Though it may be small, Northern Ireland is packed with culture, beautiful scenery, and all sorts of places to see and explore. From castles to mountains, visitors really are spoilt for choice when looking for the ideal day out. Here are Culture Trip’s top six recommended day trips in Northern Ireland.
One of the highest points anywhere on the island of Ireland, the Mourne Mountains are a joy for casual and experienced walkers alike. Setting off from the town of Kilkeel (70 minutes by car from Belfast) offers plenty of different routes. Among the best is Slieve Donard, the highest mountain in Northern Ireland. A bit of a challenge, yes, but the rewards for those who reach the 850-metre (2,789-foot) summit make it well worth it.
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1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Carrick-a-Rede Bridge and Kinbane Castle
Why stick to just one activity when you can merge two into the same day? Near the town of Ballycastle, just over an hour from Belfast, sit two of the country’s most interesting historical sites. Carrick-a-Rede is an ancient rope bridge that takes you to a tiny island, for a thrilling (but entirely safe) experience. Then, just a few miles away, go and explore the ruins of Kinbane Castle for even more coastal history.
Marble Arch Caves
Not to be confused with the Marble Arch tube station in London, the Marble Arch Caves are an underground network of rivers and lakes. They became a Geopark in 2001, and since then, guides have been taking visitors on boat tours through the winding tunnels. There are plenty of nearby walking routes too, and although it takes almost two hours to drive there from Belfast (similar for Derry-Londonderry), it’s well worth the trip.
The Old Bushmills Distillery
While Scotland might get more brand recognition when it comes to whiskey, Northern Ireland isn’t far behind. Bushmills is a household name and also has claim to the oldest working distillery on the planet. Located near Portrush, about an hour north of Belfast, the distillery lets you see the 400-year-old handcrafting process in action – and try some whiskey straight out of the cask.
For some really ancient history, Navan Fort is a great destination. It was the royal seat of the King of Ulster, with history dating back almost 6,000 years. Now, there is a visitor’s centre with reconstructed houses, ancient artefacts and even an archaeology experience for kids. If you’re a bit less interested in that, the woodlands routes around the area are to die for. Navan Fort is just an hour west of Belfast.
Ulster American Folk Park
The story of Irish emigration to America comes to life at this vast open-air museum in Couonty Tyrone, just 45 minutes south of Derry-Londonderry. The 30 different exhibit buildings demonstrate the work done by Irish emigrants who travelled to America in the 18th and 19th centuries. You can even look around a full-sized replica of one of the ships that took them across, and staff members demonstrate things like wax candle-making. It’s also worth noting that many of the buildings are 100% authentic, painstakingly dismantled and taken from the States back to Ireland.
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