While motorcycling isn’t for everyone, it’s got a lot going for it if you’re game. Taking the handlebars, as opposed to the wheel of a car, offers an entirely different feeling and a totally unique experience. Keen bikers often talk of feeling “the wind in their hair”, although strictly speaking they shouldn’t feel it that much, because they should have a helmet on.
However, they’re onto something with that love of the open air, because some of the best day trips Northern Ireland can offer are made even better from the back of a motorbike.
When you’re a small island in the North Atlantic, you’re going to have a lot of coastline, so many of the best motorbike journeys in the area take in coastal roads; the smell of sea spray and the fresh air definitely enhances the experience. Below, you can read some of our key tips for two-wheeled travel in Northern Ireland.
Take the Causeway Coast Scenic Drive
Despite its small size, there is plenty to see and do in Northern Ireland, but if you wanted to crunch it all down into a journey, the Causeway Coast Scenic Drive would be an ideal way to do it. Starting in Derry/Londonderry, the trip takes you east via Coleraine to the Giants Causeway.
From there, it’s a short hop to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge before you start a southbound journey along the Antrim Coast Road. You can choose your own route from here, but the coastal route takes you via the port town of Larne and then Carrickfergus, before ending up in Belfast.
For us Belfast is one of the best cities in the UK, despite the headlines it’s had to deal with from years gone by. A compact city that’s easy to get around on foot, and home to some amazing eating and drinking establishments (we recommend Hadski’s and Deanes EIPIC).
Indeed, this itinerary is perfect for a 2 – 3 day drive, allowing you to explore Derry City, marvel at the stunning north coast and take in the sights and sounds of the capital city of Belfast.
Make the pilgrimage to Armoy… carefully
If you’re a keen motorcyclist, then you’ll enjoy the chance to put yourself through your paces on the racing roads of Northern Ireland, being as it is home to the Race of Legends, which takes place at Armoy every year.
The roads around Armoy are tricky, and if you’re an amateur you’re advised to tackle them slowly or you may end up looking for the attorney for your motorcycle accident case. More experienced riders have come a cropper along these roads, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Check out the famous Game Of Thrones settings
During the run of the famous epic drama series, the Northern Ireland tourist board became almost a running joke for their readiness to point out to everyone that much of the series was filmed right here. It would be easy to join in with that mockery, but it’s impossible to deny that the locations chosen were well worth the scouting trip alone.
The Dark Hedges, at Ballymoney, offers some of the most spectacular scenery in all six counties of Northern Ireland – and are where Arya Stark rocked up and first met Gendry and Hot Pie after her escape from Kings’ Landing. They’re also made to be experienced by motorbike, as the trees hang over the road and form a natural tunnel as eerie as it is beautiful.
Castle Ward near Strangford is another picturesque area to explore and it is the home of Winterfell. Head east from Belfast to the Ards Peninsula and enjoy the sights of Strangford Lough which will set you up perfectly for our final drive – the Mourne Coastal Route.
Enjoy the Mournes
We’re a touch biased as we live along the Mourne Coastal Route, but we believe it’s the nicest area in Northern Ireland, if not the island of Ireland to explore. Our home town of Newcastle is a regular hangout for bikers, and the drive from Dundrum to Kilkeel and on towards the stunning towns of Rostrevor and Warrenpoint would make any biker fall in love with the area.
For us, it’s simply a must for any biking trip or driving trip around Northern Ireland. With the Mourne Mountains and several large parks and plenty of beaches, it’s an area that offers plenty for visitors. Check out enjoythemournes.com to learn more and read our guide to Newcastle and food guide to Newcastle below.
And if you end up driving the Mourne Coastal Route, you’ll pass straight past our house as you head past the harbour area of Newcastle. Be sure to honk the horn on your way past 🙂
Northern Ireland has a lot to offer whether you’re on a motorbike or not, but some of the finest areas to explore are all the better when you take to two wheels and experience it all from a unique perspective.
Enjoy your travels and stay safe.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
Helen, Nial and Lewis.