Coleraine, the 'Capital of the Causeway Coast', is situated to the north of County Londonderry in Northern Ireland. Although the town only has a population of just over 24,000, it has a large catchment area with around 250,000 people living within a half-hour drive. As a result, it is a major commercial centre and one of the most important towns in Northern Ireland. It is also the setting for the [ University of Ulster], the largest university in Ireland, with 6,000 students. Coleraine has a spectacular and diverse range of coastal and countryside scenery, adding to its popularity as a tourist destination.


A good way to explore Coleraine's history is to take the 'Round the Ramparts' Heritage Walking Trail, which starts at the Town Hall and follows a two-mile route around the ramparts of the 17th century town. Contact the Tourist Information Centre for details of guided walks, or to buy a brochure to follow the trail in your own time.

Just south of Coleraine, Mountsandel Forest offers beautiful walks in the woodlands and along the River Bann. The path takes you past the remains of the 12th century Mountsandel Fort, which are open, free of charge, to visitors. In fact, there has been a fort on this spot since Bronze Age times and the location holds far older remains; evidence has been unearthed here for the earliest known hunter-gatherer settlement in Ireland, dating back to Mesolithic times over 9000 years ago.

In the centre of Coleraine stands St Patrick's Church. The present building dates to the early 1600s, but the site is the same one on which St Patrick built his church in the 5th century. Behind the church lies the remains of the earthen ramparts that surrounded the town in the 17th century. The north wall bears the marks of a cannon-ball, evidence of the 1641 siege by the English. The church is open to visitors Tues-Sat 11am-3pm.

The Riverside Theatre at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, offers performances and exhibitions throughout the year. Aside from a wide range of entertainment, the theatre also runs workshops, master classes, socials, open days and other events.

The famous Giants Causeway is only a 20-minute drive from the town. Owned and managed by the National Trust, the causeway is an incredible mass of thousands of interlocking basalt columns (some as much as 12 metres high), stretching from the foot of the cliffs down into the sea. Formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago, legend holds that Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhail (or 'Finn McCool') built the causeway to bridge Ireland and Scotland, where he intended to fight another giant.

The village of Bushmills, 10 miles from Coleraine, is home to the [ Old Bushmills Distillery] - the oldest distillery in the world, officially licensed in 1608 but quite possibly operating hundreds of years before that. They are also the only active Irish distillery open to the public. A steam-train service operates between Bushmills and the Giants Causeway, across two miles of beautiful and varied scenery.


Coleraine offers a range of both older shops and family businesses, alongside newer developments with bigger department and chain stores.

The Diamond Shopping Centre, opened in 2002, boasts 140,000 square feet of shopping, eating and entertainment space under the same roof. The top floor has a food court with outstanding views over the River Bann. The bottom floor houses FUNSK8, an ice-skating rink suitable for 4-12 year-old children (open weekends and school holidays). The centre is open until 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays.

Church Street and the nearby area hold all the usual high street names. Only slightly further afield, on Kingsgate Street, Society Street and Long Commons, there are a range of smaller, quirkier outlets, craft shops and art galleries.


Coleraine has lots of coffee shops, cafe's and restaurants, many of them in the shopping area in and around the Diamond Centre. Church Lane is particularly good if you are looking for a meal. The award-winning Belfry Deli sells local specialties like handmade Drumkeel cheese and Limerick ham. If you feel like sampling their wares there and then, head for the cafe next door at no. 4. One further down at no. 3, Kitty's is an excellent locally-run bakery and coffee shop.

The Big O Restaurant on New Row is popular for burgers. On the road to Ballymoney, Charly's is an American-style restaurant suitable for families with children. The Water Margin on Hanover Place is said to be one of the best Chinese restaurants in Northern Ireland.

Things can quieten down in the evenings (try the nearby coastal towns of Portrush and Portstewart for more nightlife), but if you feel like live music with your evening meal, try McNulty's (Lime Market Street) or Ramparts (Park Street).

Tourist Information

Coleraine Tourist Information CentreRailway Road, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry,N. Ireland, BT52 1PE

Open all year round.


The City of Derry Airport is around 20 miles west of Coleraine. Flights serve Dublin, Glasgow International, Glasgow Prestwick, Liverpool, London Stansted and Nottingham East Midlands. Connecting flights to national and international destinations are available from all of these, particularly the larger hub airports of Stansted and Dublin.

To get to Coleraine from the airport, take the A2 east. After about 9 miles, turn onto the A37 (Broad Road) at the second exit from the Killane Roundabout.

[ Belfast International Airport] is a little over 40 miles south of Coleraine (A26). Flights serve many national and international destinations, including London airports and several others in the UK.

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