On my recent adventure backpacking in Northern Ireland I decided to hit up a few new spots and revisit some old ones so I can write about them in an up to date way and ensure that more of you get to see the beauty of Northern Ireland. One pretty village I had been to before was Ballintoy. But I had only ever passed through it to see the fantastic Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge as well as checking out nearby Portbraddon.
Ballintoy is a quintessential North Antrim coastal village in Northern Ireland. It’s small, picturesque and simply gorgeous. Please don’t by pass it just to see the over touristic gems like the Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge – stop off and take in the charms of this beautiful little village, which has two main parts to it – the village centre and the harbour. Both are different, both ooze their tranquility out from different angles.
Getting to Ballintoy
Luckily I’ve backpacked it myself so I’ll explain the route. Get yourself to Coleraine firstly – it’s the nearest decent sized town. From the main bus terminal in Coleraine there are three routes that serve Ballintoy – Buses 172, 172A and 172C. In Summer months they are more regular but in winter the service slows down a notch.
I took a bus 172 from Coleraine to Ballycastle (and I got off at Whitepark Bay) which cost me £4.20 for a single.
I stayed at the excellent Whitepark Bay Hostel. Hiring a car and cycling are also options. There are no nearby airports or train lines – again for the train – Coleraine will be the closest hub for you. Coleraine is a lovely town to tour as well incidentally.
Here are 9 cool things to check out when you are in Ballintoy.
1. Whitepark Beach
I walked along the Whitepark beach twice and in both directions – once towards Portbraddon and the other time I walked from my hostel to Ballintoy – possible in low tide only. Amazing walk and an incredibly beautiful beach. Not touristy, not commercial, just tranquil and calm.
It’s also a great beach for both sunrise and sunset.
2. Game of Thrones Harbour
Some of you will be familiar with the TV series Game of Thrones. Northern Ireland has been used as a filming location for it and here in Ballintoy Harbour there is a board which tells you that. The village was used for the fictional town of Lordsport on the Isle of Pyke!
In the TV series, there have been a load of locations in Northern Ireland used for filming it, as shown on that post by David of the World is a Playground.
3. The Wee Shop
Only in Northern Ireland or Scotland could you get a shop called “The Wee Shop”. An old school post box also sits outside. It’s a place to buy souvenirs, drinks and snacks and perhaps the most unusual place to indulge in international lotteries.
4. Ballintoy Parish Church (Church of Ireland)
This magnificent white church is one of the most striking images in Ballintoy. Situated just outside the town centre, on the harbour road on a corner, it’s a big white Church with a massive cemetery.
5. Ballintoy Village Church
In the village centre is another church.
6. Whitepark Bay Hostel
There’s an actual hostel in the town itself, with a funky pink backpacker outside but I personally prefer to stay at the Whitepark Park hostel, in front of the beach and a short walk from Portbraddon.
7. Coastal Dander
The word “dander” in Northern Ireland means “walk”. Walking down the coast of Ballintoy is inspiring. Tremendous views, epic sunsets and sunrises and chilled out air.
8. Fullerton Arms
I popped in for a beer and burger at the Fullerton Arms. An excellent local pub with great staff and sometimes live music. Typical Northern Irish hospitality here as well, I was staying a few miles down the road at the Whitepark Bay and it was getting late and the barman John gave me a lift all the way to my hostel! Top lad and Ulster hospitality to the core.
9. The Red Door Cottage Tea Room and Bistro
I love quirky cafes and tea houses in Northern Ireland. Here in Ballintoy you have the popular Red Door Cottage Tea Room and Bistro.
So that should get your backpacking heart eager for heading to little Ballintoy in Northern Ireland. I’ll get my videos posted at some point, having severe laptop and internet problems this week.
9 thoughts on “Backpacking in Northern Ireland: 9 Cool Things to Check Out in Ballintoy”
This is special because it’s very much a saga in progress. Usually when a book or books are transposed onto the big or small silver screen; they are complete and the arc of the story is known. In the case of ” Game of Thrones ” the Author, GRR Martin has two books left to write to conclude the seven book series. Indeed in a recent interview he has not completely ruled out further episodes in the future.
I must say I think Mr. Martin has boxed himself into a corner and will need to work on the two remaining volumes with some alactrity; which is alien to his thoughtful slow progression; we shall see.
Two more things, I would like to add which makes the books special to me is his surprising mortality rate. He leaves the readers in no doubt that his characters inhabit a cruel world; where death can come at any moment; as it frequently does. Life in the seven kingdoms must move on without any special consideration for any character, however pivotal to the storyline they may appear to be.
Finally I must applaud Mr. Martin’s positive approach to those characters who have any form of handicap. As in the case of Tyrion (diminished growth) he allows him to be a prominent character; with greater wit than most and quite rightly ordering people about using clever forms of strategy to gain his way.
Mr. Martin is reminding us all that we have to make our way through the tangles of life, using whatever gifts we possess.
Well done Sir.
Hi GOT Kickass, some excellent information there thanks and safe travels to Ballintoy. Jonny
I would love to try backpacking in just about any country. It has always been my dream to travel the world I just have to save some more to be able to do just that. Ballintoy is definitely included in my list since it is also a GOT location. I can’t wait to finally start.
Hi Enola, thanks for the comment. I agree, go backpacking anywhere but Ballintoy is a good one to nail as you say. Safe travels. Jonny