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Driving the Antrim Coast

Duxbury
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Driving the Antrim Coast

We are going to Ireland in May. We will be flying into Belfast on an overnight flight from the US. Arriving at 9:00 am. Our main reason for this trip is to see the Antrim coast and Cushendall. We would also like to see the Giant's Causeway. Should we rent a car as soon as we arrive and drive to the Giant's Causeway and stay overnight near there? The next day continue along the Antrim coast and to Cushendall on our way to Dublin. How long would the drive times be? Where should we spend the night? Or would two nights be better? Any suggestions or recommendations on how to plan this trip would be much appreciated.

North Coast, N...
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1. Re: Driving the Antrim Coast

Hm. Good question. I have to say that I would not advise anyone to come straight off an overnight flight and drive. Two key questions

1) Have you experience of driving LHS before - and manual (if that applies)

2) Are you honestly likely to sleep on the flight?

The Causeway Coastal route is narrow in places and Tor Head detour should definitely not be tackled if you are dozing at the wheel!

To be honest, I would get the airport bus into Belfast and check into a hotel there for the night and then pick up the car the next day. Belfast is a compact city and you could do a city tour and have a walk around easily in day. Avis and Budget both seem to have car rental available from Great Victoria Street. So you could base yourself in this area (which is where the bus station is for the airport bus) so you have limited hassle with taxis, lugging bags about etc. There are lots of other car rental options available from Belfast City Airport if you prefer so you could get the bus out there but that is going backwards to go forwards (if you know what I mean!)

Is there a particular reason you want to stay in Cushendall? Drive time from Belfast to the Causeway could be up to 2 hours going the scenic route but you may want to enjoy the scenery if the weather is good and consider stops such as Carrickfergus Castle, Glenariff Forest Park (e.g. for the waterfall walk) and coffee stops - Ballygally castle hotel or Glenarm Castle Team Room - or Cushendall!

I would probably normally recommend you overnight somewhere near the Causeway - Bushmills/Portrush/Portballintrae but you could overnight in Cushendall but it is about 35-40 minute drive from the causeway.

There is a lot to see in this area so it would be worth overnighting near the Causeway and taking in the small villages, walks on beaches, Bushmills Distillery tour, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce Castle (well worth exploring not just a photo stop outside) and then on round to the likes of Mussenden Temple/Downhill for more photo opps.

Here are a couple of useful websites for you:

http://www.northcoastni.com/

http://www.causewaycoastandglens.com/

Hope that helps get you started - happy to help if you have more questions.

Belfast, United...
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2. Re: Driving the Antrim Coast

I don't drive and am not much of an expert on anything outside the city so I shall defer to Ponaire's far superior knowledge on the subject and just reiterate that the winding coast road and its blind bends should not be tackled when jet-lagged or weary. Hope you enjoy your trip!

Belfast
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3. Re: Driving the Antrim Coast

I agree with the others about driving while tired. This is a full day's trip so I can't imagine wanting to drive straight to Dublin afterwards which is another couple of hours. Once you have seen the Giants Causeway there are a couple of good restaurants nearby in Bushmills. You could have dinner there, take the shorter route back to Belfast and get a good night's sleep before heading to Dublin the next day. You may also want to take a few hours to see Belfast itself.

Belfast, United...
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4. Re: Driving the Antrim Coast

Hi there!

Yea I wouldn't go straight driving either. Maybe book in somewhere and take it easy for the first day. You need FULL concentration on these roads and you want to be able to enjoy it without feeling tired. But you should really get the Causeway Coastal Route driving tour from My Tour Talk, its a downloadable personal tour so you can enjoy at your own pace and miss nothing! The following text I took from their website -(not my words!) to tell you more...

"The Causeway Coastal Route is one of the most spectacular road journeys in the World. This 150kms of audio driving Tour features the Unesco World Heritage site, the Giant's Causeway. As you are guided from point to point starting at the ancient Norman Town of Carrickfergus along the coast to Mussenden Temple there is so much to see and do. Ancient Castles waiting to be explored, seaside villages, award winning beaches, scenery that will take your breath away, surfing, shopping, fishing, forest walks and waterfalls are waiting for you to get out of the car and enjoy ..."

Have a brill time and glad you chose Northern Ireland.. The My Tour Talk website is http://www.mytourtalk.com

Another website I use is http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/

Noel.

U.K.
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5. Re: Driving the Antrim Coast

I believe there are restrictions on taking a hire car across the border - no doubt someone more knowlegdeable can elucidate?

North Coast, N...
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6. Re: Driving the Antrim Coast

Good point - there is a lot of discussion on this on the Ireland forum. Just search in it and there should be some good recent posts.

My understanding is that most major car rental companies allow it but charge a fee (sometimes exorbitant) for the privilege - it definitely is expensive but some companies have much more competitive rates than others so it is worth checking out various options.

U.K.
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7. Re: Driving the Antrim Coast

Oops! - apologies for the mis-spelling - I meant, of course, to type "knowledgeable" .

Belfast, United...
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8. Re: Driving the Antrim Coast

I think you would be OK to drive to Bushmills which should take just under an hour and then potter around that area including walking the Giant Causeway for the remainder of the day. The best way to overcome jetlag is to have a purposeful day, but you don't want to drive too far.

There is generally no issue with driving a rental car across the border. The issue is picking up in one jurisdiction and dropping off in the other.

Belfast, United...
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9. Re: Driving the Antrim Coast

Just a brief point in response to a couple of previous posts. The rental company should NOT be charging for you to drive the vehicle in Southern Ireland and I would strongly urge anyone who is faced with having to pay such a charge to query this.

Northern Ireland
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10. Re: Driving the Antrim Coast

i agree with drumlough - drive straight up to bushmills or portballintrae - it will only take about one hour - nice hotels or bed and breakfast in the area, and you are right beside the giants cauesway - so if you are feeling fit spend a coplue of hours at the causeway.Then set off next day and work your way along the coast to cushendun etc - leave early as lots to see and do

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