One of the most beautiful countries in Europe, Northern Ireland is a must do when visiting this part of the world. Formed from a complicated history between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, situated in the north of the island, is a part of the United Kingdom.
Despite Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland being two different countries, you don’t need a passport to cross the border in between the two (however, you will need an official photo ID). I visited Northern Ireland for the day while staying in Dublin and had a really enjoyable time (and some spectacular weather!) that makes Northern Ireland one of my top recommendations for Europe and the United Kingdom!
1. Dark Hedges
One of the most photographed spots in Northern Ireland, the Dark Hedges is a famous beech tree-lined road. While it doesn’t sound like much, it is a truly spectacular sight to see when you reach it. Although I don’t watch Game of Thrones, the Dark Hedges is also famous for appearing in this show as Kingsroad.
The Dark Hedges began in the 18th century when the Stuart family planted them to create an impressive start to the entrance of their mansion. Now they stand mighty and tall and have definitely fulfilled the criteria of being impressive.
The Dark Hedges are located in the northern part of Northern Ireland (Google Maps link here) and if you have the means to I would recommend finding your own form of transport here. Being able to arrive early in the morning mist not only adds to the mystique of the place, but also means you can wander around without a horde of people. We didn’t have that option and visited as a part of a Northern Ireland day tour from Dublin. My photos below don’t quite show how busy this place was as my friend Sam and I ran in front of everyone to get photos before they did (you gotta act fast sometimes!).
We were only here for about 10 minutes as well, whereas had we been travelling ourselves it would’ve been great to spend a good hour here admiring and taking photos.
2. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland and one of my top recommended places to go in the United Kingdom. Located in the north, this place is exactly as named, a rope bridge between Northern Ireland and the tiny island of Carrickarede. Originally constructed in 1755 to aid fisherman fishing for salmon off Carrickarede island, this rope bridge was reconstructed in 2008 and is now a popular tourist location. The scenery is gorgeous.
You can read all about our experience at Carrick-a-Rede here: Exploring Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in Northern Ireland.
3. Giant’s Causeway
Giant’s Causeway is one of the coolest formations you will see and is a must do when visiting Northern Ireland. Located in the north, Giant’s Causeway is formed of over 40,000 basalt columns rising from the earth. Considered an area of “global geological importance,” Giant’s Causeway is believed to have formed some 50-60 million years ago.
A visitor attraction for over 300 years, Giant’s Causeway has also inspired legends of fights between Scottish and Northern Ireland giants. You can read all about the famous giant story here.
We had a great time exploring Giant’s Causeway and jumping across the basalt columns.
Located in the east, Belfast is the capital city and the largest. The Titanic was built in Belfast and the Titanic Belfast is a popular tourist attraction in this city. As we visited at the end of our day tour and unfortunately only had an hour or so to spare, we grabbed some food and sat beside Belfast City Hall, taking in the good weather and reflecting on the great day in the north.
Our day in Northern Ireland was really enjoyable, albeit tiring fitting so much into 12 or so hours. I would love to go back and see more of this area in depth, but for now I’m glad we got to explore what we did. Enjoy!