Stunning coastal scenery, golden beaches, an offshore island, and green glens.
Ballycastle is a great base for exploring the Causeway Coast, the Glens of Antrim, or Rathlin Island. On the Causeway Coast, see everything from the unique rocks of the Giant’s Causeway to romantic castle ruins and the lush green Glens of Antrim. Watersport opportunities include surfing and sea kayaking, while Game of Thrones fans can visit various filming locations and hikers can explore forest parks, long beaches, and the bird sanctuary at Rathlin Island. Camping options range from holiday parks to forest parks and glamping pods.
This stretch of coast is home to the Causeway Coastal Route, one of the world’s great drives. Stop to walk on the unique basalt rock formations at the Giant’s Causeway, test your wits on the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede, or explore the cliffside, 16th-century ruins of Dunluce Castle. Various camping options are available near Ballycastle—check out area caravan parks and holiday parks for the best pitches.
The nine glens of Antrim run along some of the Causeway Coastal Route, with two set behind Ballycastle, each carved out by a river and surrounded by lush green landscape and woodlands. Drop in to Glenarm village and Glenarm Castle, or explore Glenariff Forest Park, which also has camping facilities for vehicles (but not tents). On the sea side, don’t miss the scenic villages of Cushendall and Cushendun (owned by the National Trust).
Rathlin Island is an island six miles out to sea—the passenger ferry from Ballycastle takes about 25 minutes (although vehicles are restricted). The island is a renowned bird sanctuary, in particular for puffins, and it also features many interesting wildflowers. Visit the lighthouse built “upside-down” into a cliff to see the Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre. You can make it a day trip or stay overnight to explore the island by foot or by bicycle. You need permission from a landowner to camp on Rathlin Island, where options include glamping pods.
Golfers and surfers will love the seaside towns of Portrush and Portstewart for long walks along golden beaches, taking to the water to catch surfing waves, or enjoying the links courses at Royal Portrush Golf Club. Plenty of bars, cafés, restaurants, and ice cream shops dot the towns too. Both offer surf schools and watersports centres to try sea kayaking or paddleboarding, and there are lots of camping options and holiday parks in the area.
You’ll find the best weather and the thickest crowds in July and August, when tour busses hit the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede, and Scottish Game of Thrones filming locations. Anytime between May and September is a good time for camping, but weather can change at short notice, so be prepared for rain, wind, and cooler temperatures.