Northern Ireland in 24 Amazing Experiences!

I recently travelled to Northern Ireland with the sole purpose of tracking down 24 amazing moments travellers can experience…one for each hour of the day.

My very first trip a few years back had been spent exploring Belfast and venturing up to the Causeway Coast on a day trip, but I had left barely scratching the surface. That’s why I was thrilled to be coming back to Northern Ireland, this time with plenty of time to spare and an itinerary that would take me across the country.

From food tours to Game of Thrones experiences, and coastal walks to haunted castle visits, here’s a little taste of what I experienced in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland in 24 Experiences

Northern Ireland Coastal Walk
Dressing up in Northern Ireland for a Game of Thrones Experience

Scenery in Northern Ireland

Experiencing the drink scene in Northern Ireland

Inside the Merchant Hotel in Belfast

01:00 – Have cocktails at The Merchant Hotel

One of my favourite experiences in Belfast was having a cocktail at The Merchant Hotel. With an elegant and classy atmosphere that isn’t pretentious, and a jaw-dropping selection of cocktails, it’s easy to see why this cocktail bar was voted best in the world by Tales of the Cocktail. It’s a fun spot to either end the evening or kickstart the night depending on your style.

Location: Merchant Hotel – Address: 16 Skipper Street, Belfast

02:00 – Enjoy the nightlife at The Bullitt Hotel

Belfast has legendary nightlife and after hitting up a few pubs I finished the night at Bullitt Hotel where there was a live DJ set. This was another lively spot with great cocktails, so come thirsty!

Location: Bullitt Hotel – 40a Church Lane, Belfast

Learning to make sourdough bread in Northern Ireland

Loaf of sourdough bread

03:00 – Bake some sourdough bread

Now for a rather unusual activity: if you’re an early bird, how about baking some sourdough bread?

I joined Dara at the Ursa Minor Bakehouse, where he is up at 3 am daily to make his famous sourdough bread. His bread picked up awards at the World Bread Awards in 2016, so even if you can’t rise early, swing by for a fresh loaf later in the morning to see what it’s all about.

Location: Ursa Minor Bakery – 45 Ann Street, Ballycastle [10am to 4pm (Tue-Sat)]

Sleeping in the haunted Ballygally Castle

The haunted Ballygally Castle in Northern Ireland

04:00 – Sleep in a Haunted Castle

If you dare muster up the courage, consider visiting the haunted room located at Ballygally Castle, which is home to the ghost of Lady Isobel Shaw.

The story goes that after being locked in her room and starved by her husband, she fell to her death from the window.

Mediums have been invited to spend the night at the castle and they’ve reported that there are more ghosts than actual guests.

Would you spend the night here?

Location: Ballygally Castle – Coast Road, Ballygally

Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

Visiting the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

05:00 – Watch sunrise at Giant’s Causeway

This was my second time visiting Giant’s Causeway, but this time around, I beat the crowds. If you don’t mind setting an alarm while on holiday, it’s worth getting up early and visiting for sunrise.

Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO Heritage Site that features no less than 40,000+ interlocking basalt columns as a result of an ancient volcanic eruption.

Legend has it that Irish giant, Finn MacCool, built the causeway across the North Channel to accept a fight from Scottish giant Benandonner.

When you visit this place for sunrise, it’s easy to imagine these tales to be true.

Location: Giant’s Causeway – 44 Causeway Road, Bushmills

Catch & Sea Tour on the Causeway Coast

Catch & Sea Tour on the Causeway Coast

Catch & Sea Tour on the Causeway Coast

06:00 – Take the Catch & Sea Tour

Did you arrive in Northern Ireland with your sea legs? If so, you can join the Catch & Sea Tour with experienced fishermen for their early morning catch.

Not only do you get to experience the dramatic coastline of the Causeway Coast, but you can even catch your own breakfast.

Once you make it back to land, the catch is cooked up for breakfast along with a lovely assortment of baked bread, cheeses, chutney, butter and freshly brewed coffee. The perfect way to start the morning!

Location: Babushka – S Pier, Portrush

Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

GOT tour at Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

07:00 – Visit the Dark Hedges

Any Game Of Thrones fans out there?

Eat your heart out at the Dark Hedges where you’ll find the famous tree-lined avenue with an opportunity to dress up in costume while wielding a sword on horseback.

Ensure that you bring extra batteries for your camera. The atmospheric tunnel is a major tourist attraction so arrive early to beat the crowds.

Location: Dark Hedges – Bregagh Rd, Stranocum, Ballymoney

Contact: Sheans Horse Farm – Armoy, 38 Coolkeeran Rd, Ballymoney

Gobbins Cliff Path Experience (Causeway Coastal Route)

Gobbins Cliff Path Experience (Causeway Coastal Route)

Gobbins Cliff Path Experience (Causeway Coastal Route)

08:00 – Walk the Gobbins Cliff Path

To experience the best of rugged Northern Ireland, you can walk the Gobbins Cliff Path.

This is a complete sensory experience where you can hear the churning of the sea, feel the cool breeze blowing on your face, and admire the native seabirds that call this place home. There are some incredible views to be had here.

Bring a windbreaker because it can really pick up here!

Location: The Gobbins – 77-83 Gobbins Road, Larne

Views from Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge (Causeway Coastal Route)

Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge (Causeway Coastal Route)

Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge (Causeway Coastal Route)

09:00 – Cross Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

Bring your hiking shoes and a pinch of courage to cross Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, which links the mainland to the small island of Carraig a’ Ráid (Rock of the Casting).

Be warned that this is not for the faint-hearted as there have been instances where visitors have had to be taken off the island by boat because of intense fear of walking back across the bridge.

The suspension bridge, made of Douglas fir and wire, offers some of the best vantage points for landscape photos.

My one tip: keep your eyes fixed straight ahead.

Location: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge – 119a Whitepark Rd, Ballycastle
Titanic Museum in Belfast

Titanic Museum in Belfast

10:00 – Titanic Belfast (Belfast)

If for some reason you only have time for one major attraction in Belfast, without any hesitation visit Titanic Belfast.

Voted the World’s Best Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards in 2016, the iconic building shaped like the bow of a ship, offers mesmerizing interactive experiences where you learn about the lives of the workers who built the Titanic along with the passengers and crew who made the fateful voyage.

Location: Titanic Belfast – 1 Olympic Way, Queens Road, Belfast (10 am to 5 pm daily)

St George's Market (Belfast)

Food at St George's Market (Belfast)

11:00 – Have an Ulster Fry at St George’s Market

Whether you’re looking for a great local food experience or a tasty souvenir to take back home to friends, St George’s Market in Belfast is your best bet.

Come in the morning and have an Ulster Fry for brunch featuring soda bread, potato bread, back bacon, fried eggs, fried mushrooms, sausages, baked beans, hash browns and toast.

You’ll most likely want to skip lunch! 😉

Location: St George’s Market – 12-20 East Bridge St, Belfast (Fri to Sun various hours)

Belfast Food Tour

Belfast Food Tour

Belfast Food Tour

12:00 – Take the Belfast Food Tour

With a burgeoning food scene that is impossible to conquer in mere days, the Belfast Food Tour is a great way to sample some of the best bites and drinks the city has to offer.

Their 4-hour guided walk takes you to some top food and drink spots around Belfast City Centre, plus they also offer gin and whisky tours if boozy tours are more your thing!

Location: Taste and Tour NI – A1.01 Portview Trade Centre, 310 Newtownards Road, Belfast

Fish at Harry's Shack (Causeway Coastal Route)

Fish at Harry's Shack (Causeway Coastal Route)

Fish at Harry's Shack (Causeway Coastal Route)

13:00 – Have the fish at Harry’s Shack

Located on the beach, Harry’s Shack is THE spot for local seafood and fish. I had a hankering for fish and chips and it was the best I’ve had in Northern Ireland. Come for the food but consider the views, atmosphere and friendly service the cherry on top.

Location: Harry’s Shack – 116 Strand Rd, Portstewart (Lunch & dinner hours vary Tues-Sun) 

Winterfell GOT Experience

14:00 – Winterfell GOT Experience

The Dark Hedges wasn’t the only GOT destination I visited. Game Of Thrones fans will be glad to know that you can visit Castle Ward to experience Winterfell by dressing up in costume and putting those archery skills to the test.

Location: Winterfell Castle & Demesne, Old Castle Ward, Park Road, Downpatrick

Belfast Street Art Tour

Belfast Street Art Tour

15:00 – Belfast Street Art Tour

I’ve visited many cities around the world with fascinating street art but nothing quite compares to Belfast. Join a tour with a local artist to discover the significance and meaning of various works of art as you stroll around Cathedral Quarter.

Location: Visit Belfast – 9 Donegall Square N, Belfast

Belfast Gin Gaunt

Belfast Gin Gaunt

16:00 – Belfast Gin Gaunt

I’ve become a big fan of gin in recent years and if you want to tickle your tastebuds, I’d suggest taking the Belfast Gin Gaunt to work your way around some of the best bars and pubs in the city.

In total, you visit 5 spots sampling 7 different gins including 3 that are locally made.

Location: Taste and Tour NI – A1.01 Portview Trade Centre, 310 Newtownards Road, Belfast (Mon-Fri 9 am to 5 pm)

17:00 – Boom Board Tour (Derry)

Ever heard of boom boarding before? I hadn’t until visiting Derry.

Long-boarding originated in Hawaii when surfers wanted to take to the streets on wheels; today it’s also a fun way to tour Derry.

The 2-hour tour starts with a lesson in St Columb’s Park and then takes you to the streets and winds up at the famous Walled City Brewery where you can sample local brews coming out of the microdistillery.

Location: Far and Wild – St Columb’s Park House, 4 Limavady Rd, Londonderry

 Walled City Brewery

 Walled City Brewery

Walled City Brewery

18:00 – Enjoy a craft beer tasting

If you’ve done even a quarter of what I’ve suggested in this article you’ll have worked up a ridiculous appetite at some point. To satisfy your hunger I suggest heading over to the Walled City Brewery in Derry for burgers and craft beers.

I came hungry and left feeling more than satisfied.

Just look at that burger!

Location: Walled City Brewery – Ebrington Square & Parade Ground, 70 Ebrington Street, Derry-Londonderry BT47 6FA, UK (+44 28 7134 3336)

Lough Navar Viewpoint (Co Fermanagh)

Lough Navar Viewpoint (Co Fermanagh)

19:00 – Visit Lough Navar Viewpoint

For a walk in the woods check out Lough Navar Forest where you’ll find numerous points of interest including views over Lower Lough Erne, Sperrin Mounts and the west coast of Donegal.

Location: Lough Navar Forest – Glennasheevar Rd, Derrygonnelly, Enniskillen

Outdoor Spa Experience (Co Fermanagh)

Outdoor Spa Experience (Co Fermanagh)

20:00 – Relax with an Outdoor Spa Experience

After that action-packed schedule, I was feeling ready to unwind and Finn Lough Resort proved to be the perfect spot. You can’t go wrong with a natural outdoor spa in a scenic backdrop.

Location: Finn Lough Resort – Letter Road, Leggs, Enniskillen BT93 2BB, UK (+44 28 6838 0360)

Sunset over Lough Erne (Fermanagh)

WIne and cheese at sunset over Lough Erne (Fermanagh)

21:00 – Watch sunset over Lough Erne

After my spa experience, I went over to Lough Erne where I enjoyed nightfall over the lake, warmed up my toes over the fire pit, and munched on cheese while sipping on wine. It was a magic moment to wind down the day.

Location: Finn Lough Resort – Letter Road, Leggs, Enniskillen BT93 2BB, UK (+44 28 6838 0360)

22:00 – Go to Cathedral Quarter for nightlife

The cobbled streets of Cathedral Quarter in Belfast are your best for nightlife when the plethora of bars and pubs become packed on a weekend night. Here you can party the night away while enjoying live music on the streets and raising a pint with friendly locals.

Location: Royal Avenue and the Dunbar Link 

Love Fish (Belfast)

23:00 – Have a late night dinner at Love Fish

For a seafood feast of feasts, head over to Deanes Love Fish which serves a seafood platter for the ages. My plate was loaded with tasty bites from the sea and I couldn’t help but indulge in a little bit of everything.

Location: Deanes Love Fish – 30-36 Howard StreetBelfast

24:00 – Moonlight Kayaking (Derry)

Last but not least, to wrap up this Northern Ireland itinerary, consider a moonlight kayaking experience. Not only is it a good workout but you’ll also have an opportunity to spot wildlife you wouldn’t otherwise see during the day. Some of the highlights include Peace Bridge in Derry, Magilligan Fort and the Roe River under the Binevenagh Mountain.

Location: Far and Wild – St Columb’s Park House, 4 Limavady Rd, Londonderry

Have you been to Northern Ireland?
What are some of your favourite experiences there?

The trip was brought to you as part of the #lovegreatbritain campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Visit Britain and Discover Northern Ireland.

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  1. Yes.
    I’m British so Belfast isn’t that far however, there’s a slight snag since I actually live in Berlin!

    The last time I went to Belfast was about 13 years ago though. Eek!
    I was just looking for somewhere to go over the summer, when easyJet popped up with a flight from Berlin to Belfast for €8.00!

    Er. Yes please!
    After that, I just decided that we might as well visit the rest of Ireland, especially since my stepmum is half English / half Irish and her dad came from the “Old Country” so to speak, so off we went!

    I’m a Game of Thrones freak but GOT wasn’t a thing then, more the Titanic, which I love anyway!

    ‘Nice one mate!

  2. says: Ioana Stoica

    Wow the dark hedges look amazing!! I can’t wait to go one day. Also, I didn’t even realize it was possible to sleep in a haunted castle! Though, I imagine you can’t do much sleeping….

  3. says: Glenn

    Big Game of Thrones fan here. I would love to geek out at some of these spots. That coastal scenery is also breathtaking! Thanks for this cool guide.

  4. says: Tash M

    Cheers for this Article! It looks as though there is a lot of exciting activities in Northern Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway would be out of this world at sunrise!

  5. says: Lucian

    It looks like it was a real adventure! I always wanted to come here, but I did not know what kind of activities to do. Thanks for tips!

  6. says: Jade

    I am soo jealous! Northern Ireland has been on my Travel List for awhile but I am still on my Asian countries list, I can’t wait to go there!

  7. says: Ryan

    Wicked guide, I really want to hit the dark hedges and Ballygally…been meaning to get over to Ireland for ages now but I never do, even though I go to the UK every year and it’s so close. This year I really need to make it a point, and definitely going to try to hit some of these on the guide. Plus…fellow GoT nerd…so I really need to!

  8. says: Mike

    What a spectacular adventure, Sam! This was so much fun to read! Sorry I’ve been out of touch for such a long time my friend! Hockey season is coming up! 🙂

  9. says: David

    Wow! seems like you enjoyed a lot. In next summer I am planning to go to Amsterdam and Barcelona, but after reading this I am planning to go Ireland too. Thanks Samuel.