Looking for thrills during your vacation in Ireland? Look up North, to County Antrim specifically, and you’ll find one of Ireland’s most simple but most exciting attractions, the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge.

Suspended some 100 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge connects the Northern Irish mainland to the small island of Carrick-A-Rede. The bridge was first constructed in 1755 as a means for salmon fishermen to cross back and forth, but after salmon migration patterns changed, fishermen closed up shop in 2002.

Like some of the best Irish attractions, you might miss the bridge if you’re not looking for it. Located on the scenic Causeway Coastal Route, the bridge is in Ballintoy, Ballycastle, County Antrim. This thrilling spot is best accessed by car, and free parking is available.

It wasn’t until 2017 that the site began charging entry, mainly in response to its growing popularity and crowds. All visitors must now purchase a ticket to cross the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge on the day of their visit. Once purchased, there is no time limit for how long you can explore the site. Only group bookings can be made in advance, otherwise all purchases must be made the day of.

The National Trust suggests arriving early to ensure you can get a ticket. Tickets are sold by time slot, and visitors cannot access the site until their time slot has arrived. Tickets are only valid on the day they are purchased.

Always check the forecast beforehand as the weather in Ireland is spontaneous at best. The bridge will be closed in particularly bad weather due to safety concerns. However, sunny or rainy, you’re in for a treat with some spectacular views of the Northern Irish coast.

With your ticket in hand, take a deep breath because your walk across the ocean will either be wondrously exciting or terribly nerve-wracking or perhaps a bit of both!

Though it may look terrifying, the rope bridge is actually quite safe. As recently as the 1970s, the bridge only had one handrail and more widely gapped wooden planks. Today, however, the bridge is lined with dual handrails and tightly placed planks - you’ll be crossing the safest version of the bridge possible.

Steel yourself as you make your way through the gate. Will you keep your eyes steadily focused on the other side, Carrick-A-Rede, or will you leisurely take in all the views, the waves beneath you and the sprawling coastline? A brisk breeze may add a bit of a sway to the bridge during your jaunt!

If you’re feeling a bit nervous, have a friend play photographer at either end of the bridge as this is one picture you will not want to miss out on. But maybe you’ll be brave enough to stand steady and take your own pictures as you cross.

Once safely on the other side of the bridge, take a moment to gather yourself. Beauty abounds in the scenery and wildlife on the small island. Proceed with caution as the routes on Carrick-A-Rede are only marginally marked, but also take the chance to explore the wild Irish landscape.

You’ll get your money’s worth out of the trip to the rope bridge since you’ll get to cross it twice! Having made it across once, crossing back to the mainland should be a breeze.

After completing your journey, head for the Weighbridge tea room for a snack and a cup of tea to recuperate from your adventure. The cafe also has a small shop where you can buy souvenirs to remember the day you conquered the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge.

Get a glimpse of what awaits you at Carrick-A-Rede in the below video shared on Facebook by @carrickaredeNationalTrust:

Carrick-a-rede Posted by Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge - National Trust on Tuesday, January 30, 2018

* Originally published in 2018, updated in March 2024.