This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you are better prepared for what to expect, what not to expect and can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Ballycastle. To help you make friends with Ballycastle before you visit, we've included a few helpful and fun things you should know about the area. Enjoy!
Ballycastle is perfect for exploring the stunningly rugged Northern Ireland coastline and its greatest natural wonder -- Giant’s Causeway. The town itself is fairly low-key but is a good base to hop around the Causeway Coast, which is full of lovely wild beaches and ideal for long walks. Ballycastle has its own beach and harbour with ferries across to the unspoilt Rathlin Island. The island is the protected home of many birds and also the cave that Scottish independence fighter Robert the Bruce was said to have been in when he saw a spider repeatedly strive to spin a web, supposedly inspiring him to continue with his battle.
A few miles away, though, is what most visitors come to this coast to see -- the awesome, sixty-million-year-old, hexagonal rock formations of Giant’s Causeway. There are lots of legends about the Causeway, the most famous being that the columns were the stepping stones of the giant Finn McCool, created to as a path to fight a rival Scottish giant.
The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is also near to Ballycastle and is a somewhat terrifying walk across a thirty-metre gap between cliffs, traditionally used by salmon fisherman.
There are quite a few places to eat and drink in Ballycastle and a high proportion of pubs given its size, some have live traditional music, while others go down the less traditional karaoke route. Those who enjoy an occasional wee dram shouldn’t miss the Old Bushmills Distillery, which has a shop and runs tours for all your whiskey needs! It is several miles west from Ballycastle along the coastal route in the town of Bushmills.
Given the numbers of tourists who flock here to see the Causeway and to traverse Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, there are a few different Ballycastle hostels from which to choose. Some Ballycastle hostels listed are in the town itself but a couple are actually in the nearby village of Ballintoy (a bus links the two). Ballintoy is in between the two major landmarks and is therefore perhaps a better location for hostel dwellers without a vehicle.
It is possible to reach Ballycastle from Belfast by bus, but check Translink schedules in advance for timings. If you have a car, you will not only find it easier to get around but also be able to drive along the Causeway Coastal Route, which is often dubbed one of the world’s most beautiful roads.
Written by local enthusiast for Ballycastle hostelsLaura T