Famed for its Ould Lammas Fair and dramatic coastal cliffs, Ballycastle is a picturesque seaside town in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim. It forms part of the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a gateway to the volcanic island of Rathlin.
Things to do in Ballycastle
Stretching east of the town centre is Ballycastle Strand, which is an ideal spot for a stroll, no matter what time of the year you’re visiting. From the marina, the beach extends to Pans Rock Pier, taking in plenty of rock pools along the way. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre across the Irish Sea.
If you continue walking east, you’ll arrive at Fair Head, which is dominated by a 100-metre-high dolerite rock face that plunges into the bay below. It has been shaped into organ pipe-like columns and is a popular destination for rock climbing, boasting one of the largest concentration of “extreme” routes in the British Isles. At the top of Fair Head, you’ll find several lakes, one of which has an Iron Age crannog (artificial island).
On the other side of Ballycastle are the remains of Kinbane Castle, a State Care Historic Monument that dates back to 1547. It can be accessed along a steep and narrow stone path and boasts spectacular views of Rathlin Island from its ruins. Further west is Carrick-a-Rede, a National Trust-owned rope bridge originally erected by salmon fishermen in 1755.
Getting around Ballycastle
Ballycastle is around an hour’s drive from Belfast and Belfast International Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe. Buses connect to Ballycastle while ferries travel from the port to Rathlin Island. The centre of Ballycastle is small enough to explore on foot.