Belfast Telegraph

Never mind Route 66 ... take a road trip to the north coast instead

By Staff Reporter

You can now get your kicks ... on the Causeway Coast.

The iconic route has been ranked by the Lonely Planet alongside America's Route 66 as one of the world's ultimate road trips.

It is name-checked alongside classic routes like Australia's Great Ocean Road and Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh Road in a new book of the 50 best drives in the world.

Of the top road trips named by the travel bible, just two are on the island of Ireland - the Causeway Coast and the Wild Atlantic Way, the rebranded 1,600 mile route from Kinsale to Foyle.

"The lonely shores of Northern Ireland might just be the perfect day-tripping antidote to Belfast's urban core," notes the Lonely Planet book.

The new publication - Epic Drives of the World - features a description of a journey along the route from Belfast to the North Coast and back again.

It alludes to the huge tourism boon of Game of Thrones with visitors from all the world trekking to the route to see various locations featured in the TV smash hit.

"Road signs advertise the Dark Hedges up ahead - one of the many recesses of Ulster now famous as a backdrop for the TV phenomenon Game of Thrones," says the Lonely Planet.

On the Wild Atlantic Way, the publication says: "Ireland's west coast is a dramatic procession of deserted beaches and towering cliffs where traditional music and ancient castles abound."

The Lonely Planet guide also uses the famous Oscar Wilde quote of "savage beauty" to describe the Irish scenery.

"Ireland's west coast is battered by Atlantic rollers, strewn with jagged cliffs and littered with wide beaches and sandy coves," says the guide.

"It's a place where inky lakes shelter between mountains, sinewy stone walls clamber across hillsides and trees are frequently bent double by the wind. The roads here are narrow and winding, grass often grows along a hump in their middle and a herd of sheep can easily scupper all plans."

Epic Drives of the World also features wilder driving routes from across the world such as a trip over the salt flats of Bolivia.

Each entry includes a first-hand account of exploring the route with advice for planning a short or long adventure.

The charms of the north coast were heavily featured on BBC1 this week, during the special One Show programmes broadcast from Northern Ireland, where presenters Alex Jones and Matt Baker signed off at the Giant's Causeway last night.

Meanwhile, Tourism Ireland has created a new online film to encourage prospective visitors around the world to discover the Causeway Coastal Route.

The video was created to highlight the various sights on Northern Ireland's most famous coastline, from majestic cliff-top castles and swaying sea bridges, to the Giant's Causeway itself, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The film is being promoted through Tourism Ireland's popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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