If you are in search of a Northern Ireland Itinerary, then you are in the right place! In this post, I’ll share a comprehensive list of things to do in Northern Ireland, how to get there, and why it’s a dream destination whether you have a few days or a few weeks to explore!
Hot Tip: Book a tour with Katie Daly’s Ireland, an Ireland-only tour operator that customizes and creates handcrafted, custom-made, unique tours for individuals and small groups. They will arrange all aspects of your dream vacation to the Emerald Isle.
Their services include:
Self Drive Car Rentals or chauffeur-driven tours with luxury vehicles to accommodate groups of all sizes.
From five-star Irish castles and country inns to boutique and city center downtown hotels, farmhouse accommodations, and private house rentals, Katy Daly’s Ireland can coordinate any accommodation you’d like!
Tours & Attractions
All tours and attractions are included and prepaid with their programs including unique Irish experiences, such as dining with an Irish family, visiting a country estate, private cooking lessons, private distillery tours, farm tours, learning how to play an Irish instrument, or learning how to play Gaelic football. They work with a range of specialist providers on the ground in Ireland to work with your individual needs and interests.
Katie Daly works closely with Mark Rogers at Dalriada Kingdom Tours.
Learn more and book a tour with Katie Daly’s Ireland!
Northern Ireland Itinerary
Where Is Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is a province and one of four constituent parts of the United Kingdom. It is located on the island of Ireland, where it shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland, just 92 miles from Dublin, making it an easy leg to your Irish adventure.
How To Get There
The easiest way to travel into Northern Ireland, if it is possible, is to aim for Belfast City. It is the capital city of Northern Ireland and is the area that all roads in the north eventually lead to. Think of Belfast City as the base of Northern Ireland, from there you can explore the smaller towns and villages of the region.
Arriving By Plane
From the UK & Europe
There are 3 International airports in Northern Ireland. In Londonderry, there is the City of Derry Airport and in Belfast City, there is George Best Belfast City Airport (Named after former Northern Ireland and Manchester United soccer player) and Belfast International Airport. These airports operate flights from the UK as well as Holland, Spain, and Portugal.
From North America
Dublin Airport is the most convenient airport for visitors to Northern Ireland coming from the United States and Canada. You can travel to and from Dublin Airport to Belfast City in a number of ways. If you are renting a car in Dublin Airport be sure to book a Sat-Nav as well. This will come in handy to find your way out of Dublin city more than anything else. Once you find your way onto the M1 motorway the rest of the journey is pretty much plain sailing. Just remember that once you cross the border into Northern Ireland that the speed limit is read in miles per hour, whereas in the Republic it is in kilometers per hour. You can also avail of the direct bus from Dublin Airport to Belfast City via Aircoach and Expressway, this journey takes, on average, 2 hours and costs around 13 euro one-way.
Arriving By Bus
The main bus station in Belfast City is Europa Buscentre. Based in the city centre and servicing both Belfast airports and Dublin Airport. Europa Buscentre also has a route to Dublin City, which in turn connects you with the other cities in the Republic of Ireland. There is also a bus route running from Londonderry to Dublin, this route can have as much as three change overs and takes 4 hours 20 minutes.
Arriving By Train
The best way to enter Northern Ireland via train is also via Belfast City. The Dublin train runs from Connolly Station to Lanyon Place in Belfast. There is an average of eight trains per day, leaving every hour and 40 minutes, starting at 7:35 am and finishing at 8:45 pm. The quickest of these routes takes two hours and five-minutes. Dublin also acts as the change over point if you are taking the train to or from Belfast to any other city in Ireland.
Arriving By Car
If you have gotten to grips with driving in the Republic of Ireland and are crossing the border into Northern Ireland there are a few things to look out for. The roads of Northern Ireland are categorised the same as all other countries in the UK. The letter ‘M’ stands for motorway, the next most important roads are classed with the letter ‘A’, the next with the letter ‘B’ and so on. Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland drive on the left-hand side of the road and both use the ‘Roundabout’ system. The only real difference to keep in mind is that the measurement of speed in Northern Ireland is miles per hour while in the Republic it’s kilometres per hour. To make it a little more tricky, the speed limit often appears on road signs as just a number in both countries.
Arriving By Ferry
There is a ferry route running between Larne, County Antrim in Northern Ireland to Cairnryan in Scotland and from Belfast City to Liverpool in England.
*Transportation info provided by My Ireland Tour
Things To Do In Northern Ireland
Causeway Coastal Route
The designated waymarked route will take you around the north coast of Ireland between Belfast and Londonderry with nine additional scenic routes to explore by car, cycle, or foot. You can begin your journey in either city and also pick sections to explore on a single day. The Causeway Coastal Route connects with two other key tourist drives, Wild Atlantic Way at Londonderry and the Mourne Coastal Route at Belfast. If you love road trips – add this to your Northern Ireland itinerary!
The Dark Hedges
The Dark Hedges is a row of Beech trees planted by the Stuart family in the 17th century to create an opulent driveway to their country mansion. This was considered a real show of wealth in those times. The trees appeared in Series 2 – Episode 1 of Game of Thrones and as a result, this filming location has been a huge attraction ever since.
Dunluce Castle perhaps the most historically significant site in the province of Ulster and the most photogenic castle ruin in Ireland. It is the ancestral home of the MacDonnells of Antrim and they took part in so many important episodes of our history that any exploration of that history should involve a guided tour here.
Belfast is the capital city and home to 333,000 people. It has a maritime history that tells of its development and the architecture of the city is quite unique. It has of course a recent history and the “peace walls” and their history is worthwhile when you’re here.
Add a museum, a great indoor market, a wonderful city hall, many fine hotels, and restaurants and you’re starting to lift the lid of this extraordinary city.
Titanic Belfast has 9 wonderful galleries that unravel the story of Belfast, its shipyards, and the building of the Titanic ocean liner. The events around the sinking of the ship and the aftermath of that terrible event are wonderfully illustrated in various formats to satisfy every visitor to this world-class exhibition.
The Giants Causeway
The Giants Causeway is one of the top attractions in Ireland and attracts visitors from all over the globe to marvel at this natural pier of basalt rocks, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption, interlocked to resemble a honeycomb that some argue could not be naturally formed. Listen to the local guides and they will tell the story of a famous giant Finn McCool who built this Causeway, offers a geological explanation, and offer you the choice, as to which story you believe. Either way, this UNESCO world heritage site leaves a lasting impression.
Address: Bushmills BT57 8SU, United Kingdom
Lough Erne (upper and lower) nestled in County Fermanagh is our very own Lake District and fishing, water sports, and boating are available here to suit all levels and budgets. Corick House Hotel and Bell Isle Castle are just 2 of the outstanding accommodations on offer and the Marble Arch Caves are a must-do attraction in the area.
To be honest, I wouldn’t bother much with it!
Carrick a Rede Ropebridge
Carrick a Rede Ropebridge connects the mainland to the island and for years was a pathway for local fishermen to ply their trade in the treacherous waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Fishing is long gone and today it is an iconic attraction for our tourism industry. Spanning 67 feet across and sitting 97 feet above sea level it is an exhilarating thing to do and again the history of the site is best unraveled by the local guides.
Mussenden Temple enjoys an elevated perch high above the beach at Downhill. The views across to Donegal are stunning and the Temple itself is well worth a visit. Built by Earl Bishop Harvey as a library it is part of his magnificent estate and the remnants of his fine home dominate the site. An 18th-century love story/scandal lays behind the name of the temple to find out more you have to visit and explore.
The Antrim Coast Road
The Antrim Coast Road is so beautiful that in 2018 Lonely Planet made it their No. 1 travel recommendation. It hugs the shoreline, meanders through the Glens of Antrim, provides views to Scotland, and holds secrets and stories that combine to make this journey totally unique.
Glenshane Country Farm
Glenshane Country Farm is a working sheep farm owned by Jamese McCloy. Four generations of Jamese’s family have been sheep farmers, each more determined than the last to preserve the epic landscape around them. Experience the life of a real Irish shepherd in this immersive experience.
Tracy’s Farmhouse Kitchen
Join Tracy in her Farmhouse kitchen on the shores of Strangford Lough, 30 minutes from Belfast and in an area of outstanding natural beauty in County Down. At Tracey’s Farmhouse you will hear about the history of local food in Ireland, learn how to make traditional Irish food such as Soda & Potato bread, all washed down with delicious tea and coffee.
Taste and Tour Belfast
The award winning Belfast Food Tour™ takes you on a 4-hour fun and food filled guided walk to some top food and drink spots around Belfast City Centre.
You’ll start in the historic St George’s Market, meeting producers, then visit traditional bars, world-class shops and finish in a top restaurant in the lively Cathedral Quarter, eating and drinking over 25 of some of the best local food and drink along the way.
No need for breakfast, nor will you need lunch, and leave the car behind! Their enthusiastic local foodie guides ensure guests get a flavor for the city and the produce of Northern Ireland.
Hillsborough Castle & Garden
Explore 100 acres of stunning gardens and the Georgian house at Northern Ireland’s only royal residence. Afterward, grab some delicious food and drink from their award-winning cafe.
Bushmills Irish Whiskey Distillery
Granted a license to distill in 1608, Bushmills is the oldest licensed Whiskey Distillery in the world. Just a few miles from Ireland’s rugged north coast, see how they continue to triple distill 100% malted barley in copper pot stills to make a pure malt whiskey. Tours and tasting experiences available. This is a definite favorite on the Northern Ireland Itinerary!
Derry-Londonderry is the home of Ireland’s only completely intact historic Walled City, the Derry Girls, award-winning museums, and some of the greatest outdoor festivals in the world! With world-class visitor experiences, a cosmopolitan vibe all year round, there’s so much to do in the compact, walkable city.
Derry is also the perfect hub for exploring the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route.
From breathtaking views to incredible folklore, Northern Ireland is a true bucket list trip. I hope these travel tips have inspired your next adventure to the U.K.!
‘Pin’ This Travel Guide
Did you know saving this Northern Ireland Itinerary to Pinterest is a FREE way to support the Girlfriend Getaway Guide and inspire your friends to travel? Just click the image below and PIN! Super easy and we are so grateful!