During our trip to Dublin in January, my Mom and I wanted to see a bit more of the country outside of the capital city, as well as parts of Northern Ireland. Since we were short on time and didn’t want to deal with renting a car and driving on the left side of the road, we opted for a bus day trip to Northern Ireland from Dublin. We booked our tour online with Get Your Guide and embarked on a 13-hour trip with Wild Rover Tours, the tour operator.
We set out bright and early at 7am in downtown Dublin and hit the road north. We briefly stopped to pick up snacks and lunch for later in the day then made our way to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. There, we had the choice between two options: a visit to the Titanic Experience exhibit and quarter to explore the shipyards where the Titanic was built or a political sightseeing tour by iconic black cab. Since my Mom had heard rave reviews about the state-of-the-art Titanic exhibit and we’d already gotten a brief outline of the IRA’s history in Northern Ireland during our bus tour, we decided to visit the Titanic Experience.
It was quite remarkable to visit the actual site where the Titanic was built and launched. We also learned about the shipyard company Harland and Wolff that built the Titanic, gained insight into the ship-building process, heard the stories of passengers who embarked, read the SOS telegrams sent while the ship was sinking, and learned about the aftermath of the sinking and the future of the survivors on board. The 6-floor museum was incredibly well done and interactive; there was even a ride inside where you can swoop around the shipyard!
After we were joined by the tourists who picked the Black Cab Tour, we set forth along the north Antrim Coast to see the world famous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which links the island to the mainland. The bridge was formerly used by fishermen and is regularly used and maintained today. It was extremely windy when we visited so we had to pluck up some courage to walk across! The view of the bridge from afar was stunning.
Our next stop was at the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Giant’s Causeway, formed more than 60 million years ago by volcanic eruptions. The area is known for its distinctive rock formations that run along nearly 30 kilometres of coastline.
Our last stop on the tour was at the picturesque ruins of medieval Dunluce Castle, located next to Bushmills Village, home of Ireland’s oldest whiskey.
The day was certainly jam-packed and there was a lot of time spent on the road, but it was an efficient way to see some of the key highlights in Northern Ireland and to learn about the history and culture of this beautiful country.
Have you ever been to Northern Ireland? What were some of your favourite sights?