Hello and welcome to my first blog in what will be an occasional series introducing you to the town of Ballycastle and the surrounding area along the world-famous Causeway Coast.
The Sunday Times has twice named Ballycastle the best place to live in Northern Ireland, based on the friendliness of the local people and great variety of places to eat and drink.
It’s a great base for travelling around the Antrim coast to explore areas of natural beauty, such as the Giant’s Causeway the geological wonder with its 40,000 basalt stone columns. Several filming locations used in the Game of Thrones TV series are just a short drive from the town.
Ballycastle is a hidden gem nestled along the captivating County Antrim coast. It’s a lovely old heritage coastal town offering a delightful mix of natural beauty, fascinating history, and warm hospitality. It boasts a thriving food scene with fresh and locally made food.
It sits neatly in the middle of the Causeway Coastal Route, a 120-mile stretch of coastline with spectacular scenery, starting in the capital city of Belfast and ending in Derry / Londonderry. Along the route you will see a mix of beautiful sandy beaches and stunning cliff faces. There are small villages with great pubs and quaint harbours with stories to tell about smugglers and adventurers. There is something along the route for every type of traveller, whether you want to get active and explore, or simply relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Thinking about a family friendly holiday rental?
If you are planning to follow the Causeway Coastal Route, be sure to allow plenty of time to take in all it has to offer. Our Causeway Coast Apartments in Ballycastle are the perfect place to use as a base to explore the area. All three apartments are fully approved and registered as self-catering vacation rentals. We are family friendly and can provide a cot and highchair for younger travellers.
Ballycastle is part of the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and after a short visit you will see how well deserved this accolade is. The sandy beach stretches for 1.2 km from the scenic harbour to Pans Rocks. The rhythmic sound of crashing waves and the refreshing sea breeze create an atmosphere of pure tranquillity.
Most days the coast of Scotland is visible from the beach, as the Mull of Kintyre reaches out across the Irish Sea.
Ballycastle harbour and seafront
Around the harbour there are picnic tables, where you can sit to enjoy some ice cream after trying some fish and chips from the famous Morton’s hot food takeaway.
In the harbour area you will also find the ticket office for the ferry to Rathlin Island, which is well worth a day trip to visit Northern Ireland’s only inhabited offshore island. Around 100 people live on the island, which is also home to a colony of puffins who return to their nesting areas every spring.
At the harbour, you can also spoil yourself at Seahaven Therapy where the special seaweed baths can leave your skin feeling moisturised and silky smooth. This treatment is said to relax the muscles, soothe aches and joint pain, increase circulation, and promote healing.
While the grown-ups are relaxing, there are several well-equipped play parks for children, one at the seafront and another close to the town centre. There’s also an outdoor gym at the harbour if you fancy a pre-beer workout!
On the edge of the town are the ruins of Bonamargy Friary, an atmospheric Franciscan ruin that dates to the 15th century. As you wander through the crumbling arches and ancient gravestones, you'll feel a sense of reverence for the lives lived within these hallowed grounds.
Just across the road from Bonamargy is Ballycastle golf course, which welcomes visiting players. The attractive course hugs this part of the coastline, which provides the perfect backdrop to help you enjoy your game.
If you like your walking to be a little more challenging, be sure to visit Fair Head, where you can enjoy spectacular views of Rathlin island and Scotland, and you might even catch a glimpse of visiting dolphins. Ballycastle Forest, with some walking trails is also worth a visit. The forest car park is a great starting point if you wanted to enjoy the spectacular views from the top of Knocklayde mountain.
After a day out exploring, you can return to your holiday apartment to freshen up before enjoying the flavours of Ballycastle by indulging in the local cuisine. From hearty seafood dishes to traditional Irish fare, the town offers a range of culinary delights. Feast on freshly caught fish, paired with a pint of local ale, in one of the cosy pubs or charming restaurants.
Our favourite places to eat are O’Connor’s Bar or Central Bar for dinner, and both are family friendly and have regular live music sessions. For breakfast or lunch try Our Dolly’s or Thyme & Co. In all Ballycastle’s restaurants or coffee shops the emphasis is on locally sourced fresh food at reasonable prices.
To get a real hands-on food experience, at Ursa Minor Bakehouse you can get a tour of their bread making facility and you might even get a chance to get your hands into some of their special dough to make your very own loaf.
The town centre itself has a great mix of shops, where you can buy local art as a souvenir of your visit or pick up some locally produced quality food. You can learn more about the town's heritage and history at the Ballycastle Museum, which exhibits local artefacts, photographs, and displays related to the area's past.
I’m sure you will find your stay in Ballycastle to be enjoyable and well worth a return visit. If you choose one of our fully equipped holiday apartments, I’m confident you’ll not be disappointed. Our aim is to make your stay special.
Next time we will move out of Ballycastle to explore the local sights, which are all just a short drive from the town.