Short breaks in Northern IrelandSample stunning landscapes and vibrant city life in friendly NI
HomeAway travel expert
Not so long ago, an advertising campaign reliably informed us that “there’s more to Ireland than this.” What they were referring to were the clichéd connotations of rolling landscapes, friendly Guinness-soaked welcomes and a healthy dosage of craic from the locals. These aspects are still an integral part of what makes Northern Ireland such a wonderful nation, but pleasingly the slogan was also correct. Despite its miniscule dimensions, there’s a surprising amount to see and do here, making NI ideal for a whistle-stop tour.
If you’re looking to escape the usual pressures of home and work for just a short break, Northern Ireland offers a cheap, close and diverse alternative to a sun-soaked escape. From the modern urban sensibilities of Belfast to the rugged shorelines of the north coast, a varied and fascinating weekend awaits all who visit. Whether you prefer to base yourself in the city, or in a more picturesque setting, HomeAway boasts a superb selection of rental properties across the country. That in mind, you should be just about ready to book up. If you’re still undecided, perhaps our quick guide to the country’s finest will help make up your mind.
Top five Northern Ireland highlights
Short Breaks in Belfast
Every country needs a flagship location, and Northern Ireland’s just so happens to be its capital. Once a city torn apart by paramilitary conflict, Belfast has risen from the ashes to become one of the most alluring destinations in the United Kingdom. The futuristic W5 Science Centre, located within the impressive Odyssey Arena, is a fascinating way to while a few hours, as is the famous Golden Mile district. Depending on the timing of your visit, the city contains several dear green places within its confines, the Botanic Gardens and Ormeau Park being amongst the most picturesque.
Giant’s Causeway Short Breaks
On the north-east coast of Northern Ireland lies the most iconic image in the country. The Giant’s Causeway is, to put it bluntly, breathtaking. Regardless of how many times you have seen it in photograph form, nothing can prepare you for the thousands of basalt columns reaching out into the sea. Some of them scale heights of almost 40ft, but you can effectively use the smaller ones as stepping stones to fully explore one of Earth’s most inspiring natural wonders. Local legend will tell you that the Causeway was the end result of a feud between two giants, but the visitor centre will fill you in on of the true origins of this volcanic formation.
Derry Short Breaks
Derry, or Londonderry depending on which side of the political divide you fall on, is the most photogenic city north of the border on the Emerald Isle. Nestling close to the border of the Republic, on the banks of the River Foyle, this revered hub was deservedly named UK City of Culture for 2013 due to its wealth museums and cathedrals, amongst other attractions. The Tower Museum is the best place to gain an understanding of the city’s background, with the famous city walls standing tall as one of the best preserved of their kind in Europe.
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Mourne Mountains Short Breaks
A short break needn’t be all about relaxation. If your idea of a perfect getaway involves more active pursuits, you don’t have to look any further than the awe-inspiring Mourne Mountains. Easily accessible from the town of Newry, and with Belfast not too far away, the craggy terrain is an absolute dream for hikers and nature lovers alike. The tallest mountain, Slieve Donard, is a worthy challenge at 2,790ft, but in truth you can gain plenty of enjoyment from immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the region. The Mourne Wall is Northern Ireland’s very own answer to its slightly more famous Chinese cousin, winding across 15 summits.
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Dublin Short Breaks
OK, it’s not Northern Ireland: but with the Republic capital just a short skip and a jump over the border, it would be a shame not to visit when you’re already in the ballpark. Unsurprisingly, the most popular stop off on the open-top tour bus is the Guinness brewery, where you can work your way through a working museum devoted to Ireland’s most famous beverage. The reward is a complimentary pint of the black stuff when you reach the wonderful Gravity Bar at the top, with 360 degree views across the city. Elsewhere, you can visit the comprehensive zoo in St Stephen’s Green and sample the unrivalled party atmosphere of the Temple Bar district.
Holiday Rentals in Northern Ireland