Carrick-a-rede is one of the unmissable stops along the Giant’s Causeway scenic drive in Northern Ireland and in this post, I will tell you all about it.
I drove to Carrick a rede by chance as I found it on Google Maps during my spectacular drive along the famous Giant’s Causeway Coastal Road and I am so glad I stopped by. I was also lucky it was a sunny day so I managed to take some great pictures.
Read more to learn what to expect and how to make the most of your trip to Carrick a Rede.
Carrick-a-Rede Brief History
The name “Carrick-a-Rede” is derived from the Scottish Gaelic “Carraig a’ Raid” or “The Rock in the Road.” The bridge connects the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede and spans a 20-meter-wide and 23-meter-deep chasm between the mainland and the island. The bridge itself is suspended about 30 meters above the sea.
The history of Carrick-a-Rede dates back to salmon fishermen in the area. They erected the bridge in the 18th century to access the best fishing spots.
The rope bridge allowed them to reach Carrickarede Island and fish for Atlantic salmon, which migrate through the area’s waters. The fishermen would carry their equipment and catch across the bridge.
Originally, the bridge was made of a single rope handrail, and fishermen had to have a great deal of balance and nerve to cross it.
Over the years, it has been reinforced and improved for safety. Today, Carrick-a-Rede is a popular tourist attraction, and the bridge is now securely made with wooden planks and handrails to ensure the safety of visitors.
Visitors come to enjoy the stunning natural scenery and the thrill of crossing the bridge, which offers breathtaking views of the coastline and the surrounding area.
Visit Carrick-a-Rede: Practical Information
Where is Carrick-a-Rede Located?
As I mentioned before Carrick a Rede is located along the beautiful Giant’s Causeway Scenic Drive 60 km (37 miles) from Belfast.
Carrick a rede Map
How to get to Carrick-a-Rede
Getting to Carrick-a-Rede by car
I got to Carrick-a-Rede by car because I rented a car in Dublin and had a plan to drive around Ireland. As usual, it took me more than I thought because there were so many stops and many things to see, and besides, the weather was not so helpful.
You may have the feeling that you can do it in one hour but there are so many other places to visit along the way that I would plan one entire day out if you are coming from Belfast.
If you don’t want to drive you can also join one of the amazing tours available. More about that below in this post.
Getting to Carrick-a-Rede by Bus
You can get to Carrick a Rede by bus from Belfast, but since I didn’t take this option you should check the bus schedule on Translink site.
Getting to Carrick-a-Rede by Tour
This full day tour from Belfast will take you to visit the highlights of the Giant’s Causeway costal road, including, of course the Giant’s Causeway site itself, Carrick-a-Rede, Dark Hedges and Dunluce Castle.
I suggest you read all the tour details before booking.
This tour will take you around the most interesting sights of Northern Ireland and the world-famous Giant’s Causeway. The trip includes a visit to the Giants Causeway, Carrickfergus Castle, Glenarm Castle, Carnlough Harbour, Waterfoot Caves, Cushendun Curfew House, Rope Bridge, and The Dark Hedges while navigating the Antrim Coast Road.
Please bear in mind that the tour doesn’t include the hike in Carrick-a-Rede, but only the sight of the rope bridge from the Portaneevy View Point. Otherwise, the tour is packed with many interesting sights, perfect if you do have not much time and would like to squeeze as much as possible in one day.
I suggest you read all the tour details before booking.
Carrick-a-Rede Opening Hours
Car park opening hours: 09:00 – 18:00
Access to the Rope Bridge 09:00 – 16:30
The last admission to the car park is 1.5hrs before site closure.
Carrick-a-Rede Entry Fees
Peak season prices (Easter fortnight, all UK and ROI bank holidays, and July 17 through to September 3)
- Adult £15.00
- Child £7.50
- Family £37.50
- 1 adult family £22.50
Low Season Prices
- Adult £13.00
- Child £ 6.75
- Family £ 33.75
- 1 adult family £ 20.25
Is it necessary to book in advance?
In low season it’s not necessary to book in advance, but in peak season especially july and August you may want to, in order to skip the line and you may also want to get there early to avoid crowds. Book your tickets here
Once you enter the site, you will be welcomed by one of the workers who will indicate you where to park and ask you about your plans.
There are two possible hikes, one to the bridge and one to the other side of the cliff which leads you towards another interesting site, Ballintoy Point, but it doesn’t get there.
If you decide on this walk you still have to pay £ 10 for the parking.
On the Carrick-a-Rede site, you will find toilets (also accessible) and a cute cafe for some delicious refreshments before or after the walk.
Are dogs allowed?
Yes, dogs are welcome on site, but on lead only. No dogs are permitted to cross the bridge, though.
How long will it take me to explore Carrick-a-Rede?
So the hike to Carrick a rede is about a mile long, but since you will be enjoying the spectacular views, and you will want to take some pictures for sure, you will need to consider about 2 hours in total.
Carrick-a-rede Hike: is it difficult?
When I went there the hike on the island after the bridge was blocked due to the slippery and muddy terrain caused by the bad weather we had in the previous days. Otherwise you should be allowed to walk further to the top of the island.
I could only cross the bridge, which was thrilling, and walk a few steps beyond, good enough to take the pictures you can see in this article (I hope you like them😜)
The hike is easy, nothing dangerous, just a few stairs and a steep part, but only for a short segment of the trail. If I remember well there are 189 steps in total.
I suggest you to take the detour on your way back ( You will see the sign – see picture below), it’s only a 200 mt longer and will allow you to see the bridge from a different angle with spectacular views. Don’t miss it!
Is Carrick-a-Rede worth visiting?
If you ask me, everything is worth visiting, but Carrick-a-Rede is DEFINITELY worth the trip, especially in a clear day, with no rain, as I was lucky to experience.
The views are spectacular and totally worth the hike and the walk on the bridge is kind of an adventure but in a safe condition, so you don’t have to worry about it, even if you are afraid of heights. I am terrified usually, but the rope bridge felt safe.
When is the best time to visit Carrick a rede?
I visited Carrick a Rede in October, which I consider one of the best months to visit Ireland, however, you can find rain, I am not lying to you. The fun thing about Ireland is that it can rain at any time but it can also be sunny and warm, at any time of the year.
When I start complaining about the rain, I think to myself that if it wasn’t for the rain it wouldn’t be so green, and it wouldn’t be called the Emerald Island. So just be prepared and wear the right equipment and you’ll enjoy the Carrick a rede scenery at any time.
I would avoid weekends and summer because it would be much more crowded, though. 🙂
Carrick-a-Rede visit: final thoughts
I hope this post helped you figure out your visit to this amazing site in Northern Ireland. I would recommend combining this visit with other amazing sites in the surroundings, including the Giant’s Causeway and Ballintoy Harbour among others.
I would recommend renting a car since driving in Ireland is very easy and packed with incredible views. However, if you don’t feel like driving, there are amazing tours available from Belfast.
Before you go
Here are some of my amazing guides if you are visiting Ireland:
- 7 Best Skellig Island Tours: The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Ireland’s Hidden Gem
- The Ultimate Guide to the Gap of Dunloe Ireland
- The Ring of Kerry Ireland: The 18 Best Attractions and Tours
- Ireland in November for Weather and Things To Do
- 15 Best Ring of Kerry Accommodation Options
- 7-Day Ireland Itinerary – The Perfect Road Trip
About the Author, Founder & Editor
Hello there! This is Isabella, the author of this blog, and a cat lover and restless traveler. I am an Italian expatriate in Mexico, but I am now traveling full-time in and out of Mexico. After 7 years of living in Cancun, I have decided to leave my fancy job and explore the world, at a slow pace, one country at a time. Among my favorite countries so far, besides Mexico of course, are Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Ireland, Portugal, Norway, and the list goes on…