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106km (66 miles) from Larne to Portstewart on the coastal A2; Larne: 40km (25 miles) from Belfast

The most extraordinary stretch of countryside in Northern Ireland, the glorious Antrim Coast Highway stretches north and west from Belfast, curving around toward Donegal. This beautiful rocky shoreline includes the North’s most striking sights: the awe-inspiring Giant’s Causeway and the picturesque Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Along the way, the coastal drive meanders under bridges and stone arches, passing crescent bays, sandy beaches, harbors, and huge rock formations. The ocean gleams beside you as you curve along its craggy shores, and the light creates intense colors. In the spring and autumn, you can often have the road all to yourself.

 

The drive is more or less equidistant from Belfast and Derry. It’s possible to see all the sights in 1 day, staying in either city, although most travelers prefer to get a room on the coast and take their time.

The evocatively named Glens of Antrim are really nine green valleys stretching north and west from Belfast, and curving around toward Donegal. The names of the glens are all based on local legends, and although the meanings are largely lost to the ages, the popular translations are: Glenarm (glen of the army), Glencloy (glen of the hedges), Glenariff (ploughman's glen), Glenballyeamon (Edwardstown glen), Glenaan (glen of the rush lights), Glencorp (glen of the slaughter), Glendun (brown glen), Glenshesk (sedgy glen), and Glentaisie (Taisie's glen).

Many modern residents of this region are descendants of the ancient Irish and the Hebridean Scots, so this is one of the strongholds in Northern Ireland of the Gaelic tongue. To this day, the glen people are known to be great storytellers.

For bird-watchers, the coastal moors and cliffs and the offshore nature reserve on Rathlin Island are prime destinations. Each August, the seaside town of Ballycastle plays host to one of Ireland's oldest traditional gatherings, the Oul' Lammas Fair.