Typically, spontaneous excursions can turn out to be probably the most memorable journeys. We didn’t initially put Northern Ireland on our itinerary throughout our Ireland journey as a result of there have been simply so many issues to discover. However, a wet day forecast in Dublin whereas a cloudy day in Northern Ireland appeared extra interesting. So, we determined to ebook a guided day journey to Northern Ireland’s main sights and it was such a unbelievable journey.
Northern Ireland is situated about two hours from Dublin with a smooth border crossing. In the event you don’t concentrate, you’re positive to miss the little signal saying you’re out of the country. Republic of Ireland gained independence in 1922 whereas Northern Ireland remained a part of the UK. No passports wanted or border patrols in sight.
The countryside was superb with verdant landscapes crammed with cows and sheep grazing. We could also be within the UK nevertheless it positive appeared quite a bit just like the Irish countryside we had gotten used to seeing.
We made a fast cease within the capital metropolis of Belfast to decide up some passengers. Belfast was a metropolis engulfed in battle generally known as the Troubles between 1968 and 1998. It was between the unionist (largely Protestant) who needed to keep inside the UK and the nationalist (principally Catholics) who needed to turn out to be a part of the Republic of Ireland. Hundreds have been killed or injured throughout these tumultuous many years of violence.
I wasn’t anticipating a lot from Belfast after not listening to a lot about it within the 21st century. However, we discovered a compact, underrated European capital by the water. We handed by a thriving metropolis with nice structure, quaint streets and a powerful metropolis corridor.
Belfast has emerged from its troubled previous with a number of business progress and implausible vacationer points of interest. Titanic Belfast is a well-liked attraction dubbed because the world’s largest Titanic customer expertise paying homage to the well-known doomed ship that was constructed right here.
The metropolis is full of fascinating museums, whiskey distilleries and pubs, political wall murals, historic church buildings and buildings. Should you’re a Recreation of Thrones TV present fan, Belfast was used as a main filming location. There are many excursions from Belfast that take followers to many filming places close by.
The Dark Hedges
Our first tour cease was this row of 250-year previous beech timber situated about an hour from Belfast. James Stuart planted about 150 timber in 1775 that led to his Georgian mansion referred to as Gracehill Home. The home is now a part of a golf course with a bar and restaurant.
This has develop into one among Northern Ireland’s hottest points of interest particularly after it was featured because the King’s Street in Recreation of Thrones. Solely 90 of the timber stay however they nonetheless create a tremendous tunnel alongside the street spanning virtually half a mile. Our bus parked a brief strolling distance away and there was additionally a small parking zone.
Our tour information informed us that this was additionally house of the spirit of the Gray Woman who roams the hedges and makes positive the timber keep alive. Our late autumn go to with out the leaves gave the timber an virtually haunting look. If you would like to see the timber crammed with leaves, go to in June and early morning to keep away from the crowds.
The primary purpose we actually needed to do that day journey was to see the pure phenomenon of Giant’s Causeway. This has been on my journey want listing for awhile. It was straightforward to see why it was thought-about Northern Ireland’s prime attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage website.
Situated alongside the Causeway Coast and under basalt cliffs, the 40,000+ giant, interlocking basalt columns have been shaped about 60 tens of millions of years in the past after a volcanic eruption. It was unimaginable to see how a lot of the rocks have been hexagonal formed pillars. Although, there have been additionally some eight-sided stones within the space.
The columns have been stacked subsequent to one another, interlocking and virtually like Mom Nature herself made positive they match like puzzle items. It was really spectacular. In the event you’d relatively consider in Irish myths and legends, it was believed the Irish big, Finn McCool used these boulders to create a bridge or causeway to problem his Scottish rival, Benandonner – therefore, the identify.
Whereas there was a shuttle (with charges) to take passengers from the customer’s middle to the coast, we selected to stroll down the .5 mile (.eight km) scenic pathway. It was value it for views like this one. We took the shuttle again up although.
We spent over two hours right here exploring. My youngsters had a lot enjoyable leaping from one stone to the subsequent. It was onerous to absolutely seize the great thing about this space and the way superb these columns have been in phrases and photographs. There have been additionally different trails and quite a lot of distinctive crops and animals discovered within the space.
White Park Bay
We made a quick cease at a viewpoint overlooking White Park Bay. Situated on the North Antrim Coast, the white sandy seashore appeared so inviting even with the chilly wind. The space had sand dunes and grasslands with an ample number of crops and animals. It was no shock to discover out this seashore was additionally used as a part of the Recreation Thrones movie location.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Would you go on a swaying rope bridge suspended 100 ft. (30 m) above the ocean? Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was considered one of our favourite stops extra for the journey to get to the bridge than the vacation spot. We have been prepared to nervously cross this bridge. Sadly, it was so windy they prohibited anybody from crossing it for security causes.
This was as shut as we received to the 66 ft. lengthy and 98 ft. excessive bridge. Salmon fishermen constructed this bridge in 1755 between the cliffs and Carrick-a-Rede Island the place they caught the migrating salmon. The island can also be nice for fowl watching. The fisherman’s cottage (open on particular weekends) is the island’s lone construction.
There was a ranger there to be certain that the vacationers didn’t disobey the warnings. Taking a look at this bridge with these slats and its mild swaying was fairly nerve wracking.
Fortuitously, the coastal one-mile path down to the bridge made up for its closure (virtually). The views alongside the best way have been superb. There have been additionally outlying islands alongside the shore.
We actually appreciated that they strategically had benches for resting and searching into the ocean to benefit from the views. Whereas it’s free to stroll the coastal path and see the bridge, crossing it isn’t free. Tickets could be booked on-line prematurely or bought by means of the stand on website.
Cushendun was a coastal city however was additionally an enthralling village that was a pleasing cease for our tour. Should you’ve visited the Cornwall space in England, this village might look acquainted. The Cornish-style structure was largely credited to a politician named Ronald McNeill. He commissioned Clough Williams-Ellis, an architect, to construct cottages as a tribute to his spouse’s hometown.
Our primary vacation spot in Cushendun was truly the caves that have been shaped right here hundreds of thousands of years in the past. We loved seeing the harbor and the scenic coastal stroll on our method to the cave with the farmlands within the backdrop. There have been no main indicators to the cave as we walked behind a constructing.
In recent times, this cave has gotten loads of guests because it was utilized in Recreation of Thrones. For followers, this cave, which truly backs up into a personal property, was utilized in a memorable scene of Melisandre (the pink witch) giving delivery to The Shadow. I discovered the rock formations particularly the arch outdoors extra fascinating than the cave.
The Belfast Christmas Market
We ended our night time by stopping in Belfast for nearly two hours. It was free time to have dinner, go to a pub or discover the Christmas market round their magnificent Metropolis Corridor. We selected to have dinner whereas purchasing on the Christmas markets. We’ve solely seen these markets in Portugal and Italy so it was nice to see it abroad’s perspective.
The giant Christmas tree and lots of festive overhead vacation indicators made this an exquisite place for guests and locals to collect. There have been many outlets promoting arts and crafts housed on picket chalets. Although, the meals distributors appear to outnumber them.
There was a meals courtroom space full of many worldwide dishes ranging from Spanish paella, crocodile burgers to Belgian goodies. The aroma of meals cooking was sufficient to make all of us salivate. Adults can end all of them off with mulled wine or German beer. Our favorites have been all of the sweets and desserts. There have been so many assorted meals choices it was so exhausting to select the place to eat.
Youngsters can meet Santa at his grotto, journey on the classic carousel or pose inside a snow globe. In the event you’re a bit extra adventurous, the Helter Skelter seemed like an enormous slide. We actually appreciated that this was a central location with loads of eating places and outlets close by.
Our day journey to Northern Ireland turned out to be an incredible, final minute concept. It was such an underrated vacation spot. Belfast and Northern Ireland supply such nice pure points of interest and a mecca for Video games of Thrones Fan. We extremely advocate a day journey right here whereas in Dublin and even as a aspect journey for a number of days.
Ideas for Daytripping to Northern Ireland from Dublin
- Guide excursions prematurely particularly throughout excessive season (i.e. holidays, summer time). Customer facilities and lodge concierges can reserve spots for you. We have been right here in late November so didn’t have a problem reserving the day earlier than.
- Our specific tour was with Finn McCool’s Excursions – Giant’s Causeway Tour from Dublin. We extremely advocate this tour that got here with a really roomy bus, free Wi-fi, a terrific driver and educated and entertaining information.
- Be ready for an extended tour day. We boarded the bus round 6:35 AM outdoors Dublin Metropolis Gallery and didn’t return till shut to 8PM. Most of the different tour corporations adopted the identical all day schedule.
- Convey money or depart some money after consuming and buying to tip the driving force and tour information.
- We stopped at a relaxation cease for a restroom break and to get lunch and snacks. Purchase your drinks, snacks and lunches on the grocery shops round Dublin the night time earlier than the tour as an alternative to save money and time.
*Have you ever visited Northern Ireland?
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