Holidays in Northern Ireland present opportunities for cultural and lively city breaks, along with experiencing some wondrous natural landscapes and active escapes too.
As the country’s capital, Belfast is a great place to enjoy city breaks in Northern Ireland. Steeped in maritime history and particularly famed for the site where the Titanic was designed, built and launched, there are unsurprisingly plenty of attractions devoted to the ill-fated ship.
Opened in 2012, Titanic Belfast is the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience, including interactive displays and an underwater theatre. Nearby, the Titanic Dock and Pump House marks the site where the ship was built and launched.
Londonderry, Northern Ireland’s second largest city, also boasts a wealth of fantastic activities, from the centuries-old City Walls to a stunning coastal journey on the Londonderry-Coleraine Railway.
The neo-gothic Guildhall in the heart of the city is a great place to start, while the award-winning Tower Museum is another good spot if you’re keen on local history. With permanent exhibitions telling the stories of Derry and La Trinidad Valencera – one of the largest ships in the Spanish Armada which sank off the Donegal coast – there’s plenty to soak up.
Away from the cities, Northern Ireland’s most famous landmark is in County Antrim. Giant’s Causeway – with its 40,000 interlocking basalt columns – came about due to an ancient volcanic fissure eruption, resulting in the unique structure, which gets its name from a legend which says it was built as a bridge by the giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill.
Nearby, Dunlace Castle is well worth a visit, perhaps as part of a drive along the dramatic Causeway Coastal Route, which connects Belfast and Londonderry via numerous awe-inspiring sights.
Keen golfers will want to take in Royal Portrush in County Antrim and Royal County Down, just south of Belfast, two of Northern Ireland’s finest golf courses and perfect for some time on the fairway during Northern Ireland holidays.
But if golf isn’t your thing, there’s a wealth of active pursuits to enjoy across the country. West of Belfast, Divis and the Black Mountain National Trust has an abundance of hiking trails and panoramic vistas of the capital and the surrounding countryside.
On the coast north of Belfast, Gobbins Cliff Path provides one of Northern Ireland’s most dramatic walks, with spectacular views as it passes the likes of Otter Cave, Gordon’s Leap and Wise’s Eye. In the south-east, Tollymore Forest Park is simply beautiful.
And while it may not be the first thing that springs to mind while planning your trip, don’t write off beach holidays in Northern Ireland. On the north coast, Whitepark Bay is breath-taking. Rugged and dramatic, it’s the perfect coastal retreat, with soft sand and clear waters, backed by rolling green hills.
Just along the coast, Ballycastle Beach is equally as mesmerising, while to the south Tyrella Beach and its swathes of sweeping sand is well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
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