12 Of The Best Locations For A Scenic Tour Of Northern Ireland
Once a ‘no go’ area for tourists, Northern Ireland is now the ‘go to’ destination for world travellers! So much so, in fact, that, in 2018, Lonely Planet declared Belfast and the Causeway Coast the number one region in the world to visit!
So what makes Northern Ireland such a fantastic place to visit?
Well, for a start, the province is extremely compact, enabling you to travel from the beautiful North Atlantic coast to the captivating Mourne Mountains in less than two hours, so you’re spoilt for choice in terms of the type of attractions available.
Speaking of travelling, a drive along the Causeway Coastal Route – rated one of the Top Five Road Trips in the world – makes for spectacular viewing. And, what makes it even better is if you’re travelling in luxury – and comfort – in one of our executive cars.
When it comes to historic attractions, you’ve got the world’s leading tourist attraction – Titanic Belfast – while if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you can tour the film locations, visiting Northern Ireland’s epic landscapes that were used as the backdrop for the series.
To the west of the province, meanwhile, you have the stunning Fermanagh Lakelands, the fantastic Lough Erne and the entrancing Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark: the ultimate in underground caverns.
Situated only a short walk from Belfast city centre, this iconic centre is now the world’s leading tourist attraction. Located in the heart of one of the world's largest urban waterfront regeneration projects - Titanic Quarter - Titanic Belfast provides a unique and authentic experience for all visitors.
Parliament Buildings – more commonly referred to as ‘Stormont’ is one of the most striking pieces of architecture in Northern Ireland. Sir Arnold Thornely, the architect, designed the building with perfect symmetry and symbolism, creating six pillars at the entrance - one for each county in Northern Ireland. Guided tours run twice daily at 11am and 2pm.
Bushmills, County Antrim | £12 admission fee to Visitor Experience. Free to walk to stones
Flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs, the Giant’s Causeway has inspired artists and captured the imagination of all who see it. You can climb the Shepherd's Steps and hike along the cliff top trail to get a bird's eye view of the beautiful causeway coast, or enjoy the road less travelled capturing the World Heritage Site on an active five-mile hike along the stunning cliff-top path.
A visit to the Ulster Museum will take you back in time as it tells the unique human story of this part of Ireland. From dinosaurs to an Egyptian mummy, there’s plenty for all the family to discover before settling down for a nice cuppa in the café.
At the Ulster American Folk Park, you really can Immerse yourself in the story of the brave emigrants who made the journey across the Atlantic to America hundreds of years ago. Take the time to wander through the thatched cottages and log cabins, where you can meet costumed characters, who will show you traditional crafts and tell you a few stories.
At the Ulster Transport and Folk Museum, you can step back in time and experience what life was like in Ulster over 100 years ago. Wander through the beautiful parkland of the Ulster Folk Museum, where you will encounter costumed locals demonstrating traditional crafts in cottages, farm dwellings, schools, and shops, before calling in to see the terrific range of transport from time gone by.
One of Belfast’s oldest attractions, St George’s Market was built between 1890 and 1896. The market has won many awards for its great atmosphere and terrific range of local produce. In fact, it was named the UK's Best Large Indoor Market 2019 by the NABMA Great British Market Awards. On Friday the market holds the Variety Market, where around 200 stalls sell a variety of products. Saturday’s market is the craft market but there’s also a fabulous range of continental and specialty foods on offer. Sunday sees a mix of the Friday and Saturday markets, with a particular emphasis on local arts and crafts.
Main Street, Bellaghy | £7 adult, £4.50 child (5+)
Seamus Heaney wrote and published poetry, plays, essays and translations throughout his life. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, thereby sealing his reputation as one of Ireland’s literary and cultural giants. He died in Dublin in 2013 and chose Bellaghy as his final resting place. His grave is in the grounds of the local chapel and HomePlace was built as a tribute to the great man.
At the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark, you can discover magical moments in one of Europe’s finest show caves. The caves pay homage to the fascinating secrets of a world of subterranean rivers, winding passages, lofty chambers and an array of delicate cave formations. The carefully-constructed path allows you to comfortably walk through the Marble Arch Caves, while the discreet lighting allows you to view both the cave features and delicate cave formations at their best. The enthusiastic guides who accompany you will interpret the stories of this amazing cave formation.
‘Where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea…..’ So the song goes. But no song could do justice to your first sight of the most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland. The mountains are majestic in themselves, but are criss-crossed by an unrivalled network of paths and tracks, making trekking possible for even the least-experienced of walkers.
Derry~Londonderry is a city that is packed full of history and heritage, but it also provides a vibrant cultural scene, so there’s always something for everyone. Derry~Londonderry is actually the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe. Built during 1613-1618 by the honourable Irish Society as defences for early seventeenth century settlers from England and Scotland, the walls form a walkway around the inner city and provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance Style street plan to this day.
Dating back to 1845, Crumlin Road Gaol closed its doors as a working prison in 1996. Since then, the Gaol has re-opened as a visitor attraction and, today, you can take a guided tour of the prison, where you'll discover more than 150 years of history and follow in the footsteps of over 25,000 prisoners. The guided tour will enable you to explore the building’s colourful Victorian past and take a peek into the daily lives and routines of both prisoners and prison officers during the Gaol’s existence.