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Northern Ireland Question

My husband and I have been to Ireland 2 times and we are planning to return next May/June and bringing a family member along who has never been. This time we plan to add Northern Ireland to our itinerary since we have never been.
1. We are planning only 1-2 days for Northern Ireland, is that enough time?
2.Has anybody done one of those 1 day guided tours to Northern Ireland from Dublin? If so, do you recommend it?

Any tips are welcome!

Posted by
2903 posts

Make it at least 3 nights. I think Belfast is worth an overnight. The Titanic Museum is exceptionally well done and focused primarily on the shipyard’s role.
Then go to Port Ballintrae and spend 2 nights at the Bayview Hotel. Easy access to Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Dunluce Castle , etc. Absolutely gorgeous location and easily accessible by public transport .

I wouldn’t do a bus tour, I think it would be too rushed . The Antrim Coast is absolutely lovely and worth all the time you can give it.

Posted by
226 posts

The place to go is Portrush and the Antrim Coast, but it's too far from Dublin. You need to two nights to see it all.
If you can arrange a tour that takes you into Belfast's neighborhoods so you can see the devastation that the 100 + year war has done to its people, that would be interesting and educational.

Posted by
123 posts

I agree with Carol, having detoured from Dublin to Belfast and the north coast this past summer.

Posted by
3904 posts

so you can see the devastation that the 100 + year was has done to its people

I'm assuming a typo here and you meant "the 100 + year war"?

What 100 + year war are you referring to? There isn't one. The last two conflicts of note were the War of Independence between 1919 and 1922 and the Irish Civil War that followed from 1922 to 1923.

Not much devastation caused by either war however a lot of harm has been caused by the clashing of two differing religions.

A lot of work has gone into reconciling the differences held between both communities and I'm sure most would not appreciate their communities being visited as some sort of living museum especially when somewhat partisan and patronising phrases such as "the devastation done to its people" are used.

Posted by
2213 posts

Indeed it's an unfortunate choice of words. For the OP, we did take a Black Taxi tour around the significant "Troubles" areas in Belfast, and I suspect this is the sort of look that was referred to. Our driver was excellent and gave a balanced and respectful view of the history. To say it was sobering would be an understatement.

Posted by
3904 posts

Over 3,600 people killed is pretty devastating

During which war?

For comparison, in 2018 the murder figures in the US was 16,214 and there wasn't even a war.

Posted by
2213 posts

"nearly two per cent of the population of Northern Ireland have been killed or injured through political violence [...] If the equivalent ratio of victims to population had been produced in Great Britain in the same period some 100,000 people would have died, and if a similar level of political violence had taken place, the number of fatalities in the USA would have been over 500,000".

Interesting reading here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Troubles#Casualties

Posted by
2626 posts

When we were there, we spent 2 nights. The first night was the day of arrival when we drove from Dublin up to Crawfordsburn. The 2nd night was in Portrush after driving the Antrim coast. We didn’t stop in Derry because there had been a bombing a couple days previous to us driving by. It would be easy to spend more time, but we had a lot of places to see in the Republic on that trip.

Posted by
3904 posts

nearly two per cent of the population of Northern Ireland have been killed or injured through political violence

Not war though. The initial topic referenced war not sectarian violence which is different.

Posted by
2213 posts

Of course, I get what you are illuminating there.

Thank you everyone!
Are we able to take a car rental from the Dublin Airport up to Northern Ireland or are there extra fees associated with that?

Posted by
1696 posts

Check the fine print on your rental car contract to see if the company charges any additional fees for driving into NI. The only major charge that I'm aware of is if you drop the vehicle in the north, thus making it a one-way international rental ... which I don't think is your intention.
We've never seen any extra fees for driving in the north but others here have reported that some providers have started charging a small amount if you tell them that you intend to take the vehicle across the border. Not that big a deal, since crossing from the Republic into NI is a pretty seamless transition, but you'll want to sort this out with the company to preclude inadvertantly voiding your insurance because you were ignorant of their rules.

Posted by
2626 posts

When we were there in 2010, we rented from Avis, and there were no additional fees. Nobody even asked if we were driving to NI. We picked up, and dropped off, at Dublin airport.

Posted by
71 posts

We spent two nights in Belfast this past March. Loved it. In the afternoon of the first day we took a black taxi tour, very interesting and informative. The second day we did the Titanic Experience in the morning then toured Hillsboro Castle in the afternoon. Highly recommend both. We stayed in the city center and enjoyed walking around Belfast to go to dinner, etc. Also spent some time in a lovely pub in Hillsboro, a short walk from the castle (which is more of a manor house with a lovely garden). If you go to Belfast don’t forget to stop at Crown Liquor.

Posted by
206 posts

I spent a night in Derry and wished that I had booked a 2nd night so I could have done one of the walking tours that take you through the murals and discuss the history of the Troubles. I did enjoy walking the city walls, visiting the Guild Hall museum, and touring the murals and the Peace Bridge on my own. Met some friendly people while there. I spent one night in Portrush and toured Giant's Causeway and the Rope Bridge before driving to Newgrange to spend the night.

I didn't try to visit Belfast then, but hope to return to Ireland and visit it then.

On my way to Derry, I enjoyed a tour of the Ulster American Folk Park.

Depending on the amount of time you have and your priorities for the rest of Ireland, 2 or 3 days or even more to get a taste of Northern Ireland would be well worth it.

All the best,

Raymond

Posted by
13 posts

Two nights in Belfast so you have time to see it well. Make sure to go to a pub directly across the street from the Europa Hotel---maybe "Fibber Magee's"? Live music every night!
We also spent 2 nights on the Antrim Coast to explore the sites there: Dunluce Castle, Giant's Causeway, and Bushmills. We stayed at a lovely B&B: The Whitepark Inn, 150 Whitepark Road, near Ballintoy. The room was large, well-appointed, and beautiful, the host was interesting, friendly, and fun with lots of touring suggestions. Breakfast was simply spectacular!

Posted by
308 posts

Northern Ireland is actually my favorite on the Emerald Isle. And in Northern Ireland, Derry is my favorite town. The 17th century walls are some of the finest in Europe. Add to that the People's Gallery - the murals painted to commemorate Derry's history during the troubles are sobering and inspirational. There's good craic to be had as well with some local folk musicians. It's walkable and friendly. I'd spend three nights in Northern Ireland - 1 night in Belfast (or Portrush) and 2 nights in Derry. That gives you time for a drive along the Antrim coast, and you can stop in to Portrush for a meal and walk around (the waterfront area is lovely), see Giant's Causeway (do this early in the morning or at sunsent - fewer crowds), and stop in at Dunluce Castle.

Posted by
24 posts

I agree with Wendy, Derry is very powerful - definitely worth a night or two. We also stayed a night in Ballycastle, a great town on the coast north of Belfast. The Kinbane Castle hike was our favorite stop on the Causeway, its just west of Ballycastle. Ballintoy Harbor was another highlight. After those 2 stops in the North we had a great week plus exploring Donegal. I've heard great things about Belfast but I don't have first hand knowledge.

Posted by
3904 posts

Interesting fact (perhaps): The defensive grid style design of the first streets of Londonderry are widely believed to be the inspiration for the later grid style street system of the US.

Posted by
308 posts

Not sure if this is allowed so please delete if not, but this is YouTube video I created about 4 years ago for a program I worked with. It's unlisted, so you wouldn't be able to find it without the direct link. But, this is about the Bogside Murals and may interest you. I narrate based on a book about the murals that a friend of mine gave me who is related to one of the artists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cBfnftU1yo&feature=emb_logo

Posted by
24 posts

The Derry mural video was great. Very well done. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by
11 posts

I am headed to NI and Ireland in April. I am renting a car and on the agreement it asked if I was driving anywhere else - I did put down Northern Ireland. There was an additional L 35 charge. I wanted to be up front with that. I agree about Derry and the walking tours there. Northern Ireland is breathtaking and I also agree that 3 days is required.

Posted by
57 posts

If possible, I would schedule one full day just to drive the Antrim Coast. If I were to return, I would spend three full days in Northern Ireland at a minimum.