County Antrim: my favourite region

Let’s start by the beginning. 3 years ago, I arrived in Ireland for the first time  in Portrush, as part of the Erasmus exchange. Situated in the province of Ulster, county Antrim is one of the biggest counties of Ireland and offers so many different and amazing landscapes. Belfast, Ballymena and Coleraine are the most famous cities of the county.comte-antrim1

So, I arrived, from all of my 19 years old, in the middle of January in a town that I didn’t know at all, under the rain and the hail and where I couldn’t understand anybody (it’s true that the Northern Irish accent is really awful when you’re not used to it). Not really a good start at first.

My first week was tough but full of discoveries. First, I discovered that it was sometimes sunny in Ireland (yes!). I also started to discover wonderful landscapes just next to my house! Wonderful coasts, white sandy beaches, mountains coloured with a green I’ve never seen before, without forgetting the Irish people and their famous kindness… I was already starting to fall in love with this country.

What a view from my room!

Soon, I started to travel in the region. County Antrim offers, indeed, a lot of activities and discoveries and I begun to enjoy that really quickly. My first trip was to Bushmills Distillery, the only distillery of the country. Then, really quickly, I kept going with the world famous Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce Castle, Belfast but also a lot of less well-known regions: the city of Derry, Portstewart’s beaches, the town of Portrush, the local pubs, cliffs paths and the smallest church of the country!

I also met wonderful people. I had the chance to participate in an exchange program, International Friends, where I was lucky to meet a lovely host family. I learnt to prepare a perfect tea time with them, I shared delicious diners with different families, I’ve been asked to share a haggis pizza with a Scots man wearing a kilt at the pub, I had long talks with taxi drivers and I shared many pints with a lot of lovely Irish people…

A nice meeting after a pint

Some tips about the region:

  • Have a brunch in the North 55 in Portrush in front of the huge bay window looking on the Ocean. If you’re lucky, you’ll see seals amongst surfers.
  • Don’t miss the amazing Giant’s Causeway, a must-see, even if it’s really touristic, and don’t hesitate to rent an audio guide to discover all the myths around this place. Stories are amazing.
  • Have a walk on East Strand in Portrush where you can admire several arches along the cliffs all over the beach
  • Take a black cab in Belfast to discover the history of the city
  • Discover the Titanic Quarter for all the Titanic lovers
  • If you’re a fan of Games of Thrones, a lot of activities have been created in the region, especially the Gobbins Cliff Path (a must see for everybody, even if you don’t like the show), a path on the cliff above the ocean!

Good spots in Portrush:

  • Harbour Bar on the harbour, traditional menu and huge desserts
  • North 55 Restaurant on Main Street with its amazing view on the Ocean
  • The Atlantic Bar, a wee pub with a lot of concerts, really nice for a night out
  • Springhill Bar and its traditional sessions every Thursday nights
  • Morelli’s ice cream, these ice creams are just amazing!

In Portstewart:

  • The Anchor Bar which becomes a nightclub after a certain time in the evening
  • The Havana and its cocktails (half price on Thursday)

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