County Antrim is one of the 6 counties in Northern Ireland, and it’s also the most populated.
The question is: What are the best things to see in County Antrim?
Well, that’s exactly what you’re going to see in this guide as we’ll be showcasing the best things to see in Country Antrim Northern Ireland.
A little bit about County Antrim
County Antrim is the most populated of the 6 counties in Northern Ireland, and the most visited too. The county spans over 3,046 square km (1,176 square miles), or 2 times the size of Los Angeles.
The two major cities in County Antrim are Belfast (Northern Ireland capital city) and Lisburn. The county has plenty of incredible locations to discover: stunning medieval castles, high cliffs, green valleys, and quaint cities.
Where is County Antrim?
County Antrim is located on the northeast side of Northern Ireland
The county is situated north of County Down, and east of County Derry/Londonderry.
The 6 Best Things to See in County Antrim Ireland
I loved exploring Derry/Londonderry because it’s literally filled with beautiful buildings and interesting things to see. If you have plenty of time, simply go walk in the streets, and you’ll be sure to discover epic places.
If you are traveling to Northern Ireland, and want to know the very best things to see in County Antrim, here’s the full list of the 6 best things to see:
- The Giant’s Causeway
- Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge
- Dunluce Castle
- The Dark Hedges
- The Glens of Antrim
So there you have them, the 6 best places to visit in County Antrim Ireland. You’ll find below more information about each place, including photos, to help you decide if you should add these places to your list of places to see.
1. The Giant’s Causeway
The first item on this list had to be the Giant’s Causeway: it’s the most visited place in Northern Ireland and blows the mind of thousands of people on a daily basis (more than 2,500 per day to be precise).
The Giant’s Causeway is a natural marvel, created more than 50 million years ago by an absolutely massive lava burst. The lava cooled down, and formed unique patterns, as you can see on the photo below:
These hexagonal shapes are all over the Giant’s Causeway: in fact, there are over 50,000 pillars like this, all made of basalt.
In addition to these basalt columns, you’ll also find unique shapes in the Giant’s Causeway: the Camel, the Wishing Chair and the Chimney Tops are some of the formations you can see there.
As stated above, the Giant’s Causeway is a popular spot in County Antrim, and it attracts a lot of visitors every day. If you want the best experience of this place, I highly recommend waking up early and going to explore the Causeway for sunrise, or at least early in the day. This will ensure you have the place for yourself, and you’ll be free to enjoy it without the crowds.
Pro tip: contrary to what the signs and websites say, the Giant’s Causeway is free to visit. You don’t have to pay to visit the Giant’s Causeway: simply go around the visitor center, and you’ll be able to walk down to the spot. The entry fee is only for access to the visitor center, or to use the main parking (there are other parking spots nearby)
Learn more about the Giant’s Causeway here: Giant’s Causeway travel guide
2. Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge
Picture this: planks of wood, tied together by thick ropes, dangling 30 meters above the sea, connecting mainland Northern Ireland and a tiny island. Looks pretty epic, right? Well, that’s exactly how Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge looks like.
This rope bridge is located on the north coast of County Antrim, and only a 15-minute drive away from the Giant’s Causeway.
To see the rope bridge, you have different options: from afar or from up close.
If you go to the Portaneevy car park, you’ll have a view of Carrick-a-Rede from a distance. From this point of view, you’ll see the location in its totality, with the rope bridge and the island. You’ll have the best sense of scale, with the tiny rope bridge, the tiny people crossing it, and you’ll see the full island too.
From up close
The second option is to see the rope bridge from up close. To get this view, simply follow the path that leads to the rope bridge, and right before reaching the bridge, take a right at the fork. This will lead you to the main viewpoint, where you’ll have the best view of the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
If you want to take it one step further, you can actually walk on the bridge, and cross to the Carrick-a-Rede island. If you’d like to cross the bridge, you’ll have to purchase a ticket (£9 for adults / £4.5 for children). I highly recommend booking your tickets online in advance, as it can get quite crowded, and only a fixed amount of visitors can cross each hour.
Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland, and the majority of the city is in County Antrim. The rest of the city is in County Down. No visit to County Antrim and Northern Ireland would be complete without visiting Belfast.
The city is a delight of ancient architecture, and you’re sure to stumble upon many stunning buildings while exploring the streets.
The Belfast city hall is the most beautiful piece of architecture in the city, and it’s truly stunning from every angle. If you have time, I recommend stepping into the building, which will surprise you with its beauty.
Once in the city hall neighborhood, simply wander the streets, get lost in the city and you’ll discover many gems.
Here are a few locations you can look for:
- Bittles Bar
- Albert Memorial Clock
- Saint Anne Cathedral
Belfast is also famous for its succulent food, and of course the nightlife. Enter a restaurant for the night, then visit an authentic saloon for the full experience.
Read also: Belfast with kids
4- Dunluce Castle
Have you ever dreamt of medieval castles? Well, then you will absolutely enjoy Dunluce Castle! Built in 1500 by Scottish mercenaries, the castle has since changed hands quite often. The castle is now in ruins, but to be honest it still looks quite impressive.
The castle is very close to the Giant’s Causeway, it’s only a 10 minutes drive.
You can see the castle from different angles along the coast, and even from up close like in the picture above. If you have time, you can also visit the castle.
The castle is connected to the mainland by a stone bridge, that you will cross in order to enter the castle. It feels amazing to explore the castle from inside and to be surrounded by the massive stone walls. Below the castle, there is a massive cave named « Mermaid’s Cave ». You can also visit it, by taking the steps all the way down.
To visit the castle, you’ll have to purchase a ticket (£5.5 for adults / £3.5 for children).
5. The Dark Hedges
The Dark Hedges is a very tiny spot on the Ireland map, yet it attracts an incredible number of visitors every year; it’s even the most photographed spot in Northern Ireland.
What exactly is « the Dark Hedges »? It’s the driveway to a house. Doesn’t sound exciting right? Well, what’s impressive is that the owner of the land wanted to make his house even more magnificent, and planted more than 150 beech trees in the driveway. The result? It now looks like an epic tunnel of trees, straight out of a fantasy movie.
It looks so much out of a fantasy movie that the Game of Thrones series used the Dark Hedges as a filming location in Season 2 (Kingsroad in the series). The appearance in the very famous series has skyrocketed the popularity of the Dark Hedges.
You don’t have to pay anything to visit the Dark Hedges; it’s simply a road, that everyone can access. Due to its popularity, the road has now been closed to public traffic, but you can walk there.
6. The Glens of Antrim
The last item on this list of 6 best things to see in County Antrim is the Glens of Antrim. The Glens of Antrim, also called The Glens, is one of the most beautiful regions of County Antrim, and you could spend months exploring the region.
The name comes from the Irish « glen », meaning « Valley ». The Glens of Antrim is a vast region made of 9 valleys in the north of the county.
The 9 Glens are:
- Glenaan: valley of the burial chamber
- Glenariff: valley of the arable valley
- Glenballyeamon: valley of Eamonn’s town
- Glenarm: valley of the army
- Glencloy: valley of the sword
- Glencorp: valley of the body
- Glendun: valley of the river Dun
- Glenshesk: barren valley
- Glentaisie: damp valley
The Glens of Antrim have been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
When you visit the Glens, you’ll understand why Ireland is named the Green country.
More ideas for your County Antrim trip
Have you already visited all of these 6 best spots in County Antrim? Or do you simply want more ideas of spots to explore? I’ve got you covered! You’ll find below more ideas for what to visit in County Antrim:
- Rathlin Island
- Dunseverick Castle
- Slemish Mountain
I hope you enjoy your trip to County Antrim and Northern Ireland!
If you have any questions, let me know on social media, I always reply.
Contributing members are responsible for the accuracy of content contributed to A World to Travel.