I had the chance to go to Northern Ireland on what can only be described as an extraordinary trip this summer. I can’t help but want to share my experiences with you, so let me whisk you away from your everyday lives for a short while. This adventure through Northern Ireland takes us to beautiful Belfast, across wide plains on horseback and to an abandoned mansion. We will go blokarting on vast beaches, visit The Giant’s Causeway and see the world from above aboard a helicopter. We will go hovercraft racing, boom boarding and moonlight kayaking.Belfast
My trip started in beautiful Belfast where there is so much to see. I you like I are up for a quick drink and spectacular views on arrival, then head up to the observatory bar
where you will be met by unparalleled views of the city.
Afterwards, you should set out to experience the rise and fall of the Titanic and enjoy a stop at the Titanic hotel
. The Titanic museum
is definitely Belfast’s must see. The giant shipyard has been transformed into a museum that tells the tale of the workers building the ship, the final fates of the passengers and the discovery of the Titanic wreck.
Nearby, you can also explore the studio where some of the hit TV series Game of Thrones has been filmed.The Glens of Antrim
The Glens is an area of outstanding natural beauty and the rugged windswept turf hills offer incredible vistas. If you area nature or landscape lover, it is a must see. I forsook the long hike and instead went for a horseback ride
up the hills. When you ride here, you feel as if you are going back in time. As you leisurely make your way along the winding paths, fording streams atop a trusty steed, you get to savour the incredible views of the Glens in a very refreshing manner. When you get to the top you can have a picnic in the tiny pavilion where you might once again enjoy the views – or you could fulfil your fantasy of dressing up in a Game of Thrones style costume.
The Causeway Coast
The coast of Northern Ireland is breath-taking,and it offers a magnificent drive alongside castles, ruins and beaches hidden by the steep cliffs. There are three ways in which you should experience this amazing coastline. Drive along the entire coast on roads meandering along the sea where you can see into infinity – or on a clear day, Scotland. Stop off at any place your heart desires and just enjoy the view.See the cliffs from the sea
You have seen the view off the cliffs, but now it is time to head down and out on a boat to see what it all looks like from the ocean. Ragged cliffs intermixed with deep dark caves in the light rock form what seems like an impenetrable barrier stopping the seas onslaught. Atop some of these cliffs you find castles and ruins standing and occasionally hanging precariously over the edge. One such place is Dunluce Castle
where, on a stormy night, the entire kitchen, incl. staff plummeted into the sea. As you sail out you can marvel at islands solely inhabited by birds, seals and bunnies while you listen folklore about giants and mermaids. Once you are out and ready you do the most important thing on you seafaring adventure, you cast the line as it is time to fish! If you do like me you go on an early, early morning adventure where you catch your own breakfast (I recommend having a snack or cracker before going out though!) with Taste the Coast
before having a cook prepare your fish breakfast back in Portrush. And when you are done you still have an entire day of fun ahead!From the sky
You have seen the view from the cliffs and water, but there is still one way left! Hop on a helicopter and tour the coast with Cutting Edge Helicopters
. In an hour you can do most of the coast back and forth and I have to say that it is unparalleled views you get when you soar high in the sky. I went on a game of thrones tour that took us past all the filming locations and of course the regular sights!On the ground
Once back on the ground you will have many exciting places to stop, but two are absolute must-sees.The Giant’s Causeway
, a UNESCO world heritage site and location for one of the more extraordinary tales of giant Finn McCool. It is hard to believe that the stones lining the water’s edge like distorted pavements are natural – they more than anything resemble a three-dimensional bar chart popping in and out with the ebb and flow of the ocean. It is definitely worth a visit and if you have time you can also see the causeway from the path atop the cliffs overlooking the site.Mussenden Temple and Downhill House
were abandoned years ago and are now managed by The National Trust. As you walk through what was once a grand home in Northern Ireland the mansion lies in ruins with only the walls still standing. The floor has been replaced by green grass and the ceiling with a beautiful open sky, and everything framed within the mansion’s walls. As you head down towards the ocean you see Mussenden Temple – the old library, which still stands intact atop the 36 metre steep cliffs. The views from the temple down to Benone beach are amongst the best I have seen on the island off Ireland and I urge you to experience them for yourself.Adventures to get your blood pumping
Like me you’ve done the coastal tour and now you want to get your blood pumping – you want to try something exhilarating and simply have fun! Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered! Head straight down from Mussenden Temple to Benone Beach. Normally wind and weather can ruin a day at the beach, but not today. Today you should go blokarting
. Now, if you were like me and you had no idea what it is then think of it as a mix of a go-cart and windsurfing – it’s a cart with a sail and my god is it fun! Your only source of propulsion is the wind and you can feel it – it might be scary at first, but when you get started you can’t help but enjoy yourself as you race along the beach and catch the wind. Turning around can be tricky, but you soon get the hang of it, and if not,then the beach is 7 miles long, so you have plenty of opportunity to practise!
Head off the beach and back inland on your way to Derry~Londonderry, but before you get to the city you have to do a stop at Foylehov
, a hovercraft and adventure centre where you can do timed laps in areal-life hovercraft. It is super fun sliding across the grass, water and mud on one of these things as you race to beat your mates’ times (or me, my best lap was 2:20 minutes). Steering isn’t just with the handlebars, it is a full body thrust to the side and never ever letting go of the throttle! Which, by the way, also keeps you afloat!
Once in Derry~Londonderry
you will discover that there is so much to see! Explore the Museum of Free Derry
, visit the Walled City
and Guild House and of course The Peace Bridge which spans the River Foyle. Once you have done all that it is time to get a bit of an alternative experience of the city – head up and out to Far and Wild Adventure
where you will learn to boom board. Its skateboarding, but on a much longer skateboard which makes it much easier to handle. Here you get to grips with boom boarding before you head out on a tour of the park, cross the peace bridge and tour the city on your boom board!
Evening falls in Derry~Londonderry and the moon has started to come out, so it is time to head down to the River Foyle, because you are going Moonlight Kayaking
. Paddle up the Foyle with the tide, under The Peace Bridge and past the city until the tide turns and then slowly ride it back into town. It is an amazing and peaceful experience that helps give a different perspective to a normal city break and nicely rounds up an adventure in Northern Ireland.
To be honest this trip has been by far my best experience on the island so far and I can heartily recommend any of these activities as standalone activities – everything was amazing in each their own way and look forward to returning to Northern Ireland someday soon.
All the best