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Northern Ireland

Hi,

My wife loves the UK and we have covered most areas but she would like to go to Northern Ireland.

We have a 2 year old and prefer the scenic outdoor areas to the cities. I would like to know your opinions on Northern Ireland in August and if they have enough nice outdoor sites for a week or so Road trip. Thank you!

Posted by
5231 posts

NI is lovely.

Giants Causeway is one the biggest tourist attractions now. I’m grateful I first saw it 30 years ago
before RS exposed it.

So yes rent your vehicle in Belfast and head along the coastal roads. Lots to see and most of it not over run by tourism.

I recall an area called Glendon valley near Cushendun that was gorgeous.

Posted by
2662 posts

When you say “they have,” I assume you’re saying “it” (N. Ireland) has enough nice outdoors sites. Near Giant’s causeway is Carrick-a-Rede bridge. Not a place to let a two year old loose, but it is pretty. Near Bangor is Crawfordsburn Country Park. It’s a nice place to walk along the beach. We stayed at the Old Inn In Crawfordsburn and walked to the park in about 20 minutes. If you pick up the rental car in Dublin, stop in Trim on your way north. I wouldn’t spend my money going into it as there isn’t much to it, but it is worth walking around the outside, as well as walking on the walking path by the castle. Near Stranorlar is an ancient ring fort. The last two places I mentioned are in the Republic of Ireland, not Northern Ireland, but don’t limit yourself to one country. Just keep in mind that Northern Ireland uses Pounds as its currency while the Republic uses Euros.

Posted by
1701 posts

Northern Ireland has enough beautiful scenery and outdoor attractions to keep you busy for a month ... never mind a week.
The Glens of Antrim describes the scenic coastal drive heading north from Belfast. It's a particularly gorgeous stretch on a sunny day, with lots of places to stop, explore and take in the views. In the village of Glenarm you can stay in a castle: https://www.irishlandmark.com/property/the-barbican/ for a night or two without breaking the bank - would be a good base for explorations up and down the coast, and the little town itself is quite picturesque.
The walled city of Derry is an evocative place with an interesting history. There's a museum tucked next to one of the city gates that has an excellent display of the city's history on one side and another telling the story of the discovery of one of the 1588 Spanish Armada ships that sank in a bay near the Giant's Causeway - it features a lot of the artifacts recovered from the wreck. Your 2 year old might get a kick out of that.
The Titanic Museum in Belfast is world class but I think a toddler would be bored out of their skull - probably better to give it a miss this trip.
Another suggestion is the Ulster-American Folk Park near Omagh: https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/ulster-american-folk-park/Home.aspx. Its outddor exhibits are fascinating, and the place does an excellent job of explaining the history of the out-migrations that began around 1715. Even if your heritage doesn't trace to Ulster it's a terrific place to visit.
As was mentioned it might be cheaper to fly into Dublin, collect your car there, explore the North (and maybe some of Donegal) and then return to Dublin at the end of your trip.

Posted by
1008 posts

We did a 30 day drive about last summer in Ireland and N. Ireland. We were happily surprised by Belfast. We were there for 4 days and would have liked to stay longer. The Titanic display was awesome as was being able to go on the Titanic's tender. The large shopping malls were clean and well kept and walking about in the city was great. Remember, N. Ireland is on the British Pound, not the Euro. So, if you are from US, the exchange rate for car rentals might be better in Dublin then in Belfast. Also, bus services run from Dublin to Belfast probably every 1/2 hour or so. The bus might be cheaper than car rental and gas if that is all you want to see. If you are going to do a week, then flying into Dublin and driving, as suggested, would be great. Rent your car at the airport, you do not want to drive through Dublin, trust me on this. The scenery is wonderful all around N. Ireland. Look at a map and maybe plan doing a loop Dublin, Belfast, Giant Causeway, Londonderry, Doolin (great trad music), maybe Limereick, arriving back in Dublin the day before you go home. This is not a finite list. Get a map or googlemaps.com and look at the driving times. You might want to break up some of the days by spending time in a small village. Airbnb will be your friend here. Cheap accommodations and try to stay OFF of "L" roads if possible.

Posted by
58 posts

just a side note L roads only exist in Ireland, Not in Northern Ireland , roads in the UK are marked A and B roads then M for motorways