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 6,500 in 2011, it is a small town, but in the summer months this number increases significantly with visiting tourists, although the number of local holidaymakers has fallen, primarily due to the availability 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
At 1 Portrush station trains are frequent from Coleraine with connections from Belfast and Derry/Londonderry. From Belfast International Airport, a shuttle bus (Ulsterbus service 109A service) to Antrim Train/Bus station (it's in the same building) then you can catch either a train directly to Portrush (the train will show its destination on the digital displays inside and outside the train), or catch a train going to Londonderry/Derry and change in Coleraine for Portrush From George Best Belfast City Airport. Take the shuttle bus to the city centre for your connections (600B Metro Bus from outside the airport) . This will drop you off at Europa bus station which is combined with Great Victoria Street train station. Go around the corner and catch the train from GVS station to Portrush. This station is under the same roof and same building, whilst from the City of Derry Airport. Buses leave outside the terminal but you will have to change at least once to reach the Portrush area.
To plan your train or bus trip, use Translink.
The 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 taking the bus to visit the attractions on the coast. If you do plan to walk pack sturdy, comfortable shoes, and preferably waterproof.
The town centre has 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 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 its kind in Northern Ireland, dating back to 1925.
- The East Strand. On the other side of town, it is larger and is backed by rugged sand dunes. It is 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).
- 1 Ramore Head. A great spot to visit, 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.
- 2 Dunluce Castle (Dún Libhse). A ruined medieval castle.
- 3 Coastal Zone (Countryside Centre), 8 Bath Road, ☏ . Visitor centre.
- 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.
- 1 Royal Portrush Golf Club. Recognised as one of the best link golf courses in the world. It hosted the Open Championship, one of the four major championships of men's golf, in 2019. The 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.
- 2 Barry's Amusements. The largest theme park in Northern Ireland.
The harbour area has 5 fine restaurants, one of which was voted the best in Northern Ireland by local television viewers. Tea-time (17:00-19:00) and lunchtime menus are often cheaper, particularly outside busy tourist periods.
- 1 Ramore (Restaurants and bars), 1 Harbour Road, ☏ . They serve Irish and international cuisine. Wine Bar, Harbour Bistro, Coast, the Mermaid, Neptune & Prawn.
- 2 55 Degrees North, 1 Causeway St, ☏ . Another popular restaurant, which has glorious views over the Atlantic and East Strand. Deals around tea-time and on set menus are common.
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 15:00 in the winter and later during the summer but do check, they are just past the Harbour bar and are open to non-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. Kiwi Brew Bar is a great location for craft beer lovers, providing a wide range of bottled local and international craft beers.
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, ☏ .
- Aaranmore Lodge, 14 Coleraine Road, ☏ . 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, ☏ . Erna and Victor run a great establishment and provide a delicious breakfast. £55/room.
- 1 Pier39 Portrush B&B, 39 Kerr Street, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00-20:00, check-out: 07:00-11:00. 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.
- Giant's Causeway
- The surrounding area has glorious coastlines, fine golf courses and great walks. The nearby town of Portstewart is another popular destination for tourists.
- 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. Paul was very knowledgeable about the history of the island and was an exceptional guide. Highly recommended.