Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in March 2018 and has been updated as of spring 2021 for relevancy.
Happy March! I can’t help but reminisce on my time in Ireland, both in 2012 and 2017. In 2012, my family and I visited Dublin and Waterford on a cruise. Waterford is known for its world-renowned crystal and Dublin is a charming capital city filled with culture and history. In 2017, I spent a weekend in Northern Ireland with my friend’s family. We stayed in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, and spent some time in Dublin as well.
Northern Ireland is an independent state under the rule of the English crown, separate from the Republic of Ireland. During the 1980s, there were guerrilla wars called the Troubles between the two nations, making Belfast an extremely dangerous place to live. Today, Belfast is the happiest place in the United Kingdom and has a lot to offer. Continue reading my Ireland travel guide to learn more about Northern Ireland and Dublin, the last trip I took during my semester abroad in Florence, Italy.
Ireland Travel Guide: Day One
What to see & do in Belfast, N. Ireland
While in Belfast, we went to the Christmas markets in front of City Hall and ventured around Victoria Square. We also visited the Titanic museum and the shipyard where it was built. Despite the tragedy that occurred while crossing the Atlantic years ago, the Irish are quite proud of their ship: “It was built by an Irishman and sunk by an Englishman”.
We also visited a few pubs in Belfast. My favorite was “Filthy McNasty’s”, where I met many locals and listened to live music. The Irish are so friendly and some of the most kind-hearted and hospitable people I’ve ever met. When I was here, we ran into a few actors from Game of Thrones who were filming near Belfast who ended up buying us drinks!
Ireland Travel Guide: Day Two
Dunluce Castle, Giant’s Causeway, & Dark Hedges
While in Northern Ireland, we did an excursion to the northern coast on a Paddywagon tour. Our tour brought us to the Antrim Coast, where we saw Dunluce Castle, Giant’s Causeway, and the Dark Hedges. We were suppose to see the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge as well, but it was too windy. We opted to do this tour via coach bus, but renting a car in Ireland is an easy option too!
Giant’s Causeway is on the Causeway coast, a stretch of sea cliffs and rolling green hills. On a clear day, Scotland is visible across the water! Giant’s Causeway is alleged to be the remains of a bridge that once connected Northern Ireland to Scotland, until it was destroyed in a battle between two giants. The remains are perfectly shaped hexagonal columns that scientists believe were created from volcanic activity, however, they have yet to find any evidence of a volcano… interesting.
For lunch, we ate a local restaurant called the Nook which was once a schoolhouse. It was so cozy and the food was delicious!
Next, we stopped at the Dark Hedges. The Dark Hedges is the setting for King’s Road in Game of Thrones and is a popular tourist attraction. We visited at dusk, so it was super eerie.
Ireland Travel Guide: Day Three
On our last day, we took a bus to Dublin to sightsee. The first thing we did was visit the Guinness Storehouse. The experience brought us through seven floors of interactive exhibits and activities, ending with the Gravity Bar where you are treated to a complimentary pint and a 360-degree view of the city. You can’t miss this place in Dublin – it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe. Buy your tickets online and in advance to visit this attraction!
Before leaving we checked out the gift shop and then made our way to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. From there, we visited the Dublin Castle, which is conveniently located near the Temple Bar district. The Temple Bar is a famous restaurant and bar, but also the name of the neighborhood where most of Dublin’s pubs are located. Here, you can find cobblestone streets, unique boutiques, and live music. This is where we ate lunch- I had traditional bangers and mash which were seriously to die for. After, we walked around Trinity College’s campus, and spontaneously took part in their Open House, before heading to the airport.
One day I want to return to Ireland to visit the west coast where the Cliffs of Moher and Galway are located! I hope this Ireland travel guide inspires you to plan your next trip!
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