If you know me you know I don’t watch the wildly popular show, Game of Thrones. However, I’m a big supporter of it bringing a lot of tourism to Northern Ireland. It’s given a lot of well deserved recognition to Belfast and some of Northern Ireland’s areas of outstanding natural scenery which previously (in my eyes) were overlooked for Irish vacation destinations.
So while I’ve been a big fan of Belfast and the county of Derry, I only got to visit some of the Antrim GOT spots this week. I am not embarrassed to admit I’m an absolute tourist and my inner American pops out when it comes to castles and ruins. I LOVE them. I studied the sociology behind it and could go into it for hours as to why Americans have such romantic notions of Ireland’s landscape but I’ll just leave at the fact I am one of them and I’m in no way ashamed. Ireland’s beauty and history is a marvel to me.
So! With that said, we went to Dunluce Castle and the Dark Hedges. Right near the Causeway, which we have already visited within the last year so we didn’t go again. However we drove right past it and through Bushmills.
Dunluce is an hour outside Belfast and well worth a visit. I believe it was £8 for our tickets (I’m still using my student card, it’s valid until September. Even past then, I’ll keep using it). It’s mainly ruins but a pretty vast amount and it’s fun to just explore. Maybe this is only fun to me and other castle loving freaks. It’s a beautiful backdrop for photos since it’s right on a cliff in the countryside and overlooking the sea. You can learn about the background and history of Dunluce through posted signs around the grounds and a pamphlet given to you at the information desk. Parking is available right there and is free. There’s a little cafe too for a nibble if needs be.
THE DARK HEDGES
The Dark Hedges are around 25 minutes away from the Giant’s Causeway. They too are in the middle of the countryside in Ballymoney and pop up pretty randomly. One side of the road is a large estate and modern farm house and the other is the hedges which was full of people walking the length of them. They’re surrounded by open fields, making them all the more intense looking. Apparently this is where they ride horses up and down in GOT. Sorry for my lack of knowledge regarding the show and its relation to these spaces.
I enjoyed both spots! It’s nice to make a little day out of it. You can see more GOT scenic spots here.
Hope you go!