What springs to mind when you think of Northern Ireland?
Warming Irish whiskey? The Giant’s Causeway (and epic Game of Thrones backdrops!)? Belfast and its troubled past?
All of these things are right, but Northern Ireland also has so much more to offer.
County Fermanagh in the south west has enough caves, castles, islands and “loughs” (lakes) to fill a fortnight. Where County Antrim at the opposite end of the country has all the whiskey and landscapes Northern Ireland is known for, and a few surprises up its sleeve as well.
Little adventurers will be overjoyed at the sight of Carrick-a-Rede; a 300-year-old rope bridge suspended 100ft above sea level, joining the Giant’s Causeway to a tiny speck of island off the northern coast.
But if heights aren’t really your thing, there’s plenty to see on solid ground. Journey up Ballycastle where the kids can explore Kinbane Castle. Just in-land from there, big kids can soak in the sight of the centuries-old Dark Hedges (a.k.a The Kingsroad to Winterfell) — take a family photo in the unforgettable, and kinda spooky, woodland backdrop!
Yes, the Causeway Coast is a must-do for any family visiting County Antrim — its beaches in particular are some of the best around. But take time to drop down to County Fermanagh for unforgettable kayaking trips and even a trip below the surface to the Marble Arch caves!
Little kids and big kids alike will be in awe of the 1.5km underground journey — including a boat trip! Track the footsteps of the now extinct Giant Irish Deer and learn all about how the caves first formed thousands of years ago.
Experience Belfast’s delicious food culture
Northern Ireland’s capital is really making a name for itself as a culinary highlight in the UK. Much more than potato bread, restaurants here suit all taste buds and price ranges; from Michelin starred seafood, to St George’s Market where independent sellers cook up informal street food, whilst local bands play the day and night through.
Spring is a beautiful time to visit Northern Ireland, making it a great Easter holiday destination for families with young kids. The summer months are warm(ish!) and promise less rain, but be prepared for tourist sites to be busy — especially at the end of June when Irish school holidays begin.
That’s not to say that autumn and winter are off limits. Castles are perfect for exploring in moody wet weather, and Belfast has plenty of indoor activities, such as the Titanic Belfast, Aunt Sandra's Candy Factory and Belfast Zoo.
What’s that old saying: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing? Well that’s certainly the case in Northern Ireland. In winter, wrap up warm and prepare for rain. In summer, dress in light layers.
Northern Ireland boasts a good public transport system, so hopping on a bus, train or even tram to get to your next destination couldn’t be easier.
But why not hire a car and drive around the whole country? Northern Ireland is only 170 miles and 300 miles long, so you can see all it has to offer with a seven-day road trip.
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