Northern Ireland

5 Days in Northern Ireland: Mid & East Antrim Itinerary

Packed full of fascinating history, amazing landscapes, and delicious food, Northern Ireland is the perfect place for a UK staycation, and the district of Mid & East Antrim can be reached in just a couple of hours when you travel by ferry from Scotland.

Here, we share an itinerary for five days in Mid & East Antrim which will help you to plan your trip.

CYN

Cairnryan Port

LAR

Larne Port

Mon - Fri

04:00

08:00

12:00

16:00

Sat

04:00

10:00

14:00

17:00

Sat

04:00

10:00

16:00

Sun

08:00

12:00

16:00

22:00

Mid & East Antrim itinerary - Northern Ireland staycation

5 Day Itinerary

Day 1 – Morning in Glenoe

Conveniently located just 10 minutes from Larne by car, Glenoe is the perfect place to start your Mid & East Antrim itinerary. Begin your morning with breakfast and a hot drink from The Dairy, a farm store, butchers and café serving fresh and locally sourced food. Once a creamery and dairy, this establishment now sells everything from meat products to baked goods and offers breakfast and lunch options to suit all dietary requirements.

Once you’ve refuelled and have a drink in hand, hike to the stunning Glenoe Waterfall which is sure to take your breath away. Set in a picturesque glen, this 30ft tall waterfall attracts both tourists and locals alike, and there are lots of lovely viewpoints to enjoy the waterfall from – especially following a rainy day when it’s at its most beautiful. Due to its location in a valley, the walk to Glenoe Waterfall can be a little steep and slippery, so ensure that you wear sensible hiking shoes when you visit. The route is signposted from the car park and you can follow the network of paths through the trees from here.

Glenoe Waterfall - Mid & East Antrim

Carnfunnock Country Park - Northern Ireland

Day 1 – Afternoon in Carnfunnock Country Park

A fantastic option for families visiting Mid & East Antrim, Carnfunnock Country Park boasts woodland, gardens, walking trails, and coastline, and offers activities suitable for all ages. The Outdoor Adventure Playground is guaranteed to be a hit with everyone from toddlers to 12-year olds thanks to its wide range of equipment. Under-5s can enjoy their own dedicated play area whereas older children will love the 20m zipwire, climbing net, and huge variety of swings. Elsewhere in Carnfunnock Country Park you’ll find walking and cycling trails, orienteering and geocaching opportunities, and even caravan and camping facilities. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, settle down for a picnic or opt to use one of the park’s BBQs to cook up a feast.

Day 2 – Morning in Whitehead

Spend the morning of your second day in Mid & East Antrim exploring the picturesque seaside town of Whitehead. Located between limestone cliffs and the volcanic cliff of Blackhead, Whitehead is known for the brightly coloured houses that line its seafront and make for some lovely photos. For stunning views across the mouth of Belfast Lough and towards the Copeland Islands, take a walk from Whitehead up to Blackhead Lighthouse. You might also be able to see the Cumbrian coast if you visit on a clear day. Keep an eye out for seals, porpoises, and even dolphins in the water when you visit too!
Blackhead Lighthouse in Whitehead - Northern Ireland

The Gobbins - Northern Ireland

Day 2 – Afternoon at The Gobbins

Named as the most dramatic coastal walk in Europe, The Gobbins takes its visitors past caves, across bridges, and through a tunnel on a fantastic Northern Ireland adventure. Learn all about its impressive geology, spot plenty of wildlife, and enjoy unrivalled panoramas as you take your guided tour along the path. The Gobbins’ highlights include the Tunnel, which takes you below sea level and is filled with the sound of crashing waves, and the Clifftop Viewpoint, which boats views of the Seven Sisters caves, the submerged Kraken Cave, and Heddles Port. Once you’ve completed your tour, treat yourself to some sustenance from The Gobbins Café.

Day 3 – Morning at the Glenarm Estate

Day 3 of your Mid & East Antrim itinerary takes you to the stunning Glenarm Estate. Home to gorgeous gardens and wonderful woodland, you’re guaranteed to love exploring this attraction and discovering all that it has to offer. Boasting a whole range on lovely features, including a herb garden, fountain, and sculptures, the Glenarm Estate garden is the perfect place for a picturesque walk, and a wander through the woods could result in seeing a red squirrel or two! During your visit, treat yourself to a delicious picnic from one of the estate’s on-site food outlets, or opt for a freshly made ice cream from The Milk Parlour which uses traditional Shorthorn Herd milk to create the most delicious Italian-style gelato.
Glenarm Estate - Mid & East Antrim

Ballygally Beach - Mid & East Antrim

Day 3 – Afternoon at Ballygally Beach

It isn’t a trip to Mid & East Antrim without spending some time enjoying its natural coastline, and Ballygally Beach offers the perfect opportunity to do this. 300m in length, this award-winning sandy beach is lined with boulders and seaweed and is perfect for a short walk or a spot of sandcastle building. Ballygally Beach also holds a Seaside Award due to its clean water which makes it ideal for those who’d like a swim too! To finish your day, head to Carnlough and treat yourself to some fish and chips which you can eat by the harbour.

Day 4 – Morning in Gracehill and Portglenone Forest

Spend your fourth morning in Mid & East Antrim in and around Ballymena starting at Northern Ireland’s first Conservation Area, Gracehill. A Georgian town that was founded in the 18th century, Gracehill has kept its unique look over the years, making it popular with tourists. Founded by the Moravians, and now the only complete Moravian settlement in Ireland, Gracehill offers a fascinating insight into this way of life with guided tours being offered Monday to Saturday.

Next, drive to Portglenone Forest where you can enjoy a walk among a number of ancient woodland flower species. Particularly beautiful in spring thanks to its blankets of stunning bluebells, Portglenone Forest offers a peaceful escape during your Mid & East Antrim holiday. For lunch, head into Ballymena and pay a visit to Middletown Coffee Co. Offering local produce, freshly baked goods, and a selection of delicious coffees, this is the place to go for all your foodie needs.
Bluebells in Portglenone Forest - Northern Ireland

Baking at Arthur Cottage - Mid & East Antrim

Day 4 – Afternoon at Arthur Cottage

Step back in time with a trip to Arthur Cottage, the ancestral home of former USA president Chester Alan Arthur. The cottage has been carefully restored to give visitors a glimpse at how the Arthur family lived in the 18th century and tells the story of how this cottage links to the American Presidency. You can also watch a baking demonstration carried out by women in period costume who skilfully make soda bread and pancakes over an open fire.

Day 5 – Morning hike up Slemish Mountain

Spend your last morning in Mid & East Antrim with a hike up Slemish Mountain before catching your ferry back to Scotland. This 437m mountain is where St. Patrick is said to have spent six years as a slave, and it will take you around an hour to walk up to the summit and back. Plus, you might recognise it as a Game of Thrones filming location too thanks to its role in Series 1 Episode 2. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with views across Northern Ireland and could even see the Sperrins Mountains, which sit along the Tyrone and Derry border, on a clear day. The walk can be smooth or challenging depending on which route you’d like to take, so make sure that you wear sensible shoes!

Ready to try out this Mid & East Antrim itinerary for yourself? Book your Cairnryan to Larne ferry crossing today and start planning your trip today!

Slemish Mountain - Mid & East Antrim

Packed full of fascinating history, amazing landscapes, and delicious food, Mid & East Antrim is the perfect place for a UK staycation.

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