Wanderlust travelers and enthusiastic globetrotters while chalking out a European itinerary usually sidestep Northern Ireland. Even the best and enticing guide fails to attract the attention of a significant majority of international tourists. The reality is that Northern Ireland lying on Ireland’s northeast is a hugely underrated nation that most Northern Ireland travel guide books or sites acting as travel guide for Northern Ireland do not reflect upon.
It is a picturesque region that has been and continues to be variously referred to as a separate nation, region, or zone distinct from UK. It is a small island-nation that lies outside of the UK mainland and has a population of approximately 1.9 million. The major cities or urban areas of Northern Ireland are Belfast which is the administrative capital, Derry, Lisburn, Newry, Newtownabbey, Bangor, and Greater Craigavon.
The transportation network is somewhat underdeveloped and not evenly distributed throughout the region and there is no way you make that out by going through a comprehensive travel guide to Northern Ireland. The transport infrastructure is well-developed only in and around Derry, Belfast, and Craigavon. Two of the nation’s three airports are in Belfast and the third in Londonderry. Regardless of popular perceptions and individual prejudices, Northern Irish people are very affable and there’s a lot for you to explore in the country.
Northern Island travel tips
- Judging by its turbulent past, you may feel that it won’t be safe to travel to this country. Surprisingly enough, the country has an extremely low crime rate, the 2nd lowest in Europe-a fact not highlighted by many Northern Ireland travel packages.
- £ Sterling is the legal tender in the country same as that of Wales, Scotland, and England. MasterCard and Visa credit cards as well as checks of approved banks can also be used
- Basic Northern Ireland travel requirements is to have a valid passport along with a visa, if you’re a non-European for traveling to NI.
- One significant Northern Ireland safety travel tip would be considering travel insurance, essentially if you’re from outside the EU
- The ideal time to visit the nation is during July and August when the weather is pleasant, and most of the sightseeing attractions are accessible
- Those looking for an affordable Northern Ireland budget travel plan, should make a trip during the winters when the crowds are sparse and accommodation is easily available at throwaway rates
- B&B generally varies from £20-33 in standard guesthouses and inns but hotels can be costlier by comparison. Lunch or dinner will set you back by £8-10 (of course, without drinks).
How to Reach Northern Ireland?
Travelers proceeding from Australia, Asia, North America and South America, Africa, and Oceania can arrive at any of the three airports-Belfast International (Antrim), George Best Belfast City, and the airport at Derry. There are direct and connecting flights from several North and South American, Asian, and Australian cities. One can also travel to Northern Ireland from London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, Berlin, and Frankfurt by a direct flight. You can also take a ferry from Scotland or North England for arriving in the country.
Top 5 tourist destinations in NI
Your trip to Belfast is incomplete without a visit to the Titanic Belfast galleries. The ‘Titanic Belfast’ is a six-storey situated on Queens Road in the heart of the city. The tour walks you through a total of nine galleries which showcases the legendary liner’s construction in the shipyards in Belfast, and its maiden and ultimate journey starting from the city port. The tour makes you feel as if you were onboard the ship on the fateful day of 14th April 1912. At the end of the trip, treat yourself to a round of high tea.
Belfast City & Greater Belfast
The capital of Northern Ireland is easily the top tourist hotspot in the country as travelers from near and far flock to the city to soak in the sights and sounds of the metropolis. Hometown of the ill-fated Titanic and NI’s gateway, the city made it to the world’s top destinations list in 2012. The popular sightseeing attractions are the Titanic Belfast museum, St George’s Market, Harland & Wolff Shipyard Titanic Quarter, Cavehill, SS Nomadic, Carrickfergus Castle, County Antrim and the St. Anne’s Cathedral. If you’ve enough time, visit the suburban areas of North Down, Newtonabbey, Lisburn, and Castlereagh.
The Causeway Coastal Route
Voted as ‘one’ of the ‘top five road trips’, the journey starting in Belfast takes you through a coastal road trip where you pass through the Glens of Antrim (nine in total). Along the way, you’re regaled by vistas of striking hamlets, picturesque island glens including Rathlin and Binevenagh, the latter marked with towering cliffs. The route reaches its maximum height at Giant’s Causeway and then descends westwards proceeding to Derry-the county seat of Londonderry.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher stretch for a distance of approximately 8kms flanking the Atlantic Ocean coast in Clare County of Northern Ireland. On a clear, sunny day, you can view the Galway Bay, the Aran Islands, Maum Turk Mountains, and ‘The Twelve Pins in Connemara. You also have a crystal clear view of Loop Head lying to the south, and the Blasket Islands and Dingle Peninsula in Kerry. You get breathtaking views of the surroundings when you’re perched at the loftiest point which is about 214m from the sea-level.
Viking Triangle Waterford
That Vikings voyaged all the way from the northern shores of Scandinavia and barged into Ireland is evident from the imposing structures they built in Waterford city. In fact the foundations for the city were laid by the Vikings in 914 AD. The most celebrated and imposing landmark of Waterford is the Reginald’s Tower that houses the Vikings museum and the Bishop’s Palace Museum coupled with the Medieval make up the Viking Triangle of Waterford.
Of course, there are several other destinations that are worth visiting in Northern Ireland including Derry, Tyrone & Sperrins, Fermanagh Lakelands, Armagh, Mourne Mountains, Lough Neagh, and Strangford Lough.