6 Good Reasons to Visit Ballintoy Harbour on the Causeway Coastal Route

Check out another Game of Thrones filming location, go kayaking or hiking, explore a cave and church, and eat cake

Why visit Ballintoy Harbour?

Picturesque Ballintoy Harbour is between Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Giant’s Causeway on the Causeway Coastal Route and is accessed via a curving road that descends steeply to the harbour. As the sign says at the top, no access to coaches, caravans and other large vehicles. You definitely hope that you won’t meet another car on your way down or up.

You could spend as little as 10 minutes there to get your Game of Thrones insta photo but you can make more of your visit. Here is a quick overview of great ways to get the most out of your visit.

1. Check off a Game of Thrones filming location

Ballintoy Harbour - Game of Thrones

While Ballintoy Harbour has served its local fishing community for centuries, it has become better known in recent years as a Game of Thrones filming location, serving as the Isle of Pyke in the Iron Islands, seat of the House of Greyjoy. At least two significant scenes were filmed here and these are marked by GoT signboards.

2. Explore the cave and shore path

On the cliff at the back of the carpark you you will see an opening to a cave which appears quite small but opens out into a much larger cave. For geologists this is notable as it is a raised sea cave, thought to be caused by the rising of the earth’s surface layer with the melting of the ice after the ice age. Archeologists have found evidence of early habitation in the cave including Neolithic flints, pottery and a mother goddess type figurine. You will also see more recent signs of industry with the quarry.

Ballintoy - Ruarks and Paddle

3. Take a kayak tour to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

Causeway Coast Kayaking Tours operates a stand in the summer months in the car park at Ballintoy and, sea permitting, they offer a range of kayak tours including a fantastic 2-hour guided bridge tour to Carrick-a-Rede, where if the tides are right you might get to paddle under the bridge.  They also offer shorter 1-hour kayak tours. Most tours are fully booked in advance so while you might be able to have a go if you just show up, you should definitely pre-book if you want to avoid disappointment.

4. Walk along the coast path to Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, or eastwards to Giant’s Causeway

The Causeway Coast Way passes Ballintoy and you can pick it up at the bend in the road by the church above the harbour and head east (with the sea on your left) along the cliff top, with views to Sheep Island and Rathlin Island. The short path, about 0.6 miles/1km takes you  to the Carrick-a-Rede car park where you can pay your entry fee (if there is availability, prebooking recommended) and continue along the path for a further 0.7 miles / 1.1 km to get to the bridge itself. You can also head westward to reach Giant’s Causeway, but this is a more substantial 15km hike!

Ballintoy Chruch

5. Visit the church

The pretty white Ballintoy Church stands above the harbour and can be seen for miles as you approach Ballintoy harbour. Visit the cemetery and see if you can find what is said to be the oldest grave, that of James McKinlay who died in February 1696. Other local family names you will see include the Fullertons, as in the Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy Village, where you can stay, stop for a drink or a meal. You will also see war graves for sailors who perished at sea during the WWI. If you can get inside the church, look for a stained glass window depicting Saint Patrick at Slemish mountain.

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6. Eat cake at Ruark’s Kitchen

If you are lucky enough, Ruark’s Kitchen will be open and you can do damage to yourself with their amazing cake selection. You cannot miss the café as it is the only building on the quayside, almost tipping back on to the beach. Note that the café is cash only, a fact that catches a lot of folk out these days.


Ballintoy Harbour – useful information

  • Getting there: If driving, the post code for your SatNav is BT54 6NA. The harbour is down a narrow road off the Whitepark Road / B15 that runs between Bushmills and Ballycastle along the Causeway Coast. This is also the road you would drive down to get to Giant’s Causeway and Dunseverick Castle. If traveling by public transport, you will need to get the 172 or 402 bus which runs between Coleraine and Ballycastle along the Causeway Coast taking in all the major attractions. However, you will need to alight on the Whitepark road and walk down the access road to harbour.
  • Amenities and parking: There is a free car park at Ballintoy Harbour, and you will find clean public toilets.
  • Good to know: Large vehicles are not allowed access down the narrow harbour road.
  • Food and accommodation: Ballintoy Village is 2 miles / 3km back from the coast on the main Whitepark Road / B15. Here you will find a few restaurants and bars including the Fullerton Arms, the Rope Bridge Restaurant and North Coast Coffee inside the Carrick a Rede Rope Bar. You can also find several options for accommodation.


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