Northern Ireland is an awe-inspiring land of endless greenery, ancient forests and crumbling castles. As well as its natural splendour, the country boasts a fascinating history, rich culture and many an undiscovered gem. To fully appreciate just how varied and exciting this region can be, check out our favourite places to visit in Northern Ireland to inspire a road trip of your own.
Adventure along the Causeway Coast
The scenic road along the Antrim coast is known as the Causeway Coastal route, and is widely hailed as one of the greatest journeys in the world. You’ll pass charming seaside villages, dramatic clifftop castles, historic whiskey distilleries and even see some of the Game of Thrones filming locations. One of the highlights of the trip is the mystical Giant’s Causeway, a magical natural landscape of polygonal basalt columns that stand at various heights and shapes.
History and Culture in Derry
Located to the northwest of Belfast, Derry is the final destination on the Causeway Coastal Route. This lively city was voted the first UK City of Culture in 2013, and its vibrant array of live theatre, music and colourful festivals have put it on the map. Walk along the walled perimeter of the city, admire the views from the award-winning Peace Bridge and learn all about Derry’s turbulent history during the period of conflict known as ‘The Troubles’.
A Royal Retreat in Lisburn
Lisburn is only a short drive from Belfast, so makes a great day trip option for those staying in the capital. As well as farmers markets, award-winning eateries and absorbing aviation history at the Ulster Aviation Society, Hillsborough Castle can be found just south of the city. You can visit this charming palace and gardens, which acts as the Queen’s official residence in Northern Ireland, before setting out to explore the cosy pubs and restaurants nearby.
Discover Northern Ireland’s Fermanagh Lakelands
Outdoor adventurers will feel right at home in the extreme west region of the Fermanagh Lakelands. Bike along the pretty country lanes of the renowned Kingfisher Trail, or see the view from the water with a river cruise along the Lower Lough Erne. One of the most popular attractions to the area is the Marble Arch Cave, one of Europe’s most spectacular limestone cave networks.
Get Wet in Lough Neagh
The largest freshwater lake by area in the British Isles, this lough is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. If you don’t want to get wet, there’s still lots to do. This tranquil expanse is a favourite among walkers, birdwatchers and cyclists, with the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre the perfect place for anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the area’s wildlife.
Nature in Newcastle
Home to Royal County Down, Northern Ireland’s most prestigious golf course, Newcastle is a small town on the southeast shore with a lot to see, particularly as it’s surrounded by extraordinary natural beauty. Explore the beaches and sand dunes of Murlough National Nature Reserve before delving into the dense Tollymore Forest Park at the base of the Mourne Mountains. As well as being the highest mountain range in the country, it’s famous as a key filming location for scenes of Game of Thrones.
If this has inspired your own escape, check out our adventure page for more info.