North of Ireland route – DAY 2: Downhill, Giant’s Causeway, Belfast.

Second day!!!

According to the planning, we were going to spend the second and the last day of the road trip on the north coast of Ireland. The last stop was going to be Belfast, so we had a very long day and lots of kilometres ahead.

We woke up early to start the second day route. The first stop was Downhill beach, and we had two different options to reach this place:

  • To cross the sea with a ferry from Greencastle. This is the shortest way (about 45km) and it takes a bit more than an hour from one place to the other. But you have to wait for the ferry so it may take a bit longer.
  • To go around through Londonderry. This is a longer way (about 75km) but it takes the same time than with the ferry. We took this way because the sea wasn’t that calm and the people there did not know when the ferry would come.

Downhill beach is an amazing beach that is located on the north coast of Ireland. It’s 11km long and it’s really stoning to see it once you’re there. It looks like there’s no end.

 

This is a famous beach because of its length and because it was one of the sceneries of the TV series Game of Thrones (Dragonstone, for the followers). Moreover, it’s possible to go with the car and drive through the sand.

At the east side of the beach, on the top of a cliff, there’s the Mussenden Temple, from where you can see beautiful views of the whole beach.

After I tried, for the first time in my life, to drive on the other side of the car (right side), we kept following our route. We wanted to go to the Giant’s Causeway but there were lots of beautiful places to stop at, and to take lots of pictures. The views were amazing.

One of the places we stopped at was the Dunluce Castle, the remains of a castle that was built around 1500 for the McQuillan family. Nowadays you can visit both the castle and the town remains. It’s so amazing to walk through the remains, to go downstairs to the sea and to regard the big cave there is under the castle.

Next stop was the famous Giant’s Causeway. We didn’t want to pay for the parking so we decided to park in Portballintrae (for free) and start our route over there.

There’s a hiking route called “The Causeway Coast route” that goes from Portstewart to Ballycastle and passes over many places like the Giant’s Causeway, the Dunluce Castle or the Carrick-a-rede Bridge. There are different tracts and you can hike for some kilometres if you don’t want to do all the way. That’s what we did: we hiked the track 3 that goes from Portballintrae to the Giant’s Causeway (about 4.6km).

You can check the whole hiking route here.

TO KNOW: I have to say that the trail is not plain and it’s even worse when it has rained the day before. So I recommend you to bring a good pair of hiking boots.

The route starts at the free parking that is located at the end of Beach Road. You have to cross the river and to follow the railroad tracks along a trail that goes next to it. At the end of this path you have to turn to the left (BE AWARE OF THE SIGN). From there on you will follow the trail along the coast through very high cliffs. The views are amazing and I recommend you to stop and enjoy it. This is a very good way to reach the Giant’s Causeway, it’s worth it and there are not a lot of people (not as at the Giant’s Causeway, that it’s full of tourists).

You can check how to take the track 3 here.

At last we reached the Giant’s Causeway!!!!

This is one of the most famous places in Ireland, together with the Cliffs of Moher. If you like Ireland’s views, check this post: “10 Irish landscapes you won’t find in a travel guide “.

The Giant’s Causeway is composed of 40.000 hexagonal basalts columns. They were created because of the fast cooling of the lava from a volcano in contact with the sea water, more than 60 million years ago. The truth is that is amazing that it’s we can still enjoy this wonderful place.

Despite of the fact that it’s a beautiful place, both the Giant’s Causeway and all around were too full of people. I think it’s an over-exploited tourist place. I recommend you to step away from where all the people are and walk through one of the tracks that goes to the east or to the west.  You’ll be amazed by all the beautiful Irish landscapes and you can enjoy a nice nature walk with no people.

NOTE: The entrance to the Giant’s Causeway is FREE but you can pay for an audio guide and a visit to the Visit Centre.

You can check more information about this place here.

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It was already late and we wanted to stop in Belfast before going back to Dublin, so we had to hurry up. The next place we wanted to stop at was the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge, but when we arrived it was getting dark and we decided to go straight to Belfast.

Despite, this is a beautiful place you should visit if you have enough time, so here you have some information about it.

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So, after some kilometres on the road, we arrived to Belfast, the North of Ireland’s capital (yes, it was already dark despite the fact that it was 6 o’clock).

Belfast is famous because of its murals that represent the political history and the armed conflict that the country suffered (the Troubles).

There’s a very good way to visit the city and learn about its interesting history: the Black Taxi Tours. This black taxi takes you to the place where the murals are and the driver explains you what they represent and the meaning of all of them. We did not take a taxi because it was Sunday and it was too late, but we did it on our behalf (a thing that it’s not recommended).

It would have been great to take one of these black taxis and learn more about the murals. I think it’s a very good option if you have time.

Apart from the murals, there are many other interesting things to see in Belfast. You can spend a whole weekend in the city because there are many museums and things to do but, if you don’t want to spend that much in here, don’t worry, I think you can visit Belfast in only one day. Some of the interesting places are: the Titanic Museum, the Ulster Museum, the Albert Memorial Clock Tower (a slightly leant tower), the incredible Hall Town and the Belfast’s Castle. We walked around the city centre but it was Sunday at 6 in the evening and everything was closed. So, after a short walk, we went to have dinner in a shopping centre.

We were so tired after the whole day hiking and visiting places, and we still had to drive back to Dublin.

As I said in other posts, also in this one, I highly recommend to make a road trip somewhere in Ireland. It doesn’t matter where because all the landscapes in Ireland are beautiful. There are lots of places you can choose and all of them will surprise you, I’m sure. I recommend you to make the route I just explain you in this post in three or four days it’s possible. This way you’ll be able to see more places and you won’t have to hurry. I also recommend you to make a road trip in summer time, so you’ll have more light hours than if you go in winter.

Here you have a map with the whole route:

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DAY 1: North of Ireland route – DAY 1: Londonderry, Malin Head.

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Which are the places you’ve seen in Ireland? Let us know at the comments.

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