If there is a country which really impressed me and also took my expectations higher than I thought that is Northern Ireland. Although we only could spend two days I was very impressed of its beauty. Also the good weather that we had really helped to enjoy even more this small but lovely country. Is it two days enough to visit the country? The answer is “NO”, but you can get a brief idea of the beauty of this country with only two days. The fact of having the flight in the early morning and also the flight back to Bristol in the late evening of next day helped us to take those two days in a very slow mode. I have to say that the country is not so big as you can drive from South to North in only 1 hour and a half, same from East to West. The short distance between the most interesting highlights makes even easier the short getaway.
Do you want to know what you can do in only two days in North Ireland? Take note of the following round trip across this country.
Day 1 – The North Coast
We hired a car in Belfast International Airport, the cost for two days was only 60£ (around 75€) including the full insurance, just in case. First stop was Portrush, a small fisher village with an amazing white sand beach situated in the north, also it was the starting point of our trip . Not so far (only 3 miles far away) you can find the Dunluce Castle, a medieval castle which is basically destroyed although the breathtaking views due to its placement in the edge of the cliff make this place worth to visit. If you are a whisky lover don’t miss the Whisky Distillery in Bushmill, the oldest working distillery in Ireland; the price is 7.50£ including a taste of different varieties of whiskies. Next stop during our journey was the magnificent Giant’s Causeway, awarded as World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1986. This place is a must not only while visiting North Ireland but your life. Millions of years ago a natural phenomenon transformed the rocks into particular geometric shapes and now more than 3000 people visit this place every day to admire its beauty. Don’t miss the mythological legend of the giant and how he built the causeway between North Ireland and Scotland (I’ll write soon about this legend). There is a shuttle bus which takes you from Bushmill to the main entry and the price is 7£ all inclusive, otherwise if you park the car next to the main entry you will pay 9£ for the admission plus 5£ for the car, I hardly recommend to take the shuttle, it only takes 5 minutes and the price is much cheaper. You can easily spend 4 hours only walking along the cliffs and taking pictures in here(we spent 4h 15 minutes) therefore prepare camera and walking shoes as you will regret if not. Our B&B was placed just in front of the Giant’s Causeway main entry with stunning views over the sea and the countryside. The weather was sunny and we could admire a stunning sunset from our room, local people said to us that this is something what happens rarely so we were fully lucky this day.
Day 2 – Causeway Coastal Route
The Causeway Coastal Route is a designated way marked drive around the coast of Northern Ireland. The route is 190km long and links Londonderry with Belfast. The landscape is varied from coastal roads to mountains tops and crossing beautiful glens (valleys). The best manner to experience the route is by driving relaxed while enjoying the landscape. First stop during our journey was the Carrik-a-ride Rope Brigde, suspended almost 30m above sea level, the rope bridge was first erected by salmon fishermen 350 years ago. Next stop was Ballycastle, another fisher village placed between the sea and high hills which make the scenario of the village quite incredible. You have the option of taking a ferry to visit the Rathlin Island, but forget to take the car with you as it’s forbidden for tourists and the departures times from both places are limited. Then the route cross few glens between high mountains (thinking we are in UK) which make more than 500m of height. This part of the route is separated from the coast although in only few km you will be enjoying again the breeze of the sea. Our next stop was Cushendall, another fisher village placed between high cliffs. From here the route goes along the coast during almost 100km, in some of the points the road is basically in the same level than the sea with incredible high mountains in the other side. Amazing cliffs, small fisher villages, sheep, cows as well as rural cottages will be part of the journey and the breathtaking landscape will make the journey absolutely unforgettable. After a morning driving along the coast, we arrived to Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland. The city is not so big and you can visit city centre as well as the main highlights with only 6-7 hours. In terms of tourism related Belfast pays tribute to the most important ship ever, Titanic. There is a walking tour from city centre to Titanic Museum which takes around 45 minutes where you will find information about the ship every few steps. The admission to get into the museum is 17.50£, we decided no to pay as the price is abusive, anyway as I told before, there is much information along the tour so you don’t really need to pay that amount of money. City centre is small, full of Victorian building and narrow streets, If there is something that really impressed me of Belfast was its street art, basically concentrated within the Cathedral Quarter. This spot really deserves a different article in the future. Also the mix between old warehouses with modern buildings make the harbour area quite particular.
I really had a great experience visiting Northern Ireland and I probably will go back at some point although I didn’t like Belfast that much. Here few pictures of this short getaway in this small but stunning country.