Much of County Antrim is composed of natural attractions and breathtaking scenery and its renowned coastline is as spectacular as anything found in Ireland; consequently, unlike other parts of the North it has always managed to attract tourists. Northwest of Larne lie the famous nine Glens of Antrim, a curious medley of landscapes with enormous contrasts between the neat seaside villages dotted along the coast and the rough hewn moorland ranged behind them. Perhaps the best base from which to explore the glories of these moors and valleys is the charming little village of Cushendall, buried deep in the heart of the Glens. Glenariff Forest Park, called ‘Queen of the Glens', with its triple series of plunging waterfalls pouring through a gorge, traversed by a path crossing over rustic bridges, is a ‘must see' experience.
The northern coast of Co. Antrim is packed with diverse places of interest. Standing off the coast some 6-miles from Ballycastle is Rathlin Island, wind-lashed but undaunted it is Northern Ireland's last inhabited island with a bloody tale to tell. To the west of Ballycastle lies the North's most famous tourist attraction, the bizarrely formed basalt columns ‘stepping-out' at the mythical Giant's Causeway. A short journey east is the precarious rope bridge to Carrick-a-rede, and inland of the Causeway visitors can sample the world famous Bushmills whisky at its original distillery. Back to the coast and a little to the west of the Causeway are the haunting ruins of Dunluce Castle; dating from the 16 th century the ruined stronghold remains dramatically clinging to the rough-hewn edge of a rocky promontory. Further west along the coast, almost into Co. Londonderry, is one of the North's great seaside resorts at Portrush.
The south of the county is dominated by Northern Ireland's capital city, Belfast, but in historical terms nearby Carrickfergus was a thriving town and port when Belfast was merely a sandbank. The Normans built a massive keep at Carrickfergus in 1180, an intimidating sentinel on the northern shore of Belfast Lough, the first real Irish castle; up to the early 17 th century it remained the only place in the North where English was spoken - Gaelic was the common language of Ulster elsewhere.
Belfast, with its many grand buildings, was built on the profits of Victorian industry, and is a place for getting out-and-about with plenty to experience. Concentrate on the glorious architecture and magnificent Victorian pubs, the lively and influential Queens University and extensive collections contained in the Ulster Museum, perhaps a climb up Cave Hill or a trip on Belfast Lough for the memorable views. More than a third of the province's population live within the Belfast conurbation, consequently there's a pace and bustle about the city that you'll find almost nowhere else in Northern Ireland.