I love to travel and see new places and this year I had my first real visit to Northern Ireland. I wanted to see so many things. Amazingly the weather was ace, sun, more sun and no rain. This allowed us to have my favourite type of holiday: an outdoors one. There was so much to see outdoors. Both the coast and countryside are simply beautiful – nature at it’s best.
We flew into Belfast and stayed on the Causeway Coast for a long weekend. This trip to Northern Ireland can be divided into two: the absolutely amazing nature covered in this post (beware it’s picture heavy) and the political instability covered in my compromise post.
Firstly why did I want to go there? It’s no secret that the scenery and nature is first class in Northern Ireland. It has some unique natural phenomenon such as the Giant’s Causeway and an amazing cultural history. Not to mention the recent legacy of British colonisation. Although my fears prevented me from visiting before I am so glad I eventually made the trip. And you know what? I think I appreciated it more as I’m now that bit older. Without further ado, here are my must-sees.
The Giants Causeway
I won’t lie, the number one attraction that I wanted to visit no matter what was the Giants Causeway. And I was not going to let anything stop me from visiting here – I was going no matter the weather. And you know what? So was everyone else. It was the busiest place we visited; even busier than the cities of Belfast and Derry. The traffic and congestion were bad, so be prepared for delays if you visiting. And tour buses abound, some drivers with better parking skills than others.
Nonetheless, we made it there on a fabulous day. And we were not disappointed, the rocks are simply so cool in real life. I have a few photos below to demonstrate
Although the rock formations of the Giants Causeway cover a large area themselves, there are also hundreds of visitors around. And it’s very much a get up close type experience, you can walk all over the stones. While most visitors came well equipped with hiking boots or trainers, there were a few people not having the best experience due to their footwear choice.
Overall I loved the Giants Causeway and seeing it in person was priceless. However given how busy and full of tourists it was, it was not the most relaxing or back to nature experience. Hence after marvelling at them, climbing over them, hundreds of pictures we did not hang around. In the end, we only spent about an hour there. I must be getting old, as when the tour groups start coming in, I know it’s time to leave.
And my second must see was the Rope Bridge – a cultural legacy from when that tiny Island was a critical outpost for the fishing industry. Nowadays it’s merely a tourist attraction and consequently heavily fortified and strengthened.
When you get up close ready to get on the bridge, here is the amazing sight that greets you. Probablty not for those with a touch of vertigo – luckily I don’t suffer and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
And truth be told; I was promised a rope bridge. This looks like a rope and plank bridge to me?
Nonetheless, the coves around the island were stunning. If you saw this, would you not think you were in a tropical resort?
Culture and adventure collided at the rope bridge – it’s fun to walk across and wander around the island, and ponder how people lived here before, making a living from fishing.
Next on the essential to visit list, was the city of Derry or Londonderry. In particular, I wanted to see the city walls. I was promised a complete city wall that you can still walk aorund today, and Derry did not disappoint.
Sadly Derry still suffers from sectarian divides, and flags are flown to indicate what ‘side’ each area belongs to. Along with political messages.
I loved getting to see modern Derry – and am grateful that the walls have been preserved and are in great condition to visit and walk along.
Overall Belfast was a lovely compact city to visit – for me personally the most interesting was learning about the history of the troubles and wandering around the city centre. Here are some pics from our wanders. Not sure of the story of the cathedrals spire, but it’s certainly very different.
I’m always a fan of architecture, especially art deco. I love these buildings, I hope their new owner preserves them.
And the murals and memorials evoke darker times.
An iconic National Trust property, Mount Stewart is well worth the drive – to see this majestic house and gardens, which were looking top notch in May.
Those stairs alone are so natural and unique – here they are closer from another angle.
The garden was outstanding, especially this symbolic Irish topiary.
Other Pretty Things
Yeah, I know I am an atheist, nonetheless, I appreciate the architectural beauty of a church or cathedral. Here are a few.
OK, these are maybe not in the best state, or recognisable as castles, but trust me, these are castles!
I love this harbour scene at twilight.
And the knitting framing this harbour is superb
And finally, this inverse lighbouse is certainly unique.
Back to Nature
Overall, this holiday weekend was a big success. I got to see and learn about a new part of the world – one so close by that I had never visited before. And the beauty of Northern Ireland was really inspiring, from the natural to the man made it all came together well. Every place we went was interesting and away from the main sites, it was quiet and relaxing.
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- Have you been to Northern Ireland?
- Do you like outdoors holidays?