If you’re planning a trip to Northern Ireland, you’re in for a treat. The small country of Northern Ireland offers an abundance of picturesque coastal towns and serene countryside. This means there are countless stunning options for your stay that will make your visit truly memorable.
Without further do, let’s dive into the 10 best places to visit in Northern Ireland.
The Best Places to Visit in Northern Ireland
It would be impossible to list the best places to stay in Northern Ireland without mentioning Belfast.
As the bustling capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast definitely isn’t short of accommodation options. While here you can explore iconic attractions such as Titanic Quarter, Belfast City Hall, St. George’s Market, and arguably best of all, experience the city’s thriving food and nightlife scene.
Another reason to stay in Belfast is that it acts as a starting point for lots of excursions. There are many Belfast tours that will take you up to the North Coast to see the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and other popular attractions.
Game of Thrones tours are also really popular, with a good portion of the show being filmed in NI. But when it comes to the city itself, the distinct blend of old and new make Belfast an ideal location to experience the best of Northern Ireland’s urban charm.
In complete contrast, the Mourne Mountains offer the perfect relaxing mountainous getaway. There are lots of choices for towns to stay in, with the most popular being Newcastle and Dundrum. No matter which you choose, you are guaranteed to wake up to breathtaking views.
You can also embark on scenic hikes to the summit of Slieve Donard or simply enjoy the area’s lush valleys and sparkling lakes.
Silent Valley is a must-visit! The seaside towns offer amusements, beaches, and great food. It’s one of the best parts of Northern Ireland and as the cliche goes, there really is something for everyone.
From one end of the country to the other, Portush is another of the best places to stay in Northern Ireland. If you’re looking for a coastal getaway, Portrush is a delightful choice. It’s where most Northern Irish locals will flock in the summer when the weather gets, well, better than winter.
This charming town boasts sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and stunning seascapes. One of the most popular things to do is head to the small theme park. It’s officially called “Curry’s” but will be referred to by locals as “Barry’s” despite the new ownership.
Alternatively, enjoy leisurely walks along the picturesque harbour or even take a boat trip to the Skerries to see some seals. It’s definitely one of the best animal experiences in Northern Ireland.
If you’re dreaming of a tranquil lakeside retreat, Lough Erne is the perfect place to stay.
Located in County Fermanagh, this stunning area is dotted with picturesque islands. These islands offer a range of accommodations, from luxurious lakeside lodges to cosy cottages. You can also find the Lough Erne resort here, one of the best spa hotels in Northern Ireland.
When it comes to things to do, you can enjoy peaceful boat trips and leisurely walks along the shores. You can also take part in water-based activities like kayaking and fishing.
Portrush is great, undoubtedly, but it’s very touristy and therefore crowded. For a true taste of coastal life, Portavogie is a hidden gem.
This colourful and charming fishing village in County Down offers a quaint atmosphere and picturesque views of the Irish Sea. You can stay in accommodation with a view of the harbour and watch the fishing boats come and go, or sample fresh seafood in one of the local restaurants.
Do you enjoy stunning coastal scenery and a glass of whiskey? If so, you’re in for a treat, Bushmills is a must-visit.
This historic town on the North Antrim Coast is home to the famous Bushmills Distillery, where you can take a tour and sample some of Ireland’s finest whiskey.
Combine this with exploring nearby coastal attractions such as the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, plus stunning white sand beaches, and you have one of the best places to stay in Northern Ireland. No debate about it!
Nestled in the scenic County Down countryside, Dundonald offers a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle.
The idyllic surroundings make for a pleasing sight, but there are also lots of things to do. Such as exploring picturesque Strangford Lough, visiting historic Dundonald Castle, or indulging in outdoor activities like golfing and hiking.
It’s not very popular amongst tourists, but it is for Northern Irish locals. Trust me, they don’t just go there for the sake of it. Dundonald will likely get more popular over the next few years, so go before it’s too late.
One of the most unique and best places to stay in Northern Ireland is Rathlin Island. Located off the coast of County Antrim, this remote island is a haven for nature lovers and offers a range of accommodations. These include rustic cottages and cosy guesthouses for rent on Airbnb.
Enjoy stunning coastal views and explore the island’s rugged cliffs and beaches. Plus, if you visit at the right time of year, enjoy watching thousands of puffins. It’s the only place you can see them in Northern Ireland, so it’s a pretty exclusive trip.
Just a little bit along the coast from Portrush is Portstewart, if you’re looking for a beach getaway, Portstewart ticks all the boxes.
It’s a little less crowded than Portrush but has arguably better beaches. By staying here you’ll have golden sandy beaches and a lively promenade right on your doorstep. It’s also a great base to explore nearby attractions such as the Mussenden Temple.
If you’re looking for a city break with a rich history and culture, Derry-Londonderry is a must-visit. It’s the final of the best places to stay in Northern Ireland, but it’s a perfect case of “last but not least”.
The history is filled with conflict, which you can see simply in the name. The debate over whether to include “London” in the name is so strong that you will see road signs with graffiti on them. And, if you dare ask someone what they think, you could be in trouble. To keep safe, refer to it as Derry-Londonderry, it’s how it’s said on the news and radio, etc.
Aside from the name, the city has lots to offer and you can explore the historic walls, visit the Guildhall, and stroll along the scenic Peace Bridge. With its unique blend of history, culture, and modern charm, Derry-Londonderry is a captivating destination for a city break in Northern Ireland.
Visit Northern Ireland: FAQ
Below are some questions related to the best places to stay in Northern Ireland. Along with their respective answers.
Where is the Warmest Place in Northern Ireland?
While Northern Ireland is known for its cool and often rainy weather, the area around the Lough Neagh basin tends to be the warmest.
Places like Craigavon and Armagh are known for slightly milder temperatures and longer periods of sunshine compared to other parts of Northern Ireland. But it’s only the case of 1-2°C. It’s always a good idea to pack layers and be prepared for changing weather patterns, the climate in Northern Ireland can be unpredictable.
Where is the Best Place to Stay in Belfast?
Belfast offers a variety of vibrant suburbs that cater to different interests and preferences, and to be honest, not all of them make for a safe stay. The Cathedral Quarter is known for trendy bars, restaurants, and cultural scene, making it a great choice for those seeking a lively urban experience.
The Titanic Quarter is a must-stay for history buffs and offers stunning waterfront views. The Queen’s Quarter is known for its leafy streets, Victorian architecture, and proximity to Queen’s University, so if you enjoy the lifestyle of a student, this is the one for you.
In Belfast, you’ll find plenty of options for accommodations and a vibrant atmosphere to immerse yourself in, so don’t get too worried about choosing where to stay.
Is Belfast, Northern Ireland a Good Place to Vacation?
Absolutely! Belfast is a thriving city with a rich history, vibrant culture, and friendly locals that make it a fantastic place to vacation.
There are so many things to do like explore the Titanic Quarter or experience the city’s thriving food and drink scene. The city is also a great base for exploring the wider attractions of Northern Ireland, such as the Giant’s Causeway, Mourne Mountains, and scenic Causeway Coastal Route.
Northern Ireland also has a ton of Game of Thrones filming locations to check out. The landscapes in NI are so breathtakingly unique, it seemed like a whole other world in the show.
With its blend of history, culture, and friendly atmosphere, Belfast is a top-notch vacation destination in Northern Ireland.
So there you have it! These are just a few of the best places to stay in Northern Ireland, offering unique experiences and unforgettable memories.
Northern Ireland is such an incredible country, and whether you choose to stay in the vibrant streets of Belfast, the picturesque landscapes of the Mourne Mountains, Lough Erne, Portstewart, or beyond, you are guaranteed to have a grat trip.
Enjoy your time in NI! It’s great :)
This post was written by Josh Band from A Backpacker’s World. Josh loves to write about travelling all around the world. From Southeast Asia to Europe, and everything in between, Josh loves to explore and write about his travels.