Portrush: The Crown Jewel of Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast Road
Portrush (Port Rois in old Irish) is a fun-loving seaside town that has become a popular tourist destination for northern Ireland locals and tourists on the north coast. It has been popular since Victorian times and offers beautiful golden sands, friendly locals, stunning golf courses, such as the world-famous Dunluce Links and various activities suitable for all ages.
Fun capital of the Causeway Coast!
Portrush is a holiday destination 5 miles west of the Giant’s Causeway along the coastal road between Portstewart and Portballintrae. This breathtaking location offers a peaceful environment with an upbeat holiday vibe with various activities for the whole family throughout the year, surrounded by spectacular scenery.
The population of the town hosting the University of Ulster is under 7000. Still, it increases up to 20,000 during the summer months due to the presence of students and visitors.
All year round…
Portrush has beaches on both sides and a rocky northern edge on its mile-long peninsula. Three parallel roads run from the base to the top. Kerr Street is the seafront road with pedestrian zones, Barry’s Amusements, and Portrush Harbour. Main Street has arcades, restaurants, and shops. Mark Street has mostly houses and apartments. All roads lead to Ramore Head at the top of the peninsula.
Ramore Head and the Harbour
Ramore Head offers a leisurely experience in Northern Ireland. It’s a beautiful place to explore, with trails and cliff edges that provide stunning views. From Easter to mid-September, recreational facilities include tennis, bowls, and a children’s Adventure Park with a supervised inflatable slide. The area is perfect for families to enjoy, and picnics on the grass are a great way to relax.
Portrush Harbour is located down from Ramore Head. Although there have been various harbours in Portrush for millennia, the current harbour was built in 1827. It was primarily used for passenger steamers from Scotland until 1939. Nowadays, it is used for fishing and leisure. The harbour is home to several lively bars and restaurants and is worth visiting. Visitors can wander around the piers and watch the fishing boats or take a cruise from the harbour to see the Causeway Coast from the sea.
Main Street, Portrush…
Portrush Main Street offers a fun and indulgent experience with arcades, restaurants, shops, and cafes. You’ll see historic buildings like ‘The White House’, a Department Store with 120 years of history. Enjoy bingo, slots, air hockey, arcade games, simulators, and penny falls. Take a break and visit one of the three beautiful beaches in Portrush.
Spectacular Portrush Beaches
Northern Ireland has eight Blue Flag beaches, three of which are located in Portrush – the three spectacular Portrush beaches are West and East Strands in town and the Whiterocks towards Bushmills. Each beach offers its own distinct experience.
West Strand Beach
The West Strand of Portrush is a golden sandy beach stretching of land in town from the harbour railway bridge and extends towards Portstewart. A walking and cycling path runs along the beach, offering picturesque town views. Visitors can park in the large car park and use the available restrooms. Some would say this is Northern Ireland’s perfect beach.
This beach is suitable for both water activities and leisurely walks and is pet-friendly.
East Strand Beach
East Strand’s ancient sand dunes and sandy beach are located on the opposite side of the Portrush peninsula, known as Ramore Head. It spans over 2 miles and is ideal for swimming, walking (with dogs allowed), and enjoying the panoramic views.
The Whiterocks has a different vibe from the two Strands in town. It’s an extension of the East Strand, known for its white limestone chalk cliffs, aged between 142 and 65 million years old. You can reach the beach by walking, cycling or driving the winding road to the shoreline car parks. It’s a popular spot for surfing and offers memorable views from the cliff tops, beach, ocean and Dunluce Castle.
Royal Portrush Golf Club
The Royal Portrush Golf Course is a prestigious golf club in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1888 and is home to two championship courses: the Dunluce Course and the Valley Course. The Dunluce Course is among the world’s most highly regarded and challenging golf courses. It has hosted several major championships, including the Open Championship in 1951 and 2019, and another pencilled in for 2025. Its challenging terrain is known for its rugged ancient sand dunes overlooked by the east strand, stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the north coast, including Dunluce castle.
The Portrush club also boasts a rich history and tradition, having been visited by numerous famous golfers and members of the British royal family. Its facilities include a clubhouse, pro shop, restaurant, and bar. The club is open to visitors, but advance booking is recommended due to its popularity.
Overall, the Royal Portrush Golf Club is a world-renowned golfing destination with a challenging course, stunning scenery, and a rich history and tradition.
Barrys or Currys Amusements
The Famous Barry’s Amusement Park, now called Currys since 2021 – but will always be Barrys to us, is located by Portrush Railway Station at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It has operated since 1925 and is the largest amusement park in Ireland. Barry’s offers entertainment for the whole family, including rides like the ghost train, helter-skelter, cyclone, hobby horses, dodgems, and roller coasters. The park also boasts spectacular ocean views and an unforgettable smell.
The town offers man-made attractions such as Waterworld at Harbour Rd (although currently closed), an indoor water park with covered pools and slides adorned with a pirate play theme. Additionally, there is a 10 Pin Bowling Alley and Cafe, numerous Arcades, an Adventure Play Park at Ramore Head, and several dining and drinking options.
To avoid large crowds, staying away from “the Port” during Easter Monday, when many young people gather to enjoy their time and drinks, is recommended.
The town of Portrush holds an air show annually in early September.
Portrush was once known, sometimes not for the right reasons, for its local nightlife, including its then numerous nightclubs, such as one of Northern Ireland’s famous lush nightclubs, adding to the holiday atmosphere.
For such a small town, Portrush still has a lively nightlife, predominantly now – posts covid, centred around the excellent restaurant and food scene even in the colder weather.
The North West 200 motorcycle road race
The Causeway Coast hosts the North West 200, a fast road race, every May. The public roads between Coleraine, Portrush, and Portstewart become high-speed tracks. It’s one of the last of its kind in Europe. Watching the race is thrilling as the bikes reach up to 200 miles per hour. Crowds of 150,000 people come every year to watch Ireland’s largest outdoor sporting event, making it a busy time for the Causeway Coast.
Portrush Town hosts an annual air show each August, one of only two in Northern Ireland. Until recently, it was known as the Portrush Airwaes Airshow; however, after an enforced hiatus due to COVID-19, it has returned as the Causeway Coast Airshow and takes place the first week of August.
The show is centred around the east strand, and this is the best place to see all of the aircraft…although our favourite spot is on East Strand Dunes next to the Golf Club. There have been spitfires, Lancaster, chinook helicopters and the Red Arrows on show in years gone by.
Best Places to Stay in Portrush: A Guide to the Causeway Coast’s Gems
Portrush, a charming seaside town on the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland, is a must-visit for anyone exploring this scenic region. With its stunning beaches, historic sites, and vibrant nightlife, Portrush offers something for every traveller. But where should you stay to make the most of your visit? Here’s our guide to the best accommodations in Portrush, from luxurious hotels to cosy bed and breakfasts.
Portrush has some of the best hotels in Northern Ireland, such as the Portrush Atlantic Hotel, with magnificent views over County Antrim Gardens towards the Skerries and Portrush Golf Course.
Golf Links Hotel
Nestled close to the renowned Royal Portrush Golf Club, this hotel is perfect for golf enthusiasts and those looking to relax in a serene setting.
Portrush Atlantic Hotel
The Portrush Atlantic Hotel offers breathtaking views and modern amenities overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean. It is just a stone’s throw away from the town’s main attractions.
Experience luxury at its finest at the Adelphi, known for its spa facilities, gourmet dining, and impeccable service.
Elephant Rock Hotel
A boutique hotel with a unique charm, Elephant Rock offers a blend of contemporary design and traditional hospitality.
A historic coaching inn, Bushmills offers a blend of old-world charm with modern comforts, making it a perfect retreat after exploring.
Bed & Breakfasts:
As you walk through Portrush from the train station and pass historic iconic buildings, you will notice that many have been converted into modern and stylish Bed & breakfasts, such as the Old Bank Buildings. Many offer spectacular views over Portrush Golf Course.
A quaint B&B with a homely atmosphere, Ashlee House promises a comfortable stay with its warm hospitality and delicious breakfasts.
Set in a Victorian-era building, Prospect House combines history with comfort, offering guests a memorable stay.
Overlooking the East Strand beach at the bottom of Kerr Street, Antrim House boasts spacious rooms and a breakfast that’s the talk of the town.
Owned by the affable host Scott, The Carrick is known for its cosy rooms and personalized service, making guests feel at home.
North Coast Motel
A modern establishment with a laid-back vibe, North Coast Motel is perfect for travellers looking for a no-fuss, comfortable stay.
A luxury B&B, Blackrock House offers guests an experience to remember with its opulent rooms, gourmet breakfasts, and stunning views of the coastline.
Whether you’re looking for the luxury of a hotel or the personal touch of a B&B, Portrush has something to suit every traveler’s needs. So, book your stay and get ready to explore the wonders of the Causeway Coast!
Exploring Portrush and Beyond: Top Attractions on the Causeway Coast
Portrush is also a gateway to the region’s most iconic landmarks. If you’re planning a trip to Portrush, Northern Ireland, make sure to venture a little further to explore these must-visit attractions nearby:
The Dark Hedges
Immortalized by the popular TV series “Game of Thrones,” The Dark Hedges is a mesmerizing avenue of intertwined beech trees. The atmospheric tunnel they form is a photographer’s dream and a must-visit for any traveller.
The Giants Causeway
THE GIANT’S CAUSEWAY IS a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a natural wonder comprising over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. Legend has it that these were remnants of a causeway built by the giant Finn McCool. Whether you believe the legend or not, the awe-inspiring beauty of this place is undeniable.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
For those seeking adventure, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge offers a thrilling walk across a 30-meter deep and 20-meter wide chasm. The views of the surrounding coastline and the turquoise waters below are well worth the adrenaline rush!
Perched on the edge of a basalt cliff, the ruins of Dunluce Castle are a testament to the region’s rich history. The castle’s dramatic location and tales of a village that once disappeared into the sea make it a fascinating stop and just along the coast road from Portrush Atlantic hotel
Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Mussenden Temple is a circular building inspired by the Roman Temple of Vesta. Adjacent to it is the Downhill Demesne, a sprawling estate with beautiful gardens and the ruins of the Downhill Mansion. Together, they offer a serene retreat with panoramic views of the coastline.