Self Drive - Belfast, Giant’s Causeway & Donegal - Ireland

Kea & Eileen

Tuesday 11th June – Wednesday 19th June 2024

Number of Travellers: 2
Duration: 9 Days / 8 Nights

Overview

The rugged and beautiful wilderness of Northern Ireland and County Donegal is a corner of Europe that the rush of the modern world has overlooked. Magical and mythical, hear tales of giants, Jedis and heroes of Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway and Donegal as you explore the landscapes that inspired The Chronicles of Narnia, the Game of Thrones TV series and Star Wars.

Highlights

  • Visit the fascinating Giant’s Causeway
  • Spot puffins while island hopping
  • Climb the Slieve League Cliffs, three times the height of the Cliffs of Moher

Day by Day

Day 1 - Tuesday 11th June - Arrival in Dublin

This afternoon you’ll arrive in Dublin. Pick up your rental car and make your way to your hotel. Get settled and head out to explore Ireland’s fair city.

Overnight: Dublin | Booked by client
Room Type: Double x 1
Meals Included: None

Day 1 - Car Rental Pick Up Details Read More +

Car Rental Company: Enterprise
Booking Reference: 1460211492
Pick Up Location: Dublin Airport, Car Hire Desk Dublin Airport, Terminal 2 Arrivals, Dublin, Ireland K67W6K5, Airport | Pick Up Time: 4:30 pm
Phone: (01) 844 5848

Day 1 - Car Rental Read More +

Compact SUV

Seat Arona or similar

AM/FM Stereo Radio
Air Bags
Manual
Gasoline Vehicle
2 Wheel Drive or 4 Wheel Drive
Air Conditioning
Protection Products
Collision damage waiver 1
Excess protection
Roadside assistance protection

Please note a credit card will be required at pick up and a €200 pick up fee will be charged and returned upon drop off.

Day 1 - Lunch Details Read More +

We recommend Masa or Bambino.

Day 1 - Suggested Stops - Dublin Read More +

Please check local opening times and days and we always recommend pre booking.

The GPO The GPO Museum is an immersive, interactive and engaging experience telling the story of the 1916 Easter Rising and Modern Irish History.

The Jeanie Johnston One million Irish people fled Ireland during the famine. 2,500 took a gruelling voyage on the Jeanie Johnston. Take a journey back in time, get an insight into life on board a Famine ship and hear the stories of the people who made the arduous voyage.

Marsh’s Library Marsh’s Library is a beautifully preserved library of the early Enlightenment. It was built with money provided by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, an academic and book lover with a strong belief in the public utility of education and learning.

Kilmainham Gaol For over 100 years Kilmainham Gaol held thousands of men, women and children for crimes that ranged from minor offences to being involved in some of the most momentous events in Irish history.

Dublin Castle Constructed in the early thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement, Dublin Castle served for centuries as the headquarters of English, and later British, administration in Ireland.

Day 1 - Dinner Details Read More +

Day 2 - Wednesday 12th June - Belfast & Ireland’s Ancient East

From Dublin, head into the heart of Northern Ireland, Belfast. Stroll through the lively streets adorned with colourful murals that tell tales of the city’s resilience and transformation. Belfast is a fantastic city with plenty of old world charm combined, a wealth of history and modern hotels, restaurants and bars. St. George’s Market is packed with local food and craft produce and the perfect spot for an ample with a coffee, picking up some momentos and gifts for home. The Titanic Quarter with its towering twin shipyard gantry cranes, Samson and Goliath standing proudly on the horizon is one of Belfasts newly developed areas. Packed with history, museums and restaurants you could send a whole day here exploring. One of the Wilderness Office staffs favourites is the Black Cab City Tour which give you a unique perspective on life in Ireland during the Troubles, as told through the political murals that are to be found all over the city.

Booking ref: BK128515/1

Overnight: Belfast | Ten Square Hotel
Room Type: x1 Double
Meals Included: None

Day 2 - Directions Read More +

Day 2 - Lunch Details Read More +

We recommend TradeMarket or Ryan’s Bar.

Day 2 - Suggested Stops - Belfast Read More +

Please check local opening times and days and we always recommend pre booking.

Paddy Campbell’s Black Cab Tour  Explore the political aspect history of Belfast throughout The Troubles in the 1960s until the present day and the conflict between the two communities, featuring prominent sites along the Falls and Shankill roads, the Peaceline- or Belfast’s own “Berlin Wall”.

Crumlin Road Gaol Discover over 150 years of history and follow in the footsteps of over 25,000 prisoners as you make the journey through Northern Ireland’s only remaining Victorian Era prison.

Ulster Museum & Botanic Gardens With something for everyone, from art lovers to Game of Thrones fans, the Ulster Museum houses collections from across Ireland and the globe – and it’s free! Belfast’s Botanic Gardens is a 28-acre public park on the grounds of the Ulster Museum. It includes the Victorian-era Palm House, containing many varieties of trees and palms.

Game of Thrones Studio Tour Located 30 minutes from Belfast city, journey behind the cameras and discover the secrets that made HBO’s Game of Thrones the world’s most successful TV series.

HMS Caroline Based in Belfast’s famous Titanic Quarter, HMS Caroline is a remarkable First World War ship now restored as a must-see floating museum with an amazing story to tell!

The Dome at Victoria Square Rising high above the city’s skyline, the Dome at Victoria Square boasts 360 degree views across Belfast.

Day 2 - Dinner Details Read More +

Day 3 - Thursday 13th June - Day 2 – The Mystical Mountains of Mourne

A region that once inspired CS Lewis’ Narnia series, the Mourne Mountains are rightly called a mystical place. Meet a local hiking guide to explore the wild region’s peaks and valleys, including the strange Mourne Wall, a 22 mile long wall crossing over a dozens hills and mountains and enclosing vast tracts of remote land. In the evening, perhaps get a taste of Belfast’s well-deserved reputation as a foodie destination!

Overnight: Belfast | Ten Square Hotel Belfast
Room Type: Double x 1
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 3 - Guide Details - Declan Faulkner Read More +

Name: Declan Faulkner
Contact Number: +44 (0)77 987 700 38
Meeting Place: Mourne Mountains - Annalong Cornmill Car Park | Meeting Time: 10:30 am

Please wear appropriate hiking footwear and waterproof clothing. We recommend taking a packed lunch with you to eat on the trail.

Day 3 - Directions Read More +

Day 3 - Lunch Details Read More +

Ask your accommodation the night before if they will prepare you a packed lunch.

Day 3 - Dinner Details Read More +

Day 4 - Friday 14th June - Day 3 – Causeway Coast & the Giant’s Causeway

Following a stunning coastal route – the ‘secret’ way to visit the Giant’s Causeway – it’s easy to see why the Causeway Coast was named as top region to visit by Lonely Planet. Admire castle ruins, dramatic cliffs, stunning beaches and picturesque harbours and even visit a few places that inspired and appeared on HBO’s Game of Thrones. The grande finale is at the spectacular Giant’s Causeway – octagonal columns of rocks created by feuding giants or volcanic activity – myth or science, you decide!

Booking ref: 35428

Overnight: Bushmills | Bayview Hotel
Room Type: Double x 1
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 4 - Directions Read More +

Day 4 - Suggested Stops - The Causeway Coast Read More +

Carrickfergus Castle A medieval era castle on the shores of Belfast Lough.

Blackhead Lighthouse Once the guardian of Belfast’s glory days of shipping, Blackhead guided many great ships on their journey, none more than the famous Titanic.

Chaine Memorial Tower The Chaine Memorial Tower, or ‘The Pencil’ as its known locally is an impressive beacon tower of Irish granite, built in 1887 as a memorial for James Chaine.

Glenarm Castle  Glenarm Castle has been the ancestral seat of the McDonnell family, Earls of Antrim since it was first built by Randal, 1st Earl of Antrim in the 17th century.

Ballycastle Beach Grab a coffee from Shorebird Coffee Hut (or fish and chips from Morton’s), flick off your shoes, and saunter along the sand while soaking up views of Rathlin and Fair Head – magic

Ballintoy Harbour A beautiful harbour which is a great lunch spot.

The Giant’s Causeway UNESCO world heritage site of octagonal basalt columns created by volcanos or giants- you decide!  Online pre-booking is recommended to save on the entry fee. It is also possible to visit the causeway after visitor centre hours by walking past the visitor centre and down the path to the rocks.

Old Bushmills Distillery The world’s oldest whiskey distillery is just a short drive from your hotel. (Closed on Saturdaysand Sundays). You can pre-book slots online.

Day 4 - Lunch Details Read More +

We recommend Morton’s in Ballycastle.

Day 4 - Dinner Details Read More +

We recommend dining at your accommodation tonight. It’s been a long day on the road!

Day 5 - Saturday 15th June - Day 4 – Boat Trip to Rathlin Island

A bit of island hopping today! You’ll sail along the Causeway Coast and off to Rathlin Island, where (depending on the season) we might spot the resident island puffins. Discover hidden coves, dramatic lighthouses and many species of seabirds as well as heart-stopping coastal scenery while learning the local myths of the region.

Overnight: Bushmills | Bayview Hotel
Room Type: Double x 1
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 5 - Rathlin Island Boat Tour Read More +

Activity: Rathlin Island Boat Tour
Guide: Richard
Start Location: Ballycastle Pier | Start Time: 9:30 am | Approx Duration: 3 hrs

Phone: +44 (0)28 708 32584

Please wear waterproof clothing and appropriate footwear. It’s recommended to pop a spare pair of clothes into your bag just in case.

Day 5 - Lunch Details Read More +

We recommend Harry’s Shack

Day 5 - Suggested Stops Read More +

Dunluce Castle Once inhabited by both the feuding McQuillan and MacDonnell clans, the present castle ruins date mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge The famous rope bridge was erected by a salmon fisherman in 1755.

Day 5 - Dinner Details Read More +

We recommend Tartine’s or The Bushmill’s Inn.

Day 6 - Sunday 16th June - Day 5 – Derry & Glenveagh National Park

Into the quaint city of Derry, you’ll explore one of Europe’s few remaining fully walled cities. On the border with the Republic of Ireland, learn of the city’s dramatic past, how it shaped Irish history and how Derry has moved beyond its turbulent roots to become a beacon of culture. In the afternoon, stretch your legs in one of Ireland’s most remote national parks or visit a castle nestled romantically on the lake shores in a stunningly wild and mountainous landscape.

Booking ref: 156426

Overnight: Donegal | Lough Eske Castle
Room Type: Double x 1
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 6 - Directions Read More +

Day 6 - Suggested Stops Read More +

Derry Walls Walking Tour An insightful and interesting tour of the walls of one of Europe’s oldest walled cities with a fascinating history Note: We recommend parking at the tourist office and walking up to the meeting point. Booking in advance is advised.

Glenveagh National Park Glenveagh National Park is a remote and hauntingly beautiful wilderness of rugged mountains, pristine lakes, tumbling waterfalls and enchanted native oak woodland. We recommend the walk (2.5km) from the castle to the head of the glen. Return shuttle bus is available for €3.00 per person.

Day 6 - Lunch Details Read More +

We recommend Pyke N Pommes or The Sooty Olive.

Day 6 - Dinner Details Read More +

We recommend dining at Lough Eske tonight.

Day 7 - Monday 17th June - Day 6 – Slieve League Cliffs

The Slieve League Cliffs are some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe (three times the Cliffs of Moher). With your private guide, explore the little-visited cliffs on one of the several hiking trails. One of our favourites follows a little-known ancient pilgrimage path where the remains of a mass rock (an illicit church) stands, arriving at the top of the cliffs. In the evening, it’s off to bustling Donegal town where fabulous local pubs await.

Overnight: Donegal | Lough Eske Castle
Room Type: Double x 1
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 7 - Hike the Slieve League Cliffs Read More +

Activity: Hike the Slieve League Cliffs
Guide: Barry
Start Location: Tigh Linn Cafe | Start Time: 10:00 am | Approx Duration: 4 hrs

Phone: +353 86 841 1173

Please wear appropriate hiking wear – boots & waterproof clothing if necessary. Be sure to have a day pack with water, snacks, packed lunch and warmer layers.

Day 7 - Directions Read More +

Day 7 - Lunch Details Read More +

We recommend bringing a packed lunch with you. This can be requested at your accommodation.

Day 7 - Dinner Details Read More +

Day 8 - Tuesday 18th June - Day 7 - Lough Eske Castle Extra Day

Today is yours to relax onsite at Lough Eske Castle. There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained – the spa, fishing, biking, horse and carriage. Alternatively, get back on the road and keep exploring.

Overnight: Donegal | Lough Eske Castle
Room Type: Double x 1
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 8 - Suggested Stops Read More +

O’Donnell Castle  The O’Donnell Castle Donegal Town was built by Red Hugh O’Donnell the First in 1474.

The Famine Pot Ireland in 1846 was a nation in the depths of An Gorta Mór,“The Great Hunger.” The humble famine pots’ sole purpose was to feed the starving population in the packed workhouses and in temporary soup kitchens that had been set up around the country.

Donegal Abbey The ruins of this historic 15th century Franciscan friary, known as the Old Abbey of Donegal, are located in Donegal town where the River Eske flows into the wide but shallow estuary of Donegal Bay.

Day 8 - Lunch Details Read More +

Day 8 - Dinner Details Read More +

We recommend The Old Stone in Donegal town.

Day 9 - Wednesday 19th June - Day 8 – Departure

Today, say goodbye to the wilds of Donegal and continue on your adventure. Your rental car is due back on the 25th of June.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Trip Details

Important Additional Information Read More
  • Hiking Kit List Kit List - PDF: View Now
  • Ireland Guide General Info - PDF: View Now

Get in Touch


Accommodation

Ten Square Hotel Belfast

10 Donegall Square South | Belfast | Co. Antrim |
BT1 5JD | Northern Ireland
Phone: +44 (0)28 9024 1001
Web: tensquare.co.uk

Bayview Hotel

2 Bayhead Road, Portballintrae | Bushmills | Co. Antrim |
BT57 8RZ | Northern Ireland
Phone: +44 (0)28 2073 4100
Web: bayviewhotelni.com

Lough Eske Castle

Donegal Town | Donegal | Donegal |
94 HX59 | Ireland
Phone: +353 (0)74 972 5100
Web: lougheskecastlehotel.com