We recently attended a world host training, where we met several people from different businesses that we did not know existed…I know!
So we have decided to give you an A to Z of things to do when you visit Portrush. Now we have not included the main attractions that are associated with the area such as Dunluce Castle, the Giants Causeway, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and the dark hedges as we have documented these elsewhere.
A – Amusements (Barrys)
Barry’s Amusements, open for more than 90 years in Portrush and remains the fun-filled destination at the centre of Portrush for visitors young and the not so young to visit. Whether you’re looking for the thrills of The Big Dipper or a ride on our traditional carousel, then a trip to Barry’s is the place to be. Barrys is open from April to October from 12:30 to 9:30 pm.
Find out more
B – Beaches
Northern Ireland has only eight beaches that hold the coveted Blue Flag status, and we are fortunate that three of them are in Portrush, the West and East Strands in town and the Whiterocks on the coast towards Bushmills. Each beach brings its own unique experience.
West Strand starts at the harbour in the town and stretches out towards Portstewart cradled by Barrys and the railway. You can cycle, skate, walk or jog along the (1km) West Strand Prom in the stunning views of Donegal, the beach and of course Portrush. There are a large car park and toilets.
This is a perfect beach for all water-related activities, with several surf schools based here, as walks for yourself and your dog!
On the other side of the peninsula (Ramore Head) lies East Strand, starting at The Arcadia, it is a golden sandy beach that stretches for more than 2 miles east and is fantastic for walking (including dogs), admiring the sweeping views of the Skerries…and on a good day Islay or even (on a warm day) taking a dip.
The home of the 2019 Open championship, Royal Portrush Championship Golf runs right next to the beach and weaves through its ancient dunes. The course not only provides a breathtaking game of golf but keeps the area behind the beach in pristine condition and beautifully ‘green’….if lucky (and fit) enough you can scale the massive dunes to have spectacular views over the courses and beyond.
East strand is also home to the Airwaves International Airshow every year, Beach Volleyball, concerts and the world’s only Parkrun that entirely is run on sand.
The Whiterocks, being slightly further out, offers a somewhat more relaxed vibe from the two ‘in town’ Strands. It is a continuation of the East Strand and is best known for its white limestone chalk cliffs that are between 142 and 65 million years old. The beach is accessed by walking, cycling or driving down the winding road to the shoreline car parks. This is a famous beach for surfing. Views from the cliff tops, beach and the ocean are memorable.
C – Coastal Walks
With such a fantastic coastline, one of the best ways to take it all in is on foot. There are two main coastal walks from Portrush, heading either East or West. Both take in fantastic scenery and have plenty of things to see and do along the way.
Portrush to Portstewart (West)
Starting from the harbour, the walk from Portrush to Portstewart follows the Causeway Coast Way, along the West Strand “Prom”. Often called the Port Path, the trail follows the cliff path beside Ballyreagh golf course (and old castle) and passing several coves (Devil’s Port, Holywell Port and Stoney Port) before reaching Ringnaree Point and the North West 200 Pits. The Port Path then follows Portstewart Old Course into the town. Along the way, there are stunning views over the Atlantic towards Scotland (Islay) and Ireland (Donegal). The Port Path is an excellent way to visit Portstewart for a cuppa, or if you are feeling energetic, you can keep following the coast along to Portstewart Strand another 2km stretch of Blue Flag beach run by the National trust.
Portrush to Bushmills (East)
Leaving from the Harbour, crossing the town to the Arcadia, this walk takes you along the East Strand and Whiterocks beaches, beside Royal Portrush Golf Courses. Coming out at the Royal Court Hotel, the trail follows the Causeway Coastal Route along the road to the magheracross point, with some of the best viewpoints in Portrush. From here you can see west over Portrush towards Donegal and East past Dunluce Castle towards Rathlin Island and the Scottish Coast. Magheracross is also one of the best places to view the northern lights in Ireland. The path then takes you passed Dunluce Castle. Following the road east past Dunluce Castle, Bushmills is around 3 km. From here you can visit Bushmills or even take the path along the Bushmills to Giants Causeway Tramway to the Giants Causeway.
D – Distillery Tour
Old Bushmills is the oldest licensed distillery in the world. Being granted its royal warrant to distil in 1608 by King James I. A time when illegal production had already been going on in Ireland for some time. Even as far back as the 13th century, warriors would take a bit of liquid courage from whiskey distilled in Bushmills before charging into battle.
The Bushmills whiskeys are award winners. They’re the only whiskeys in Ireland to be triple-distilled. This rare technique has been passed down through the generations and barely changing over hundreds of years. The resulting liquids are stored in reused sherry or port barrels, imparting some of the wine’s flavour.
The tours run year-round and give you a real backstage pass into how Bushmills Whiskey is Distilled. You may also get to meet those who make the famous nectar…and have a wee dram to try what they produce.
Find out more
E – Escape Rooms
An Escape Room is an adventure game in which players are locked in a themed room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit. Yes, you are locked in a room, however, don’t worry, the Games Master keeps a careful watch on each game, and even the ‘danger’ themed games are still just games, so nothing bad happens to you and your pals.
It’s open for anyone aged 9 to 90 and games last for around an hour…unless you are very very good at it. The games are usually mentally taxing with very little physicality. Although some of the puzzles may be beyond the grasp of younger children, they make excellent scavengers.
You can book one of the daily slots via their website here.
F – Food Tours
The ever-changing tapestry of scenery and colours, set against a dramatic coastal backdrop makes Portrush and the Causeway Coast the perfect place to take in a food tour.
Bushmills Food Tour
Run by Caroline at Irish Feast, takes you on a stroll through the village of Bushmills, where you stop at six unique venues to taste traditional food and drinks of the region, including whiskey (you are just a few meters from the famous Old Bushmills Distillery after all). Caroline introduces you to the people who make and bake using local, seasonal produce; she’ll tell you about the Taste Causeway growers and producers and will also point out the history, culture and art throughout the village.
Book a Food Tour
Causeway Coast Foodie Tours
Each experience hosted by Wendy Gallagher offers guided tours showcasing the best local produce and hidden gems that Portrush and the Causeway Coastal Route has to offer. The tours include ‘A Taste of Portrush’, ‘Coast and Country’ & ‘Catch and Sea’ where you actually go out from Portrush Harbour on a fishing boat (Causeway Lass) and get to catch your very own breakfast; this is then cooked up for you by a local chef and served alongside a selection of delicious local produce delivering the freshest breakfast you have ever had!
Book a Food Tour
G – Golf
Of course, we could have this list without mentioning the fantastic golf opportunities we have in and near Portrush. We all know about Royal Portrush Golf Club, the host of the 2019 Open Championship; however, Portrush is so close to many other Golfing gems to suit every golfer.
Ballycastle Golf Club
Castlerock Golf Club
Portstewart Golf Club
And there is also Kilrea, Roe Valley,Gracehill GC,Bushfoot GC
H – Helicopter Tours
This is something different than your usual tour for tourists, with a helicopter tour you can take in the beauty of The Causeway Coastal route and even further afield in Northern Ireland, from a whole new perspective. Enjoy the iconic sights such as the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle and Portrush from a unique viewpoint in the comfort of a helicopter. Fly Vertical, offer tours that guarantee a unique perspective on the North of Ireland’s most beloved landmarks.
Fly vertical offer tours around Portrush and the Causeway Coast, Derry City and even a game of throne helicopter tour.
Find out more
I – Indoor Play
We all know that now and then the weather takes against our best-laid plans, and as a parent, we know that indoor soft play is the perfect way to let the offspring blow off some steam.
Portrush is fortunate that we have four indoor or soft play places within 15 minutes drive.
Wacky Workshop, based in Treasure Island arcade opposite the Dunluce Street car park in Portrush, is the towns only indoor adventure playground for children aged 9 and under with lots of fun and entertainment through safe play. The play frame is a custom-designed three levels interactive zone incorporating soft play, simulated noise activities, a double lane wave slide and much, much more.
Wacky Workshop is open daily throughout the year from 10 and has the bonus of having a small cafe attached that you can enjoy such peace while the kids let off some steam.
Cheeky Chimps in Coleraine is open daily and an excellent place for your little monkeys to run riot. Your children will have a great time on the three-storeys multi-level and layer indoor soft play for children aged up to 12 (or 150cm in height).
For the little ones, there’s a specially equipped toddlers area, enabling your little one to play safely and securely.
While the kids are letting off some steam and enjoy a fun-filled adventure, the adults can relax and de-stress in the café area. Comfy sofas, good coffee, scrummy chocolate things, delicious treats, and the latest magazines – you can unwind while the kids play.
Alley Kats in Coleraine jet Centre is one of the largest Indoor Soft Play Centres in Northern Ireland! This huge indoor soft play provides hours of active fun for children up to 12 years old.
They have a dedicated baby and tots area, with a mini ball pit, animal soundboard, rockers, mirrors and building blocks for under four years. There is a two-storey frame for Toddlers to climb, crawl and slide on, including a log ramp, slide, two ball pools, a boggle ball, a ball shower and a car wash.
For those kids aged five years to 12 years, there’s a massive, three-storey frame that includes climbing wall, three slides, balls pits, piano walk, rope bridge, look-out tower, sky gliders and cargo nets.
Mums, dads, grandparents and childminders aren’t forgotten either – we have a lovely selection of fresh, bean to cup coffee and tea, scones & traybakes, savoury snacks, cold drinks and ice cream. So you can sit back and relax, chat with friends while the children have a blast….and get rid of some energy.
Treasure Island (Ballymoney)
Treasure Island, in Ballymoney, is a complex of pirate-y goodness that’s perfect for all poor weather conditions.
This significant multi-level indoor soft play area that has all the classics your darlings expect with other fun themed activities such as a ball pool and ball cannon, a twin wavy slide and a spiral slide. There is also has a separate area for tiny tots with amusing little features of their own. More fun than you can shake a cutlass at. A great play experience for kids aged up to 12 years old.
J – Jet Centre
The Jet Centre is possibly the place to visit, with kids, on the days that you cant get outside and enjoy what Portrush has to offer. The centre has so much to do. You can watch the latest movies at the ten screen cinema, go ten pin bowling, play mini-golf or entertain the kids in the Alley Katz soft play and party centre.
The jet centre even has an arcade and Asian-fusion restaurant, Yoko. It also right next to the riverside retail park, so if you are lucky, you could get a spot of shopping done while the other half enjoys a day out with the little ones.
Find out more
K – Kayaking
Portrush and The Causeway Coast centrally located for Sea kayaking, Surfing and Open Canoeing, with The Foyle canoe Trail, Lower Bann Canoe Trail and North Coast Sea Kayaking Trail on our doorstep. Portrush East, West strands and White Rocks Host National Surfing Events and provide the playground for our surfers.
Slightly further afield there is the opportunity to kayak around, over and under some of the most iconic landmarks along the Causeway Coast, such as The Giants Causeway, Carrick-a-rede and Ballintoy Harbour. There is even Game of Thrones tours by Kayak.
Causeway Kayaking Tours
Portrush Yacht Club
L – Live Music
Portrush is home to some of the best musicians and music venues in Northern Ireland, if not the whole of Ireland. Pretty much every night of the week you’ll find something that you are looking for, from traditional “session” to something more modern.
Here are some of the venues to find out more
The Atlantic Bar
Kiwis Brew Bar
The Springhill Bar
The Harbour Bar
M – Magheracross (Northern Lights/Viewpoint)
The Magheracross viewpoint lies about a mile along the Causeway Coastal Route from Portrush heading towards Bushmills; the purpose-built view has some of the best views in Northern Ireland, with Dunluce Castle in one direction and Portrush and the Whiterocks in the other.
I have stopped at this viewpoint several times and never see the same scene twice. However, two things are always constant, namely the strong wind (which is to be expected when standing at this altitude on the rugged Atlantic coast), and the mighty waves pounding those impressive rock structures into existence.
Magheracross is also one of the best places to see the northern lights in Ireland, with minimal light pollution and the view across the Atlantic northwards. Check out some of these sites to see some fantastic images.
N – North Antrim Coast Road
The North Antrim Coast Road, or as its more commonly (modernly) know as The Causeway Coastal Route, is a waymarked driving route stretching from the mouth of the Lagan in Belfast, where it joins the Mourne Scenic Route from the South to the mouth of the Foyle in Derry, where it meets the Wild Atlantic Way (stretching from Muff in Donegal to Cork).
The route takes in some of the most breathtaking scenery, such as Torr Head with views over Rathin and towards Scotland, and attractions such as the Giant Causeway and Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.
The route was rated one of the best road trips in the world by Lonely Planet, the Independent and many others.
There are also several loops to drive taking in the famous Nine Glens of Antrim.
O – Ocean Warriors (Surfing)
Ok, so we struggled a little to both fits in Surfing and find something in the begins with the letter O……then we bumped into Rosie from Ocean Warriors…who are in Portstewart…but someone has to be lol.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or a well-travelled wave-rider, one of Portrushs beaches will be just right for you. Portrush is well known in Ireland for its Surf; however, its reputation is spreading.
There are several surf schools and shops that are open all year round. Here are some of them.
Portrush Surf School
Alive Surf School
Troggs Surf School
Long Line Surf School
Woodies Surf Shop
P – Play Parks
When the sun shines, and often when it doesn’t, the Causeway Coast is one of the best places to be with the Kids. To help keep them happy, there are several play parks around to help them burn off some of that energy. Here are some of our favourites
The Arcadia Beach Park is nestled just behind the iconic Arcadia on the east strand. The park is a mixture of paddling pools, sand and climbing frames for toddlers and young children.
Diversity Park (Portstewart)
Diversity is a park based on the grounds of Flowerfield centre, Portstewart, opposite Tescos. The park has a focus on children with a disability and those with sensory needs; however, all children can enjoy the park. It has a range of climbing metal climbing frames, swings and other activities that are suitable for children 3 to 8 years.
Crescent Park (Portstewart)
The Crescent Park in Portstewart, is, unsurprisingly, situated on the Crescent in Portstewart underneath the Imposing Dominican College. The park has several climbing frames, swings and activities for kids age 3 to 8 (ish). The Park is also home to a large paddling pool and interactive water jets.
McGaw Park (Ballymoney)
McGaw Park, in Ballymoney, is a large park with a range of activities for kids. It has a large grassed area for football, frisbee and more. There is a children’s play park with climbing frames, slides and swings. For older “kids” there is also an outdoor gym and enclosed multi-use games area with goals and basketball nets.
R – Running
Born to Run tours was set up by Jonny Graham, an avid runner. They offer a range of guided tours around the Causeway Coast and further afield. You can choose what run, which can be suited to your level, and what you want to see. The routes take in areas such as The Giants Causeway, Dunluce Castle (obviously) Portrush and even Game of Thrones locations.
Find Out More
S – Sea Tours
With Portrush being surrounded on three sides by the sea, it only fits that we highlight some of the fantastic tours that are available on the high seas.
Causeway Lass Fishing
Causeway Fishing has been operating for over 20 years, offering a range of outings for you and your friends. As the name suggests, they provide deep-sea fishing for fish such as Mackerel and more. They also offer more bespoke tours along with Wendy from Causeway Foodie tours such as Catch and Sea, where you meet up before sunrise head out and catch your breakfast, which is then cooked for you or by you in one of the Portrush’s fabulous restaurants.
Find out More
Portrush Sea Tours
Portrush Sea Tours offer sightseeing experiences by RIB, from an hour-long boat trip around the coast to Dunluce Castle or the Giants Causeway to full-day charters to the Scottish Islands of Islay or Jura. The Causeway Coast of Ireland is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and you will never forget the experience of viewing this from the sea. You will also have the opportunity to see the local wildlife: birds, seals, porpoise and if you’re fortunate dolphins and whales. Suitable for birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions etc
Find Out More
Abhainne Sea Tours
Aquaholics Sea Tours
Aquaholics, already mentioned above for their diving offers, they also do sea tours. Departing from Portstewart, Portrush and Ballycastle, experience the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland, Rathlin Ireland, Donegal, or the Scottish Islands of Islay and Jura.
It is being surrounded by areas of outstanding natural beauty and what better way to see them than from the sea with experienced local skippers.
Find Out More
T – Torr Head
The spectacular views over rugged coastline towards the Mull of Kintyre, crashing waves and historical intrigue are reasons why you should add this little known destination to your trip to Portrush, or as part of the Causeway Coastal Route. Torr Head was famous in the 1800s for recording the passage of transatlantic ships, relaying the information back to Lloyds of London.
Near Torr’s head, you’ll find the ruins and walls of Altagore Cashel (Castle) that date back to the sixth century. Long before the early Christian church and Irish clans came here, the headland was already remarkable. Torr Head is also an excellent example of metamorphosed limestone and indicative of volcanic rock sequences in Ireland and Scotland.
U – Under Water Adventure
The Causeway Coast of Ireland offers some fabulous diving opportunities, the area is known for spectacular drop-offs, wrecks and reefs both deep and shallow. From Portrush, you can board one of the dive boats such as Aqualholics and Portrush Yacht Club to dive to warships from world war 2 (HMS Drake) and U-Boats from world war one (U1003) as well as to places like the famous Blue Pool to see Octopi, Lobster and Conga eels.
During the summer, there are regular dives or boats can be chartered individually.
Portrush Yacht Club
Cliff Diving – Coasteering
Coasteering is raw adrenaline; cliff jumping, bouldering, climbing, belly-flopping, rough treatment by waves, clambering and using our rugged coastline as an adventure playground. However, coasteering is much more than that. For many, the opportunity to uniquely experience our beautiful shallow coastal caves, hidden coves and little islands around our breathtakingly, rugged coastline is the highlight of their coasteering adventure. Naturally, our trained local guides ensure you get the very most out of your time, safely.
Causeway Coasteering runs coasteering sessions for all events, such as stag and hen parties, birthdays and corporate days along the stunning Causeway Coastline.
Find Out More
V – Visitor Centre
Ok, so we struggled a bit for a couple of these. However, we highly recommend that you drop in at one of the Visitor Centres either in Portrush (Under the Town across from Barrys Amusements) or in one of the other towns along your trip.
They are all run by the council, and most of the staff have been with them for more years than they will admit. They are very knowledgable about the are and what’s on, they can also help you to book some of the activities we have mentioned so far.
Find Out More
W – Waterworld
It is well hidden and possibly not what you are expecting from a seaside town; however, Portrush has its very own indoor pool and water park for kids you and old(er). For fun and entertainment, enjoy a family visit to Waterworld, nestled at the harbour in between the Ramore and the Yacht Club. The indoor water attraction has a range of features which includes a water playground, six slides, two 80m waterslides and water cannons.
Waterworld also has a Ten Pin Bowling facility that offers six lanes of all action bowling for young and old to experience.
Waterworld also has a fun Beach themed photo area, located at the front of the building
Waterworld is run by the council and is open at certain times of the summer; please check with the council website for more details.
Find out More
X – Xplore outdoors
Y – Yachting
If you ever dreamed of sailing the high seas under only the power of the wind, then Portrush is the place. Causeway Coast sailing has a six-berth 30-foot Yacht Elessr, fully equipped with a generous cockpit there’s plenty of room onboard along with facilities such as a bathroom and cooker/grill/oven and running water.
Causeway Coast Sailing offers some of the most enjoyable trips around the Causeway Coast, from a few hours taking in the spectacular sunsets to a weekend sailing in the northern channel and Rathlin Island. You can opt to make art on the trip as much or as little as you want so if you’re going to learn the ropes of sailing and gaining an understanding of the wind and tides while taking in the scenery.
Causeway Coast Sailing
Z – Coastal Zone
Portrush Coastal Zone (formerly Portrush Countryside Centre) is run by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs as their main coastal and marine centre. Discovery pools and tanks along with displays and activities give visitors the chance to learn more about the Causeway Coast, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the area is rich in natural and historical interest.
The Coastal Zone was once a luxurious Bath House providing hot salt-water baths to visitors to the Causeway Coast. The Centre now offers a range of information and exhibitions on the marine and coastal environment.
The Coastal Zone has a viewing platform at the rear which affords excellent views towards Skerries and Causeways Marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
This SAC in Portrush was the UK’s first marine protected area for harbour porpoise, and these beautiful creatures can often be spotted from our viewing platform.
The Centre is also situated immediately adjacent to the Portrush National Nature Reserve (NNR) designated for its geology and fossils. Visitors to the Centre can explore the geodiversity of the north coast through storyboards and a Virtual Reality suite installed in partnership with the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust as part of the European-funded Drifting Apart project.
Well, that’s our A to Z of things to do and see in Portrush, have we missed anything, should there be more in?
Let us know on social media or below.