We're just getting started

We're just getting started
From the cosmopolitan capital of Belfast to the historic walled city of DerryFermanagh’s tranquil lakes to Antrim’s iconic Giant’s Causeway…  Northern Ireland’s six counties encapsulate a magnificent microcosm of memorable landscapes and legends. 

Just a seamless two hour drive or train trip from Dublin brings you into the heart of Belfast where the gleaming dome of Victoria Square shopping centre gives a tantalising glimpse into the city’s stylish retail scene. The House of Fraser‘s largest department store is here, as are big name outlets such as Cruise, Urban Outfitters and Ted Baker. CastleCourt is another popular city centre shopping mall. And en route you’ll findThe Outlet retail village, Banbridge and Swedish flatpack gurus IKEA.

Birthplace of Titanic and home to a diverse range of dining, nightlife, entertainment and overnight options, Belfast is all about embracing the 21st Century while retaining a proud sense of its 19th Century heyday. Splendid streetscapes of Victorian architecture (Queens’ University,Belfast City HallAlbert ClockBotanic Gardens…) sit harmoniously alongside five star hotels (The MerchantEuropaHilton).

Award-winning restaurants (Deane’sNicks WarehouseMourne Seafood Bar…) and a heady plethora of traditional and contemporary pubs and clubs are designed to indulge nightowls. Live music and theatre venues range from the intimate (Black BoxEmpire Music Hall…) to the extravagant (Grand Opera House, Belfast Waterfront, Odyssey Arena…). And the city’s cultural calendar always features an inspirational selection of events - from October’sBelfast Festival at Queen’s to 2012's Titanic Centenary celebrations and commemorations, including April's unveiling of the landmark Titanic Belfast visitor experience.

Beyond Belfast, Northern Ireland’s four other cities offer a distinct mix of attractions, tours, history and events. Derry’s magnificently preserved 17th Century Walls encircle the city centre, providing unrivalled panoramic views and housing the award-winning Tower Museum. Taxi, walking, bus and boat tours reveal yet more of Derry’s ancient and modern story. And great hotel, restaurant, entertainment and shopping options ensure a memorable weekend or longer in a truly unique setting. All this and the must-seeCauseway Coastal Route, with its landmarkDunluce CastleGiant’s Causeway and Old Bushmills Distillery, is within easy and exceedingly photogenic bus, train or car journey.  

The elegant Georgian city of Armagh is Ireland’s ecclesiastical capital and home to both St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Cathedrals. Both Cathedrals boast significant links with Ireland’s patron saint who is said to be buried at Down Cathedral in the nearby town of Downpatrick.

Situated on the main Dublin to Belfast road and railway line is Newry city – gateway to the historicGap of the North and a great base for exploring the Mountains of Mourne – said to have inspired Belfast-born CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. And, once in the area, don’t miss a trip to the bustling seaside town of Newcastle or strikingly scenic Silent Valley

Like Newry, Lisburn is a relatively young city, having been bestowed the status in 2001. Even before then, however, this Co. Down hub has long lured northbound visitors with its strategically-positioned Sprucefield Shopping Centre just off the M1. In the city centre itself, theIsland Arts Centre and Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum head up the culture and heritage offering, while nearby Down Royal RacecourseHilden Brewery and the quaint towns of Hillsborough and Moira are also worthy of a detour.

Throughout the six counties, grand houses and castles, high octane outdoor activities and indulgent spa retreats are ready to soothe, satisfy and stimulate even the most seasoned traveller. What Northern Ireland lacks in size it more than makes up for in history, scenery and a welcome from locals happy to share this hidden gem with a new generation of sightseers. 

Easy to reach and effortless to explore, head north and see exactly what you’ve been missing. For more details on where to stay and what to see and do, visitwww.discovernortherireland.com or pop into any of the extensive network of signpostedTourist Information Centres.

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