Last December, other than travelling to Amsterdam, I’ve also made visited the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast. Northern Ireland has been a popular destination ever since the debut of HBO’s Game of Thrones TV series, and I’ve always heard lots of people telling me that the Causeway Coastal Route is one of the best driving routes in Europe! So, my girlfriend and I rented a Renault Megane Hatchback (from Hertz) and off we go!
Some background information about the Causeway Coastal Route first:
- This spectacular route measures about 90km in length, starting from Belfast to Londonderry.
- To fully enjoy the views and visit every attraction along this route, it would be a 4 days trip.
- If you are a fan of Game Of Thrones, this route is definitely a must-visit, as you will be able to visit some of the scenes from the popular TV series!
But on this trip, we’ve only had one day, and it’s Christmas Eve. To fully utilise this day, I really had some plannings to do, as lots of places will be closed!
Not including the sights in Belfast, which we had been on a separate day. We started off our journey early, right after a filling breakfast! I’ve skipped several popular attractions that I highly recommend you to visit if there’s time, they are – The Gobbins, Glenarm Castle, Cushendun Caves, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
The first stop we’ve arrived was what known as ‘The King’s Road’ from Game Of Thrones (Season 2, Episode 1). Yes, it’s The Dark Hedges! Just the first stop of our trip and I’m super excited to see the line of trees along the road! How did the trees come about? They were planted by a wealthy family that lived in Gracehill Mansion in the 18th Century. They wanted to have an impressive approach to their mansion, and so The Dark Hedges was born.
Next stop was Ballintoy Harbour, the filming location for ‘Pyke, The Iron Islands’. The coastline here is simply “WOAH!” breathtaking! This small quiet harbour can be found at the end of a small narrow steep road down Knocksaughey Hill, you will definitely pass by this harbour, as Ballintoy Harbour is located right in the middle the Causeway Coastal Route. History of Ballintoy Harbour… in the 1500s, this small harbour was used by fishermen to berthed their boats to sell fish in the shelter of the old lime kilns. The massive kilns were used to burn limestone which will be sent inland for farmers to neutralise their acid bogland soil.
After lunch, we arrived at the highlight of this road trip, also known as the Eighth Wonders of the World – Giant’s Causeway! The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption that took place here, but the name Giant’s Causeway comes from an old myth surrounding Finn MacCool, an Irish giant. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Depending on the time of your visit, it may get crowded at times, and on a safety note, the stones can be slippery if it’s been raining, so be sure to wear suitable footwear.
It’s around 3:30pm, and the last stop of this road trip is Mussenden Temple! Which turned out to be quite disappointing as the skies were turning dark, and I have no idea where to park my car! So I had to drive to Downhill Beach and took a photo of it from far… My fault for not researching well on it, but, but, but… It’s a must-visit site along the Causeway Coastal Route too! This temple perches dramatically on a 120ft cliff top, high above the Atlantic Ocean on the north-western coast of Northern Ireland. The temple was built in 1785 as a summer library and forms part of the Downhill Demesne. Its architecture was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome, and was dedicated to the memory of Hervey’s cousin Frideswide Mussenden.
At this point, it’s a 1hr 30mins drive back to Belfast, as it marks an end to my Causeway Coastal Route road trip! Overall, driving along the Causeway Coastal Route was enjoyable and fun! Traffic was little, and everyone that we’ve met was friendly! Views were spectacularly stunning, and it’s definitely one place that you should come, even if you’re not a fan of Game Of Thrones!
But if you are a fan of Game Of Thrones… WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? And there’s something more for the fans! From April to September 2019, Game Of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition will arrive in TEC Belfast. View more here!