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Carrick-a-Rede bridge.
Rope bridge.
Person crossing Carrick-a-Rede.
People on coastal trail.

Carrick-a-Rede

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Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines
  • Enjoy the beautiful views of the Irish coastline along the Causeway Coastal Route.
  • If you dare, cross the famous Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, known for its unique history and role in the local fishing industry.
  • Explore the volcanic history of the area, taking in the dramatic landscape and famous basalt columns of the nearby Giant’s Causeway.
  • Keep an eye out for the rich and varied local wildlife including sea life, birds and beautiful Irish flora.


The rocky and mysterious Carrick Island, located near the village of Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is known for its long and fascinating history. The local tradition of fishing for Atlantic salmon has been around for over 400 years, with fishermen erecting the rope bridge at Carrick-A-Rede in 1755. 

The rope bridge, which is still open for visitors to cross today, made it easier for fishermen to check on their salmon nets without having to take a boat from the mainland to Carrick Island. While unfortunately, Carrick-A-Rede hasn’t been used as a fishing spot since 2002 due to the local salmon becoming endangered, it is still open for visitors to come and see what life was like for the fisherman as they made their perilous crossing. You can even visit the local salmon fishery if you come at the right time (it’s only open for one weekend per month!).

Just a short 15-minute drive from the infamous Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-A-Reade is a must-visit for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. The 20-metre-long rope bridge connects Carrick Island to the Antrim mainland, over a steep gorge. Then, there’s an almost 100-foot drop down to the sea. While the height of the bridge might seem intimidating, it is regularly maintained by the National Trust and is completely safe to cross. There is a limit to the number of people who are allowed to cross the bridge at any one time, and the bridge is managed by National Trust staff. There are also no age restrictions, so this is a true adventure for all the family.

With the local surroundings so picturesque, if you decide you would prefer to stay on the mainland side of the bridge, there are plenty of spots for a picnic or wander while you wait for others to return from the island.

Kids will also have a great time keeping their eyes peeled for all the local sea life. Seals are common, and the water is clear, so there’s a good chance you might see a friendly face pop up. There’s also a chance of seeing creatures such as dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks! There is even the possibility of swimming nearby if the weather suits, but you might want to bring a wetsuit as the water is a little cold.

While there are many exciting things to see and explore at Carrick-A-Rede and in the surrounding areas, you will be walking on unsteady terrain at height. Although the walk and rope bridge is safe, children should be kept within a safe distance and should not venture further than the marked points.

Close to Larrybane Quarry, which is famous with Game of Thrones fans as it’s one of the more notable locations used in the television show, Carrick-A-Rede is certainly a spot not to be missed. For those who love the seaside, the nearby coastal town of Ballycastle has not only a sandy beach but also a harbour and lots of options for a spot of lunch or dinner if you’re feeling peckish after your rope bridge crossing. It’s also only a one-hour drive from Belfast to Ballycastle, which makes a trip to Carrick-A-Rede a great idea for a family day out if you’re staying in the city.

Carrick-A-Rede is also one of the key attractions of the Causeway Coastal Route, a roughly three-hour drive along the coastline from Belfast to Derry, with options to stop off at several attractions and local beauty spots. This route can be completed in a matter of hours or days, depending on your plans, and is a fantastic way to take in the beauty of the Northern Irish coastline.

What to know before you go

  • Opening times are between 9.30am and 7pm daily, with final access to the bridge 45 minutes before closing.
  • There is a roughly 20-minute walk from the ticket office to the bridge itself. The path is safe but steep in certain parts, so it is not suitable for buggies or those with mobility issues.
  • There is free parking available beside the ticket office, as well as toilets, WiFi, baby changing facilities and a café.
  • Pre-booking is recommended as there is a limited number of people who can cross the bridge at one time. Each ticket is valid for one hour.

Getting there

  • The easiest way to get to Carrick-A-Rede is to drive, with free parking available at 119a White Park Road. It is a short 15-minute drive from Giant’s Causeway, and once at Carrick-A-Rede, you can continue along the B15 for 9 minutes to get to the nearby town of Ballycastle.
  • The nearest bus stop is Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
  • From Belfast, it takes just over an hour to drive to Carrick-A-Rede via the M2. Alternatively, you can catch the train from Yorkgate to Coleraine, then take the 402 bus from Coleraine to Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge.
  • There are also several tour companies which include Carrick-A-Rede on their coach or bus tours, as well as many other local attractions. This is a fantastic option if you fancy touring the Causeway Coastal Route with a little bit of extra local knowledge.

Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.

Government Guidelines

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Logo for the National Trust featuring an acorn leaf on a green background.

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National Trust

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The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest is a renowned charity and membership organisation in England, Northern Ireland and Wales that offers natural preservation for the most beloved heritage locations in the UK, including houses, buildings, coastlines, gardens and parks. With over 500 sites and attractions under their conservation and an ever-increasing 5.6 million members, the Trust is one of the largest wilderness and heritage protectors in the world and is now celebrating its 125th anniversary year since being founded in 1895.

With a National Trust membership, easily joinable via their website with family and lifetime options, you can enjoy free entry to all of their gardens, parklands and National Trust properties including the Giant’s Causeway in Antrim, Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire, Knole in Kent and hundreds more. Partly owned by H.R.H the Prince of Wales, the National Trust aims to protect, preserve and develop the most treasured locations and outstanding areas of nature in the UK so that they can be enjoyed by visitors from across the world.

Image © National Trust Facebook.