The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland

If you’re looking for a weekend break in the UK that’s not far from home but feels like a million miles away from your normal routine, then I can’t recommend Northern Ireland enough!

Northern Ireland is one of those places that’s so close but so far. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump across the Irish Sea but it’s one of those places we tend to say we’ll get over to ‘one day’.

As a travel blogger who takes lots of weekend breaks around the UK and Europe, I knew it was time for me to finally get over to Northern Ireland! Admittedly, the filming of Game of Thrones in parts of Northern Ireland had really sparked my interest in the area and after lots of Google image searching I was already starting to fall in love with this gorgeous place.

Here’s what I got up to during my weekend in Northern Ireland. Our itinerary had a baby-friendly vibe and was put together by the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

I’ve documented our whole itinerary because it was just so perfect and I hope it makes it easier for anyone planning their own weekend break to Northern Ireland. Seriously, I’d just copy exactly what we did because it was all great!

 

My weekend in Northern Ireland

I flew over to Northern Ireland in May with my partner, Sam, and our little boy, George who was 14 months old at the time. We hired a car so we could see everything at our own pace and squeeze in as much or as little as we wanted to. This is the best way to travel with a toddler as it’s stress free and you can plan your days around meal times and nap times without worrying about anyone or anything else. Car hire is expensive but I think it’s worth it’s worth the extra cost for that freedom and flexibility.

 

Friday – Day 1 of our weekend in Northern Ireland

10am – Fly from Liverpool to Belfast with easyJet

The flight takes 50 minutes so you’re landing almost as soon as you take off.

 

11.30am – Pick up hire car and leave airport

 

Midday – Drive to The Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges were one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones and it’s a long and dramatic road lined with creepy looking trees that form a spooky tunnel. Even if you’re not a GoTs fan I’d still recommend stopping here as it’s a spectacular sight and a great photo opportunity.

Note: There is the possibility that a tour bus will turn up and ruin the views. I’d recommend just being patient and waiting until the crowds pass.

Sat Nav address: Bregagh Rd, Ballymoney BT53 8TP

(It’s well sign posted)

Weekend Itinerary for Northern Ireland - The dark hedges

The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland - visit the Dark Hedges

 

1.30pm – Lunch in Ballycastle

Ballycastle is a really cute little town with a seaside vibe, colourful houses and beautiful views across the coast. We found a little café/bakery serving pies and pasties, sandwiches and hot meals.

The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland - Ballycastle Beach

Ballycastle, Northern Ireland

 

2.30pm – Sea safari with Aquaholics

Northern Ireland’s coast is absolutely stunning and there’s no better way to see it than from the sea. I didn’t realise just how stunning it was until we were on the Aquaholics boat and I felt so lucky to see it from this vantage point.

The little boat skimmed across the water as we took in the golden beaches, rugged cliff tops, dramatic mountains and craggy peaks. Our skipper had a fantastic eye for spotting birds so I stuck close to him when we arrived at Rathin Island Bird Sanctuary. The island is home to Northern Ireland’s largest seabird population and we saw gannets, gulls and puffins. My eyesight is terrible but I loved bobbing about on the sea, feeling the fresh sea breeze and watching the birds swooping overhead.

Top Tip: This was one of the highlights from our trip and I really, really recommend it. The sea safaris are really affordable and suitable for all ages.

The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland - Ballycastle Harbour

Aquaholics Ballycastle

The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland- take a boat tour

The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland - Bird sanctuary

The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland - Birds

The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland - Sea Safari

The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland - Lighthouse from sea safari

Northern Ireland

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge spotted from a sea safari

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge from afar

The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland - seals

The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland - The Travel Hack and family

views from Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

The perfect itinerary for a weekend in Northern Ireland - Coastal tour

5.30pm – Dinner at Ramore Wine Bar, Portrush (perfect for families)

Whenever possible, I avoid family-friendly restaurants like the plague but Ramore Wine Bar is different. It was bustling and noisy (which is actually what you want with kids so no one can tell how noisy your child is!) but it was also stylish and fun with a great menu, friendly staff, delicious food and gorgeous views.

Top Tip: I’d recommend arriving early and making time for a stroll around Portrush. It’s another beautiful town that’s not to be missed.

Views from Ramore Wine Bar, Portrush

Burger at Ramore Wine Bar, Portrush

Ramore Wine Bar, PortrushFish pie at Ramore Wine Bar, Portrush

Check-in to Roe Park Resort

Roe Park Resort is a beautiful, 4* resort in Limavady. We were lucky enough to have one of the gorgeous suites at the hotel and we couldn’t have been happier. If it hadn’t been in such a lovely area I think we would have spent all weekend in our suite!

We were greeted with prosecco and chocolates which we enjoyed while George had his first Jacuzzi bath.

Top Tip: If you’re travelling with young children it’s 100% worth splashing out on a suite, no matter where you stay – especially if they’re light sleepers. We were all tired after a busy day so it was great to put George to bed in the bedroom while we relaxed in the living room and didn’t need to worry about being quiet and tip toeing around him.

Roe Park Resort on The Travel Hack

Roe Park Resort Suite

Roe Park Resort Suite bedroom

Elemis beauty products

Cheers!

IMG_2671

Roe Park Resort Northern Ireland

Roe Valley golf course

Roe Park Resort - The Travel Hack

Roe Park Resort bedroom

Views across the golf course from Roe Park Resort


Saturday – Day 2 of our weekend in Northern Ireland

We were up early and one of the first guests at the breakfast buffet. We had a feast to set us up for a busy day. 

9am – Our first stop was Roe Valley Country Park

We were surprised to find we were pretty much the only people in the country park but enjoyed the peaceful tranquility as we strolled along the river.

Tiny Travel Hack

Roe Valley Country Park

Horse at Roe Valley Country Park

Meeting a horse at Roe Valley Country Park

Steam at Roe Valley Country Park

Northern Ireland, Roe Valley Country Park

The Tiny Travel hack

The Travel Hack

Pink blossoms in Roe Valley Country Park

Roe Valley Country Park NI

A family weekend in Northern Ireland

Roe Valley Country Park - The perfect weekend in Northern Ireland

Bluebells

 

12.30pm – Lunch at the Causeway Hotel

We managed to walk up an appetite before we headed to the Roe Park Resort for lunch. The hotel is a grand and elegant hotel and restaurant just next to the Giant’s Causeway. I was a little nervous about taking a toddler here as it was pretty fancy. I needn’t have worries as it had a lovely, relaxed and welcoming feel and the staff were all lovely. We enjoyed homely pies and fish and chips.

Fish and chips at the Causeway Hotel

Chicken pie at the Causeway Hotel 

1.30pm – The Giant’s Causeway

Another incredible highlight of the trip was visiting The Giant’s Causeway. You’ve probably see countless photos of this incredible place but it really has to be seen to be truly appreciated.

Over 40,000 basalat columns interlock along the coast creating enormous stepping stones along the coast. The scene was created by a volcanic eruption but I prefer the legend that claims it was built by giants.

The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site managed by the National Trust.

Top Tip: As you would expect, the Giant’s Causeway is VERY busy. You may want to swap your visit to Roe Valley Country Park with the Giant’s Causeway and get there as early as you can. There will be crowds at any time of day but we were told it was quieter first thing in the morning.

Visiting The Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway - Weekend itinerary for Northern Ireland

The Giant's Causeway NI
The Giant's Causeway on The Travel Hack

The Giant's Causeway | The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack at the Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway Northern Ireland

The Giant's Causeway

3.30pm – Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

This famous rope bridge was originally erected by fishermen fishing for Atlantic salmon over 350 years ago. It has been restored and links the mainland with the tiny island of Carrickarede It now provides a fantastic photo opportunity and nail-biting walk!

Top Tip: Once again, this bridge was very, very busy. It was actually a bit too busy with a long queue and large crowds. I’d go as early as possible and take a flask of coffee and some munchies to keep you entertained if you do end up queuing.

 

Dinner at the Lime Tree Restaurant

This lovely little restaurant is a local treasure using locally sourced produce for the traditional menu.

This would be a great place for a quiet, romantic meal but isn’t the place to be with a tired toddler. We enjoyed our delicious meals but left fairly quickly to have room service desert at the hotel the second George fell asleep!

 

Sunday – Day 3 of our weekend in Northern Ireland

We headed to Belfast on our third day in Northern Ireland. It was a beautiful, sunny day and there was a maritime festival in the Titanic Quarter.

Top Tip: Belfast in beautiful and well worth a look around but nothing opens until 1pm so don’t expect to do much shopping before your flight home!

Other options for your final day include:

  • Visit Mussenden Temple and Dunluce Castle
  • Explore Binevenagh Mountain or Glenariff Forest Park
  •  Enjoy a drop of the world famous whiskey at the The Old Bushmills’ Distillery

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Weekend itinerary for Northern Ireland

Massive thanks to the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council for organising our trip. We had such a great time and I thoroughly recommend this area of Northern Ireland for a weekend break.

 

 

TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (11)
  1. We just recently moved to Dublin. A few days ago my boyfriend told me about his intentions to visit Northern Ireland, and I, ignorant as I was, asked him “Northern Ireland?! What is there even to see in Northern Ireland?”

    … Then I stumbled upon this post, and now I really, really want to go! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Monica,
    Nice to meet you.

    Wonderful itinerary for weekend i Northern Ireland. The places are amazing and beautiful in look.

    Hope you had a nice weekend at this awesome place. I would like to say thanks for sharing your weekend experience with us. Seems like you are all in fun mood visiting there. The photos of beautiful Ireland is captured very well and looks awesome. Baby peeping from the window is looking so cute with her dad.

    I enjoyed lot too by reading and looking the photos of that awesome place. I heard before about the beauty of Ireland but haven’t familiar with such wonderful places which you have included here. These all pics are really nice in look. Thanks for sharing.

    Have a great week.
    – Ravi.

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