get you started:-
Causeway Coastal Route (CCR)
Voted 5th in the world's top scenic views (Jacobs Creek, 2006) and when you drive it, you'll see why.
- The journey starts in Belfast. Stop off at Newtownabbey's Loughshore Park with spectacular views over Belfast Lough
- Visit Carrickfergus where poet Louis MacNeice spent part of his childhood. It has a striking 800 year old castle. Then follow the coast road to Larne the gateway to the Nine Glens of Antrim
- The Nine Glens of Antrim: Glenarm - home to the 18th century Glenarm Castle and Walled Garden), Glencoy, Glenariff, Glenballyemon, Glencorp, Glenaan, Glendun, Glenshesk and Glentaisie
- The Old Bushmills' Distillery, Giant's Causeway (World Heritage Site), Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge - be sure to take the Rope Bridge Challenge!
Stop offs along the way:
- Slemish near Ballymena, it's all that's left of an ancient volcano (Saint Patrick is said to have spent six years there as a slave herding sheep).
- Glenariff Forest Park is well worth a stop off. A rambler's paradise with woody glades, small lakes and tumbling waterfalls.
Detour: take a leisurely drive to Carnlough, where fishing boats rest in the harbour. Call in for refreshments at the Londonderry Arms Hotel, an 1848 coaching inn once owned by Winston Churchill.
- Detour: Torr Head and Rathlin Island are two very striking detours. Torr Head offers views across to the Mull of Kintyre. Rathlin with its striking lighthouse and backdrop lies just six miles of the coast from Ballycastle and is reached by a regular ferry service.
The Sperrins Driving Route
Four scenic driving routes which take in most of the areas key attractions across North, South, East and Central Sperrins.
Breathtaking views, dark and dramatic landscapes, rolling countryside and small settlement towns, make the North Sperrins Scenic Route a must see, must-do experience!
Details: This circular trail winds its way for 50 miles (80kms) through the beautiful, wild and rugged Sperrin Mountains, including the rural towns of Dungiven, Draperstown, Tobermore, Maghera and Garvagh and is an area steeped in myths, legends and historic sites. The rivers Roe, Moyola and Bann meander and flow through the timeless landscape, shaped and formed by nature over millions of years.
Some Detours/ Must Sees: Take time out to view and explore the scenic stop off points and the local plantation towns and villages. Dungiven, Banagher Glen, Derrynoid Forest are well worth a visit.
Enjoy the breathtaking scenery and flavour the culture and heritage of this beautiful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Details: This 63 mile long route winds its way through stunning and changing landscapes and over the magnificent summit of Slieve Gallion. There are many attractions to explore. From archaeological heritage sites, to beautifully restored homes from time gone by.
Some Detours/Must Sees: Springhill House, Moneymore Model Village, Slieve Gallion, Beaghmore Stone Circles, Wellbrook Beetling Mill, Drum Manor Forest Park.
Explore the region’s cultural and built heritage as you travel along the Southern Scenic Route.
Sample the history of settlement from the first human presence and their ancient customs and monuments, acquire an understanding of the vast exodus to North America by emigrants from Ireland and learn about some of those people who have shaped the future of their new adopted country. Breathe in the many outstanding vistas that have been used as inspiration for poetry, music and prose by local literary heroes who grew up amid this rural, unspoilt landscape known as the Sperrins.
Some Detours/Must-Sees: Omagh, Gortin Glen Forest Park, Ulster American Folk Park, The Derg Valley.
This driving route of 90 miles takes you through dramatic river corridors, wooded glens and spectacular hillscapes and valleysYour journey will bring you through landscapes and geological features which were millions of years in the making. The archaeological sites which are woven into this ancient landscape in turn have a history which stretches back several thousand years. When exploring the Central Sperrins remember not to hurry and savour a route which has taken time to evolve.
Some Detours/Must-Sees: 'The Tinnies' Sculptures, Strabane's American Connections, Sion Mills, Stewart Castle, An Creagan Centre, Glenelly Valley.
For more information on the Sperrins Driving Routes: http://www.sperrinstourism.com/scenicroutes/
Cruising Fermanagh Lakelands
Fermanagh's Lakelands offer an enchanted landscape. What better way to see Fermanagh than to hire a cruiser and explore at your own pace.
Must-See Attractions: Florence Court, Castle Coole, Crom, Janus Figures and Boa Island, Marble Arch Caves and Global Geopark, Enniskillen Castle Museums, Castle Archdale, Belleek Pottery, Devenish Island Monastic Site.
Strangford Lough and Counties Armagh & Down
Counties Armagh and Down offer a mix of tranquil, rural landscapes and pretty seaside villages. Tour along the Ards Peninsula and take in all there is to offer. Seafood is a specialty in the region, so what better time to sample some delicious oysters.
Must-Sees: Castle Ward, Mount Stewart, Mourne Mountains and Silent Valley.