Day trips from Belfast are a great way to see the rest of Northern Ireland. This compact country has been enjoying the benefits of its peace process for many years now, which has put it back on the map for many tourists. The first port of call for most is the capital city of Belfast, but there is also plenty to see outside of the city. Send My Bag brings you the top five destinations that can all be enjoyed on a day trip from Belfast.
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The Dark Hedges
The TV series Game of Thrones has done a lot to bolster the Northern Ireland tourism industry, given that it is filmed in studios in Belfast. The crew have also used a number of locations across Northern Ireland to film scenes for the show. One of the most well-known locations (which has always been worth a visit in its own right) is The Dark Hedges. This is a long avenue lined by beech trees located in Ballymoney, County Antrim. What makes the avenue so spectacular is the way the tops of the trees intertwine above the road to form a tunnel or canopy. You can visit this magical site by itself, or you can take one of the numerous Game of Thrones tours on offer from Belfast city, which will take you to several locations used in the filming of the series.
The Giant’s Causeway
An absolute must is a day trip from Belfast to the Giant’s Causeway, also in the county of Antrim and not far from the town of Bushmills. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic landmarks and consists of numerous many-sided columns formed out of basalt rock, which were created following a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. Legend has it that these stones were carved out by the giant Finn McCool to create a path to Scotland, where he would fight the Scottish giants. Visitors can climb over the fascinating rocks and take long strolls along the coastline. There is also a new visitor centre where you can find out more about the causeway, grab a bite to eat or join a guided tour.
Just 40 minutes’ drive from Belfast, in the north of County Down, is the estate of Mount Stewart with its stately home and formal and lakeside gardens. The Mount Stewart house has recently been renovated, as documented in a local TV series. Tours can be taken of the grand dwelling, with its ornate furniture, décor and large collection of antique paintings. Visitors can also stroll around the extensive gardens, which feature a large shrubbery including numerous rhododendron plants that look stunning in spring. There are also formal gardens that include herbaceous borders and topiary. Finish your visit with a cup of tea in the tea rooms and a browse around the National Trust gift shop.
The Mourne Mountains
You will have a fantastic day trip from Belfast if you head further south in County Down, to the Mourne Mountains. The region has a number of individual locations that are well worth a visit. These include the Silent Valley Reservoir, which will grant the visitor refreshing peace and tranquillity, and Tollymore Forest Park with its collection of trees from around the world. Then there is the mountain range itself, which sweeps graciously down to meet the Irish Sea. The range offers numerous routes to be enjoyed by walkers of all skill levels. The highest mountain in the range is Slieve Donard, which can be climbed (with care) to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Northern Ireland’s second city is Londonderry (also known as Derry), located on the north-west coast of the country, on the border with the Republic of Ireland and County Donegal. You can visit Derry’s famous city walls, walking right along the walls for about a mile. It’s a good idea to take a guided tour in order to learn about the complicated but fascinating history of Derry and the walls. Other sites worth visiting include the Peace Bridge ? a footbridge that affords views over the city and the River Foyle ?, Free Derry Corner, and the Bloody Sunday Memorial – all sites that relate to the city’s troubled past.
If our guide to day trips from Belfast has made you want to discover more of the UK, then take a look at our blog on the ‘Best Day Trips from London’.
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