Portrush (Port Rois, "promontory port") is a resort town on the north coast of Northern Ireland, historically within County Antrim. Those counties have been abolished so the town is now part of Causeway Coast and Glens District. As that name implies, Portrush is a good base for visiting Giant's Causeway and other major attractions along the Antrim coast. It has a population (as of 2011) of 6454, greatly swollen in summer by visitors, when you need to book ahead with accommodation. It also houses many students and staff of the University of Ulster in Coleraine.
The TIC is in Town Hall by the railway station, open Apr-Sept.
Trains run hourly, daily from Belfast Great Victoria Street via other Belfast stations, Antrim (for International Airport), Ballymena and Coleraine. There you change for the connecting train for Portrush, total travel time just under two hours, while the train from Belfast continues to Derry.
Bus 140b runs a triangle from Coleraine to Portrush (20 min), Portstewart and back to Coleraine; 140a is the reverse triangle. It's every 20 min M-F, hourly Sa, every two hours Sunday.
Bus 402 runs from Coleraine to Portrush, Dunluce (for castle), Portballintrae, Bushmills (for distillery), Giant's Causeway, Ballintoy (for Carrick-a-Rede bridge) and Ballycastle. It runs M-F every 2-3 hours with only one on Saturday. Don't take the 172, which from Coleraine heads straight to Bushmills and bypasses Portrush.
By car from Belfast or the south, the direct route is M2 / A26 north past Ballymena and Coleraine. If it's fine and you've got all day, meander along the scenic route by the coast, see County Antrim.
Walk. The town is small and easy to navigate.
The peninsula layout means driving in town centre is slow and parking difficult to find during the holiday season.
Take Bus 140 for Portstewart. Take Bus 402 for Dunluce Castle, Bushmills and points east.
- 1 Ramore Head is the breezy head of the peninsula where Portrush stands. Nice views.
- Portrush town centre was spruced up when the Irish Open golf tournament came here in 2012. It's perhaps due another clean.
- 2 Coastal Zone, 8 Bath Road BT56 8AP, ☏ . June-Aug daily 10:00-16:30. Small exhibition of the natural history of the area. Free.
- West Strand beach starts south of the harbour near the railway station, so it's the main destination for bucket & spade day-trippers. It's flanked by Barry's Amusement Park, a large funfair.
- East Strand stretches for a couple of miles, and is quieter as you get away from town. It's backed by rugged sand dunes, great for a picnic or beach party. Eventually it ends beyond the golf course at White Rocks.
- 3 The Skerries are the rocky islets a mile offshore. They're a nature reserve; boat trips to Giant's Causeway sail close by.
- Portstewart 3 miles west of Portrush is a similar small harbour and seaside resort in County Londonderry.
- 4 Dunluce Castle, 87 Dunluce Rd, Bushmills BT57 8UY. Daily 09:30-16:00. A ruined medieval castle on a basalt outcrop on the coast. An earlier castle was built in the 13th century and this one replaced it in the 16th, falling derelict in the 17th. Only in 2011 were the remnants of an entire 17th century town of Dunluce discovered nearby, with a grid street pattern and indoor sanitation.
- Surf: West Strand is the main beach. Surf schools and shops include Portrush Surf School, Troggs, Woodies, SUB6 and Alive Adventures.
- Barry's Amusements is the funfair on East Strand, see above.
- Playhouse theatre and cinema is at 47 High St.
- In 2021 boat trips no longer sail from Portrush, try Portstewart or Ballycastle.
- 1 Royal Portrush Golf Club, Dunluce Rd BT56 8JQ. Championship golf club which hosted the Open in 2019 on its Dunluce course (7337 yards, par 71). There's also the 18 hole Valley course (6304 yards, par 70), shared with Rathmore Golf Club.
- Ballyreagh is a council-run golf course west side of town.
- The Ulster Way is a hiking trail that circles the province. Locally the best section is the waymarked trail east along the coast to Dunluce Castle, Port Ballintrae, Bushmills and Giant's Causeway; you could walk one way and ride the bus back. West the trail takes you to Portstewart: it's not worth continuing beyond as you then have to trudge for some miles along ratty roads before you regain the trail at Castlerock.
- Portrush Raft Race is a fundraising event for the lifeboat service in May. The next is probably 29-30 May 2021 but tba.
- Northwest 200 is a motorbike race held in May on a triangular on-road circuit between Coleraine, Portrush and Portstewart. The 2020 and 2021 races were cancelled so the next is expected to be 8-14 May 2022, tbc.
- Air Waves Portrush is an air show in September. The 2020 show was cancelled so the next is tentatively scheduled for 4-9 Sept 2021, tbc.
- Ramore, 1 Harbour Road BT56 8DF, ☏ . This is a strip of waterfront restaurants: Wine Bar, Basalt, Mermaid, Neptune & Prawn, Tourist, Harbour Bistro and Harbour Bar.
- 55 Degrees North, 1 Causeway St BT56 8AB, ☏ . Daily 09:00-21:00. Deservedly popular spot with glorious views over sea and East Strand. Good cooking and ample portions.
- Babushka on South Pier alas doesn't offer pierogi or borscht, but it's a continental-style cafe open daily 09:30-17:00.
- Portstewart to the west has the usual seaside fare. Amici serves Italian daily 12:00-14:30, 17:00-20:30.
- And see Sleep for hotel restaurants: Royal Court gets good reviews.
- Pubs in Portrush include Harbour Gin Bar, Springhill Bar, Atlantic Bar and Kiwi Brew Bar.
- Kelly's is a complex off Bushmills Rd near the golf club with a slew of bars, live entertainment venues, Lush! Nightclub, and Golflinks Hotel.
- Bushmills is the famous distillery six miles east, producing a variety of blended and single malt whiskey. The taste is distinctive.
- 1 Carrick Dhu Caravan Park, 12 Ballyreagh Rd BT56 8LS, ☏ . Council-run site a mile west of town, with 20 tent pitches and 40 tourer hook-ups. They planned to improve the surface in 2020 but that didn't happen, so be prepared for uneven ground through 2021. Hook-up £25.
- Portrush Atlantic Hotel (formerly Ramada), 73 Main St BT56 8BN, ☏ . Good central mid-range place, went through a bad patch in autumn 2020 but they've smartened up. B&B double £140.
- Aaranmore Lodge, 14 Coleraine Road BT56 8EA, ☏ . Clean welcoming B&B south side of town. Free parking and wifi. B&B double £70.
- Anvershiel House B&B, 16 Coleraine Rd BT56 8EA, ☏ . Delightful welcoming B&B and does a great breakfast. B&B double £70.
- Pier39 Portrush B&B, 39 Kerr Street BT56 8DQ, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Excellent B&B with 4 rooms en suite by the harbour. B&B double £80.
- 2 Magherabuoy House Hotel, 41 Magheraboy Rd BT56 8NX, ☏ . Clean friendly mid-range hotel at south edge of town. B&B double £90.
- Golf Links Hotel is a modern place east side of town, but it's within the Kelly's / Lush! Nightclub complex, noisy until late.
- 3 Royal Court Hotel, 233 Ballybogey Rd BT56 8NF, ☏ . Smart mid-range place beyond the golf course east of town.
- There's more accommodation in Portstewart 3 miles west.
As of Feb 2021, Portrush has 4G with all UK carriers, but the mobile signal on the roads along the coast is poor with Three and Vodafone. 5G has not reached this area.
- The coastline east has Northern Ireland's top attractions: Bushmills, Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Bridge and Ballycastle, for ferries to Rathlin Island. It's very touristy, continue east for the Antrim Glens.
- Portstewart west is a small resort similar to Portrush.
- Coleraine is a transport hub and hosts the University of Ulster. South of town, Mountsandel Mount is a huge earthwork.