Ballycastle is a lovely, colourful little town situated on the sea of Moyle, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Irish Sea. It is at the heart of the Causeway Coastal Route, and many marvellous, memory-making experiences are right here.
Here are three of our favourite things to do around here.
3. For Artistic Souls
There is a cornucopia of things for artistic souls to do in and around Ballycastle.
Corrymeela is a world known peace and reconciliation centre and accepts volunteers on a regular basis for their group work, conference work and maybe just to help keep the place neat and tidy for a while. The work here is one of the most important you can do, especially in these ‘interesting times’. Karma building is always a good thing.
Ballycastle beach is a beautiful stretch of soft sand and occasional shingle. The soul is always soothed by the sea. Finish your walk with a coffee in Shorebird, a tiny coffee shop overlooking the beach, just beside the tennis courts.
To get an understanding of the town’s burgeoning foodie reputation, book Irish Feast’s Ballycastle Food Tour and wander around the town, learning about its history and culture through the food on your plate. Feed your love for the town.
There’s a great love of traditional music here, and three and four nights a week you can down a glass of something convivial and listen to some of the best sessions around.
2. For Active Bodies
Ballycastle and the surrounding area are made for sports and exhilarating activities of all sorts, for both water babies and landlubbers.
For the water babies among us, we would recommend staying at least a week to explore all the fabulous options fully. There’s kayaking along the granite shore with Causeway Coast Kayaking, scuba diving around wrecks with PADI qualified Aquaholics and why not try coasteering? This is jumping off cliffs and wading through the sea, which you can do with Causeway Coasteering. Or go birdwatching and dolphin spotting by taking a scheduled ferry with the Rathlin Island Ferry Company or booking a private boat tour with Captain Chris McCaughan.
You could cycle (yes, cycle!) across the bay with Sea Haven Waterbikes or simply go for a paddle in the sea.v Sandcastle building optional. For less active water babies, Sea Haven also has a Seaweed Bath & Spa.
For landlubbers, there’s an equal amount of great things to do. Ireland is renowned for our horses and horsemanship, so why not go horse riding with either Shean’s Horse Farm or Rathlin Pony Trekking on Rathlin Island? Feel the wind in your hair!
The forests surrounding the town are a walkers’ dream. From Ballycastle Forest, at the bottom of Fairhill Street just off the Diamond, to Clare Forest, a small wood between Ballycastle and Ballintoy on the west of the town; from Ballypatrick Forest which runs under the main Causeway Coast Road and back over the mountains to the east to Breen Oak Wood, one of the oldest woods remaining in Ireland. Check out WalkNI for more inspiration. With a dog at your heels, a cheese sandwich and a flask of black tea in your rucksack, what could be more perfect?
Or perhaps you could play what is fast becoming our national sport – golf! (There’s a little golf course hosting a competition nearby this year).
There’s a links course in the town (Ballycastle Golf Club) and a parks course at The Dark Hedges Hotel (Gracehill Golf Club). Test yourself morning and afternoon!
For one of the most unusual ways of seeing Northern Ireland while keeping your ‘sporty’ credentials, why not go on a running tour with Born to Run Tours? Johnny has a range of runs which go past or through major tourist attractions. Barmy but brilliant!
1. Tourism Triumphs
Ballycastle is a stone’s throw from world-renowned attractions & Game of Thrones film locations. Stay a couple of nights in the town to really experience them rather than rushing through, barely remembering them.
The most famous is, of course, the Giant’s Causeway. Take a walk with Dalriada Kingdom Tours to delve into the Causeway’s story; follow it up with a warming dram at The Bushmills Distillery.
Brave the rickety Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge, to impress your friends and then walk around the cliff top to Ballintoy Harbour (where Theon returned to the Iron Islands).
Afterwards, be awed at The Dark Hedges (The King’s Road), Fair Head (Dragonstone) Murlough Bay and the Cushendun Caves: all within a short drive of Ballycastle and all astounding. The location scout for Game of Thrones was a laid back South African with an eye for the unusual, all of which Northern Ireland delivered in spades. To save time and enhance your GOT experience, book Giant Tours (Flip was a stand-in for Hodor!).
Ok, there may be more than 3 things on this list, but did you honestly expect just 3 things in such a wonderful corner of the world?! Come and find your top things to do in Ballycastle and let us know how you get on.