Northern Ireland is the perfect compact country to head out on a coastal drive. A road trip Northern Ireland is full of cute towns, good food and packed full of activities. This Northern Ireland road trip itinerary also covers GOT locations and a visit to whisky distilleries!

From the millions of years old Giant’s Causeway to different Game of Thrones filming locations, from the jagged landscapes of Glens of Antrim to the largest lake in Ireland – Lough Neagh, you will be greeted with breath-taking adventures if you head on a road trip Northern Ireland.

And of course, places like Whiterocks Beach and Ballycastle Beach are the highlight of the Northern Ireland coast road.

So, if you’re wondering about the best time to visit, the number of days, the ideal route, and all the other logistical questions, read on and you will find the perfect 5 day Northern Ireland itinerary for your road trip.

This trip focuses on covering the major tourist attractions and popular spots along the road at a leisurely pace instead of jumping from one place to another.

It will give you a chance to add different tours of your choice or sights locals recommend, depending on your interests.

Castle and blue sea in Northern Ireland from a plane on road trip Northern Ireland

A road trip Northern Ireland for 5 days

Northern Ireland road trip day 1 – Belfast

 Fly to Belfast


This itinerary starts and ends in Belfast. So, depending on how many days you can spare, you can first reach Belfast, stay there for a day or two, explore the best of the city, and then follow this Ireland road trip itinerary.

We made sure to opt for a morning flight as there are budget flights in the morning. Keep in mind that there are 2 airports in the city of Belfast.

The George Best City airport is 4 miles from Belfast’s city center, and the international airport is on the city’s outskirts. The best way to get to the city center, if your flight lands at the international airport, is to take the Airport Express 300 bus service.

If you are landing at the George Best City airport, taking a taxi to your place of accomodation is not very expensive.

I recommend using Value Cabs app to get a taxi quickly as their service is pretty great. The best thing is that if you avail their taxi service, each receipt rewards you with a discount at a variety of attractions of the city!

Places to stay in Belfast


Due to the thriving nightlife, numerous pubs and arts scene, Cathedral Quarter is where most travellers choose to stay. Others also prefer the Queens Quarter.

The House Belfast is a good option if you are planning to stay in Belfast. It is located in a fab spot near the Opera, has a good bistro and is close to the lush Botanic area. Couples also prefer this hotel. Book here

The Titanic Hotel Belfast is a fantastic option if you are planning to stay near the Titanic Museum. With beautiful views of the Titanic Quarter, the hotel has an art-deco design and a great bar. It is a mile from town and is ideal for staying close to town but away from the traffic! Book here

Things to do in Belfast

Belfast is a fantastic city to explore! I highly recommend the following places that you have to visit as part of the Northern Ireland itinerary:

Cathedral Quarters locality

Some of the most stunning and historic streets and buildings may be found in this area of the city. It also has a huge selection of bars and eateries. Although it is famous for its nightlife, it is also a nice place to go after lunch.

Here, you will get a chance to discover some of the city’s best street art, its stunning architecture and mouth-watering food. The atmosphere of the area is absolutely wonderful!

Titanic museum and a ride of the locality via the Wee Tram

A lovely way to quickly explore the Titanic quarters is the Wee Tram. Every half-hour, a train departs from the Titanic Museum with tickets available on board.

I would recommend purchasing tickets in advance recently renovated Titanic Museum. The price of the tickets vary depending on the experience selected and a great option is to take combo ticket for the Museum and SS Nomadic.

The Titanic Belfast Museum tour takes you back in time as you understand the history of the construction of the Titanic, her maiden voyage, and the tragic circumstances that resulted in her sinking.

It offers a peek into Belfast of the 1900s. The best part of the entire tour is a video which reveals the actual underwater search that led to the discovery of the Titanic’s wreckage, making the entire experience totally worthwhile.


Titanic Museum

Address: 1 Olympic Wy, Queen’s Road, Belfast BT3 9EP

Timings: 9 AM – 6 PM everyday

Price: Adult – £21.50, Child (5-15) – £10.00, Child (under 5) – Free, Family Pass (2 adults, 2 children) – £53.00, Essential Carer – Free, Student/Unemployed [Mon-Fri Only] – £17.00, Senior (60+) [Mon-Fri Only] – £17.00

If you prefer skip the tour tickets, it is best to book tickets in advance as they are limited

Titanic museum on road trip Northern Ireland

A mural of a girl with a flag in Belfast on road trip Northern Ireland

Shankill road

You just can’t miss talking a walk along Shankill Road!

It may get tiring, with all the walking and clicking pictures. But, all along the walk, you will see lots of Murals which you can admire!

The entire walk is around 1-2 miles. End you walk through the route leading to Peace Wall.


Other options for things to do in Belfast

Unfortunately, I was unable to visit the following places but I would urge you to explore these places!

Crumlin Road Gaol

Dating back to 1845, Crumlin Road Gaol was closed in 1196. Now, it is a major tourist attraction and a great way to see how those imprisoned in ‘The Crum’, as it was called, lived their life.

You might feeling a chill as you walk through the building but that is pretty normal. The eerie shivers are most prominent when you stand near the tunnel connecting the prison to the Crumlin Road Courthouse.



Crumlin Road Gaol

Address: 53-55 Crumlin Rd, Belfast BT14 6ST

Timings: Monday – Thursday 10.30 AM – 3 PM, Friday and Saturday 10.30 AM – 12 AM, Sunday 10.30 AM – 3 PM

Price: Adults – £12.00, online £10.80, Children 5 – 15 yrs, £7.50, online £5.00, Concession Senior citizens 60 + & students – £10.00, online £9.00, Family 2 Adults & 2 Children £30, online £27


Ulster Museum

The Ulster Museum, with its extensive collection, is a must-see for those interested in art and history enthusiasts. You get a chance to explore Ireland and other parts of the world while getting up close and personal with dinosaurs, Egyptian mummies, and plunging into discovery areas!


Ulster Museum

Address: Botanic Ct, Belfast BT9 5AB

Timings: 10 AM – 5 PM everyday except Mondays. Closed Mondays

Price: Free

St. George’s Market

An amazing place to sample local produce and enjoy the vibes of the city on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. A foot inside the market and you will hear your stomach grumble as the aroma of the foods fills your nostril.

Interesting fact: there has been a Friday market here every week since 1604 with more than 240 traders displaying their products.


St. George’s Market

Address: St George’s Market, East Bridge St, Belfast BT1 3NQ

Timings: Friday 8am – 2pm Saturday, 9am – 3pm, Sunday 10am – 3pm. closed Monday – Thursday

Price: Free

Belvoir Park Forest

Belvoir Park Forest is a working forest located inside Belfast, connected to Lagan Valley park., making it one of the city’s most underappreciated location. You can choose between the shorted 1.5-mile stroll or a lengthier tour with a side visit to the Lagan Valley Regional Park.

Check out this info if you’re looking for free things to do in Belfast.


Belvoir Park Forest

Address: Belvoir Dr, Belfast BT8 7QT

Timings: Open 24 hours

Price: Free

St Georges market in Belfast on road trip Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland road trip day 2

Belfast – Carrickfergus Castle – the Glens of Antrim

The distance between Belfast and Carrickfergus Castle is only 18 kilometers (10 miles) and you will reach the castle within half an hour.

The castle opens to the public at 9 am. So, you can start your day early and head off for your road trip Northern Ireland after having a hearty breakfast at Abbeydene House.


Carrickfergus Castle

The Carrickfergus Castle was built way back in 1177 and is Ireland’s best preserved historical structure. No wonder some of the key scenes from the famous Game of Thrones series were shot here!

Visit this Norman castle and wander up to the roof level, and roam around to reach the walls. All along the walk, you can witness the mesmerizing views of the sea and the Carrickfergus town. I recommend spending atleast an hour in the Castle to explore it properly.


Carrickfergus Castle

Address: Marine Hwy, Carrickfergus BT38 7BG

Timings: 9 AM – 5 PM Tuesday – Friday, 9.30 AM – 4.30 PM Weekends, Closed Mondays

Price: Guide prices: Adult £6.00, Child 5 – 17 years £4.00, Child Under 5, 65+, Students (18+with official student card), disabled, unemployed citizens £4.50, Family (5 or more) £18.00, Group rate available for 15 adults (+1 tour guide free) £4.50 pp

The Glens of Antrim


Your next stop is the equally famous and breathtaking Glens of Antrim.

The distance between Carrickfergus Castle and the Glens of Antrim is around 56 kilometers (35 miles). Considering the regular traffic in the morning hours, you will need a little more than an hour to cover this distance.

There is a total of 9 Glens of Antrim and each one has its own beautiful sights for you.

From historic structures and stunning waterfalls to tiny villages and huge rock formations, you will get to see everything around here.
Here are a few must-visit points for your Northern Ireland road trip itinerary when you are exploring the Glens of Antrim –

  • Glenariff Forest Park – for its many outdoor activities

  • Glenarm Castle –  for the combination of culture and history

  • The village of Carnlough – for Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland

  • Cranny Falls – for several viewpoints along the way


Village of Carnlough on northern ireland road trip
Boats in Village of Carnlough on northern ireland road trip

Where to stay in Ballycastle


I would suggest staying the beautiful town of Ballycastle as there are plenty of hotels in and around the town.

The best place to stay during your road trip around Northern Ireland would be Carnately Lodge. A luxurious option is The Salthouse Hotel.

Wherever you decide to stay for the night while visiting Glens of Antrim, ensure they have ample parking space.

Northern Ireland road trip day 3

Ballycastle – Carrick-a-Rede – Giant’s Causeway – Dunluce Castle – Derry

Staying in Ballycastle means you are less than half an hour from the popular Carrick-a-Rede.

When you have a Northern Ireland road trip 5 days, these are some of the must-visit spots. The distance between these 2 points is 9 kilometers (6 miles).


The Dark Hedges

If you are okay with a little hassle, then you must add this location to your Northern Ireland road trip. A location abundant with charisma, this is a photographer’s delight that will definitely entice you!

While these are not exactly on the Causeway Coastal Route, it has become famous worldwide because of the Games of Thrones TV Show. It is the location where Arya escapes via the King’s road and can be found here.

Do note that the trees may not look exactly the way they did in the series as there was a huge storm causing man of the trees to lose branches and get uprooted.



Suspended over 100 feet above the Atlantic Sea, joining the rocky cliffs by spanning 66 feet, crossing this Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is an adventure in itself and needs to be a part of all road trips Northern Ireland.

You will get to enjoy the view of Scotland and Rathlin Island, if the weather permits.

Keep in mind that it takes around 20 minutes to walk from the car park to Carrick-a-Rede bridge and then after crossing, you can easily spend over an hour soaking in the striking vista.

It is recommended to book the tickets in advance if you want to cross this bridge.

If you’d prefer confirmed bookings then this tour from Belfast sorts all bookings and is highly recommended.



Address: County, 119a Whitepark Rd, Ballintoy, Antrim, Ballycastle BT54 6LS

Timings: 9.30 AM – 5 PM everyday, however can be closed on short notice if weather is bad, especially winds

Price: Walking in the area is free, crossing the bridge is 6.50 Euro per person


Still boat near carrick a rede bridge on northern ireland road trip

Causeway School museum on road tips northern ireland

Giant’s Causeway

The distance between Carrick-a-Rede and Giant’s Causeway is only 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) and you will need less than half an hour to cover this patch.

You can either go via Whitepark Rd/A2 or via Straid Road. This ancient beauty is all about more than 40,000 giant black basalt columns that rise out of the sea.

And this exact sight has inspired the name – Giant’s Causeway. Many felt that it looks as if rock giants are coming out of the sea and marching over Scotland. The landscapes that will take your breath away at a first glance are a result of volcanic activity that happened more than 50 million years ago!

No matter which route you take or how many days you spend in this country, your Northern Ireland trip is incomplete without a day dedicated to Giant’s Causeway.

You can either explore this area on your own or you can opt for a guided tour to make the most of your time. Giant’s Causeway – walking tour is for an hour and has an excellent local, English-speaking guide.

If you’d prefer a fully guided tour from Belfast then this tour is highly recommended and makes sure you get the most of your road trip!


Giant’s Causeway

Address: Bushmills BT57 8SU

Timings: 9 AM – 5 PM everyday. Closed 24, 25, 26 December

Price: £13 for adults, £6.50 for children (5-17), Free for National Trust members and children under 5

Dunluce Castle

The distance between Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle is only 7 kilometers (4.5 miles) and you can reach the castle in 10-15 minutes via A2.

Depending on your visiting day, you can check the opening and closing times as well as ticket prices here.

The roofless ruins of Dunluce Castle are breathtaking. While the castle was at this spot since the 13th century, the ruins today have been standing since the 15th century. This is ideal for a quick pit stop!



Dunluce Castle

Address: 87 Dunluce Rd, Bushmills BT57 8UY

Timings: 9.30 AM – 5 PM everyday

Price: £6 for adults, £4 for children (5-17), Free seniors over 65 and children under 5


After spending the last 2 days of your road trip Northern Ireland in the heart of natural beauty, it is time to enjoy a city’s hustle and bustle.

And what better choice than Derry, right? This exciting Irish city is all about interesting history, cultural vibes, and good food.Though Derry is a little away from Dunluce Castle, it will make for a good stop to spend the night.

The distance between Dunluce Castle and Derry is 61 kilometers (38 miles) and you will need a little more than an hour to cover the road.

Where to stay in Derry


Derry offers a combination of budget hotels, luxury stays, and service apartments.

You can opt for Maldron Hotel Derry as it is located inside the historic walls of Derry, making it easier to reach different restaurants and theatres. It also has a parking facility, something that is a necessary part of your Northern Ireland road trip.

If you are looking for something luxurious, then Bishop’s Gate Hotel is the perfect place. It is also located inside the city walls and was built in 1899. The architectural side with a touch of renovations is perfect for your relaxing stay.

Since Derry is a popular location, if you’re planning to stay longer Rentola Ireland has rental properties you can check out.

View of village of Derry with church on road trips northern ireland

Northern Ireland road trip day 4

Derry – Ulster American Folk Park – Omagh

You can start your day by exploring what Derry has to offer before hopping in a car for your road trip Northern Ireland.

I would suggest booking this Derry: Walled City Private Tour as it will give you a chance to understand more about the history of Derry. If you decide to explore Derry on your own, then keep in mind that it is the only city in Ireland where historic city walls are still completely intact.

Along with the walls, you must also include the Museum of Free Derry and St Columb’s Park in your day plan.


Ulster American Folk Park

After you leave Derry behind, it is time to head towards Ulster American Folk Park.

You will need to cover a distance of around 48 kilometers (30 miles) and it will require around an hour. But, instead of going via Victoria Road and A5, I would recommend taking a road that passes through the Sperrin mountains.

Sperrin mountain range can be a stunning addition to any of the Northern Ireland road trips.

This is the place where you will come across deep green valleys, meandering rivers, and tiny lakes that add to the charm. You can stop by and spend some time hiking through the trails.

Or if you do not have enough time on the road and looking forward to Northern Ireland scenic drives, then simply driving through the Sperrin mountains will be a fine experience.

And now about Ulster American Folk Park!

This open-air museum has more than 30 buildings telling you a story that spans over 300 years. From agricultural displays to farm animals and from different skills demonstrations to a sampling of traditional Irish food, you will get to see it all on the premises

You can easily spend around 3 hours exploring Ulster American Folk Park as it will keep you engaged with interesting exhibits.


Ulster American Folk Park

Address: 2 Mellon Rd, Omagh BT78 5QU

Timings: 10 AM – 4.30 PM everyday

Price: £6 for adults, £4 for children (5-17), Free seniors over 65 and children under 5



And now head to the tiny town of Omagh that sits only a few minutes away from Folk Park. Omagh is known for its markets and shopping areas. So, if you want to go souvenir shopping or stroll around window shopping, then this is the place to be!

Where to stay in Omagh


The recently renovated Laurels Bed & Breakfast Lodge is a good option. The free parking is available and rooms are decent as well.
You can also consider staying at Rooms At Rue as it is centrally located. The family rooms, free parking, and an on-site restaurant are some of the facilities here.

Sheep staring at camera on road trips northern ireland

Northern Ireland road trip day 5

Omagh – Armagh Observatory and Planetarium – Lough Neagh – Belfast

After spending a night at Omagh, you can start your day fresh and head for the last leg of the journey.

If you want, you can stop by Strule Arts Centre on your way out of the town. Check if this multi-purpose arts venue has something of your interest.

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is one of the main tourist attractions of the county town of Armagh. Known for being the longest-running planetarium in the British Isles, this place is added to many Northern Ireland road trips.

You will find different shows and exhibits here that attract amateurs as well as seasoned astronomy enthusiasts.

It is recommended to book your tickets in advance. You can check the calendar of shows and timings here before planning your visit.



Armagh Observatory and Planetarium

Address: College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DB

Timings: 10 AM – 4.30 PM everyday except Mondays, closed Mondays

Price: £9 for adults, £6.50 for children (3-16), £6 for children, £8 for students and seniors

Lough Neagh

And now after all the wandering around, it is time to relax and unwind at Lough Neagh. Fishing and birdwatching are some of the popular activities at this largest lake on the island of Ireland.

You will find several idyllic walkways around here where you can be in the heart of nature.

You can stop by Oxford Island Nature Reserve. Spread over more than 280 acres, this is also home to Lough Neagh Discovery Centre.

Gather information about local flora and fauna, visit artists’ workshops, or simply walk around here before heading off to Belfast.


Game of Thrones tours


No trip to Northern Ireland is complete without a Game of Thrones Tour! Or, you could also take an Ireland tour that includes these stops.

Even if you are not a #GOT fan, don’t miss a chance to visit the site where the epic series was filmed. You will be surprised to discover these hiddem gems which, had it not been for the series, would never have been discovered! Today, they attract large number of visitors.

Even if you are not smitten with the #GOT bug, it is a great idea to visit the locations where these epic series were filmed. It will take you by surprise to discover hidden gems which may have gone unnoticed had it not been for Game of Thrones but now attracts many visitors.

We opted for a tour with McComb’s because they have officially been ferrying the crew across Northern Ireland every year when they return to shoot! That being said, they also have insider info on the latest sightings of the cast in the city!

If you have a spare day in hand, then you can opt for this Giant’s Causeway and Game of Thrones Day Tour from Belfast.

This day tour will introduce you to several GOT filming locations and a tour guide will ensure to give you as much information as possible to make it interesting for GOT fans.

And even though it covers Giant’s Causeway, no harm in visiting this spectacular location again, right?

Telephone booth and pub on northern ireland road trips

Be it rope bridges, limestone cliffs or dark hedges, no matter which scenic road you decide to explore, your Northern Ireland road trip will be full of surprises and unique experiences.

This one covers the best of the country in a week and will make sure you visit the must-do spots.

Visiting Derry in autumn or during Halloween would be a treat!


Road trip Northern Ireland FAQs


How many days are enough for Northern Ireland?

Even though Northern Ireland road trips can be covered in a hurry, it is recommended to dedicate at least 3 to 5 days to Northern Ireland.

It will give you a chance to explore nature as well as see what cities have to offer.


Where is nice for a drive in Northern Ireland?

Causeway Coastal Route is the best for a drive in Northern Ireland.

The entire stretch of 212 kilometers (130 miles) from Belfast to Derry is full of nature, tiny towns, mountains, lakes, and coastal beauty.


What is the most beautiful part of Northern Ireland?

The region of Glens of Antrim is without a doubt the most beautiful part of Northern Ireland as it has stunning landscapes dotted with tiny towns.

Be it Glenariff Forest Park or the village of Carnlough for its Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland, it is a paradise for all types of tourists.


What is the best month to visit Northern Ireland?

June to August is the best time to visit Northern Ireland as these are the summer months.

The summer season usually brings along warmer and dry weather that is perfect for a road trip in Northern Ireland.


Lavinia Dsouza

Award-winning Analyst, multi-nominated digital content creator and photographer Lavina Dsouza's words capture stories about culture and tradition mainly through its food and people. She has written and contributed to publications such as The Washington Post, Lonely Planet and Matador Network, to name a few. She is the editor of, a non-profit created to share inspiring stories from women of colour who break free from traditions and choose happiness.

She's also a speaker passionate about DEI and champions solo travel. She has collaborated with numerous renowned brands such as Intrepid Travel, TripAdvisor, Travel and Leisure and Adobe, to name a few.

She can be found on Twitter and Instagram.