Things to see and do in Northern Ireland
Attractions in Northern Ireland
Cast a line into Lough Erne
From its salmon to its sea trout, Northern Ireland's fish stock means it's considered one of Europe's best angling destinations. Try Lower Lough Erne in the Fermanagh Lakelands for a prime fishing spot. The rivers of the Causeway Coast in Antrim have several fruitful options too.
Climb Cave Hill
Giving a broad panorama over Belfast city and the surrounding coastal hills, Cave Hill is a rewarding place to head for a view of the capital region – from the bold cranes of the docks to the silvery waters of Belfast Lough. Measuring 368m (1,207 ft) at its peak, it’s said that on a clear day, you can see as far as Scotland.
Discover the Marble Arch Caves
Take an underground boat trip to see the magnificent caverns of Marble Arch Caves in County Fermanagh. Together with the rolling landscapes above ground, the caves form the Marble Arch Caves Geopark giving a rich insight into the region's 650 million years of geological glory.
Discover the charms of Derry
Visit Northern Ireland's second largest city, which combines a riverside setting and a glut of historical sights with an artsy oomph that saw it named the UK's Capital of Culture for 2013. Its name remains a slightly hazy notion (it's legal name is Londonderry, but the local government refers to it as Derry).
Enjoy a pint in a fine Victorian gin palace
Belfast's most famous pub, the Crown Liquor Saloon is a splendidly ornate Victorian gin palace renowned for its glittering decor, its long history (it dates back to the 1820s) and its wide selection of real ales. Order a pint, find a nook and let the worries of the world drift away.
Enjoy the striking landscape over the Glens of Antrim
Admire the nine interlinking Glens of Antrim, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which run inland from the rugged and spectacular eastern coast. Covering a distance of some 52sq km (20sq miles), the area incorporates everything from glacial valleys and sandy beaches to waterfalls and forests.
Explore Devenish Island
A 'holy island' in Lough Erne, Devenish Island in County Fermanagh still bears the remains of an Augustinian monastery, including a church, an abbey and a plethora of old gravestones. It's stirring stuff – the island is accessible by ferry from the landing at nearby Trory Point.
Explore the remains of Dunluce Castle
Once the seat of the Earls of Antrim, the fiercely picturesque Dunluce Castle sits half-ruined on a coastal crag. Its cliff-top remains can be explored at will (once you’ve paid for entry). After crossing the bridge and entering the courtyard, it’s surprising to see how large the medieval castle once was.
Hike the heights of the Mourne Mountains
The granite bulk of the Mourne Mountains forms a brooding backdrop to one of the most appealing corners of Northern Ireland – a picture-book amalgam of coast, hillside and wide sky. Their tranquil centrepiece, the aptly named Silent Valley Reservoir, sits surrounded by cottage-speckled valleys and wild slopes. It's little wonder it draws in hill walkers and rock climbers.
Hit the links
Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell – familiar names on golf leaderboards around the world – all hail from Northern Ireland, and the country has the courses to match. Royal Portrush and Royal County Down at Newcastle are among its most renowned links courses.
Kick back in Belfast
Once the most troubled city in Europe, the last two decades have wrought an extraordinary transformation in Belfast and have seen the Northern Ireland capital become one of the UK's most interesting cities. Fine restaurants, lively boozers and a burgeoning collection of cultural attractions are part of the city's appeal.
Learn of the Troubles with a tour of Shankill and Falls Road
The best guided tours to brace the Troubles (the ethno-nationalist conflict that blighted Northern Ireland for 40 years) are by black cab drivers who bring Belfast's troubled modern history to life. They head along the Shankill and the Falls Roads, taking in the imposing Peace Lines and the famed Republican and Unionist wall murals.
Revel in the relics at Ulster Museum
Trawl through Northern Ireland's best collection of art, archaeology and natural history at Belfast's Ulster Museum. It’s free to enter, and inside you’ll find eye-opening relics from Ancient Egypt, the South Pacific, Africa and elsewhere. There’s also some very interesting stuff on Ireland’s early days too, as well as various art collections.
Step aboard the Titanic
Unveiled to great fanfare in 2012, on the slipways where the RMS Titanic was built, this large-scale visitor attraction extends over nine galleries, taking visitors through the construction, launch and ill-fated voyage of the world's best-known ocean liner. Titanic Belfast opened 100 years after the ship's infamous sinking.
Step back in time at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum
Located on the outskirts of Belfast, the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum is two quality attractions in one. The Folk Museum gives visitors the chance to wander through farms, cottages and homesteads preserved as they would have been 100 years ago. The Transport Museum is a lovingly maintained collection of trams, motorbikes and vintage cars.
Taste a tumbler of fine Irish whiskey
You'll find the Old Bushmills Distillery in the village of (that's right) Bushmills in the north of County Antrim. It bills itself as Ireland's oldest distillery and has been knocking out barrels of the good stuff for more than 400 years. Take a tour to get to the heart of the whiskey-making process.
Tour the country on two wheels
With its quiet minor roads, exceptional natural sites and fine coastal paths, cyclists in Northern Ireland are spoilt for choice. Whether you take to the tarmac or venture off-road, the National Cycle Network has over 1,290 km (800 miles) of routes from long distance rides to short trails for a lighter jaunt.
Visit the grave of St Patrick, Down Cathedral
Visit the pilgrimage site of Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick. He may be the reason that massive amounts of Guinness are consumed worldwide every 17 March, but his burial site at Down Cathedral, in the town of Downpatrick, is a more sobering affair – a lonely granite slab in the churchyard marks his grave.
Wonder at the Giant's Causeway
Ireland's most famous World Heritage Site is a natural wonder, an otherworldly rock formation of some 40,000 basalt columns. Located on the Antrim coastline, the Giant's Causeway draws visitors in droves – try arriving at sunset for fewer crowds and spectacular photo opportunities.
Northern Ireland Tourist BoardAddress: 59 North Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland,
Telephone: +44 (028) 9023 1221.