Travel Blog

The Case for Northern Ireland

Posted by Tom Casey Tom Casey on 10/25/16 5:07 PM



For such a small coun­try, North­ern Ire­land has a lot to offer.

Yet most Amer­i­cans that travel to the island of Ire­land never step foot in the north. Peo­ple that travel to the South of Ire­land gen­er­ally go there for the scenery, the peo­ple, the his­tory, the accom­mo­da­tion, the food and most of all, the craic. If that match’s your list of pri­or­i­ties, you really need to get to North­ern Ire­land.


Belfast is a smaller city than Dublin but it offers just as much fun. In the past 20 or so years the city has truly changed it’s char­ac­ter from a stodgy ship­build­ing colos­sus, to a vibrant, buzzing city that is fast becom­ing the place that Euro­peans head to for a week­end of great food and drink. Restau­rants focused on local ingre­di­ents are pop­ping up everywhere.

Of course there’s so much more to North­ern Ire­land than Belfast. Along the south coast you have the Irish Sea, the Mourne Moun­tains, some beau­ti­ful beaches and fun towns. The Coastal Cause­way (shown above) is one of the world’s great­est dri­ving routes. On a clear day you can see Scot­land but why bother look­ing when you have vis­tas like that above. The Antrim Coast offers sev­eral ‘can’t miss’ attractions.

Make the north a pri­or­ity when plan­ning your trip to Ire­land or bet­ter still, make it your des­ti­na­tion. Much to do and see!

Hotels in North­ern Ire­land

North­ern Ire­land is a small coun­try. From Belfast, you can’t drive more than an hour and a half with­out hit­ting the bor­der of the Repub­lic of Ire­land. So if you don’t want to change hotels each night, book a few nights at Cul­lo­den Estate, The Mer­chant, The Europa or Tara Lodge. From Belfast you can take a few day trips and see most every­thing that you want to see.
The other option would be to book a night at the Sleive Donard in New­cas­tle. Hike the Mourne Moun­tains or play a round of golf at neigh­bor­ing Royal County Down or up the coast at Ardglass.
From New­cas­tle you can drive an hour to Belfast and explore the city. When you’ve had enough of city life, head 45 min­utes north and west for a relax­ing night at Bal­ly­gally Cas­tle and enjoy a front row view of the Irish Sea. Head to the Gob­bins the next morn­ing and then drive up the Coastal Cause­way. Bush­mills Inn is a cen­tral place from which to visit the Carick-A-Rede Bridge, The Bush­mills Dis­tillery, Dun­luce Cas­tle and of course, The Giants Causeway. 
You are prob­a­bly not head­ing to North­ern Ire­land just for the hotels, but while you’re there, you might as well be comfortable!

Irish Whiskey on the rise

Scotch Whisky grabs all the head­lines when peo­ple talk about dis­tilled spir­its in the British Isles. Irishwhiskey how­ever is mak­ing a come­back as of late. And unlike it’s Scot­tish cousin’s most of the new distillery’s in Ire­land are inde­pen­dent brands that are not owned by large corporations.
Housed in a for­mer prison where both Repub­li­cans and Loy­al­ists were once held, Belfast Dis­tillery Com­pany has begun mak­ing McConnell’s IrishWhiskey, which is a pre­mium blend. In the years to come, BDC plans to roll out a vari­ety of sin­gle malts under the McConnell’s brand.
The project marks the return of Irish Whiskey to Belfast and will be the first work­ing dis­tillery in over 85 years. When fully oper­a­tional the 3,000 liter pot stills will have an annual capac­ity of 400,000 liters.

Bring the Sunblock

You prob­a­bly aren’t going to plan a beach vaca­tion to North­ern Ire­land, but while you’re vis­it­ing, you might think about plan­ning a day or two to relax on some ofNorth­ern Ire­land’s many Blue Flag beaches. Some are active with surfers. slack­lin­ers and kids play­ing in the surf. Oth­ers are secluded and offer a great spot to read a book or just con­tem­plate some beau­ti­ful views. Beaches might not be the main goal of the trip, but a lit­tle beach time any­where can be time very well spent. 

Trav­el­ing in the North

Many Amer­i­cans that I’ve spo­ken to about North­ern Ire­land have expressed at least a lit­tle con­cern about their safety in Belfast. I live out­side of Bal­ti­more and near Wash­ing­ton DC. There are parts of these cities that I would avoid at all costs and con­ver­sa­tions that I wouldn’t have. I travel to both often and with­out con­cern. Accord­ing to sta­tis­tics that I found on line, the mur­der rate per 100,000 res­i­dents in Wash­ing­ton DC is 15.9, In Bal­ti­more 33.8 and for the US as a whole, the rate is 4.3 mur­ders per 100,000 res­i­dents. InNorth­ern Ire­land, the mur­der rate is .9 deaths per 100,000 residents.

If you are trav­el­ing in Belfast, sta­tis­ti­cally you are sig­nif­i­cantly safer than when trav­el­ing in the United States. Avoid some work­ing class neigh­bor­hoods and cer­tain con­ver­sa­tions and you will have noth­ing at all to worry about. So min­i­mal risk and tons to see and do! What are you wait­ing for? Give us a call or contact us today.

Topics: Insider

Tom Casey

Written by Tom Casey

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