Things to do
While visiting Ballycastle and the North Coast there is an unlimited possibility of things to do. Here are just a few ideas to get you started. Whether you are into walking, cycling, climbing, diving, fishing, painting or writing there will be something here for you. Please click on the links below to find out more.
This small sea-side town, located on the north Antrim coast is renowned for its friendliness and hospitality not to mention it outstanding beauty. You will find this unique hospitality in the local pubs and award winning restaurants.
May time brings the ever popular Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival hosting music and activities both on Rathlin and in Ballycastle. The town also hosts the oldest fair in Ireland, the Lammas Fair, which takes place on the last Monday and Tuesday of August.
It is an excellent location from which to visit many of the area's famous landmarks such as the Giant's Causeway World Heritage Site, Carrick a Rede Rope bridge, Rathlin Island, Bushmills Distillery, the 9 Glens of Antrim (2 of which are in Ballycastle) and much more.
The ruins of this Franciscan Friary, founded in the 1500s by Rory McQuillan are a popular place for visitors who enjoy a bit of history and superstition. There are many remarkable features which still remain and many graves dating back centuries, including a small unmarked cross which is said to be the grave of Julia McQuillan, The 'Black Nun', who lived here in the 17th century who is said to have predicted many future events. A plot marked by a large cross shows the graves of sailors from the 2 World Wars. Less than a 10 minute walk from the hostel.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
This rope bridge was originally erected during the summer months to allow Fishermen access to their nets on the small island. There is an approx 25 metre drop down to the sea and rocks.
The current rope bridge, placed by the National Trust, is now open to tourists all year (weather permitting) and boasts some marvellous views.
The most north eastern point of Ireland rises over 180 metres above sea level. This cliff face is a popular location for climbers from near and far, being the largest rock climbing area in the U.K, and is the view from our front door.
The Giant's Causeway, renowned for its hexagonal columns of layered basalt, Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you want Irish Myth and Legend then this is the place for you. The breathtaking cliffs and bays of this area are truly inspiring. Many ships have sunk around this area and perhaps the most famous being the 'Girona', a ship of the Spanish Armada in 1588.The Basalt columns, around 40,000 in total, are world famous Volcanic creations or if you believe Irish Myths are the handiwork of Finn McCool, the ancient Irish Giant who built a bridge to Scotland. Causeway stones can be found in Staffa Island in Scotland. This is an amazing place to visit either to walk the coastline from Carrick-a-Rede or experience the new state of the art Visitors Centre.
Antrim Coast & Glens
Each of the nine glens are different and each is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Their beauty holds rivers, waterfalls, wildlife, valleys, wild flowers and are the perfect location for walking. You can wander through these valleys at your leisure and take in the amazing beauty of this region. The names of these glens are Glenarm, Glencloy, Glenariff, Glenballyeamon, Glenaan, Glencorp, Glendun, Glenshesk and Glentaisie.
Walking in the Area
The local area provides a wide range of walk ways and paths for walkers. These include The Moyle Way, The Ulster Way, Ballycastle Heritage Trail. Ballypatrick Forest. Cycle the coastal road from either direction to Ballycastle via the A2 route. For the more adventurous try the Torr Head road coming from the Glens to Ballycastle.
This small L shaped island is located about 5 miles off the Antrim coast. Rathlin is Northern Ireland's only inhabited island at present less than 100 people still live permanently here. The perfect spot for walkers, climbers, anglers and pretty much anyone who is up for viewing a truly extraordinary place. The few cars make the roads excellent for walking and allow you to walk to the Bird sanctuary, home to millions of seabirds, seals lying on the beach, or the lighthouses, or the wonderful caves and cliff faces and of course head down to the pub for some craic with the locals. Dotted around the island are over 100 shipwrecks which fascinate divers all year round. An amazing experience which you must take the time to enjoy.
The Ould Lammas Fair
The oldest fair in Ireland is held on the last Monday and Tuesday in August and has been held uninterrupted for over three centuries. It is famous for its 'Dulse and Yellowman', Dulse being dried seaweed from the local beaches and Yellowman a hard yellow candy. Stalls line the streets of the town and sell anything from livestock to souvenirs. Its origin is unclear but two theories stand out - a celebration from Sorley Boy McQuillan for his Nephew or originally it was a sheep market. The 'Lammas', which means 'Loaf Mass' is one of the highlights of the year.
Glenariff Forest Park
Glenariff Forest Park provides the ideal destination for tourists visiting Northern Ireland and the North Antrim Coast for the outstanding Natural Beauty of the area. Described as "The Queen of the 9 Glens" to the world aclaimed Glens Of Antrim, Glenariff Forest Park offers a number of forest trails that offer panoramic landscapes and peaceful riverside walks. The park also offers the unique Waterfall Walkway which makes for a spectacular walk as-well as a stunning backdrop for photographers. This 3 mile path also passes through a National Nature Reserve making it the perfect location to experience the beauty of Northern Ireland.