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Five essential things to do in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the UK, recognised for its spectacular coastal scenery, lush rural landscapes, bustling capital city Belfast and friendly people. Here are our suggestions for five essential things your clients must see when they visit Northern Ireland.

Giant's Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is perhaps the most famous landmark in Northern Ireland and a magnet for visitors from all over the world. The distinctive basalt columns reach out into the sea as if to form a causeway, and the surrounding cliffs are dotted with remarkable natural stone structures, which resemble for example a pipe organ, chimney stacks and a giant boot!

17165_Giant_s_Causeway_copyright_Northern_Ireland_Tourist_Board.jpgGiant's Causeway copyright Northern Ireland Tourist Board

The large, modern visitor centre provides the perfect introduction to the site, as well as first class facilities for groups and individuals, including shopping and eating opportunities. This very well-organised attraction includes a shuttle bus from the visitor centre to the causeway for those who prefer to avoid the hillside walk, although the main paths are level and accessible.

Titanic Belfast

The Titanic is perhaps the most famous ship in the world, and its story began in Belfast. Built at the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard, whose twin cranes – Samson and Goliath – dominate the skyline to this day, the supposedly unsinkable vessel was launched from the city before its ill-fated maiden voyage.

15613_Titanic_Belfast.jpgTitanic Belfast copyright Northern Ireland Tourist Board

Titanic Belfast is the world’s largest Titanic visitor attraction and is built on the site of the former shipyard. The state-of-the-art museum offers visitors a fascinating insight into the building of the ship and its subsequent journey, with immersive experiences which bring to life the on-board experience. The adjacent Titanic Hotel transports guests back to the luxury and atmosphere of the ‘golden age of ocean travel’.

Seamus Heaney HomePlace

Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney was one of the 20th century’s greatest poets and writers. In 2016, just three years after his death, a purpose-built arts and literary centre dedicated to his life and work was opened in Bellaghy, a village close to where he was born and grew up, just a 45 minute drive from both Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.

shhp_man__boy_-_smaller_image.jpegSeamus Heaney HomePlace

Visitors can immerse themselves in the extraordinary world of Seamus Heaney and explore, through his words, the people and places that inspired him. Seamus Heaney HomePlace features a fully interactive exhibition filled with stories, images and the voice of the poet himself. It also contains previously unseen artefacts, transcripts and books donated by the Heaney family.

Mount Stewart

Mount Stewart House and Gardens is one of Northern Ireland’s best loved attractions. Situated close to the banks of Strangford Lough, the National Trust property is perhaps most famous for its remarkable gardens, voted one of the top ten in the world, and renowned for the scope of its planting and the originality of its features.

21436_Mount_Stewart.jpgMount Stewart copyright Northern Ireland Tourist Board

Visitors can discover the garden rooms created by Edith, Lady Londonderry in the 1920s and 30s; enjoy views of the lough from the Temple of the Winds and explore the 1000 acre grounds on woodland and lakeside walks.

The splendid neo-classical house dates back to the early 19th century and contains an extensive collection of art and memorabilia relating to the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family, holders of the title of Marquess of Londonderry for over 200 years.

Hillsborough Castle

The official residence of Her Majesty the Queen when in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle has a long and fascinating history. While not a true castle, rather a Georgian country house, Hillsborough has been expanded and renovated over many generations, and visitors can enjoy touring the State Apartments, which are used to this day by the Royal Family, and the expansive gardens.

33433_Hillsborough_Castle_and_Gardens.jpgHillsborough Castle copyright Northern Ireland Tourist Board

Hillsborough is a must-see for history and politics buffs, home as it is to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. It played a central role in the Northern Ireland peace process for over 40 years and many international dignitaries, including American Presidents such as George W Bush, have stayed here.

Today, Hillsborough is also famous for its art collection, which includes paintings by van Dyck, Sir Joshua Reynolds and William Hogarth among others.

If you would like to arrange a visit to Northern Ireland for your clients, perhaps as part of a wider tour of the UK and Ireland, please do contact us today. Northern Ireland is easy to reach by plane or boat from mainland UK and of course is within a few hours’ driving distance of many parts of the Republic of Ireland, including Dublin.

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