Bushmills is a village historically in County Antrim, near the coast 60 miles north of Belfast. These counties have been abolished so it's now part of Causeway Coast and Glens District, and in 2011 had a population of 1295. Its two big attractions are the Old Bushmills Distillery within the village, and Giant's Causeway 3 miles northeast, so in summer it's very touristy.
Both those attractions reflect the basalt bedrock, which crops out in magnificent columns along the coast. Inland it creates the distinct mineral content of St Columb's Rill, the stream that arises in the boggy hills 5 miles southeast, to flow into the River Bush at Bushmills. This once supplied five distilleries, which used peat from the bogs as fuel: the Old Distillery is their sole survivor.
The Visitor Information Centre on Main St is open in summer. There's another at Giant's Causeway.
Trains between Belfast and Derry stop at Coleraine, with a branch line to Portrush; change for the bus to Bushmills.
Bus 402 runs from Coleraine to Portrush, Dunluce (for castle), Portballintrae, Bushmills, Giant's Causeway, Ballintoy (for Carrick-a-Rede bridge) and Ballycastle. It runs M-F every 2-3 hours with only one on Saturday. The 172 from Coleraine bypasses Portrush and heads straight to Bushmills, then follows the same route to Ballycastle.
By road from Belfast take M2 / A26 to Ballymoney then B62 / B17 north into the village. If the weather's fine and you've got all day, take the scenic coast road from Belfast via Carrickfergus, Larne and the Antrim Glens.
Day-trips from Belfast (and even from Dublin) run to the distillery, Giant's Causeway, and the other major sights nearby. If you don't have your own transport this is a good option.
Bus 402 / 172 links all points of interest along the coast. They're also within cycling range or a long hike.
March-Oct a shuttle bus plies between Bushmills and Giant's Causeway. It runs every 20 min from the free P&R car park on Main St.
- Market Square in the village centre was built in the 1840s. The clock tower, loosely modelled on a traditional Round Tower, was added in 1874.
- 1 Old Bushmills Distillery, 2 Distillery Rd BT57 8XH, ☏ . Closed ufn. This claims to be the oldest whiskey distillery in the world, though not in continuous production. Businesses have risen and fallen here since 1608, but the present distillery is from 1885; several Scottish distilleries have had longer continuous business. Tours and tasting sessions are available all year, though production pauses in July for annual maintenance. The company has been owned down the years by Isaac Wolfson (of Great Universal Stores), Irish Distillers, Pernod Ricard, Diageo, and since 2014 by Jose Cuervo the Mexican tequila firm. Adult £9, conc £8, child £5.
- 2 Portballintrae is the village, small cove and breezy promenade north of Bushmills. A few whitewashed fishermen's cottages remain but it's become encrusted by modern buildings and second homes. Lissanduff Earthworks are a pair of Iron Age structures east side of the village, known locally as "the cups and saucers". One's dry, the other wet as there's a spring in its centre; in ritual this may have symbolised birth and death, famine and harvest, or just the changeable Antrim weather.
- 3 Dundarave House is a grand mansion built in 1846 by Lanyon, in extensive grounds. In 2014 it was sold to a company called Randox, with planning permission to develop a golf resort but nothing's come of that. It's available for hire to shoot films, fish, grouse and anything else that breaks cover but in 2021 is not open for tours.
- 4 Giant's Causeway - see separate page for Northern Ireland's top attraction, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an imposing cascade of basalt columns along the coast.
- 5 Dunluce Castle: see Portrush.
- 6 Dunseverick Castle and Carrick-a-Rede Bridge are a few miles east, see Ballycastle.
- 7 The Dark Hedges are a tunnel of ancient beech trees along Bregagh Road, see Ballymoney.
- Cinema: The Still Room is a small cinema within Bushmills Inn, open to non-residents, see Sleep.
- 1 Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Railway, 24 Ballaghmore Rd, Bushmills BT57 8YS. Closed ufn. A 3 foot (914 mm) gauge heritage railway that trundles for two miles through the sandhills to the Causeway - when first opened in the 1880s it came all the way from Portrush. It operated as a tram, powered from an overhead line, until closed and dismantled in 1949. This section of line was re-opened in 2002, hauled by three industrial steam locomotives plus since 2010 a specially-made diesel tram. Trains run three times a day. You could day-trip in either direction, but the idea is to park free at Bushmills Station and avoid the crowded expensive car park at the Causeway. Adult return £6, conc £5, child £3.
- 2 Bushfoot Golf Club is just east of Portballintrae. It's a nine-hole links, twice round is 6075 yards, par 70. Ladies have priority on Tuesdays. The restaurant is open from 12:00 June-Sept.
- Spar on Bushmills Main St is open M-Sa 07:00-23:00, Su 08:00-23:00.
- GOTOM: Game of Thrones Official Merchandise is touted all along this touristy stretch of the Antrim coast. Between 2011 and 2019 they even made a TV fantasy series to help shift it.
- The French Rooms, 45 Main St BT57 8QA, ☏ . Th, Su 11:00-14:30, F Sa 11:00-14:30, 17:30-21:00. Bistro with modern continental and local cuisine.
- Flash In The Pan, 77 Main St BT57 8QB, ☏ . Daily 12:00-22:00. Reliable place for fish & chips and similar fast food.
- Tartine, 140 Main St BT57 8QE, ☏ . Tu-Sa 17:00-21:00, Su 12:15-14:15, 17:00-20:00. Stylish cuisine within the Distillers Arms - this is now solely a restaurant and doesn't have accommodation or a public bar.
- The Bush House is Bushmills' village pub at 70 Main St. It's open M-Sa 11:30-23:30, Su 12:00-22:00.
- Bushmills Whiskey comes in some eight varieties plus occasional limited editions. The standard offering is Bushmills Original or White Label, a blend of mostly grain whiskeys. Black Bush and Red Bush contain more malt whiskey, and then there's a range of pure malts, with the price escalating accordingly. The taste is distinctive - never let it be said that Bushmills churns out bland commercial products - and it doesn't suit everyone. Try a nip or three, purely in a spirit of scientific enquiry, before you splash out on bottles.
- Finn MacCool's, 124 Main St BT57 8QD, ☏ . Friendly inn and guesthouse in village centre. B&B double £100.
- Portcaman House, 11 Priestland Rd BT57 8QP, ☏ . Smart clean B&B west bank of the river. B&B double £90.
- 1 Bushmills Inn, 9 Dunluce Rd BT57 8QG, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Upscale hotel and restaurant, gets great reviews for comfort, service and dining. It even includes a cinema, see hotel website for programme. B&B double £150.
- Bushmills Hostel, 49 Main Street BT57 8QA (by Bushmills Inn), ☏ . In 2021 this only offers self-catering private rooms and doesn't function as a hostel. Double (room only) £50.
- Several B&Bs and self-catering cottages are south side of the village, as Main St becomes Castlecatt Rd. They include Cottesmore B&B and Melagh Cottage.
- 2 Ballyness Caravan Park, 9 Castlecatt Rd BT57 8TN, ☏ . Open March-Oct for tourer caravans, with 50 hard-standing pitches and hook-ups. They don't have a campsite. Tourer £26.
- Bayview Hotel, 2 Bayhead Rd, Portballintrae BT57 8RZ, ☏ . Modern hotel on sea front, with Porthole Restaurant. B&B double £80.
- 3 Smugglers Inn, 306 Whitepark Rd, Bushmills BT57 8SL, ☏ . Inn with 12 rooms en suite, midway between village and Causeway. B&B double £80.
- Finn McCool's Giant's Causeway Hostel, 32 Causeway Rd, Bushmills BT57 8SU (by Causeway car park), ☏ . Clean well-run hostel right by the Causeway with dorm and private rooms.
- 4 Causeway Hotel, 40 Causeway Rd, Bushmills BT57 8SU (by Causeway car park), ☏ . Upmarket comfy hotel right by the Causeway. B&B double £150.
- As of March 2021, Bushmills has 4G from all UK carriers, but the signal is weak out of town. 5G has not reached this area.
- Red phone boxes: perhaps some 200 of these remain across Northern Ireland, though they're steadily falling victim to decay and to theft by flaky antique dealers. There's a display model within the distillery, but one in situ example is two miles south of Bushmills on Castlecatt Road, at the junction with Cozies Rd and Haw Rd - you might go that way for The Dark Hedges and Ballymoney. (Ignore Google map, which places it west side of Bushmills village, that's a ruse to misdirect the flaky antique dealers.) A restoration society has been set up to preserve the phone box that they call "iconic", but which in 2021 is a sorry shell that even a drunk with a full bladder wouldn't make use of. Don't be expecting any high speed connectivity here.
- Portrush and Portstewart are pleasant small coast resorts to the west.
- Ballycastle is where the tourist hordes thin out but the natural wonders continue - Fair Head is an impressive line of dolerite cliffs, then the Antrim Glens lie south.
- Rathlin Island is reached by a short ferry ride from Ballycastle.