Planning Your Time

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Planning Your Time

Though Northern Ireland may not look that big on paper, tackling a fair share of its many attractions in less than a week isn't possible without exhausting yourself in the process. If your time is limited, choose the eastern half (Belfast, the Antrim Coast, and the Mountains of Mourne) or the western half (Derry and the Border Counties). The cities are small enough to tour in a day or two. But remember that the rural wonders—the Antrim Coast, the Fermanagh lakes, the Mountains of Mourne—cast their spell easily. You may head out to enjoy them for a day trip and find yourself wishing that you'd factored in more time to explore the endless string of postcard-worthy villages, misty glens, and rugged mountains. And although distances are not great, neither are the roads—you'll spend most of your time traveling smaller roads, not major express highways. If you have three days, then spend an extra night and day in Derry. The city has many shiny new attractions such as Ebrington Square and the Peace Bridge, and its old shirt factories and warehouses have been reinvented as bistros, wine bars, and arts centers. A half-day side trip should also be made to the top-class Ulster-American Folk Park at Omagh, where the contribution of Northern Irish people to American history is traced.

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