Road Trips With Avis: Northern Ireland
Explore the treasures of Northern Ireland
Test drive this two-day road trip for the best of Northern Ireland with Avis
The coastal roads and country lanes around Belfast are just made for renting a car and exploring – with plenty of extreme sports, quiet valleys, subterranean boat-trips and stately homes on the itinerary.
Collect your rental vehicle from our Avis Belfast city branch or from our George Best Belfast City Airport car rental station and head up the Antrim Coast Road to the Giant's Causeway before heading inland along the A29 to Magherafelt to try your hand at treetop paintballing. Explore the ancient seat of the kings of Ulster at Navan Centre and Fort before venturing east to the Mountains of Mourne and the seaside town of Newcastle.
End your tour at Drumgooland House for horse-riding and trout-fishing, driving to our Avis Belfast International Airport car hire branch to drop off your car.
High points en routeGiant's Causeway – Stairway to Heaven
Take a leisurely drive along the magnificent and unspoilt A2 coast road to explore the Giant's Causeway. The basalt columns leading down to the sea have long been the region’s big draw, but it's worth exploring more of the Causeway Coast, which is home to quiet fishing villages and the 80-foot-high Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge used by salmon fishers.
Magherafelt – Welcome to the Jungle
Hidden away amid quiet country lanes in from the coast – note that they take real concentration for drivers – is a treat for adrenalin junkies. Jungle Paintball at Magherafelt is paintballing at its wildest, with 200 acres of woodland, several game zones and an amazing treetop battleground. Enjoy high-octane adventure in a spectacular setting or take aim from the ground during target archery and clay-pigeon shooting.
Marble Arch Caves, Enniskillen – Going Underground
It's a wonderful drive southwest through miles and miles of lush, green rolling countryside to Enniskillen. Park your car before a more leisurely ride – a subterranean boat-trip through the winding passages, caverns and waterfalls of the Marble Arch Caves. After a day underground you deserve to treat yourself, so dinner is at Blakes of the Hollow, serving modern European cuisine at the Bistro and pints of Guinness in the Victorian bar.
Newcastle – From the Mountains to the Sea
From the west to the east, you'll see the best of Northern Ireland on this drive to the pretty seaside town of Newcastle. You could just kick back and enjoy the views in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but then you'd be missing out on the Life outdoor adventure centres. Leave the car and your hand at rock-climbing or see spectacular rivers and lakes by kayak.
Castle Ward – Country Living
Time to live like a Lord – spend a day at the elegant Castle Ward, a short motor up the coast. Outdoor types can explore the 820-acre walled estate's woodland trails that lead to a corn mill, farmyard, nature centre and down to the edge of Strangford Lough. Return to tour the eccentric Classical-Gothic house, explore the exotic garden or relax in the courtyard cafe. Opera fans should come in June, to enjoy opera and a picnic on the lawn.
Free time on your hands? Take your pick from the following gems1. The Old Inn, Holywood – Cottage Industry
What links Peter the Great, CS Lewis and Dick Turpin? They've all been guests of the 400-year-old Holywood Old Inn. This place has everything that has made Irish country pubs world-famous: wood-panelled walls, beamed ceilings, and the best of local beef, lamb and seafood. Treat yourself to a trip back in time – hire the inn's holiday cottage, complete with a roaring open fire and four-poster bed.
2. Navan Centre & Fort – royal seat of the Kings of Ulster
Just outside Armagh City, Ulster's former capital of Navan Fort is just the place to immerse yourself in myths and legends of the Province. You can fiddle with interactive exhibits, watch a film and visit the Iron Age dwelling, complete with living history enactors. Before you leave, follow the guide to the fort itself, with views across green drumlin hills to Armagh's cathedrals.
3. Formula Karting, Newry – Driving Ambition
Those who really love the thrill of the drive can live out their Grand Prix fantasies in Newry at Europe’s biggest indoor karting track. For a real white-knuckle ride, try Track 3 - 990 metres long with all the tricks and turns of full-scale racing, including banked turns, underpasses, tunnels and ramps.
4. Silent Valley – The Sound of Silence
Stretch those legs, car lovers. The walk along the foothills of Slieve Binnian takes in some spectacular rock formations and one of the best views in Northern Ireland – over the serene Silent Valley reservoir. There's another great way to see sweeping views of the mountains and the sea here – a round of golf at the Royal County Down Golf Course.
5. Armagh Observatory – The Sky's The Limit
The grounds of the beautiful 220-year-old Armagh Observatory are a great place to walk. There's the Astropark – a scale model of the universe – and 360-degree films at the Planetarium. In the evening, chill by the fire at Clenaghans Pub, in Aghalee, a traditional bar and restaurant set in 250-year-old farm buildings.