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Giant's Causeway, NI and the northern part of the Republic of Ireland

(45 Posts)
BikeRunSki Sat 28-Oct-17 20:25:13

I really want to go to the Giant's Causeway (I am a geologist!), thinking about doing a trip at Easter for a few days, with DH and the DC (6 and 9). We live in West Yorkshire, so could fly to Belfast , but could also get the ferry from Stranraer (5 hr drive though....sad).

I'm guessing Giant's Causeway would be no more than a day trip? Less? Long morning?

What else is there to do and see in and around NI to make a trip over more worthwhile? We're a pretty outdoorsy family. We've traditionally done city breaks at Easter where everything is a walk or a tube ride away (Paris, London, Copenhagen)

Any recommendations of where to stay?

Would opening hours be restricted by bank holidays?

TIA

Santawontbelong Sat 28-Oct-17 20:26:38

Apparently a new Game of Thrones exhibition. Giant's causeway is magical!! Going next year for a 4 day trip!!

IrnBruTortie Sat 28-Oct-17 20:28:25

I don't know about most of this, but I stayed with a friend just outside Belfast a few years ago, and she took me to see the Giants' Causeway. It was an easy day trip (you're probably right - long morning, lunch, then back) and I am so glad I did it - it was amazing. You know how so often you can go to these places that are famous, and be a bit "was that it?", but I loved it.
Belfast itself was also fantastic... you've got me thinking I should go back with DS

The Causeway is incredible - probably half a day. The Titanic exhibition is excellent.

ASqueakingInTheShrubbery Sat 28-Oct-17 20:31:16

Giant's causeway is fab, but was absolutely heaving with people when we went (warm day in late May), so it was difficult to get more than a cursory look at the stones themselves. Easter may be better if the weather isn't so reliable.

BikeRunSki Sat 28-Oct-17 20:33:44

Never seen GoT, not really my thing, but rocks float my boat!

Also, apologies to anyone I may have offended by posting this in UK, but then mentioning the RoI. I did waver, but decided the UK topic was probably best as the GC is in the UK,

Thanks IrnBru. I was massively underwhelmed by Stonehenge, so I'm glad GC didn't disappoint!

BikeRunSki Sat 28-Oct-17 20:35:16

Ooooh. Titanic exhibition....

OMG ferries are pricey! Liverpool is closer that Stranraer but the journey time is forever!

It might be a day trip to York at this rate!

confusedwife84 Sat 28-Oct-17 20:37:56

I’m from NI, def stay in Belfast, causeway is about 1.5 hrs away, but while you’re up there you should explore the north coast, beautiful beaches, lovely towns- Ballycastle, Portstewart. Lovely restaurants up there too! As for Belfast, there’s the Titanoc visitors centre, brill shopping, museums. About 15 min outside of the city there’s the folk and transport museum which is great. You’ll love it

FiveGoMadInDorset Sat 28-Oct-17 20:38:01

We drive from Dorset to Stranraer so definitely doable, Giants causeway, the rope bridge, Dunluce Castke, see how far up Sleamish mountain you can get. titanic museum plus walk down to the dry dock. I can't help you on where to stay as we stay with friends

confusedwife84 Sat 28-Oct-17 20:40:28

Lots of basic hotels in Belfast, premier inn etc, ones that are a bit nicer are Europa, fitzwilliam, merchant (£££)

FiveGoMadInDorset Sat 28-Oct-17 20:42:47

If you're u have Tesco vouchers yu can swap them for vouchers for the ferry.

HolyShmoly Sat 28-Oct-17 20:57:46

I'd get the plane into Belfast and potentially hire a car. We live in Newcastle and drive over for long holidays (over 10 days) but shorter trips we fly over and hire a car if we need to. It normally works out way cheaper.

Giant's Causeway is wonderful, there's another thread on it in shorthaul about it too. Titanic Museum is great and I found it very emotional at one point. Rocks don't really rock my boat so I'm afraid I can't help with more personalised suggestions.

HuglessDuglas Sat 28-Oct-17 21:04:30

I would suggest staying around the North Coast so much to see and do particularly if you are outdoorsy
giants causeway is amazing especially if you can take the time to walk on round the path away from the main point where visitors tend to congregate.
Also in the area Carrick a Rede rope bridge, ballintoy harbour, bushmills list is endless
Have a wee read

www.visitcausewaycoastandglens.com

Also just been named at no1 place to visit by lonely planet

www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel/regions#1

For places to stay - we usually stay in the Radisson in Limavady - good north coast central location - depending on length of stay you could take a detour down the west if NI and check out
www.walkni.com/walks/13653/cuilcagh-way-walk-2-cuilcagh-legnabrocky-trail/
And also Marble Arch caves - or maybe come back again and do Fermanagh- lovely area

Top tip check out groupon Belfast, treat ticket Belfast and living social Belfast closer to your trip they usually have discounted surf lessons etc around the north coast - also worth checking for accommodation
Also follow stena Facebook page quite often deals pop up.

BikeRunSki Sat 28-Oct-17 21:20:09

Thank you everyone! Lots to think about.

Slaylormoon Sat 28-Oct-17 21:23:51

I'm in Uni fairly near, plenty of lovely coastal drives! I would estimate the Giant's Causeway to be about a longish half day trip depending on if you sit and watch the cartoon they have looping for the kids/read all the info/peruse the shop.

Also, there's a bus that shuttles back and forth from the center where you pay to the actual stones, think it's £1 each way thlsmile

HuglessDuglas Sat 28-Oct-17 21:43:07

Also meant to add Giants Causeway and carrick a rede are included in U.K. national trust membership if you have it

BikeRunSki Sat 28-Oct-17 21:46:04

We don’t have NT membership ATM (get Eng Heritage through work though), but would certainly consider it if we’d use it a lot for a trip —excuse to go to the Lake District later in the year—

OfficerGrant Sat 28-Oct-17 21:54:16

While you are at the north coast Carrickfergus castle is worth seeing. A proper castle with turrets and not just a heap of stones. Antrim coast road is a nice drive.

Worth the drive to see newgrange in the Republic, it's far more amazing than stonehenge.

Titanic exhibition is good, but the building is amazing.

Belfast is a very small city! Much smaller than Birmingham for example. So you can pack quite alot into one day.

Ulster American folk Park is good too with school age kids. Basically it's little house on the prairie made real.

Enjoy!
And bring raincoats / hairspray. Please don't be surprised if it rains!

BikeRunSki Sat 28-Oct-17 21:55:49

I live on the Pennines!!! Rain is an everyday part of life!

differenteverytime Sat 28-Oct-17 21:59:33

There's also a little narrow-gauge train that travels to and from the Causeway from nearby Bushmills. You can park at the Bushmills end and walk up to the Causeway from the station at the other end.

differenteverytime Sat 28-Oct-17 22:00:47

The W5 science activity centre in Belfast is also good for kids.

MeMeMeMe123 Sat 28-Oct-17 22:14:02

Hi OP

Belfast hotels are bloomin expensive... Trip Advisor reviews may help you. However, for info - Cathedral Quarter is short walking distance to Titanic area (museum/slipway/mini-rail/film studios). There are Premiere Inns in both locations.

Cavehill is of historical interest and pretty gorgeous. You can see Scotland from the top on a clear day...

www.walkni.com/walks/79/cave-hill-country-park/

I see you are bringing your kids so not likely to be boozing which is just as well because the licensing laws here are pretty strict at Easter

If you have time id consider booking to stay in North Coast (ballycastle/Bushmills/Portballintrae or similar) It a gloriously beautiful area - you can take a ferry to Rathlin Island and drive the coastal route along hairpin bends towards Cushendal/Cushendun.

Glenariff Forest is worth a visit i hear... Anyway, I digress, a couple of days in the North Coast and then to Belfast for a day or two.....

Have a great trip smile

lucydogz Sun 29-Oct-17 01:30:39

I would recommend doing the walk along the coast from the south to the causeway (sorry, forgotten the name of the place but only about 3 miles away) then catching the bus back, which runs regularly. It's a great walk and you won't have to pay for parking. I was underwhelmed by the causeway - just too many people, it's like an anthill, and the visitor centre is rubbish.
NI is great. Dunluce Castle, and The Mussendun Temple further up the coast. My must-see is the Magho Cliffs, overlooking Loch Erne, near Enniskillen. Also, from Enniskillen (a great little town) you can hire a boat for the day and go to Devenish Island with it's remains of a celtish monastery.

OfficerGrant Sun 29-Oct-17 10:42:10

Wow devinish is amazing! That whole area is lovely too

Funf Mon 30-Oct-17 07:57:04

We flew from Liverpool for £40 return, landed at 07.30 in the morning at Belfast returned that night at 10 pm it was fantastic, lovely places lovely friendly helpful people.
Hired a car £60, went to the Copper Kettle in Bushmills for breakfast.
Short drive to the causeway, park on the railway museum (£6) thing nearby and walk in its a public right of way the National Trust will charge you £10 each to walk through the visitor centre its a complete rip off
Allow a couple of hours for the cause way as its a good walk.
WE then did Carrick a rede rope bridge, The Dark Hedges, Dunce castle, the cave under it is better than the castle, A few sea side places, back to Belfast for 4pm as the Titanic museum is only £8 then but you only get 1 hour as it shuts at 5pm, its ok but not worth the full admission charge, went in to Belfast for a meal and back to the airport.

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