The northeast corner of Northern Ireland is famed for its dramatic landscapes and natural wonders, including the incredible Giant’s Causeway.
But beyond the better known sights, there’s a world of outdoor adventure and history to discover. Explore ancient castle ruins at Dunluce, work on your surf skills at Whiterocks Beach, or eat your way around Belfast’s thriving food scene.
Whatever the kids are into, you’ll find plenty to excite and inspire them (and you too!) on a County Antrim week or weekend away.
5 must-see sights in County Antrim
A trip to the Causeway Coast wouldn’t be complete without a journey across Carrick-a-Rede — a 300 year old rope bridge, suspended 100ft above sea level. But don’t worry, it’s safe for kids — in fact, they’ll be the ones running across while you cling to the sides!
2. Dunluce Ruins
Few things capture a child’s imagination more than a castle ruin. Dating back to the 14th Century, the history of Dunluce Castle is long and winding. Visit for yourself, and see if you can separate the fact from the folklore — did the castle kitchen really fall into the sea 400 years ago? Who knows!
3. The Dark Hedges
There’s a certain spookiness to The Dark Hedges — which makes a great setting for a family photo. If the Hedges look familiar, they probably are! Big kids may recognise the trees as the Kingsroad from Game of Thrones. While little kids may have spotted the Hedges in the 2007 blockbuster ‘Transformers’.
4. St George’s Market
Foodie families can get their fill at Belfast’s St George’s Market, a vibrant venue for street food and live music. There’s dishes to suit all taste buds, although the Saturday and Sunday markets are arguably the most family-friendly, with a huge range of sweet and savory — ideal for big families who can never agree on one restaurant!
5. Belfast Botanic Gardens
If visiting the nearby Ulster Museum, Belfast’s Botanic Gardens make the ideal picnic spot in spring and summer months. Dip in and out of the Palm House and Tropical Ravine (it does get quite balmy!) and learn about plant conservation via the interactive exhibitions. There’s also a playground — should the kids have extra energy to burn off — and a regular schedule of outdoor events.
3 must-do family activities in County Antrim
1. Take to the sea
Fancy seeing County Antrim’s scenery from a different angle? Grab your wetsuits and take to the sea on an adrenaline-pumping speedboat or canoe adventure, sure to thrill the whole family. Depending on the season, surf lessons are available at Whiterocks Beach — should you fancy a challenge!
2. Explore Belfast’s many museums
Belfast is the cultural heart of County Antrim. From CS Lewis Square to the cobbled streets of the hip Cathedral Quarter, there’s so much to explore. But our top picks have to be Titanic Belfast, Aunt Sandra's Candy Factory and Belfast Zoo.
Friendly tip: it pays to be familiar with local museums if you’re visiting in autumn or winter — with many offering free entry, they’re a great place to warm up and dry off.
3. Tour Carrickfergus Castle
A short drive north of Belfast city, Carrickfergus Castle is one of the best preserved medieval structures for miles around. To really make the most of your visit, book a guided tour and see the cannons, halls and towers through an expert’s eyes. The castle does charge an entry fee, but there’s a family discount to make use of, too.
The best time to visit County Antrim?
County Antrim has mild but very changeable weather all year round. Trust us when we say that experiencing all the seasons in just one day is not unheard of!
On the plus side, that means there’s never a bad time to visit this part of Northern Ireland. If you want to make the most of long days, travel any time from Easter to early autumn. Equally, autumn and winter is perfect if you want to explore museums and get low-season accommodation deals. Some museums will have special half term events, so plan ahead.
What to pack for County Antrim?
Make a waterproof jacket your suitcase priority. Even during the summer months, you never know when a rain shower might catch you unawares!
Otherwise, a pair of comfortable walking shoes and a variety of layers will be enough. Any extras (like wetsuits) can be hired as and when you need them.
Getting around County Antrim
If you’re visiting from the rest of the UK, chances are you’re flying into Belfast. There are ferries, but these can be long (8 hours!) and surprisingly expensive.
So when you land, you have two options: get a car, or rely on public transport.
County Antrim (like the rest of Northern Ireland) has great train and bus networks. But if you want to get off the beaten track to some of the more remote sights this region has to offer, car hire is probably your best option.