The Giants Causeway is definitely the most popular tourist attraction on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal route and it’s not hard to see why. But there are so many more attractions along this route that are just as fascinating, some maybe just a little more hidden that others. We’ve put together this short list of some hidden gems that can be found along Northern Ireland’s Causeway coastal route that are perfect for any history buff or culture vulture!
Perched on the edge of a majestic cliff in Whitehead that overlooks the Irish Sea, Blackhead Lighthouse is arguably one of Ireland’s most famous lighthouses. The lighthouse was built in 1902 and became famous for guiding many famous ships during Belfast’s glory days of shipping, including the ill-fated Titanic. Attached to the lighthouse is the Lightkeepers Houses, three fully restored houses where guests can stay in to embrace in the beauty and history of Northern Ireland.
Magilligan Martello Tower
What was once used to guard against possible French invasions during the Napoleonic Wars is now an important historical site in Northern Ireland. Magilligan Martello tower was built towards the end of the wars in 1812 to the northwest of County Londonderry, making it one of the most northerly of the towers built all around the coasts of Ireland. Visit the tower during the summer months and you might get to experience one of the Living History events that take place here and learn more about what life was like living in the tower.
Rathlin Island is another one of Northern Ireland’s historical yet hidden gems located in between Ballycastle in County Antrim and the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. Legend says that Robert the Bruce was driven from Scotland by Edward I of England in 1306 and took refuge on the island. Measuring only six miles long and one mile wide, Rathlin Island is home to a population of around only 150 people, although, this number seems to be slowly increasing. The tranquil island can be quickly reached by ferry from Ballycastle just six miles from the harbour on the island.
Built in 1485 by Rory MacQuillan, Bonamary Friary is nothing more than remains of a Franciscan monastery. Visitors can find Bonamary Friary just off Cushendall Road on route to Ballycastle and can see some of the interesting features that are well-preserved including the cloister, gatehouse, altar and church. It’s thought amongst historians that the MacDonnell clan fought for and claimed the friary from the MacQuillans in 1588 and the coffin of chieftain Sorley Boy MacDonnell lies within the grounds.
Mussenden Temple is a circular building that forms part of the estate of Frederick Angustus Hervey, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol. Now owned by the National Trust, visitors can explore the 18th century ruins which stand on top of a 120ft cliff near Castlerock. But the view from the temple is worth a visit itself. From here, visitors can see Downhill Strand towards Magilligan Point and County Donegal. It’s no wonder that the Temple is available for wedding ceremonies through arrangement with the National Trust.
Let the team at Best of Scotland arrange your trip to Northern Ireland. Our Causeway Coastal Route tour lets you spend one week in Northern Ireland uncovering some of the Causeway Coastal Route’s best attractions, breath-taking scenery and a mystical and mysterious past.
Or, you can check out more of our Northern Ireland packages here.
Get in touch with us today to find out more.