Northern Ireland tourism has gone from strength to strength over the last decade or so, with increasing numbers of people realising its pristine natural environment and charming towns make for an authentic Irish holiday. In fact, places such as the Giant’s Causeway are fast becoming some of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland.
Located along the dramatic Antrim Coast on the northern shores of the country, the Giant’s Causeway is a must-see on any Northern Ireland vacation. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is made up of around 40,000 interlocking hexagonal basalt columns that are up to 12 metres high in places. This stunning natural feature is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption, however, local legend has it that the Giant’s Causeway is the remains of a land bridge built by a giant named Finn McCool so he could walk over to Scotland and fight his nemesis! While a Northern Ireland tour will take you through many areas of natural beauty, the Antrim Coast Road is regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world, making your journey to the Giant’s Causeway a visual feast.
Belfast is becoming a top destination on a visit to Northern Ireland as it is a great base for sightseeing and offers a diverse range of historical landmarks alongside a thriving arts scene and fantastic restaurants. One of the most popular Belfast attractions is the Titanic Visitor Centre, a comprehensive and fascinating exhibition detailing the construction, launch and maiden voyage of the city’s famous and ill-fated liner. Other places to visit while sightseeing in Belfast are the beautiful Edwardian City Hall and Queens University.
Northern Ireland’s chequered past provides a rich tapestry of moving tributes to the civil unrest of the 1960s to 1990s, commonly called the Troubles. One of the most recognised memorials is in Londonderry/Derry where large street murals form the People’s Gallery, commemorating the events of the historical Bloody Sunday or Bogside Massacre. Take a moment on your Derry holiday to admire the murals and appreciate just how much has changed in this pretty city.
A highlight of Derry sightseeing has to be the 17th century defensive walls, which encircle the city and form a picturesque promenade from which to admire the original Renaissance street plan. From here you can also get a good view of the Gothic St Columb’s Cathedral in the Derry city centre.
If you’re after an authentic experience of Northern Ireland, Omagh is an ideal stopping point on your Irish tour. The town itself is a touchstone to Irish history, containing many restaurants and pubs serving traditional Irish foods but the main tourist attraction in Omagh is the fascinating Ulster-American Folk Park. This open-air museum comprises around 30 period buildings and gives an insight into the lives of more than two million people who left this area for America in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Don’t forget to try a few local dishes on your Northern Ireland holiday, such as the hearty breakfast Ulster Fry, a rich Steak and Guinness pie or delicious potato flatbread, Farl. All washed down with a smooth glass of genuine Irish whisky to toast this fabulous destination.