I went to Belfast for work and from there I went with locals to do some sightseeing in Northern Ireland. The trip was very economical- I flew with Easyjet from Alicante there is a direct flight to Belfast. The landscapes in the north are amazing although the weather in January is not too good. One day I went to see The Giant's Causeway and I have to admit that it was one of the most impressive natural environments I've ever seen. The basalt columns along the coast were beyond any expectation. If there were a list of the 7 wonders of the world regarding natural environments I have no doubt that this would be one of those wonders beyong being a World Heritage Site. I advise dressing warmly, as it's freezing and windy. We also saw some seals and a nearby castle. The locals also told me these shores were disastrous for the Spanish Armada. It is 3km from Bushmills, where you can leave your vehicle and walk the rest.
The Belfast City Hall is a neoclassical building built in the early 20th century, after Queen Victoria granted city status to Belfast. The highlight of the building is its large dome, similar to that of Saint Paul's in London. Inside, the most interesting part are the marble columns and staircase and the Greek stained-glass windows. There are also pictures of Lord Mayors in the halls. From Monday to Saturday, there are free guided tours in English which teach you a bit about the building, the history, and its operations. There is also a memorial to the World Wars and Titanic on the premises. There's a centennial exhibition about the Titanic's construction. A must-see in Belfast.
The Carrick-a-rede rope bridge is a suspension bridge near Ballintoy. You have to park in the parking lot and walk to the right (facing the sea), along a very narrow costal path for 1.5 km. It's a bridge 25 meters above sea level and links the coast to a small island where there is a salmon fishery. It was built by the salmon fishermen who crossed it to go to the island in search of fish. It's made of wood and rope. To cross it you have to pay £5. It has become one of Ireland's tourist attractions, and in 2005, it saw an influx of 140,000 visitors.
Strolling in Belfast or Londonderry / Derry, you will see dozens of huge wall paintings with one theme: war. In Nationalist neighborhoods, the colors are those of the Republic of Ireland, green white and orange, while in Unionist neighborhoods they are red, white and blue for the UK.
The tension is still very recent, and it's better not to talk to much about it with the locals, ve will often simply avoid answering your questions. Be careful, if you say Londonderry, that means you are a Unionist, and if you say Derry you are a Nationalist ... so the easiest thing to do is just call it "this city"! Enjoy your visit.
Near the town of Bushmills (famous for its Irish whiskey distillery), this castle is located on the coast of Northern Ireland. It is the Dunluce Castle, situated on rocks and cliffs that give it a really impressive aspect, especially when the wind is strong (and cold) that creates a very special atmosphere. It was built in the Middle Ages, at the beginning of S. Century, and was declared an important national heritage site of Northern Ireland.
This place is a most-see in Northern Ireland's capital. It's a typical place where locals go and an advantage for Belfast over Dublin is that it's not so overrun by tourists (even though I was a tourist there myself, but when there's too many tourists in one place, they seem to take away the place's essence). This pub has a very special private booths, in fact I've never been in a bar where you can pretty much lock yourself into one to drink. The range of beers, how could it be otherwise, is immense and the malts are not far behind. It's well worth drinking at the bar so you don't miss anything. It's normally occupied by young people ve are just able to drink and older people ve have been drinking for years. It's one of my favorites.
The Walls of Derry were completed in 1619 and are 8 meters high by 9 thickness and 1.5 km in circumference - they are the only ones in Ireland that have been preserved virtually intact. They have 4 original doors and 3 new ones were added in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The nickname "maiden city" is that no invador has managed to breach its walls. It's worth a walk around the ramparts for its magnificent cannons.
These botanical gardens are located in the south of Belfast, just off the prestigious Queen's University. They date from the 19th century (1828) and cover a little less than 30 square meters. The most important element is the Palm House, a large greenhouse that consists of a dome and two wings, where you can see plants from all the continents. A second greenhouse, the Tropical Ravine House, is smaller, and houses tropical plants (beware of carnivorous plants!). Finally, if time permits, you can walk in the open gardens to admire rare tree species and large beds of roses. Enjoy the fresh air before returning to the noisy and bustling city!
The Anglican Cathedral was built between 1628 and 1633. The wonderful effigies are carved in stone and marble and the cathedral itself is built in stone gray and green schist walls. It was the first Reformist church to be built in Britain and Ireland and is the oldest building in Londonderry-Derry. By the entrance to St Columb's Court under the steeple, you can see an original stone that was laid in 1633. It commemorates the completion of the temple with the inscription: "If stones could talk they would sing praises from London for those who built this church and city of nothing. " In 1689 during the siege of the city, the Cathedral of St. Columban became the center of resistance of the besieged protesters inside the city walls. You can still see the hollow bomb with the terms of surrender that was dropped inside the cemetery walls during the siege.
In Belfast city there is St. George's Market, which is a very eclectic and classic market in the city center and with a lot of variety where you can buy all kinds of products, both new and used. As a plus, it's ideal for ethnic food and "take away" lovers. In some places, it's possible to sample the products.
When travelling between Cushendall and Ballymena, in Northern Ireland, there is a spectacular nature preserve which is ideal for walks. There are two ways to get there, one by a small road from Waterfoot which overlooks a resturant, and the other, from Cushendall where the main entrance is. The main attractions are the waterfalls, especially the Ess-na-Larach which is 800 m from the visitor centre and Laragh Lodge, next to the restaurant of the same name. From one to another is the so-called Path of the Falls, as it goes along the river on a beautiful wooden path where you can see countless waterfalls. It is a beautiful place in October and is completely empty. The park has other hiking trails, the longest of which is 10 km.
Considered one of the top 5 coastal routes in the world, is undoubtedly the best tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. It's said that the route goes from Larne to Portrush. Between these two villages there are plenty of beaches, cliffs and absolutely stunning scenery, which undoubtedly includes the Giants Causeway (World Heritage Site), Carrick Rope Bridge and Dunluce Castle. The route goes through Belfast, and from Larne the rocks covered beaches and cliffs overlooking Scotland appear, when the weather allows. Without doubt one of the most spectacular coastal locations.
The Albert Memorial Clock is a kind of miniature Big Ben. It is located in Queen's Square in central Belfast near the docks. It was built between 1865 and 1870 and is one of the main attractions of the capital of Northern Ireland.
St Peter's Cathedral was inaugurated on October 14, 1866 on land donated by the famous Belfast baker, Barney Hughes. It was the first Catholic Church in Belfast to be built in the Gothic style and it's very near the Falls Road in the international mural area.
Raised initially as a temporary solution, the wall has been standing now for over 40 years seperating the Catholic neighborhoods from the Protestant ones. They had to make it even higher so people wouldn´t throw bombs and grandees from one side to another. One simple structure that allows you to see really how grave the conflict is in the North of Ireland.
It's not the only lake in Glenveagh National Park, but it's the most important. A trail runs around the lake from the visitor center, but most people, first, take the bus to the castle and then start the tour of the lake. I took the bus, but the choice between the bus or the walk depends mostly on the weather and the time you have to see the park.
Without doubt they are the creators of one of the most famous and iconic Irish whiskeys, which is not often lacking in the modern recreations of an Irish pub in almost all Spanish cities. It is located on the outskirts of the village with the same name, Bushmills, and this old distillery has the distinction of being the first in the UK to be licensed as such by the state. The visit makes clear the distinction between Irish and Scottish distilleries. Triple distillation, which is not entirely accurate, is common Scotland's distilleries who continue use and have always used this method. The final tasting, with possibilities for a little competition, has no wastage and is set in a bar with a good atmosphere. In the shop you can buy a bottle of malt whiskey with a personalized label with the name of your choice. A part of the Irish past in a natural and relaxing landscape... It is almost necessary to go by car.