THE clear, crisp autumn weather is the perfect time to plan a road trip in Northern Ireland. Get your motor running and explore some truly exceptional and even famous car touring routes as well as interesting attractions and things to see and do along the way.
Whether you are planning a spin up the road or a trip across the country, you can enjoy an exhilarating drive which could see you take in some of the most celebrated views in the world.
Tourism NI’s Destination Marketing and PR Manager, Ruth Burns explains why a road trip with friends or family is a great way to stave off the fast approaching winter blues:
“Just because the weather is cooler and the evenings are darker it doesn’t mean you can’t get out and about and discover some of Northern Ireland’s most stunning scenery.
“Northern Ireland is simply bursting with scenic views, tourist hot spots, filming locations and off the beaten track gems just waiting to be uncovered so get the map out and start planning your car adventure based on your interests,” added Ruth.
Tourism NI has put together a list of top road trips to embark on this autumn:
The Causeway Coast & Glens
The dramatic Causeway Coastal Route has been lauded by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC as one of the most scenic drives in the world and is 120 miles of scenic treasures with stunning panoramas and sea fronts. On your journey you can marvel at the Giant’s Causeway, visit the striking 800 year old Carrickfergus Castle, test your nerves on the Carrick–A–Rede rope bridge and seek cliff top sanctuary at Mussenden Temple.
Stops to include are the Old Bushmills Distillery where they have been making whiskey for over 400 years, the Mid Antrim Museum & Arts Centre where you can learn about the colourful history of the area and the Gobbins, which is an exhilarating cliff path adventure certain to excite all the senses.
The Sperrin Mountains
Jump in your car, turn up your favourite song and head towards what national geographic considers one of the worlds 101 scenic drives, the Sperrins, which are Northern Ireland’s most extensive mountain range. The mountains straddle several counties and can be explored on four scenic driving routes – North, South, East and Central.
Experience Barnes Gap which is a striking glacial feature comprising of a deep incision in the ridge of hills lying to the south of the beautiful Glenelly Valley. Drive up to the Pigeon Top, which is a prominent viewpoint and picnic area offering amazing views of surrounding hills.
Slieve Gullion is also a must-see and offers excellent views over Lough Neagh, the Sperrins, Antrim Hills and the majestic Mourne Mountains.
Take a trip to Fermanagh where you can experience a watery paradise with lots of stunning beauty spots. The county is dominated by Lough Erne and offers a range of breath-taking drives and views.
Visitors can park the car and explore Lough Navar Forest or drive to Marlbank Scenic Loop to take in the unique limestone landscape of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark and impressive views over Lough MacNean.
For a taste of rural Fermanagh drive to the south east of the county to visit Carnmore viewpoint which offers beautiful sights of rolling drumlins and small loughs.
This designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a must see for road trippers as it is Northern Ireland’s first marine nature reserve and the British Isles’ largest sea inlet with stunning scenery and well-known attractions.
Visit the Floodgates which are located a short distance out of Newtownards on the road to Portaferry and enjoy beautiful views across mudflats to the iconic Scrabo Tower.
Take a drive to Kearney Village where you can explore this carefully restored, traditional fishing village which has beautiful views towards Scotland and the Isle of Man, perfect for a selfie with your best friend.
Culture vultures will enjoy a visit to Nendrum Monastery which occupies a beautiful location overlooking Strangford Lough and its islands.
The Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion
There is no better place to explore on a fun road trip than the dramatic Mournes landscape which was the inspiration for Belfast born writer CS Lewis’ magical Kingdom of Narnia. Drive to St John’s Lighthouse as this striking black and yellow building makes for an impressive sight and offers views across Dundrum Bay towards the Mournes.
Make your way over to the Slieve Gullion Forest Park which offers impressive views of the surrounding volcanic landscape. The drive also provides access to the trail leading to the top of the mountain itself, which is home to Ireland’s highest surviving passage tomb.
For fun, Tourism NI has also compiled a list of songs ideal for listening to on your road trip:
- Born to Run Bruce Springsteen
- Little Red Corvette Prince
- Fast Car Tracy Chapman
- Jump in My Car David Hasselhoff
- Who’s Gonna Drive You Home The Cars
- Passenger Iggy Pop
- Driving In My Car Madness
- I Drove All Night Roy Orbison
- Drive Me Crazy Fine Young Cannibals
- On The Road Again Willie Nelson
For more information go to www.discovernorthernireland.com.