Much of the coastline of County Antrim is as spectacular as anything you’ll find across the whole of Ireland and, consequently, unlike other parts of the North, it has always attracted an abundance of tourists. North from the ferry port of Larne, the A2 coast road takes in attractive villages and small towns, such as Carnlough, Cushendall and the port of Ballycastle, all set against or within the verdant Antrim Glens. A short boat trip from Ballycastle lies rugged Rathlin Island, while further along the coast to the west, blustery cliff-top walks lead to the strange basalt formations of the Giant’s Causeway. With an attractive backdrop, Portrush and, just over the border in Derry, Portstewart are popular seaside holiday resorts.
County Derry’s coastline is also blessed with wonderful strands, overlooked by Mount Binevenagh and the eccentric Mussenden Temple. Derry city itself is a lively place, set on the banks of the Foyle, with its hilltop core still enclosed by some of the best-preserved city walls in Europe. The county’s hinterland is more dramatic than Antrim’s, especially where it skirts the Sperrin Mountains around historic Dungiven. The flatter territory towards Lough Neagh features some noteworthy Plantation settlements at Magherafelt and Moneymore.