Things to Do in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland offers a variety of things to do and see: from the rugged Causeway Coast, to the vibrant cities, interesting castles and historical sites.
Visit the Giant’s Causeway
This is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located about 5 km from Bushmills and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is, without a doubt, the most popular attraction in Northern Ireland.
See Belfast from above
The perspective changes drastically when you see a city from above. So, rent a car and drive to Cave Hill. It is located in the northern part of the city and offers panoramic views of both Belfast and the coast. On a clear day you can see all the way to Scotland.
Drive along the Causeway Coast
The Causeway Coast covers about 13 km. It begins in Belfast in the south-east of Antrim and ends in the Walled City in County Londonderry, in the north-west. You’ll pass by fishing villages, beaches, mountains, castles and many other interesting places.
Visit some of the castles
Whether you visit Belfast Castle, Stormont Castle, Castle Cool or any of the other castles in Northern Ireland, you’ll enjoy the views, the history and , sometimes, the creepy locations.
The morning at St. George’s Market in Belfast
Before you head out of the town, make sure to go to the market. Whether you look for something to eat, or want to buy souvenirs, you’ll find them here. St. George’s Market was built in 1896 and is the oldest continually operating market in Ireland. Should you visit Belfast in erly December, don’t miss the two-day Christmas Fair and Market.
An evening at Belfast’s oldest pub
When you visit Northern Ireland, you must try Guinness and whiskey. And you can do that at Kelly’s Cellars, the oldest pub in Belfast. It opened in 1720 and used to be a meeting place for Henry Joy McCracken and the United Irishmen.
See the Belfast Murals
The easiest way to do this is on a Belfast Black Taxi Tour, which takes you on both Protestant and Catholic areas. Aside from the murals you’ll also see the Belfast City Hall, Albert Clock, Harland and Wolf Shipyard Queens University, the Grand Opera House and more.
Visit St. Columb’s Cathedral in Derry
It is the oldest surviving building in Derry and was built between 1628 and 1633. It was also the first post-Reformation church to be built in England and Ireland. The stone inscribe ‘In Templo Verus Deus Est Vereo Colendus‘ (The True God is in His Temple and is to be truly worshipped) comes from the original church built here in 1164.
A day at the Navan Fort
The Navan Fort is the most important archeological site in Ulster. The site is linked with the tales of Cuchulainn. It was an important center around 1150BC, until the coming of Christianity.
City Walls in Derry
The old town of Derry is one of Ireland’s first examples of city planning. It is based on the grid plan of a Roman military camp, with two main streets and four city gates. The City Walls were competed in 1619 and have a circumference of about 1.5 km. They have survived almost intact.
Visit St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh City
This is built on the site of St Patrick’s original stone church. The cathedral you can see today is based on the plan laid in the 13th century but it was rebuilt in Gothic style. Within the church you can see the remains of an 11th-century Celtic Cross that once stood nearby.
Visit the Bushmills Distillery
It is the world’s oldest legal distillery (with license since 1608). The whiskey is made with Irish barley and water from St. Columb’s Rill. It is matured in oak barrels. The distillery can be toured and you’ll be rewarded with a free sample.
Take a scenic ride on the Giant’s Causeway & Bushmills Railway
The line follows a route of a 19th-century tourist tramway for 3km from Bushmills to below the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre. Trains run every hour from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. daily in July and August and weekends only from Easter to June, September and October.
Bike the Kingfisher Trail
The 370 km route starts in Enniskillen and takes you to the back roads of counties Fermanagh, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan. There’s also as shorter – 115 km – loop which also starts in Enniskillen and which can be tackled in 2 days.
Day trip to Giants Ring
Giants Ring is located in the Lagan Valley Regional Park. It is an enormous circular earthwork, with a 600 ft diameter. The megalithic chamber dates from back to between 3000 and 2000 BC. Access to the site is free.
Hike in the Mourne Mountains
They are an area of astounding natural beauty and offers excellent hiking trails. You can also bike on these trails or you can choose to climb the highest peak.
Photo credits: Cave Hill , Belfast Castle , St. George’s Market , Belfast Murals , Giant’s Causeway , Causeway Coast , St. Columb’s Cathedral in Derry
City Gate Derry , Bushmills Distillery , Giants Ring