In honour of St Patrick’s Day this Friday 17th March, we’ve put together your essential guide for exploring Northern Ireland. Despite its tumultuous history, in the last twenty years, Northern Ireland has emerged as a trending tourist spot following a complete economic and cultural revival. Most popular is the region’s capital Belfast, but there are many must-see destinations along the Northern Irish coast, all within an hour’s drive. Read on to explore Pass the Keys top recommendations for the area:
No trip to Northern Ireland is complete without a visit to the region’s historic capital. The city is home to the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience and offers a plethora of foodie spots, traditional pubs, markets, pop-ups, and museums. Maritime lovers flock to the SS Nomadic, a restored White Star Line vessel whilst music lovers won’t want to miss the Linen Quarter, home to three major music venues and home to stunning Victorian architecture. The Golden Mile, between City Hall Gardens and the Botanic Park provides a relaxing walk for visitor to catch the best of contemporary Belfast culture. Just a short drive away and visitors can explore the beautiful Belfast Castle, within the slopes of Cavehill Country Park.
The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coastal Route
Also known colloquially as the Giant's Boot, the Wishing Chair, the Camel, the Giant's Granny, and the Organ, Game of Thrones fans from across the world converge at Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO heritage site. This stunning rock formation was forged by a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago and with an awe-inspiring coastline, Giant’s Causeway is at the centre of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a must-see for any visitors to the region.
On a clear day, you can even see Scotland in the distance. Further down the coast, history lovers will want to make a visit to the ruins of the medieval Dunluce Castle which was also used on Game of Thrones. Thrill seekers won’t want to miss the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, just a 15-minute drive from the causeway, where adventurers can cross from the mainland to explore a picturesque tiny fishing island.
Only an hour’s drive from the city of Belfast and you will arrive at the stunning Mourne Mountains & the Ring of Gullion which boast not one but three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The area is perfect for a brisk walk or a more challenging hike, with panoramic views over both counties Armagh and Down. This is a great place for keen cyclists and mountain bikers can hire bikes as there’s very little road traffic. There are plenty of activities for watersports lovers to make a splash alongside a Game of Thrones themed boat tour and a world-class golf course.
Derry has recently been thrust into the limelight, thanks to the popularity of the Channel 4 sitcom written by Lisa McGee. This walled city is steeped in history with iconic landmarks such as the Peace Bridge, St Columb’s Cathedral, and the People’s Gallery. Without doubt, the best views of the city can be seen from the intact seventeenth-century walls, a testament to the historic significance of Derry to the region’s rich history. Derry is known as a ‘festival city’, with plenty of theatre shows and musical performances and other cultural events to keep the entire family entertained!
This quaint, seaside town in County Down offers the perfect respite after exploring the hustle and bustle of Belfast. Quaint shops and restaurants offer local fare and the sandy beaches in the area are virtually untouched and the town has recently seen a million-pound renovation to its promenade and high street. The village is in the foothills of Slieve Donard, the largest of the Mourne Mountains, so it’s a perfect base to explore this scenic area of Northern Ireland. Newcastle is also home to two forest parks and close to the Murlough Nature Reserve: offering the perfect outdoor retreat.
Looking for a place to stay in Northern Ireland? Book directly with Pass the Keys via our website.