Created in 1921, the six distinct counties of Northern Ireland have a great deal going for them in addition to the wonderfully quirky, historic and unique holiday accommodation on offer.
Antrim is home to the capital city Belfast, home of the Titanic ("she was fine when she left here" is a quip oft-repeated by locals!) Find out more at the Titanic visitor centre, or explore the thriving and diverse music scene to be found here.
Sparkling Lough Neagh is the largest lake in Ireland, while the famous Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage site, created from millions of years of geological activity. Take the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge to Carrick Island, and then sink a whiskey at Bushmills’ distillery.
Oh – and if you’ve ever fancied a walk-on part on ‘Game of Thrones’, the nine Glens of Antrim provide the perfect backdrop! Full of grasslands, caves and waterfalls, there’s a lot to take in. Meanwhile, the Antrim coast is fantastic for surfing, and you’ll find a world-class golf course here, too.
Armagh is home to St. Patrick – visit in March for the liveliest celebrations! The County Museum offers a taste of the rich heritage here, while these days the ‘Orchard County’ is famous for its Bramley apples, something the Armagh Food and Cider Festival celebrates each September. Visit Peatlands Park and the extinct volcano at Slieve Gullion for more natural wonders.
County Down’s Morne Mountains were inspiration for the land of Narnia, full of Celtic myth and mystery. You’ll find a variety of Blue Flag beaches here too, including Cranfield. County Down is also famous for its golf…a fact local hero Rory McIlroy can confirm! Lovers of St. Patrick will enjoy the dedicated centre in Downpatrick, with Down linked to Armagh by the 92-mile St. Patrick’s Trail.
Water babies will adore the islands of County Fermanagh, with its rivers, lakes and waterways – not to mention ancient rock carvings and island sculptures to feast your eyes upon. The Marble Arch Caves are spectacular, while the Belle Isle Cookery School is testament to the county’s reputation for fine food and drink.
Londonderry’s wild Atlantic coast and historic walled city are legendary, along with its political murals (now simply tourist attractions). There’s a buzzing cultural scene here too, with the county best explored by rail or bike.
Lastly (but not leastly), County Tyrone is Northern Ireland’s largest region, dominated by the heather-clad Sperrin Mountains and links to folk heroes. Folk Park is an homage to the Ireland of old, and there are plenty of fine crafts and good food to enjoy.
In short, there’s an unmistakable air of mystery about Northern Ireland…one you can only begin to uncover through exploring its magic.
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