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A self-guided journey through the land of giants, castles and islands.
A self-guided journey through a land of giants, castles and islands, complete with the chance to meet a local celebrity (the causeway goat), this seven night road trip holiday to the North of Ireland will leave you spellbound.
Start your journey on the world famous, and still fantastically unspoilt, North Antrim Coast. This is an area of rugged elegance where stunning Glens sweep down to the sea. Not to be missed, of course, is the world famous Giant’s Causeway, with its signature columns of dark cut rock, but there is so much more to discover here. Then travel along the coast into County Donegal – a place of turf fires, thatched cottages and traditional Irish music. The people here are friendly, the history ancient and pace of life leisurely!
Your first destination is the mighty Causeway Coast, where you will stay in the area’s premiere locally run small hotel. Having three nights here gives you the time to explore the area properly. En-route, we highly recommend following the amazing coastal road, through its small tunnels and fishing villages all the way from the town of Larne to the small village of Cushendun. Take a moment here to stop and see the renowned ‘Causeway Goat’ – this goat spends its days leisurely by the side of the river, next to a bronze statue dedicated to it – a strange sort of local celebrity! The best route now turns inland, under an old viaduct and out of the village, following the river and up through Glendun – one of the seven great Glens of Antrim. Here you will pass the splendid ‘Dark Hedges’, featured as the King’s Road in the series of ‘Game of Thrones’.
Centuries of history exude from the old timber beams and rough plaster walls of this landmark inn. At its heart is the gaslit sixteenth century snug, with soot-stained walls and ceilings and a pulley suspended above the fireplace. You could spend hours here over a Guinness or a dram, dreaming up romantic notions of encounters goneby. The snug is encased by a mere two hundred year old inn, with an even more modern, yet sympathetically designed, outer shell. Guest rooms are spacious and atmospheric, with individual character and attention to detail to keep design in-keeping with the building’s charm. On warmer summer afternoons and evenings, there is no better place to relax than the lovely outdoor courtyard.
Take a small stream train, that starts just a couple of hundred metres from your hotel, on the short journey to the Giant’s Causeway, the famous geological formation, with its iconic cliffs made from unique columns of uniform basalt rock. Perhaps take a tour of Bushmills Distillery for a taste of Irish whiskey, or pop off in the car to one of the other fantastic local heritage site such as the Carrick-a-Reid rope bridge or the historic ruins of Dunluce Castle. We’ll provide plenty of recommendations depending on your personal interests.
During your stay we will organise a trip to the magical Island of Rathlin. This, the largest of the Northern Ireland islands, has an incredible history, closely linked to Scotland and is where the two Celtic cultures can clearly be seen to combine. The ferry crossing takes only about 30 mins and is an experience in itself – watch out for seals and marine birds and even dolphins at the right time of year! Rathlin Island is home to Northern Ireland’s largest seabird sanctuary and a recently refurbished RSPB visitors centre. The island is great for exploring on foot, with many small paths and tracks, looking out over the magnificent coast to the western isles of Scotland or back to Ireland and the most impressive sight of the cliffs of Fairhead. Return at the end of the day to Bushmills. Your guide will accompany you to make sure you get the most from your visit to this unique island.
Heading west today along the coast you will pass some of Ireland’s biggest and best beaches, as well as the stunning Mussenden Temple perched at the edge of some magnificent cliffs, on your way to the vibrant city of Londonderry. Take some time here to meet the most enthusiastic of guides for a walking tour of its ancient walls, bringing the turbulent history of this most welcoming of cities to vivid life.
Later, continue West away from Derry, almost immediately crossing the border to ‘the South’, rounding the shores of mighty Lough Swilly, taking in the superb scenery as you head north again to your hotel.
An impressive building with a distinct country home feel to it, complete with croquet on the lawn, wooden floors and dark oak panelled walls, plus a fine restaurant in which to dine. The old downstairs cellar has been converted into a warm and cosy bar area, serving a fantastic range of microbrewery real ales (as well as the mandatory ‘Black Stuff’). You can also order exquisite, stone baked pizzas made from fresh, local ingredients, including herbs from the hotel’s own kitchen garden. This is a fun alternative from the restaurant, especially on a warm summer’s evening as you can sit out and enjoy it with a cold drink in hand.
Donegal marks the start of one of Ireland’s newest, yet oldest tourist attraction – The Wild Atlantic Way – clearly marked by a distinctive blue squiggle on signposts.
This county is is a delight to explore, with many kilometres of scenic driving and some of the best beaches in Ireland. Malin Head, at the tip of the Inishowen peninsula, is the most northerly point on mainland Ireland (yet it is in the “South” rather than Northern Ireland…). On a clear day, the views stretch across to the Scottish Hebrides and Kintyre peninsula.
There are many Neolithic sites – standing stones and cairns – if you are interested in pre-history, and a must-visit is the Doagh Famine Village, which tells the story of Ireland from 1845 to the present day in a very different style from any other tourist attraction. Head to the south of the county and the famous cliffs of Slieve League, which lay claim to being the highest sea cliffs in Europe. If you fancy some shopping, then there are a host of galleries, craft shops and woollen mills. Or if, like us, hopping on and off ferries is a key part of your holiday exploring, then head over to Arranmore Island. The largest inhabited island in Donegal, the short crossing takes you on a great voyage, passing through channels between other, smaller, deserted islands. After a relaxing time soaking up the delights of the island, cross back that day, ready for another comfortable stay in your marvellous country hotel.
On you last day you will travel to Belfast or whichever port or airport you have chosen. If you wish we can organise a final stop over in a welcoming hotel or guesthouse close to where you are departing from, to ensure you leave Ireland fully rested.
Arrive in Ireland and drive northwards to discover some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in Europe. Bring your own car by ferry, or arrive by plane and hire one locally – we can arrange this for you if you wish.
This is a two centre holiday, covering the Antrim Coast and Donegal.
£985 per person in March, £1035 per person in April & October, £1115 per person in May, June & September and £1135 per person in July & August.
Price is based on two adults sharing a double or twin ensuite room for six nights on a bed and breakfast basis. The holiday also includes return ferry travel to Rathlin Island as foot passengers, and a guided tour of the island, as well as a one day Visit Derry pass, covering a number of key attractions in the city, including a small group walking tour of the city walls.
Travel to Ireland
We would be delighted to book your travel to Ireland for this holiday. We would recommend Belfast as your point of entry, although it is also easy to arrive into Dublin or Rosslare.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All Ireland itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
You are requesting availability for
This holiday can be arranged from April to October.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
I have known the Giant’s Causeway since I was a wee boy. We visited every summer during the school holidays and, like many, I was entranced by the s...
A great Irish adventure! Lots of variety in every way. Loved the Causeway Coast - so many places to stop and look and take in the views.Barry & Jennifer, Cumbria, England
We found Ireland to be a lovely country with many interesting features, the highlights being the Titanic Experience & the Giant's Causeway.Sandy & Brenda, West Midlands, England
The holiday was most enjoyable. The scenery was amazing and your directions are excellent. It is great to have ideas of places to visit.Michael & Sally, Kent, England