Founded in 1921, Northern Ireland is separate from Ireland itself and is part of the United Kingdom.
It has a population of 1.8 million. Northern Ireland is known for its beautiful forests, mountains, coasts, cliffs, and friendly locals.
In recent years, the stunning scenery has been featured in the popular HBO show Game of Thrones.
Northern Ireland is a perfect getaway for fans of the outdoors.
This Northern Ireland travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Fast Facts about Northern Ireland
- Northern Ireland’s Power voltage is 230V at 50 Hz.
- Northern Ireland’s currency is the pound sterling and 1 pound sterling is equal to 1.25 USD.
- Renting a car is considered the best way to get around Northern Ireland, especially for those who want to visit more remote locations. All that is required is a valid US passport, be at least 21 years of age, and have had a driver’s license for at least one year prior to your trip.
- You do not need a visa to visit.
- The most popular cellular networks in North Ireland are EE, 02, and Three. Sim cards can be purchased through these networks.
- Value-added tax (VAT) comes at 23%. Tax reductions for common goods, like food, hotels, and public transportation, bring the rate down to 9%. To learn more, click here: VAT_NorthernIreland
Things to See and Do in Northern Ireland
- Speed Boat tour of Castle Ward: ride out to the tidal pools to see Europe’s highest tides. They harnessing the tidal water for hydroelectric power and you ride out to the foamy pools to ride the waves. What a thrill!
- Titanic Belfast: The world’s largest Titanic exhibit. See real-life artifacts from the Titanic, learn about the history of the ship, walk through recreated decks and cabins, get something from the souvenir shop, take a guided boat tour of the Belfast port, or choose from multiple interactive galleries. Afterward, stay for some tea and treats at the café.
- Game of Thrones Territory: Fans of the popular Game of Thrones TV show will love this trip through the show’s famous filming locations. See the real-world Westeros and explore the beautiful forests, beaches, and caves that helped make the show what it is. Choose your favorite spots from the show or take the full three-day trip.
- Check out Giant’s Causeway – whether you believe the scientific explanation or the legend of Fin McCool and the Giants Causeway, the sight of 40,000 or so pillars should not be missed.
- Visit the most photographed location in Northern Ireland – Lined with the twisted branches of beech trees which form an arch over the road, the Dark Hedges make a spectacular background for some epic photography sessions.
Northern Ireland Travel Guides
Budget: Northern Ireland offers many hostels in the range of 20 to 40 pounds per night, depending on where you go which may include shared bathrooms.
Mid-Range: For mid-range hotels, expect to pay around 80-120 pounds each night. Northern Ireland has a variety of bed and breakfasts to choose from.
High-End: Upscale B&Bs and hotels will cost around 150 to 200 pounds per night.
Check out our favorite booking platforms Booking.com, Tripadvisor and VRBO for the best deals on accommodation.
Food: There are a variety of bars and restaurants in Northern Ireland. Ulster Fry (fried soda bread with eggs, sausage, bacon, and potatoes) is the most popular dish here. Expect to pay 5 pounds for breakfast and 10-20 pounds for lunch and dinner. Adding in any trips to cafes or bars, and 35 to 40 pounds per day is a good estimate for food.
The Best Ways to Get Around Northern Ireland
Getting to Northern Ireland:
Getting to Northern Ireland: Belfast International Airport is just 18 miles from the city center and offers direct flights to and from North America. For those traveling to and from European countries, the Belfast City Airport is a great option and is just 3 miles from the city center.
Flights: You can check for the best flights to Northern Ireland on Skyscanner.
Bus: Buses are a cheap way to get around Northern Ireland. Tickets cost 2.4 pounds one way. For those who want to do more traveling, consider getting an all-day pass for 9 pounds (4.5 for children) or take the Rambler Bus Service to get closer to scenic routes.
Train: Translink is the main transportation system in Northern Ireland and has many places you can go. For example, travel from Belfast to Londonderry in 2 hours for just 13 pounds.
Renting a car: To rent a car in North Ireland, you must be 21 years old. Prices for car rentals start at 75 pounds per day. You can also compare prices here
When to go To Northern Ireland
June through September is the best time to visit Northern Ireland.
Although, we visited once in April and it was lovely weather.
The temperature is warmest during these months (an average of 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit), which makes it great for exploring the outdoors.
June is a good month to go if you want to avoid some of the crowds before the tourism peak occurs in July and August.
Where to Stay in Northern Ireland
Malmaison Belfast: This elegant four-star hotel is just minutes away from the motorway, Victoria Square Shopping Centre, and famous St. Anne’s Cathedral. Malmaison includes 24-hour room service, a gym, free Wi-Fi, and same-day laundry service.
City Hotel Derry: Just a mile from the Londonderry train station and minutes from the shopping center, this four-star hotel specializes in a “home away from home” feel. The hotel’s restaurant and bar, health club, free Wi-Fi, iPod docking stations, and indoor pool are included.
Dunadry Hotel: Located just 4.5 miles from the Antrim train station, this former mill house-turned four-star hotel and spa is perfect for those exploring Antrim. The hotel has stylish rooms, views of the riverside, and its own elegant restaurant, bar, heated indoor pool, gardens, and courtyard, as well as various other amenities.
What to Pack for Northern Ireland
- Layers: As Northern Ireland’s weather can be hard to predict, layers will help keep you comfortable wherever you go.
- Waterproof clothes/shoes: With so many hiking destinations, these are a must to keep your feet and clothes dry.
- Travel Backpack: With so many things to see in Northern Ireland, a travel backpack will store all your belongings comfortably without straining your back.
See our packing tips: packing tips
Northern Ireland Travel Guide: Best Booking Resources
Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies. We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
- Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It usually has the cheapest prices, especially in Europe and we love their interface. Not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
- Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation. TripAdvisor is where we go when we want to compare prices with multiple accommodation providers.
- VRBO: is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It can sometimes be cheaper than hotels and it is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
- Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
- Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
- Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs.I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
- Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
- World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to Italy you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.