There’s never been a more perfect time than this summer to discover Northern Ireland, with its inspirational locations, stunning landscapes and the friendliest of welcomes it has something for everyone. Whether you want to be blown-away by the set locations of Game of Thrones, or take in some seriously beautiful scenery at the Giant’s Causeway or the Mourne Mountains, or get lost in a world of history at the Walled City of Derry, a visit to Northern Ireland is bound to create memories for a lifetime.
If in particular you’re looking for a bit of adventure, then you’ll find plenty in Northern Ireland that will tick this box for you. One TV show that’s on everyone’s lips is Game of Thrones which has just wrapped its fourth season. Few things make Game of Thrones fans happier than the chance to get their geek on and argue the finer points of George RR Martin’s world. Whilst the hugely popular series is filmed all over Europe, many of the key locations are based in Northern Ireland. Immerse yourself in this thrilling world on the Game of Thrones Tour where you get the chance to see 11 iconic sites from Series 1 to 4 from your very own Maester. Your local guide, fan of both the books & TV series, the Maester will discuss information from the Game of Thrones series, recall incredible tales of legend and local history that could come right out of the books.
Departing from central Belfast, you will also get to explore some of the gems of Northern Ireland such as Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Ballintoy Harbour and the Giant’s Causeway. You will be able to walk into the caves where Melisandre of Asshai gave birth to her ‘shadow assassin’ who went on to slay Renly Baratheon. Hear tales of the power struggles, battles and trysts between the noble families of Westeros, and learn gossip about the morally dubious King Joffrey Baratheon.
Another absolute must for those looking to explore the majestic and rugged terrain that’s on offer in Northern Ireland is of course the Causeway Coastal Route. The Causeway Coastal Route takes in counties Antrim and Derry, and approximately 80 miles of the most spectacular coastal scenery you will find anywhere in the world. A tour through this part of Northern Ireland will see you pass beautiful sites such as: The Giant’s Causeway itself, The Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, Glenariff Forest Park and the award winning Portrush Whiterocks Beach.
To complete the perfect site-seeing journey all you need is to sort out some world-class accommodation and this can be found at the Galgorm Resort & Spa, a spectacularly sumptuous hotel set in 163 acres of parkland. Between the bar, the spa, the on-site Italian restaurant, BBQ area and the Mulberry Garden, you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice.
If a flavour of history and the past is more your cup of tea then you’re in luck because Northern Ireland is steeped in years of fascinating historical landmarks and tales. Derry~Londonderry, which really shone last year as the City of Culture is a historical hidden gem. Driving into the walled city, the first thing you see is a statue of two men reaching out towards each other, over a deep trench that runs between them. As you come closer, you see their hands are nearly touching. This statue is by a local sculptor called Maurice Harron. It's called Hands Across The Divide. It's a perfect symbol for this ancient city, which is now enjoying a remarkable renaissance after a generation of conflict and division.
The best place to start is with a walking tour and you can begin this at the Tower Museum, where a vivid exhibition charts the city's long and lively evolution. This isn't a dry history lesson. It's more like a time tunnel that propels you through the city’s colourful past. The city walls were built in the 17th century and they’re still complete making this the only walled city in Ireland, and one of the most perfectly preserved walled cities in the whole of Europe.
From this, head to the famous Guildhall, which is one of Derry~Londonderry’s most recognisable landmarks and, has been at the heart of city life since 1890. It was built in 1887 by The Honourable The Irish Society on land reclaimed from the River Foyle. The building was named in honour of its connection to the City of London and its guilds and is the only surviving guildhall still in civic use in Ireland.
In the evening time you’ll have a world of choice when it comes to dining selections in the city. One of the most popular hot-spots is Browns in Town which a sister restaurant to Browns Restaurant and Browns on the Green. This dining treasure serves up some of the most delectable local food, cocktails and desserts in the city and is exactly what's required after a day of wall walking and exploring. That night you can rest your head in the stunning City Hotel which is nestled right on the banks of the River Foyle. Ideally located in the centre of the city, this 4* stop-over has recently had a host of opulent new suites added. Each is named after a local great, from the Seamus Heaney Suite to Phil Coulter. Don’t miss the view of the Peace Bridge while you’re staying here – it’s simply unmissable!
This summer, take a closer look at what’s on offer in Northern Ireland – it’s so close, so effortless and as you can see has so much to see and do.
Plan your trip at discovernorthernireland.com and check on some great value short break offers at www.discovernorthernireland.com/offers/