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Ireland A2 route Map: http://esr.cc/Mz7gJi
This motorcycle route will take you from Newry, Northern Ireland along the Irish Sea to Londonderry. The route winds along the beautiful Antrim Coat of the Irish Sea, highly regarded as one of Ireland’s most scenic rides. Along the way visit attractions like: Carrickfergus Castle built in 1177, The Walled City of Derry, Old Bushmill’s Distillery founded in 1608, Giant’s Causeway and many more. This route includes a toll and a ferry ride from Portaferry to Strangford.
You’ll start your ride in Newry, a small town chock full of history. The city was founded in 1144, and is one of Ireland’s oldest cities. From Newry head to Newcastle: take the A2 South to Strangford-Portaferry along the Irish Sea; it’s a relatively straight road, with only a few turns. Pass through Warrenpoint and ride East on A2 through Kilkeel and head North for 13 miles (21 km) on A2 to reach Newcastle.
Newcastle is surrounded by scenic beauty, from the Sandy Beaches and Dunes in the North to the Mourne Mountain Range in the South. The Mourne Mountains are known worldwide as the place where Saint Patrick banished the snakes from the country.
From Newcastle to Strangford-Portaferry continue out of Newcastle heading North on the A2. Once you reach Clough , head East toward Strangford- Portaferry. The road to the ferries includes a good collection of twisties and straight-aways. When you’re 20 miles (32km) from the ferry, pass through Ardglass then head North.
From Strangford-Portaferry to Belfast travel 43 miles (70 km) North along the Irish coast. Strangford and Portaferry are small towns, located at the mouth of Strangford Loch in East Northern Ireland. Take the 1 mile ferry service (available every 15 minutes), to across and continue riding the A2, it’s the only way. After a beautiful ride on the ferry, ride North on A2, along the Irish Coast towards Belfast. The road along this portion of A2 hugs the curves of the coastline. Pass through Bangor and head West into Belfast.
Belfast is a metropolis of 640,000 people, it’s not only the capital city of Northern Ireland, it’s the largest city. Belfast is home to some beautiful architecture including the Belfast Castle and Belfast City Hall. You can also check out the dry-docks where the famous, albeit tragic, cruise ship “RMS Titanic” was built. Just 10 mi (16 km) West of the city lies the Dunrod Circuit, home to the worl's fastest road race; the Ulster GP.
From Belfast to Carrickfergus you’ll continue to hug the coastline for some great riding. Carrickfergus is a town 27,000 people located 11 miles (18 km) from Belfast. Carrickfergus is home to the gorgeous Carrickfergus Castle built in 1177, it’s one of the best preserved medieval structures in Ireland. For more information on Carrickfergus castle see: http://esr.cc/NUUCEH
From Carrickfergus to Larne you’ll continue to tightly follow the curves of the coastline. Larne is home to the famous 25 mile (40 km) stretch of road on the A2 called the “Antrim Coast Road”. The Antrim Coast takes you along the coast through tunnels on twisty roads. It’s regarded as one of Ireland's most scenic drives. This part of the A2 is relatively narrow and lightly used. You’ll pass through Black Arch near Larne to the Red Arch near Cushendall, through the villages of Ballygalley, Glenarm, Carnlough and Waterfoot.
From Larne to Ballycastle travel North on twisty roads for 40 miles (65 km). Ballycastle is a small town famous for the 400 year-old Lammas Fair, held annually on the last Monday and Tuesday of August.
Close by in Ballentoy there’s a unique rope bridge to the small island of Carrickarede that’s worth a visit; tourists can cross the bridge for a small fee. The rope bridge was built by salmon fishermen and is made of wire rope and Douglas fir. No one has fallen off the bridge yet, but there have been instances where visitors, unable to face the walk back across the bridge, have had to be taken off the island by boat.
From Ballycastle to Bushmills go West for 13 miles (20 km). Bushmills is a hamlet of 1,300 people and home to the famous Irish whiskey Old Bushmills, created in 1608. The Old Bushmills Distillery is considered to be the oldest licensed distillery in the world. For more information on Bushmills Distillery see: http://esr.cc/Mb0g5e
This area makes up the Causeway Coast and is visited by 2 million people every year, making it the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. It’s a coastline of 40,000 basalt columns and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. For more information on the Giant’s Causeway see: http://esr.cc/NbF68U
From Bushmills to Coleraine, take your motorcycle 11 miles (18 km) West along the Northern coast of the Irish Sea to Coleraine passing through the towns of Portrush and Portstewart. Coleraine is a town of 24,000 people located on the River Bann and considered the main hub for the Causeway Coast. Close by, you’ll find Mount Sandel Fort in Mountsandel Forest known for being the oldest site of human settlement in Ireland. Here, wooden houses have been carbon dated back to 7000 BC.
From Coleraine to Derry you’ll ride the final 35 miles (57 km) of the motorcycle route, following the Irish Sea, the River Bann and the River Foyle.
Arrive in Derry located on the River Foyle in the Northwest corner of Northern Ireland. “Londonderry”, is the unpopular city name among locals due to the London prefix. Built in 1613, Derry has the only remaining, completely intact, walled city in Ireland and is the last walled city to be built in Europe. There’s an important WWII North American connection here because over 35,000 allied military personnel were stationed in the city during the war. Derry still contains many examples of Gothic Architecture, including St. Columb’s Cathedral, located within the walls.
The ride along the Irish Coast is unbelievable, with over 7 hours of coastline riding in 230 miles (369 km). On a motorbike, you could certainly spend a whole week here exploring the A2. Castles, coastlines, long straight-a-ways and twisties, beautiful architecture and many natural wonders await when you visit Northern Ireland. Enjoy the Ride! Eat Sleep RIDE.