Northern Ireland is a country flooded with history. From Belfast to the Giants Causeway, everything has its own story. If you have the chance to visit Northern Ireland, I would highly recommend it, you can do all the following in one day! Oh, and did I mention that almost half of Game of Thrones is filmed there? Hook. Line. Sinker. When it comes down to it, nothing beats the sheer beauty of Northern Ireland’s landscape; brilliant blue waters, the greenest hills you have ever seen, and cliffs that cannot be beaten. Northern Ireland is a must see! Here’s my guidebook for a day trip to Northern Ireland.
Where to go on The Coast:
This is a place I have wanted to visit for years. There’s something about places that the Earth has shaped in curious ways that just gets me – it reminds me how powerful and creative the planet is. Between the beautiful ocean, salty fresh air, and incredible rock formations, this is one of my favourite places in Western Europe. Geologically speaking, the Giants Causeway was formed by a volcanic eruption many many years ago. When the lava cooled, it expanded and contracted (much to like mud drying on pavement) and cracked into the hexagonal shape we see today. There’s also a great mythical story about how the Giants Causeway was formed. You can read the story here. I’ll let you decide which story to believe.
Every Game of Thrones site you can fit in
I mentioned that Game of Thrones is filmed in Northern Ireland. From a totally obsessed GoT addict such as myself, visiting these sites was so exciting!!! The Greyjoy Castle is a real thing! The Wall is filmed at the Giants Causeway! I honestly felt like I had an inside edge being at all these places – now I just have to wait for season 7!
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
The views and landscape at Carrick-A-Rede are really what makes this place so delectable. The bridge is also slightly stomach turning, so if you are afraid of heights, just stay on the land side of the bridge – the views are no less beautiful. You can see the coast of Scotland from this point on a clear day, as well as a few Islands. When you visit, you’ll notice the amazing colours on the land as well as in the water. You would think you were in the Caribbean with cool blue waters resembling a milky sapphire. The islands in the distance bear beautiful shades of orange and yellow foliage amongst green mossy grass that slant off into the water in brilliant white limestone cliffs. It’s absolutely amazing.
What to do in Belfast:
Belfast welcomes you in with two massive yellow cranes labeled H & W, standing for Harland and Wolff, or as was explained to me, known back in the day as Hell & War and currently, as Hello & Welcome. These cranes, used to build the Titanic are only a touch on the activities that have happened in Belfast. As the core city in Northern Ireland, Belfast is where much of the conflict during The Troubles took place between the Catholics and the Protestants. Even with all this violence and frustration, today’s Belfast hardly resembles what it was even 15 years ago.
Political Black Cab Tour
I think its every travellers dream to get a tour by a local; someone who not only knows what they are talking about, but someone who has emotional ties to an area and to its story. Local cab drivers from Belfast will take you right into the heart of where The Troubles (period of conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants) took place. A member of each community takes you to the IRA headquarters and into the heart of the Protestant neighbourhoods to share each side’s history and points of view. You also are taken along the Peace Wall, built 30 feet tall, directly in between the two neighbourhoods, to take in the sheer hate each side had for each other. The guides encourage you to sign notes of peace and love on the wall in efforts to bring it down. Although this tour is sobering, it will give you a great look into what life was like during the height of the Troubles.
Belfast was the birthplace of the Titanic at a point when the city boasted the largest cranes in the world and was highly industrialized. I did not have the chance to go into the Museum myself due to timing; however, I will definitely be visiting on my next trip.
As I mentioned earlier, all the above can be done in one (long) day if you are staying in Ireland. The beauty and history of Northern Ireland are magnificent and deserve your full attention while in the area. The views had me jumping for joy! A big thank you to Wild Rover Tours who were our fearless leaders for the day, ensuring the entire experience was seamless for us. Until next time, Northern Ireland!