Top 10 Things to Do in Northern Ireland

From the capital city of Belfast in the southeast to Derry in the northwest, Northern Ireland boasts landmarks depicting its Scottish, Irish, and English heritage, a wide assortment of traditional eateries, and plenty of historic Northern Ireland inns to relax in on your stay. During your visit, check out some of these must-see sites:

Visit Titanic Belfast

 Titanic Belfast

Visitors are often surprised to learn that Belfast is the birthplace of the Titanic. The famous ship was built in what is now called the Titanic Quarter, which is right next to the site of a museum dedicated entirely to teaching the public about this watercraft, its demise, and its role in the locale's history: Titanic Belfast . When you arrive, you'll find yourself in a giant atrium that's divided into four wings shaped like ship hulls. Explore nine galleries to discover the real story behind the creation of the ship in the early 20th century and through its short history until that fateful day of its maiden voyage when it hit an iceberg and sunk into the Atlantic Ocean.

Taste an Ulster Fry

 Ulster Fry

The Ulster Fry is the iconic dish of Northern Ireland, and every vacation here should include some indulgence, right? It's similar to the full Irish—an assortment of breakfast meats and side dishes; however, unlike the full Irish, the Ulster Fry only contains foods that can be fried in bacon fat. Most restaurants serve this meal at any time of the day, so you can feel free to order it during breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can walk into most eateries to find this dish on the menu, but one of the most popular spots for the Fry is Brights Restaurant , a Belfast establishment known for its traditional Irish food. It comes with sausage, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, potato bread, Irish soda bread, and black pudding. Or try one of the other authentic dishes, such as liver and mash, Irish stew, or beef and Guinness pie.

Tour the Old Bushmills Distillery

 Bushmills Distillery

Located in Antrim, the Old Bushmills Distilleryis an icon of Northern Ireland. It's known for its famous Irish whiskey, including the award-winning 10-, 16-, and 21-year malts. In fact, this producer is the only one in the country to craft triple-distilled malts and has been perfecting its recipes for more than 400 years since it opened in 1608. Visitors are welcome to come and tour the site with the help of a knowledgeable guide. Learn about the behind-the-scenes processes of whiskey-making as you peek into the mixing room, fermentation hall, distiller, cask room, blending lounge, and bottling plant, and you can even enjoy a sample of the concoction. Daily tours last between 45 minutes and an hour and walk-ins are welcome, though groups may want to book in advance.

Explore the Giant's Causeway

 Giant's Causeway

Perhaps the most famous natural feature in Northern Ireland is Giant's Causeway , a series of dark basalt columns that rise out of the ground. It's also the country's only attraction deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was formed some 60 million by volcanic activity that caused lava to rise up through crevices and create plateaus. Along with providing a magical backdrop for a vacation photo, this site also plays a huge role in local myth. Legend has it that the Causeway was created by Finn McCool, a giant who lifted huge clumps from the ground in anger against an enemy. You can sign up for a guided tour of the site or explore on your own. Either way, keep your eye open for the regional flora and fauna—sea birds such as the cormorant, redshank guillemot, and petrel are often found here, as are quirky plants like the frog orchid and sea spleenwort.

Look Around Castle Coole

Castle Coole

For a peek into Enniskillen's past, visit Castle Coole for a one-hour guided tour of the historic site. It was originally built in the late 18th century for the Earl of Belmore and is a prime example of neoclassical architecture. One of the most popular spots at the castle is the bedroom of King George IV, a gorgeous space decorated with rich red silk and old paintings.

Stroll the Galleries of the Ulster Museum

 Ulster Museum

Another must-see in is the Ulster Museum in Belfast. The institution, which was recently reopened after being refurbished, is a massive building that can take hours to explore. Start at the first floor with a tour of the History Zone and Early Peoples gallery, then make your way up the Nature Zone on the second floor and through to the top floor where you'll find Irish and European art. For a less exhaustive journey, focus on the hotspots, including the Armada Room, which showcases artifacts from a 16th century shipwreck, and the Egyptian Room, a display that contains the famed Princess Takabuti mummy.

Walk Across Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

In Antrim, walk along a short path that lines the coast to get to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge . This bridge was originally built to join the town to Carrick-a-Rede island so fishermen could more easily check the nets for salmon. Now, it provides as an exhilarating experience for visitors who dare to walk across it. It can be a scary journey over the wavering bridge, but its well worth the gorgeous views of the Scottish and Rathlin islands.

Check Out the Marble Arch Caves

 Marble Arch Caves

This site is located just west of Lough Erne. The Marble Arch Caves are situated on a limestone plateau and were formed over the years by rainwater that created caverns out of the rock. You can take a guided tour of the site that lasts 75 minutes. First, you'll board a boat that takes you on a short trip to Junction Jetty, the point at which three underground streams flow together. Then, you'll walk past the Pool Chamber, Grand Gallery, Moses Walk, and Calcite Cradle along the way. Keep in mind that tours fill up fast, so you may want to reserve a spot in advance. Guests are also welcome to take the journey on their own, and a footpath marked by signs will lead you to the main site—the arch that lays over the Cladagh River.

Discover the People's Gallery Murals

People's Gallery

Travelers staying in Derry can view the famous 12 public art pieces: the People's Gallery Murals . These works, which were created by Bogside artists Kevin Hasson, Tom Kelly, and Will Kelly are displayed on gable ends of homes on Rossville Street. They showcase the main events that took place during the Troubles. You can expect to see scenes depicting Bloody Sunday, the hunger strike of 1981, and the Battle of the Bogside. Be sure to check out "The Death of Innocence," a highlight of the collection that portrays Annette McGavigan, a young schoolgirl who was killed in crossfire during a fight between the British Army and Irish Republican Army.

Grab a Drink in a Traditional Pub

Rotterdam pub

All throughout the country, you can find old-fashioned pubs. A favorite among Belfast locals is Rotterdam , a traditional establishment renowned for pouring the perfect pint of Guinness. You can enjoy your brew among a rustic setting with stone floors and an open fireplace. The pub also hosts live music most nights of the week.