A Campervan Adventure Around Northern Ireland: 10 Days of Fun, Scenic Routes, and Memories
Northern Ireland might be the smallest country in the UK, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm, culture and beauty. One of the reasons Northern Ireland makes the perfect location for a camping holiday is because it is so compact, and everything is easily accessible! Steeped in history, dramatic landscapes, stunning beaches and welcoming locals, there are so many places to go and things to see in Northern Ireland.
It should definitely be on your list of road trips!
How long do you need to explore Northern Ireland?
This is a difficult question and one dependent mostly on the availability of your own time. You could happily spend a month or more exploring Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, or equally you could see a lot in just a few days if that was all the time you had.
This blog will cover some daily activities for 10 days, but there are so many great things to do and see on your holiday in Northern Ireland you could create your own Northern Ireland itinerary if you wish.
Day One – BELFAST in 24 hours
Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland – a vibrant, friendly, cultured city that is the 14th biggest city in the UK. The violence associated with the Troubles which historically dominated Belfast and Northern Ireland is a thing of the past. Although there is still evidence of former conflicts, Belfast is a safe and truly fascinating city to visit. Even if you only have 24 hours to explore, you won’t regret visiting. Firstly, wake up before the city does and take an early black taxi tour, where you can explore the complex history of Belfast.
After your early morning tour of Belfast, head for a delicious late breakfast. We recommend trying a traditional Ulster Fry. This is a very popular northern Irish breakfast, that will keep you going all day. Once you’ve finished, head towards Titanic Quarter. This is easily walkable from the city centre. There are lots of things for you to see and do in the Titanic Quarter, but the main attraction is the award-winning Titanic Belfast Museum. Inside you’ll learn about the tragic story of the famous Titanic ship that was built in the Belfast shipyards. The tour around the museum is self-guided, so it is possible to spend as much or as little time as you like there.
To complete your 24 hours in Belfast we recommend either of the following:
Day Two – Causeway Coast
The Causeway Route, stretching 120miles between Belfast to Derry (Londonderry) along the Antrim Coast, is arguably the best route to travel in your campervan in Northern Ireland. Packed with scenery, historical sites, coastal villages and stunning driving scenery, it is not to be missed.
The A2 and Causeway Coastal Route is well sign posted and hugs the coastline, so you’ll struggle to get lost. A worthy detour from the Causeway Coastal Road is Slemish Mountain. After being captured by pirates at the age of 16, history suggests that St. Patrick, the patron saint of the Republic of Ireland, lived on Slemish Mountain for many years. He was alleged to have worked as a shepherd on the slopes of Slemish for six years before escaping. These days, St Patrick’s Day sees people participate in an annual pilgrimage to Slemish. On this one day of the year, Slemish draws large crowds!
Another slight detour is Glenriff Forest. The largest of the nine Glens, it has earned the nickname the ‘Queen of the Glens’, due to its stunning natural beauty. There are lots of different walking trails in Glenariff Forest Park.
Using a site like https://park4night.com/en will help you find the perfect place to rest for the night.
Beautiful Ballycastle Beach is the perfect destination for a walk. The beach is a popular destination and runs from the pier at Ballycastle Marina at the western end, to Pan’s Rock in the east. Pan’s Rock Bridge in Ballycastle juts out into the sea and this end of the beach makes the perfect place for an early morning adventure.
Continuing along the Causeway Coastal Road you’ll come to the National Trust site – Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. It was first erected by salmon fishermen in 1755, you can walk along the coastal path to enjoy the stunning views and see the rope bridge.
Ballintoy Harbour is also worth is visit, it is in the picturesque village of Ballintoy and you could finish your day with a walk on White Park Bay Beach. The beach is unsafe for swimming due to dangerous rip currents, but it has beautiful stretches of golden sand to wander and enjoy. If you are lucky you might get to see the cows on the beach too!
Next up is one of the most magical places in Northern Ireland and the world – The Giant’s Causeway. It is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage site! The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking, mostly hexagonal basalt columns and is said to be the result of an ancient volcanic explosion some 60 million years ago. The burning and quick cooling of the volcanic lava left the series of basalt columns. However, Irish Myth has it that legendary Fionn MacCool was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet! Much of the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast World Heritage Site is owned and managed by the National Trust. The visitors’ centre and parking is free to National Trust members.
The causeway coastal road continues past Dunluce Castle and make a stop at Magheracross Car Park & Viewpoint for unbelievable views! The driving scenery here is unbelievable and endless things to see and do.
There is lots to see on the Antrim coast. On Day Five you could visit Portrush, Portstewart, Mussenden Temple and Benone Beach. It is one of only FIVE beaches you can legally drive on in the UK! The beach is well marked with areas suitable for vehicles and those not.
Day Six – 24 hours in Londonderry/Derry
Londonderry / Derry is the second largest city in Northern Ireland, rich in history and home of Ireland’s only completely intact Walled City. There are a range of tours to choose from and walking tours are the best way to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and learn about the history of Derry/Londonderry.
Be sure to look for the famous Derry Girls mural painted on Badger’s gable wall. You can catch up with Derry Girls before your visit to Northern Ireland on Netflix. It is is set in the 1990s and follows 16-year-old Erin and her friends growing up in 1990s Derry during the Northern Ireland Conflict.
After leaving the city of Derry/Londonderry and completing the Causeway Coastal route, head south towards Gortin Glen Forest Park and get lost in the wonderful forest. There are over 10 km of walking trails, over 12 km of Mountain Bike Trails, a 6 km scenic drive and a fabulous playpark for the children. Spend the afternoon in Omagh and then head to Enniskillen to visit the Ennikillen Castle Museums and finishing your day at Castle Coole.
Head to the Marble Arch Caves, set in the foothills of Cailcagh Mountain, they were formed over 340 million years ago. The landscape is the perfect combination of caves, rivers, mountains, ancient woodlands, waterfalls and gorges, offering an incredible range of activities and experiences to visitors. Tickets can be purchased online and can be bought up until midnight the day prior to your trip. In the afternoon head to the stunning National Trust property Florence Court before heading east towards Newcastle.
The beauty of the Mournes can be felt as soon as they come into view. Its 12 peaks have been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it certainly lives up to the title. The Mourne Mountains are the highest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland and an absolute must visit during your time in NI. If you are a keen hiker, you might like to plan your trip to include more than one day in this area.
Silent Valley Mountain Park is another special place that’s not to be missed. The Silent Valley Reservoir was built to gather water from the Mourne Mountains and is the main water supply source for most of County Down and a large part of Belfast. Surrounded by mountains, the parkland is stunning with lakes, a pond, play park, cafe and endless walking trails. Pick a trail and follow it to submerge in the beauty of the area.
End the day driving towards the Ards Peninsula in preparation for your final day of exploring.
Drive the coastal road from Donaghadee to the National Trust property of Mount Stewart. Stop off at Portavogie Bay Beach, it is a beautiful beach in the heart of a thriving fishing town, which is famous for its prawns and herring. Portavogie has two beautiful bays and lots of coves to explore. The Ards Peninsula is a stunning area of Northern Ireland to explore and one where you could easily spend much more than one day.
If that’s convinced you to adventure around Northern Ireland, why not do it in one of our campervans – click the book now button on our website to hire your next adventure!