Starting and ending in the capital city, we have plotted the route of our ideal Northern Ireland road trip. It includes all the must-see points and recommendations for outdoor adventures at every point of the journey, as well as some of the best pitches for motorhomes in Northern Ireland within easy access to the region’s best attractions.
Before you go
Remember that it’s illegal to wild camp, so when driving the Causeway Coastal Route from Belfast, you’ll have to stay in campervan parks. Luckily, these aren’t too expensive, often under £25, and come with the bonus of amenities like laundry, proper bathrooms, electricity hookups and wifi. If you need more options, you can check out our list of campsites suitable for motorhomes in Northern Ireland.
We recommend going between May and September. May has, statistically, the most hours of sunshine but the warmest months are June, July, and August.
Remember to take your time! The road between Belfast to Londonderry may only be 120 miles long, but additional scenic routes loop off the main designated route. Plus, this dramatic landscape demands that you take the time to get out and explore it, so make time to work hikes, bike adventures and boat trips into your days, not to mention the sightseeing activities in the itinerary below!
The scenic roads vary widely too. You depart on an A road from a busy city, and wind through potentially narrow B roads, from seashore to mountain tops and through small hamlets and coastal harbours. So, bear in mind that a bigger motorhome isn’t always better! Luckily, you’re sure to find plenty of motorhomes suitable for Northern Ireland on our website.
Northern Ireland Road Trip Itinerary
You can arrive in Belfast on ferries operated by Stenaline from either Liverpool or Cairnryan. Driving a bit further North may be worthwhile, as the crossing is only 2.5 hours compared to 8. Upon arrival, get out and explore the capital. It has a grungy atmosphere, and whether you love or hate city life, there’s an undeniably overwhelming character that needs to be experienced. To really appreciate Belfast, be open to embracing its intense history and the tragedies of the last few decades, and admire how it has bounced back. Join a free walking tour to learn about this tense political history, and if you have time, be sure to check out the Crumlin Road Gaol. Spending a few hours in the Titanic Quarter is a must, as is heading to the Cathedral Quarter to sample the bohemian nightlife after sundown.
Stay at the Dundonald Touring Caravan Park just 20 minutes’ drive from the city centre for £24.
2. Carrickfergus Castle
To begin the Causeway Coastal Route from Belfast, take the Antrim Coast Road (A2) to and make Carrickfergus your first stop. It’s a 1.5hr drive and ideal stop on your way north: perched on the town’s shoreline is a stunning 12th-century castle. It’s Northern Ireland’s best-preserved Norman citadel and has an interactive museum just beyond the entrance.
3. The Gobbins
A few miles out of Carrickfergus along the A2 is the Gobbins Coastal Walk, which clings onto the cliffs of the scenic Islandmagee peninsula. This exhilarating path was first enjoyed in the early 1900s and has been re-imagined, giving unparalleled access to the rugged Antrim Coast. The path is at times challenging, with spectacular tubular and suspension bridges, caves, steps, and tunnels. Luckily this dramatic coastal experience is open, but bookings must be made prior to arrival and can be done so online.
The view from Fair Head over the Norn Irish coast toward the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge and Sheep Island
4. Ballycastle, Carrick-a-Rede and the Glens of Antrim.
The next stop on your Northern Ireland road trip itinerary is Ballycastle. Find out why this small town was named the Best Place to Live in Northern Ireland in 2016 by the Sunday Times. Then, be sure to traverse the precarious Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge that links the mainland with the stunning craggy outcrop of Carrick Island. Pitch up less than 2 miles away at the Glenmore Caravan and Camping Park, and unwind by enjoying the live music at their on-site pub. Whilst here, be sure to take the time to don your hiking gear or unload your bikes because the town sits near the Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which includes Rathlin Island (visit this seabird and puffin haven via a 40-minute boat trip). Or, at the famous Fair Head, you can find the “Grey Man’s Path” trail, which gives spectacular views along the northeast coast. For more information on walking and cycling trails, visit Walkni and Cycleni.
5. Dark hedges
One of the must-see stops for all road trips in Northern Ireland requires an inland detour to the Dark Hedges road in Ballymoney. Be sure to get out and walk, try to capture its world-famous haunting beauty on camera, and pretend you’re making a cameo on Game of Thrones! From here, it’s just 20 minutes’ drive to the Giant’s Causeway.
6. Giant’s Causeway
This is the most famous stop on your Northern Ireland road trip itinerary. According to legend, the giant Finn McCool built the Causeway as a path to connect Ireland with Scotland so he could take part in a fight. Although the columns don’t quite bridge the two nations, walking around the Giant’s Causeway can easily take a few hours. Plenty of great photo opportunities and even some hiking trails await! You can purchase an audio tour from the wonderful visitors’ centre which tells the legend, geology, and history of the Causeway or keep your costs down by visiting for free. Park in the closest town, take a shuttle to the site and walk around the visitors’ centre.
Stay at the Causeway Coast Holiday Park for less than £20 a night and unrivalled access to the area’s other attractions, not to mention the views across the Glens AONB and the coast.
7. Portrush and Old Bushmills Distillery
Twenty minutes’ drive from the Giant’s Causeway is the popular tourist town of Portrush. Here, you will have reached the northernmost point of County Antrim, where the peninsula juts out over the Atlantic. It’s a great point to set off on sightseeing boat tours. Don’t forget to visit the Old Bushmill’s Distillery – thought to be the oldest whiskey distillery in the world - for a historical tour and tasting.
Road trips in Northern Ireland tend to attract surfers and ocean-swimming fans. If this is you, head to the Portstewart Strand to discover why. It’s a major coastal destination and holds Blue Flag status for all its beaches and coastal walks. There’s a recommendable seafood restaurant on the beach called Harry’s Shack, and the seafront also has an array of hotels, wine bars, and ice cream parlours. Poke is the colloquial term for ice-cream, and Morelli’s are known to do it best. Stay late for the vibrant nightlife.
9. Mussenden Temple, Limavady and Roe Valley Country Park
Drive half an hour from Portstewart to Coleraine to see the 18th century Mussenden Temple that overlooks the sandy beaches of Downhill. You’ll find great walking routes to explore on the way to Derry/Londonderry.
Pitch up for the night at the Carrowmena Activity Centre in Limavady after stocking up on supplies in the town. The glamping site has 15 pitches available for more experienced campers at £24 a night and is located perfectly close to the beautiful Roe Valley Country Park for hikers to explore.
Learn more about Northern Ireland’s political history by joining a walking tour and traversing the 17th-century walls which surround both past years of conflict and present times of local friendliness. Enjoy the thriving local foodie scene and walk across the Peace Bridge, which is lit up at night, and take in the view back over the city.
On your way back to the capital, make the most of the spectacular countryside and drive via Hannahstown to see the Belfast viewpoint at Divis and Black Mountain Walk. This is the heart of the Belfast Hills and provides the backdrop to the city skyline. Find a diversity of wildlife in the rich archaeological landscape and walk through heath, on stone tracks, boardwalks or road.
Finally, once back in Belfast, be sure to grab a Guinness and a hot bowl of traditional Irish stew at the historic Kelly’s Cellars on Bank street to relax after your adventure!
This itinerary should have your Northern Ireland road trip all planned out, so all you need to do now is find the perfect motorhome to take on your journey! You can hire a private motorhome in Northern Ireland, and download all of your road trip apps beforehand. Then all that's left is to start the adventure.