You will find a land of gorgeous countryside and historic towns
Things To Do
Visit Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience. Located beside the historic site of the ship’s construction, the state of the art exhibition tells the story from conception in Belfast during the early 1900s until its tragic end and the aftermath. Explore the ship with exclusive footage from the bottom of the ocean, where Titanic now rests.
Visit the Causeway Coast route and take the rope bridge to Carrick-a-Rede Island for a thrilling (not for the faint hearted) walk across the chasm. At 80 feet (30m) above the sea, those bold enough to cross are rewarded with amazing views of the Antrim coast.
The largest sea lough in the British Isles and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, visit Strangford Lough and take a sea safari to watch the seals and the wealth of other wild and bird life in the area. Then visit Mount Stewart House and Gardens on the edge of the lough, considered one of the most important gardens that the National Trust owns.
Return to yesterday and visit Castle Coole near Enniskillen. One of Ireland’s finest Neo-Classical houses, much of the original furniture is still in place, as is the State Bedroom, prepared for a visit by George IV.
Take an award-winning Black Cab Tour of Belfast for a hard-hitting look at the British/Irish conflict. A political sightseeing tour, you’ll gain an insight into Belfast during The Troubles, seeing famous hotspots and associated murals.
When To Visit
St Patrick’s Day, of course, is celebrated throughout Ireland in the week leading up to 17 March, but particularly in Downpatrick, the town named after the patron saint. In addition to general revelry, you’ll find pilgrimages, concerts and historical talks.
Armagh celebrates the Brian Boru Festival in April, when the High King of Ireland won victory over the Vikings at Clontarf in 1014, ending Danish power in Ireland.
The City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival is held every May with big name stars in the world of music, while the Mourne International Walking Festival offers spectacular scenery around the Mourne Mountains near Newcastle, County Down, every June. Cushendall, County Antrim, enjoys the Heart of the Glens Festival for nine days during August, with music, sports and fun for all the family.
And if you happen to be in Belfast during January, take advantage of the annual Out to Lunch Festival. There are three weeks of theatre, music and comedy all served within the lunch hour – with lunch of course!
Care should be taken when visiting certain areas within Belfast on or around the 12 July, when the Orange Order marches take place.
Visitors travelling from south west and southern England may find it easier to use ferry routes to the Republic of Ireland and use the M1 motorway to Northern Ireland, a two-hour drive. Stena Line has sailings between Fishguard and Rosslare, Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire, and Holyhead and Dublin. Irish Ferries operates between Holyhead and Dublin and Pembroke and Rosslare.
Being a part of the UK, passports are not required when travelling to Northern Ireland. It is advisable, however, to have passports to hand along with all vehicle documents in the unlikely event of being stopped by the police.