Northern Ireland

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Never in its history has Northern Ireland enjoyed such peace, stability, and investment, all of which is making it the envy of Europe. Once a region torn apart by civil strife and sectarian violence, today it has changed beyond recognition. A dizzying rate of regeneration has led to the glossy rebirth of its two major cities, Belfast and Derry, bursting with confidence and contemporary cool. A creative and cultural renaissance has brought an astonishing surge of interest from many parts of the world, and new superluxury hotels, trendy bars, and chic restaurants have created a huge number of opportunities for holidaymakers.

The Six Counties that make up Northern Ireland cover less than 14,245 square km (5,500 square miles)—the country is about half the size of Delaware and less tha... Read More

Never in its history has Northern Ireland enjoyed such peace, stability, and investment, all of which is making it the envy of Europe. Once a region torn apart by civil strife and sectarian violence, today it has changed beyond recognition. A dizzying rate of regeneration has led to the glossy rebirth of its two major cities, Belfast and Derry, bursting with confidence and contemporary cool. A creative and cultural renaissance has brought an astonishing surge of interest from many parts of the world, and new superluxury hotels, trendy bars, and chic restaurants have created a huge number of opportunities for holidaymakers.

The Six Counties that make up Northern Ireland cover less than 14,245 square km (5,500 square miles)—the country is about half the size of Delaware and less than one-fifth the size of the Republic of Ireland, its neighbor to the south. But within Northern Ireland's boundaries are some of the most unspoiled scenery you could ever hope to find on this earth: the granite Mountains of Mourne; the Giant's Causeway, made of extraordinary volcanic rock; more than 320 km (200 miles) of coastline beaches and hidden coves; and rivers and leaf-sheltered lakes, including Europe's largest freshwater lake, Lough Neagh, that provide fabled fishing grounds. Ancient castles and Palladian-perfect 18th-century houses are as numerous here as almost anywhere else in Europe, and each has its own tale of heroic feats, dastardly deeds, and lovelorn ghosts.

Northern Ireland not only houses this heritage within its native stone, but has also given the world perhaps an even greater legacy: its roster of celebrated descendants. Nearly one in six of the millions of Irish who journeyed across the Atlantic in search of fortune in the New World came from Ulster (the historic name for this part of Ireland that geographically—although not politically—includes Donegal, Cavan, and Monaghan, which are part of the republic) and of this group (and from their family stock), more than a few left their mark in America: Davy Crockett, President Andrew Jackson, General Ulysses S. Grant, President Woodrow Wilson, General Stonewall Jackson, financier Thomas Mellon, merchant J. Paul Getty, writers Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain, and astronaut Neil Armstrong.

In the 1970s, ’80s, and early ’90s, Northern Ireland was synonymous with conflict; sectarian killings and car bomb explosions were an almost daily occurrence from 1969 to 1994, amounting to the deaths of more than 3,500 people. The "peace process," begun with the help of President Clinton, has been a long journey but the two communities now live in relative harmony as a younger generation embraces life without violence.

It’s also a golfing powerhouse, with some of the world’s best golfers and a staggering total of 95 courses from which to choose; its young bands are renowned; its writers and poets have been internationally acclaimed; and Belfast is home to the Titanic Belfast, one of Europe’s leading visitor attractions. The "peace dividend" has led to massive investment and revitalization in many towns and cities, and the North is open for business as never before.

Starting in Belfast and stretching 80 km (50 miles) along Northern Ireland's Atlantic shore, the Giant's Causeway Coast holds many of the province's don't-miss attractions. The man-made brilliance of the castle at Dunluce, the endless string of whitewashed fishing villages along the sea, and the world-famous natural wonder that is the Giant's Causeway are just some of the delights to be discovered here. Once your car or mountain bike (ideal for the Causeway's flat terrain) makes it past some fair-size towns, you'll enter the splendid Glens area—one of the more "gentle" (an Irish turn of phrase for supernatural) places in all Ireland. Here, ageless villages, still inhabited by descendants of the ancient Irish and the Hebridean Scots who hailed from across the narrow Sea of Moyle, are set in peaceful, old-growth forests that have become synonymous with Irishness. Nearer the Giant's Causeway more cosmopolitan pleasures are to be found, including Bushmills—the oldest licensed distillery in the world—and the old walled city of Derry. The hot new attractions along the Causeway Coast are the locations used for the Game of Thrones TV series, in particular the Dark Hedges, a road tunnel of ancient beech trees.

While blissfully off the beaten track, the Border Counties major regions covering the counties of Antrim, Derry, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh, and Down contain some dazzling sights: Derry city and its walls is worth a full day; the Ulster American Folk Park; the great stately houses of Castle Coole and Florence Court; the pottery town of Belleek; the breathtaking Mountains of Mourne; and the blessed St. Patrick sites in Armagh and Down. During the worst of the Troubles, the counties of Armagh and Down, which border the republic, were known as "bandit country," but now you can enjoy a worry-free trip through the calm countryside and stop in at some very "Ulster" towns—delightfully distinct from the rest of Ireland.

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Language

English

Nearby Airports

BFS

Electrical Outlets

230v/50 cycles; plugs are UK standard three-prong

Currency

Pound Sterling

Language

English

Electrical Outlets

230v/50 cycles; plugs are UK standard three-prong

Currency

Pound Sterling

Nearby Airports

BFS

If the weather is good—and most of the year it isn't—touring Northern Ireland can be a real pleasure. But the place is so green for a reason...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Northern Ireland with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

If the weather is good—and most of the year it isn't—touring Northern Ireland can be a real pleasure. But the place is so green for a reason...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Northern Ireland with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

If the weather is good—and most of the year it isn't—touring Northern Ireland can be a real pleasure. But the place is so green for a reason...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Northern Ireland with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

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