Northern Ireland’s first city, Belfast, is known for a lot of things: it was the birthplace of legendary ocean liner Titanic; it’s got great music humming through its veins; it’s currently one of Europe’s hottest food destinations. Need more reasons to come and visit? Here are nine…
I’ve always maintained that Northern Ireland is the world’s best kept secret, both in the character of its people and its scenery.
Great city experiences
Each of Northern Ireland’s cities has its own distinct character. There’s Derry~Londonderry, one of the best preserved walled cities in Europe; gracious Armagh with its strong links to St Patrick (it has not one but two cathedrals named after the saint); arty Lisburn with its 18th century streetscapes; and buzzing Newry, a modern urban hub with a history that stretches back over 850 years.
Causeway Coastal Route
One of the best coastal drives in the world, according to Condé Nast Traveler, the Causeway Coastal Route stretches from Belfast to Derry~Londonderry and brings you past breathtaking scenery and unforgettable experiences.
Along the way you can walk the Gobbins Cliff Path, clinging to the rugged edges of the County Antrim coast, cross the exhilarating Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge that links the mainland with tiny, craggy Carrick Island, or visit the working lighthouse and newly refurbished RSPB seabird centre on the beautiful Rathlin Island.
Then the ultimate pit stop: the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage site consisting of 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns tumbling into the ocean. Trust us – this is one road trip you’ll never want to end.
Take the roadtrip of a lifetime along the Causeway Coastal Route.
In County Down, you'll find Northern Ireland’s largest mountain range, beloved of hillwalkers and rock climbers, and boasting some of the most dramatic scenery on the island of Ireland. The grandeur of the Mourne Mountains has inspired many, including Belfast-born author CS Lewis. Look closely, in fact, and you might see a striking resemblance to his famous fantasy land of Narnia.
These mountains are full of oddities. Take the Mourne Wall, for example – a 35km dry-stone wall crossing its summits; or the Cloughmore Stone, a 40 tonne boulder said to have been flung across nearby Carlingford Lough by a giant; or Tollymore Forest Park, whose exotic trees and gothic stone follies make it an ideal filming location for Game of Thrones®.
Drive the Mourne Coastal Route from Belfast to Newry for the ultimate Mournes tour or follow in the footsteps of 18th century smugglers on the "Brandy Path" – one of the many walking trails through the mountains.