Northern Ireland is a place of wonder, and Tourism Northern Ireland wants everyone to get out and about this summer to discover it for themselves. We take a look at some of the ‘must do’ experiences they have suggested, and help those of you already planning your staycations to come up with your own list of delights to look forward to
There’s so much to do in Northern Ireland this summer, be it taking a virtual step back in time with a visit to the Giant’s Causeway along the stunning Causeway Coastal Route, or climbing aboard a virtual Titanic at the world’s largest Titanic experience.
Tourism Northern Ireland have compiled a guide to just some of the must-try experiences in Northern Ireland for summer 2015 - so grab a cuppa and start planning, and if you’re still hungry for more ideas, log onto www.discovernorthernireland.com.
The Gobbins, Co Antrim
Walking the cliff paths at The Gobbins is an exhilarating adventure that will excite all the senses. While The Gobbins will be a spectacular new adventure on the Causeway Coastal Route, it is also a re-awakened coastal experience which was first enjoyed in 1902 by the Edwardians. The modern cliff path at The Gobbins will be an unexpected white-knuckle walk which will thrill those with a sense of adventure and delight those who wish to experience the coast up close. The Gobbins is due to open this summer – check online for latest information.
Have a cold pint at the buzzing Cathedral Quarter, Belfast
The Cathedral Quarter is a warren of narrow cobbled alleyways that lay in the shadow of St Anne’s Cathedral. There you will find one of its best-loved bars, the Duke of York, and one of its newest, The Harp Bar, both of which offer a traditional Belfast welcome of craic, music and humour. Both bars host regular traditional sessions and there is no better place to sample the real taste of the city.
Go stargazing at Armagh Planetarium, Co Armagh
You will travel to the International Space Station, outwards to Mars in the 3D stereo room and the new immersive gallery can project stereoscopic animations of Solar System exploration all at the Armagh Planetarium. Visitors can use interactive displays to learn about the cosmos and watch the latest space news in real time.
Climb the highest peaks and take in breathtaking views from the Mourne Mountains, Co Down
The Mourne Mountains stand true to the words of songwriter Percy French as the place ‘where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’. They are not only one of Ireland’s most scenic areas and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), they are quite simply an adventurer’s paradise.
Try a shot of the famous Bushmills Whiskey straight from the Old Distillery, Co Antrim
Bushmills Irish Whiskey is made at Ireland’s oldest working distillery in Co Antrim. The Bushmills Brand Experience encompasses guided tours around a working distillery with all the associated sights and smells, tutored whiskey tastings, a specialist whiskey shop and a well stocked gift shop with exclusive Bushmills merchandise.
Step down into the underground tunnels of Crumlin Road Gaol, Co Antrim
Take a guided tour of Crumlin Road Gaol and hear about the history of the site and learn about why the decision was taken to close the prison. Visit the underground tunnel that used to connect the gaol to the Crumlin Road Courthouse and get a chance to sit in the governor’s chair. There are also paranormal tours in this rumoured haunted building.
Walk through history at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Co Down
Step back in time and uncover a way of life from 100 years ago as you chat to costumed visitor guides at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Climb on and off majestic steam locomotives or experience the sensation of flight in the Transport Museum bursting with horse drawn carriages, electric trams, boats, motorbikes, fire-engines and vintage cars.
Titanic Quarter, Belfast
Visit the Titanic quarter and you can stand in the dock where Titanic was built. Pop into the Pump-House that was once the beating heart of Harland & Wolff’s operation during the construction of the great RMS Titanic. The Thompson Dock itself is the footprint of Titanic and provides an amazing representation of the scale of the ship. Today the Pump-House comprises of a Visitor Centre and Café with daily guided tours in operation – the only publicly accessible intact piece of the Titanic’s great legacy which is open in the city of her birthplace, Belfast.
Titanic Belfast is the world’s largest Titanic visitor attraction housed in an iconic building which is six floors high, featuring nine galleries telling the story of RMS Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and tragic end.
Find out how some of the world’s most prestigious china is made at Belleek Pottery, Co Fermanagh
When you step into the world of Belleek Pottery, you enter one of Northern Ireland’s oldest and most fascinating attractions. With over 200,000 visitors every year, it is home to the oldest and most prestigious china ever made.
Recreate Game of Thrones scenes on a film locations tour
Game of Thrones fans and those interested in finding out more about series’ filming locations are spoilt for choice. There are several tours and experiences operating which will guide you through some of the stunning locations - you can even dress like the characters and have an archery experience!
Take a Belfast black taxi tour with a local
Take an authentic black taxi tour around Belfast Quarters with a local guide, featuring local stories and wit. Start your tour in the city centre, then move through the shipyards and see where HMS Titanic was built and launched from. See the political districts, before seeing the elegant University Quarter and Museum district.
Giants Causeway, Co Antrim
The Giant’s Causeway is the only World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. Resulting from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, this is the focal point of a designated Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty and has attracted visitors for centuries. It harbours a wealth of local and natural history.
Marble Arch Caves, Co Fermanagh
The Marble Arch Caves complex is one of Europe’s finest show caves, allowing visitors to explore a fascinating, natural underworld of rivers, waterfalls, winding passages and lofty chambers.
Tours of the caves last approximately 75 minutes and are suitable for people of average fitness.
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Co Antrim
Situated along the Causeway Coastal Route, Carrick-a-Rede is reachable via a short coastal footpath. On the way, there are wonderful vantage points to stop and take in the natural beauty. Today visitors are drawn here simply to take the rope bridge challenge! The reward is seeing the diverse birdlife and an uninterrupted view across to Rathlin Island and Scotland.
The Walled City of Derry, Co Londonderry
A walk around the 400-year-old walls in Londonderry reveals a splendid city crammed full of history, heritage, interest and a vibrant cultural scene. This is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe.
Mount Stewart House, Co Down
Mount Stewart’s glorious, unique and unusual gardens were given to the National Trust in 1955. The garden reflects a rich tapestry of design and great planting artistry that was once the hallmark of Lady Londonderry. And excitingly, Mount Stewart House has just undergone an £8m refurbishment which has fully restored it to how it looked in its glory days.
lFor details of all of these great activities visit www.discovernorthernireland.com.