Portrush (Irish: Port Rois, meaning "Promontory Port") is a resort town on the north coast of Northern Ireland. It's a good place to base yourself for a visit to the Giant's Causeway and the other attractions on the Irish North Coast. With a population of 6,372 in the 2001 census it is a small town, but in the summer months this number increases significantly with visiting tourists, although the number of local holidaymakers has dropped in recent years, primarily due to the influx of low-cost flights to sunnier destinations from Northern Ireland. In the winter months the town has been traditionally a quiet place, but the proximity to the University of Ulster in Coleraine has led to many students taking up residence in Portrush during the winter.
By public transport
Either the train or bus can be used to get to Portrush, with regular connections to the town of Coleraine where services onwards to Belfast and Derry/Londonderry can be caught. Trains tend to be a little cheaper, and often quicker than the bus, though neither service is particularly frequent, so it is best to check the timetables in advance. From Belfast International Airport, a shuttle bus can be taken to the town of Antrim where connecting rail and bus services can be found. From Belfast City Airport, take the shuttle bus to the city centre for your connections, whilst from the City of Derry Airport, buses leave outside the terminal but you will be required to change at least once in order to reach the Portrush area.
To plan your train or bus trip, use translink (http://www.translink.co.uk/jp/jpclient.exe?NewQuery=NewQuery).
By carThe road network in Northern Ireland is extensive and well-maintained, and finding Portrush is straight-forward.
To get from Belfast to Portrush, take the M2 motorway north and follow the signposts for Coleraine via the A26. When approaching Coleraine, signposts to Portrush will become easily visible. From Derry/Londonderry, follow the A2 east from the city towards Coleraine, where again signposts will guide you to Portrush.
Use your own two feet! The town is small and it is easy to navigate as the majority of the town centre is on a thin peninsula. If you are driving, the town centre can be very slow and parking difficult to find on the busiest days of the holiday season.
If you don't have a car, plan to do a lot of walking and riding the bus to visit the attractions on the coast. Both can work fine, even in the off season. If you do plan to walk pack sturdy, comfortable shoes--waterproof if possible.
The town centre has over the years been somewhat neglected due to the decline in seasonal visitors and the property crisis , meaning that there are a few half-built apartment blocks and derelict buildings. However, in the build-up to hosting the 2012 Golf Irish Open, the government has invested a significant amount in improving the aesthetics of the town. Portrush is home to three fine sandy beaches, which normally have blue-flag status. The West Strand closest to the town centre is flanked by Barry's Amusement Park, which is the largest of it's kind in Northern Ireland, dating back to 1925.
The East Strand, on the other side of town is larger and is backed by rugged sand dunes , great for a picnic or a party in the summer! If you walk the length of the East Strand, you will reach the White Rocks Beach, often quieter. Beyond that is Dunluce Castle and Giant's Causeway. Without kids, you can walk Portrush-->Dunluce Castle-->Portballintrae-->Giant's Causeway, and take the bus back from Giant's Causeway-->Portrush in one day (leaving around 11AM and return around 7PM).
A great spot to visit is Ramore Head, at the head of the peninsula that Portrush is built upon. It offers great views of the town and the surrounding coastline, particularly spectacular on clear days.
- The beaches are splendid, and appeal in all weathers - a stormy day when the sea is rough, or the rare sunny spell. All the beaches in the town are also popular destinations for surfers, although the waves can vary so best to check with the locals or online before heading out.
- Royal Portrush Golf Club is recognised as one of the best link golf courses in the world. Rathmore Golf Club next door is also of an extremely high standard, and has a smaller 9-hole pitch and putt for the less experienced.
- Take a day trip to Rathlin Island and Ballycastle. Take the bus or drive to Ballycastle to catch the morning ferry (schedules: ). Return on the afternoon ferry, and explore the town of Ballycastle. If you are interested in a guide for your trip to Rathlin Island, consider Paul Quinn http://www.rathlinwalkingtours.com. Paul was very knowledgeable about the history of the island and was an exceptional guide. Highly recommended.
The harbour area has 4 fine restaurants, one of which was voted the best in Northern Ireland by local television viewers. Two of the restaurants (the Ramore Wine Bar and the Harbour Bar) serve Irish and international cuisine, whilst the others (the Coast and the Oriental) serve up Italian and Asian food respectively. Tea-time (5-7) and lunchtime menus are often cheaper, particularly outside busy tourist periods.
Another popular restaurant is 55 Degrees North, which has glorious views over the Atlantic and East Strand. Deals around tea-time and on set menus are common.
Don Giovannis on Causeway Street is a more traditional Italian restaurant, whilst the various hotels in the area such as the Royal Court and the Magherabuoy Hotel also serve food.
Portrush Yacht club at the Harbour also do Breakfast/Brunch and Lunches open until 3pm in the winter and later during the summer but do check, they are just past the Harbour bar and are open to non yacht club members.
Portrush has a variety of pubs for the thirsty traveller. The Harbour Bar (no prizes for guessing location!) is well renowned for a quality pint of Guinness, and has a traditional feel downstairs with a livelier bar upstairs. Rogues Bar across the harbour on Kerr Street is a great place for live music and sports, whilst the Springhill Bar (Causeway Street) is popular on a Thursday night for live Irish traditional sessions, with other live music events common most nights of the week. The Atlantic Bar (Atlantic Avenue) is hidden just off the Main Street, and can either provide a place for a quiet pint, or a wide range of live entertainment, including bands, DJ nights and open-mic.
Portrush is also home to one of Northern Ireland's best known nightclubs. The Kelly's complex consists of a multitude of bars and clubs and is Northern Ireland's largest nightclub complex. It includes the nightclub Lush! which attracts many of the world's top DJs. The main clubbing nights are Wednesday and Saturday.
The town has a wealth of bed and breakfasts and guest houses available for tourists, the majority of which can be found online.
There are at least two hotels, as well as many bed and breakfast guest houses.
- Ramada Portrush, 73 Main St, ☎ +44 808 1000 783.
- Eglinton, 49 Eglinton St.
- Aaranmore Lodge, 14 Coleraine Road, ☎ +44 28 7082-4640. Aaranmore is a NITB two star Guest accommodation in a prime location for easy access to the amenities of portrush and the tourist attractions of Ireland's North Coast. Parking . Internet Access.
- Anvershiel House B&B, 16 Coleraine Rd, ☎ +44 28 7082-3861. Erna and Victor run a great establishment and provide a delicious breakfast. £55/room.
- Pier39 Portrush B&B, 39 Kerr Street, ☎ +44 28 7082-3541, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00 - 20:00, check-out: 07:00 - 11:00. Situated beside the harbour and busy restaurant-scene. 4 en-suite rooms offer stunning views overlooking either the harbour, beach or charming cliff-lined garden. From 80£.
The surrounding area has glorious coastlines, fine golf courses and great walks. The nearby town of Portstewart is another popular destination for tourists.