Blackhead Lighthouse: when to visit, what to see, and things to know

From its storied history and where to eat to what’s nearby, this is all you need to know before your trip to Blackhead Lighthouse.

Located in Northern Ireland, Blackhead Lighthouse is one of the island’s most spectacular attractions along the coast.

Whether you’re a seafarer or sightseer looking for a unique thing to do, make sure to stop by Blackhead Lighthouse in County Antrim.

History – a fascinating landmark

The history of Blackhead Lighthouse.
Credit: Malcolm McGettigan

The commissioned blueprints for Blackhead Lighthouse were the third put forth for submission.

Previous to this, a design by the Belfast Harbour Board was presented and rejected in 1893. The second rejected attempt was in 1898 and was supported by Lloyd’s, the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, and the Harbour Board.

Blackhead Lighthouse was finally green-lighted and built between 1899-1902. The project was overseen by William Campbell and Sons and designed by William Douglass, engineer-in-chief of the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL).

The project cost an estimated £10,025 at the time, which is upwards of £1 million by today’s standards.

The lighthouse, which lies along the north Antrim coastline, guards the mouth of Belfast Lough, where it spills out into the North Channel that divides Northern Ireland and Scotland.

When to visit – weather and peak times

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Technically this attraction can be visited year-round, although summer, late spring and early autumn are best if you’re hoping for some good weather.

June to August sees the most visitors to this area, so if you prefer a more laid-back local atmosphere, avoid these peak times.

What to see – beautiful surroundings

What to see at Blackhead Lighthouse.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Enjoy the Blackhead Lighthouse and surrounding sea views along the Blackhead Path. Note that this coastal walk features steps and steep ascents and descents, so it would not be suitable for those less able.

Along the way, enjoy views over Belfast Lough and Larne Lough. Spot sea life include seals and marine birds that travel the shoreline. Other views along this route include Scrabo Tower and World War II fortifications.

Directions and where to park – travelling by car

Where to park and how to get there.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Travelling from Belfast, follow the A2 north-east to Whitehead. Once you’re in the locale, signs will point to Blackhead Lighthouse.

Whitehead car park is the best place to safely and legally snag a place to park when visiting Blackhead Lighthouse.

It is open year-round, and there are toilets on-site, too. From here, it is a short and scenic walk to Blackhead Lighthouse.

It is important to note that the lighthouse is private property. Visitors cannot park on-site unless they are guests staying at the property (more information on this later).

Things to know and what’s nearby – useful information

Visit the Whitehead Railway Museum after visiting Blackhead Lighthouse.
Credit: geograph.ie / Gareth James

Blackhead Lighthouse is one of 70 lighthouses in Ireland and one of the twelve lighthouses credited as the Great Lighthouses of Ireland.

The nearby Whitehead Railway Museum is a good shout for those interested in locomotives.

Alternatively, Whitehead Golf Club is situated just a stone’s throw from Blackhead Lighthouse. It offers tee times from £34 per person (non-members).

How long is the experience – how much time you will need

How much time you will need.
Credit: geograph.ie / Albert Bridge

For a relaxed and enjoyable visit to Blackhead Lighthouse, we recommend giving yourself at least 1 hour 30 minutes. This will leave enough time to enjoy the Blackhead Path and surrounding sights at ease.

What to bring – pack the essentials

What to bring to Blackhead Lighthouse.
Credit: Pixabay / maxmann

Once you’re on the coastal path, there are few amenities readily available. With that in mind, bring what you need: some water, sunscreen, a rain jacket – basically whatever the day calls for!

Where to eat – fantastic restaurants

Grab a bite to eat at The Whistle Stop.
Credit: Facebook / @stopthewhistle7

There’s a terrific little cafe at the Whitehead Railway Museum if you choose to stop by. Alternatively, grab some grub in the town.

Here you will find an array of cosy cafes and coffee shops, as well as traditional pubs and restaurants.

Our top picks include The Whistle Stop for lunch and The Lighthouse Bistro for dinner.

Where to stay – a cosy night’s sleep

You can spend the night in Blackhead Lighthouse.
Credit: Instagram / @jkelly

If you’re planning to visit Blackhead Lighthouse, we recommend you stay at Blackhead Lighthouse!

Being one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland means this lighthouse has been refurbished as a tourism initiative and offers accommodation.

There are three restored lightkeepers’ houses on-site managed by the Irish Landmark Trust. Each boasts quaint decor, with period features and stunning sea views.

The houses sleep five, seven and four, and are available for a two-night stay minimum. Prices are from £412 per night, and booking well in advance is highly recommended.

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