Although separated by country, County Donegal and County Antrim are found within the shared province of Ulster, with Derry (also known as Londonderry) nestled in-between. It is here you will find a beautiful array of historical and geological treasures, on a shared and seemingly endless coastline.
Arguably the most impressive spot along the northern coast is the World Heritage Site of Giant’s Causeway. These bold hexagonal pillars stretching into the sea have been dazzling visitors since the 19th century. While their origins mystified the first visitors, today we know these mesmerising basaltic prisms are of volcanic origin and are around 50 to 60 million years old.
For geological highlights over in county Donegal, look no further than hikers’ favourite, Slieve League; a high coastal peak surrounded by cliffs which offers unparalleled views of the coast. To get even closer to the waves, walk the late Victorian pathway of dramatic tubular bridges, staircases and tunnels weaved into the cliffs known as The Gobbins.
Breathe in the fresh, salty air near the tip of Northern Ireland at the beautiful Dunluce Castle. The ruins of this medieval castle sit on the seafront and are only accessible by a wooden bridge that hangs above the shoreline. Over in Donegal stands the equally impressive Glenveagh Castle on the edge of Loch Beagh amongst the natural wonder of Glenveagh National Park, the second largest in Ireland.
The rugged coastal landscape of these neighbouring counties perfectly lends itself to outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, mountain biking and surfing. So, after working up a thirst, you’ll delight in the taste of traditional Irish whiskey at Bushmill’s Distillery, Ireland’s oldest working distillery.
A trip to this part of the island will likely include some time in Derry, a lovely place to spend a day or two exploring the city and walking along its 17th-century city walls.
What to do
- Try to keep your nerve over the 350-year-old Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge
- Marvel at the well-preserved Victorian Glenveagh Castle
- Climb the mystical Giant's Causeway
- Walk the rolling and expansive hills of Glenveagh National Park
- Get up close to the fearsome rocks and waves at The Gobbins
- Challenge yourself with a hike up Slieve League