The town of Antrim (Aontroim) straddles the River Sixmilewater, close to an attractive bay on the shores of Lough Neagh. During the 1798 Rising, the United Irishmen fought a pitched battle along the length of the town's High St. The tourist office is housed in the beautifully restored Old Courthouse (1762), a gem of Georgian architecture.
Ballymena (An Baile Meánach) is the home turf of Ian Paisley, the founder of the Free Presbyterian Church and the stridently anti-Nationalist and anti-Catholic Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who served as First Minister of Northern Ireland until 2008.
The picturesque fishing village of Strangford (Baile Loch Cuan) is dominated by Strangford Castle, a 16th-century tower house that faces its counterpart across the Narrows in Portaferry; it's not open to the public.
Coastal County Derry
As a major port for ferries from Scotland, Larne (Lutharna) is one of Northern Ireland's main points of arrival. However, with its concrete overpasses and the huge chimneys of Ballylumford power station opposite the harbour, poor old Larne is a little lacking in the charm department. After a visit to the excellent tourist information centre, there's no real reason to linger.
Castle Archdale Country Park
This park has pleasant woodland and lakeshore walks and cycle tracks in the former estate of 18th-century Archdale Manor. The island-filled bay was used in WWII as a base for Catalina flying boats, a history explained in the visitor centre.
Dungannon is a pleasant enough market town halfway between Cookstown and Armagh, worth a brief stop in passing if you want to do a spot of shopping. Killymaddy Tourist Information Centre (8776 7259; www.flavouroftyrone.com; 190 Ballygawley Rd; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm Sat & Sun) is at a caravan site 10km west of Dungannon on the A4 road towards Enniskillen.
Giant's Causeway to Ballycastle
Between the Giant's Causeway and Ballycastle lies the most scenic stretch of the Causeway Coast, with sea cliffs of contrasting black basalt and white chalk, rocky islands, picturesque little harbours and broad sweeps of sandy beach. It's best enjoyed on foot, following the 16.
The pretty seaside village of Cushendun is famous for its distinctive Cornish-style cottages, now owned by the National Trust. Built between 1912 and 1925 at the behest of the local landowner, Lord Cushendun, they were designed by Clough Williams-Ellis, the architect of Portmeirion in north Wales.
About 2km south of Cushendall is the village of Waterfoot, with a 2km-long sandy beach, the best on Antrim's east coast. From here the A43 Ballymena road runs inland along Glenariff, the loveliest of Antrim's glens.
The harbour at the fishing village of Annalong (Áth na Long) desperately wants to be picturesque, with an early 19th-century Corn Mill overlooking the river mouth on one side; call to check opening times. The effect is spoiled a bit by graffiti and ugly buildings on the other side.
Donaghadee (Domhnach Daoi) was the main ferry port for Scotland until 1874, when the 34km sea crossing to Portpatrick was superseded by the Stranraer–Larne route. Now it's a pleasant harbour town that's fast becoming part of Belfast's commuter belt. The town is home to Grace Neill's, which dates from 1611 and claims to be Ireland's oldest pub.