CONTRIBUTED BY MICHELLE KING
Our second full day in Ireland we decided to take another day trip up north. Our first stop was Belfast, Northern Ireland to see the Titanic museum. The museum is pretty new, just opened in 2012 for the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic sinking. It’s a huge museum with a lot of great information about the Titanic, how it was made, and what happened once it left the dock. There is also the pump house and dry dock area where they built the Titanic. There are multiple ticket options; we did the museum and dry dock experience which cost 19 pounds per person (N. Ireland is part of the UK which puts them on the pound). There is a parking deck underground right next to the museum. The only unfortunate part is that you have to drive to the dry dock section (you could walk, would take maybe 20 minutes) and park again which means paying for parking twice in one area.
After our stop in Belfast we headed farther north and made a quick stop in Bushmills to do a tour of the Bushmills Distillery (the oldest distillery in Ireland). I don’t have many pictures because they don’t allow any inside but it was a great tour! I learned a lot about how they make whiskey and I learned that I don’t like whiskey. If you interested in the distillation process of whiskey I’d say this is a great tour to go on if you’re in the area!
Just another 10 minutes down the road was the Giant’sCauseway. It may seem a little confusing on where to park but go all the way to the visitor center and there is a parking lot. If you want to go in the visitor center and have an audio guide you have to pay for a ticket. If you only want to see the Giant’s Causeway you can walk around the visitor center on your own and not pay. We didn’t know that so we paid the entrance fee only to realize we didn’t care about anything inside the visitor center and also did not want to listen to an audio guide (we get pretty lazy when it comes to guides). So if you show up and it looks like it’s closed, don’t worry, it’s only the visitor center that’s closed. You can still walk to see the Giant’s Causeway area. The worst part about the Giant’s Causeway was all the tourists (I know, I know, we’re tourist too) because they get in the way. Everyone wants the same photo opportunity but people would just sit down to enjoy the sites and not get out of the way for anyone else to take a picture. Other than that it’s a really cool thing to see, all these weird shaped rocks that formed from lava erupting from under the sea. The pictures look cool but it’s definitely something worth seeing in person. It almost doesn’t seem real because the rocks are so symmetrical.
Right after checking out the Giant’s Causeway we headed over to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. This was about 25-30 minutes away. We got lucky and got there just before they closed. It cost 5.60 pounds per person but they did accept euro. Once you pay it’s a long walk to get to the bridge. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get to the bridge before they close, you just have to buy your ticket. They’ll radio down to let them know someone is on the way. The bridge was originally used for fisherman (still is today); it was the best way to get across to the tiny island where there are great fishing opportunities. They recently renovated it but it still can only hold 8 people at a time. There is nothing else out there, just a rope bridge and beautiful views. Even though there isn’t anything to do except walk across the bridge I’d still say it was worth it. We just enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
Our last stop for the day was the Dark Hedges. This is a very famous place for pictures but is in the middle of nowhere. We just typed in Dark Hedges into the GPS and it took us right there. It’s one tiny road (it is a 2 way road) that goes through these awesome trees that have grown over the road. We got lucky and had a good amount of time with no tourists in the way but eventually a row of cars showed up blocking the view. So if you do go, be patient if you want a photo with no one in it. The tourists will leave at some point.
So to re-cap, we did the Belfast Titanic museum, Bushmills Distillery, Giant’s causeway, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, and the Dark Hedges all in one day! It was a lot to do but it was definitely doable in one day trip. We left Dublin around 7:30 and got back around 20:00 so it was a solid 12 hours of exploring Northern Ireland and we loved every bit of it!!
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Note: Michelle originally posted this article on her site, but has graciously shared it with us here as well.