Northern Ireland - Mysterious and Cosy
Northern Ireland is a British exclave on the Irish island. It offers green landscapes, harsh coasts, lively cities and mysterious rock formations and trees. Spend a relaxed evening with the hospitable inhabitants in a pub or go on an expedition through history.
Geography - From Belfast to Londonderry
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and consists of six of the nine counties of the historical province of Ulster. These counties are called Fermanagh, Tyrone, Londonderry, Antrim, Down and Armagh. However, Northern Ireland is not divided into counties any more but into 26 districts. The region lies at the northern tip of the Irish island and is separated from Great Britain by the Irish Sea in the east. With an area of about 13,850 km², Northern Ireland takes up about 16 percent of the Irish island. The capital and biggest city is Belfast, the second biggest city is Londonderry. Other worthwhile cities are Antrim, Ballymena, Ballycastle, Ballyclare, Downpatrick, Holywood, Omagh, Bangor, Coleraine and Enniskillin. In comparison to its neighbour Ireland, Northern Ireland is more densely populated and more highly industrialised. The population is about 1.82 million. The climate is temperate with oceanic influences caused by the Gulf Stream.
Nature - Green diversity and mystical trees
Northern Ireland's scenery is characterised by a harsh shoreline, juicy green meadows and pastures, numerous lakes and rivers, eerie moors and smooth mountains. The Mourne Mountains lie in the south-east and together with the Slieve Donard (842 m), they constitute the highest point in the region. In addition, you see the Sperrin Mountains in the north-west and the Antrim Plateau in the north-east. Deserted bays and long sandy beaches are equally characteristic of Northern Ireland. Lough Neagh is located in the centre and is the greatest lake in the British Isles. The L-shaped Rathlin Island in the north-east has a particularly impressive avian fauna (great northern loons, Atlantic puffins, Eurasian wrens) as well as a great diversity of fish. The flora is equally fascinating and colours the island in about forty different shades of green. Rowan, fuchsia, blueberries, rhododendron, peat moss and erica are only a few of the many types of plants on the "Green Island". A true highlight are the Dark Hedges near Ballymoney, a road lined by beeches which have a very interesting shape. They are one of the most frequently photographed attractions in Northern Ireland.
Natural sights - Victorian-style Botanic Gardens
The best-known and most impressive sight is probably the Giant's Causeway at Antrim Coast, which is part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage for a reason. It is a breathtaking rock formation consisting of about 40,000 evenly shapes basalt columns and is often referred to as the 8th wonder of the world. Antrim Coast and the Glens of Antrim fill visitors with awe. Other worthwhile attractions are the Silent Valley Reservoir, Rowallane Garden, Roe Valley Country Park, Belfast Zoo and the Botanic Gardens in Belfast. The latter reflects the Victorian era with its two distinctive buildings and offers a magical rose garden and an impressive variety of tropical plants. One more destination that needs to be mentioned are the Fermanagh Lakelands, a gigantic lake district with countless untouched waterways.
Culture - Of megaliths and castles
Northern Ireland and Ireland are closely linked by their history and therefore share many cultural features. The most important historical events in history were the Battle of the Boyne (1690), the union of Ireland and Great Britain (1800), the breakaway of Ireland in the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921), the North Ireland conflict or the Troubles (1969-1998), Bloody Sunday (1972) and the Good Friday Agreement (1998). The conflicts were often of a social, political and religious nature. Today Northern Ireland is a safe travel destination. Irish art handicraft and traditional knitwear is internationally known. In addition, music and literature enjoy a good reputation and are very distinctive due to the Celtic influences. The architecture is extraordinary and shows the great skilfulness of the builders. Impressive constructions include megaliths, churches and castles. The clothes worn by the people in Northern Ireland are warm, comfortable, weatherproof and practical. Special holidays are St. Patrick's Day on the 17th of March and the Battle of the Boyne Day on the 12th of July.
Cultural sights - A medieval castle on the cliffs
Besides the numerous natural sights, Northern Ireland offers a variety of cultural attractions. There are many castles which bear testimony to bygone days. Travellers should definitely not miss out on a visit to Belfast Castle, Dunluce Castle, Carrickfergus Castle and Antrim Castle. Other beautiful destinations for day trips are the Beaghmore Stone Circles, St Anne's, St Columb's and Down Cathedral, Helen's or Scrabo Tower or the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. A city which is as exciting as Belfast is Londonderry (short: Derry). It attracts visitors with its historical old town and the medieval town wall, which could be preserved almost completely. Popular museums are the Nomadic museum ship, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, the Ulster American Folk Park, the Ulster Museum, the Somme Heritage Centre and the Irish Republican History Museum. One highlight is the Titanic Memorial in front of Belfast City Hall. It is the only memorial which lists the names of all people who died on the RMS Titanic on the 15th of April 1912.
Experience - Belfast pubs, Ulster Fry and leprechauns
Travellers who want to get to know the typical Northern Ireland should spend their evening in one of the many cosy pubs in Belfast. There you can experience the characteristic hospitality of the Northern Irish, traditional music, delicious food and, of course, beer and whisky. Holidaymakers can start the next day with a hearty breakfast, the Ulster Fry. It consists of scrambled eggs, sausages, baked beans, bacon, mushrooms, braised tomatoes, soda bread, potato bread, black pudding and white pudding. In addition, it is often served with toast with jam, orange juice and tea. Culture enthusiasts will enjoy seeing a play in the Grand Opera House. Belfast's city centre fascinates with modern, vibrant activity. You can go shopping, stroll through the streets or go on an expedition and dive into the regions's history. Popular souvenirs from Northern Ireland are Irish whisky, Irish art handicraft such as small leprechaun figures, musical instruments (drums made from goatskin) as well as Celtic jewellery and clothing.
Activities - Relaxation at the beach or action on the kart circuit
Northern Ireland offers a variety of sporting activities. The Fermanagh Lake lands and the Mourne Mountains are particularly suited for going fishing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, golfing, cycling and caving (Marble Arch Caves). The beaches offer great conditions for having walks and going bathing in summer. Boat tourism along the steep, harsh cliffs or on the lakes and rivers as well as camping are popular too. Travellers who are looking for more action and adrenaline have the opportunity to test their skills during kart races, for example on the Xtreme Karting track in Castlefin.
The easiest way of arriving is by plane because there are three international airports in Northern Ireland. Two of them are located around Belfast, the third one in Londonderry. However, it is also possible to fly to Dublin and take the car, train or bus from there. Visitors who prefer taking their own car with them from the European mainland can use the Channel Tunnel to get to England and then take the ferry to Belfast.
Northern Ireland is still an insider tip among travellers. That is surprising because the country in the north of the Irish island has a lot to offer. The abundance of beaches, meadows, mountains, lakes and moors as well as the long history and fascinating culture speak for themselves.