Our summer adventures in Northern Ireland
After the most bizarre yet wonderful year, it was time for our family to get away for a much needed break. Recently we took a trip to Northern Ireland with some friends for a few days and it really was one small step to a giant adventure
Our children vary in age from 18 months to 12 years old and we like to be active on holidays - outdoors, learning and experiencing. Thanks to our friends in tourism Northern Ireland we took in so much of what the North has to offer, and it delivered on every level!
Here is what we fitted into our action packed adventure up North:
With a new exhibit, this was a firm favourite for the whole family. The planetarium experience was amazing, and the Astro Park and infinity hill were wonderful for walking and reflecting on your place in the universe. The interactive exhibits catered for all ages and were hugely educational and entertaining. The sensory room was an excellent plus. Adam and all the kids really loved making and launching rockets and ‘destroying the universe’ in the interactive exhibits! Thanks so much to Dymphna and all the team for taking good care of us on the day – we hope you like your Hug T-shirts!
If you want to find out more about a visit to the Planetarium or some of their upcoming events you can find all details on their website:
Day 2 – Titanic Experience, Belfast
This.Was.AMAZING! For every age, for every level of interest in history – the Titanic Experience has it all. We had such a fantastic time across four floors that take you right through the history of the city of Belfast, the making of Titanic, its launch, the voyage, and the tragedy of its sinking. Of notable interest is the Nomadic – the last ship ever built by the White Star Line. As part of your Titanic experience, you can actually walk onto the Nomadic ship and experience another exciting tour! Accessibility at this venue was excellent for both wheelchairs and buggies.
After our Titanic Experience, we enjoyed a leisurely walk around beautiful Belfast, but beforehand we had a special treat – a private show from our friend and superstar magician Joel M! (@joelmagician)Thank you Joel for meeting us, you were so great with kids and adults alike!
Day three saw the group divide with Adam and the younger family members taking a rest day, and our PR Manager Juelie Mc Loughlin and family heading for a swim in the beautiful Lough Neagh before driving up to the Giants Causeway. Here's what they had to say about their day.
Lough Neagh was on our list because our 7 year old son always points it out on the map as the eye of Ireland! Also because as open water swimmers it is one of the most iconic places to swim. Not familiar with the area we reached out to an open water swimming group based in the area. We were met with unbelievable hospitality and kindness, to the point where we had offers to come and swim in several locations We chose Gawley's Gate on the south eastern shore of Lough Neagh and had a delightful picnic afterwards.
Click here for more info on Wild Swimming in Northern Ireland Wild swimming
We then made our way further north to visit the iconic Giants Causeway. There are few places that can take your breath away quite like here. The saying "photos don't do it justice" was never truer. There is so much to see here and some beautiful coastal walks and cycling routes along the Causeway route to really let you extend your stay in this beautiful coastal area. Our only regret was not having more time there to explore further and perhaps take in the famous rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede. A return visit is definitely planned.
Day 4 – Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains, Co. Down – the town of Newcastle is a lovely place to visit – ‘where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to sea’ as the song goes….although we’ve heard that song many times, we were still surprised to see just how much those mountains really do come down to meet the water! Newcastle is a very scenic town with a beautiful beach promenade, wonderful eateries and, most importantly, lovely people who were so kind and welcoming. Favourites of ours included Café Mauds and Thumbelina traditional toy shop.
If you fancy some nice walks (and if you’re a Game of Thrones fan) then we highly recommend these destinations close to Newcastle:
CastleWard – a National Trust Site, and the setting for a number of pivotal scenes from the iconic HBO Game of Thrones series – Castle Ward and its grounds are the setting for Winterfell, home of the Starks. It also includes ‘The Twins’, home of the Tullys of The Riverlands. The walks around Castle Ward are scenic, tranquil and stunning. Think the Camino but in Co. Down!
Tollymore Forest Park – the setting for a number of scenes from Game of Thrones, including various shoots from the Kings Road and some scenes around Winterfell and the North. When you walk around Tollymore, you will really feel like you’re walking through the show. Hint – take a picture of the map at the visitor car park and stick to the shorter routes if trekking with children. We got lost!
If you’re travelling a long distance to get up north (like we were from Cork) we’d recommend a decent stop on the way for some food. We decided to take the Wicklow Way and have dinner at The Happy Pear restaurant in Greystones. For us as parents, this was a real highlight. The ambience, the staff, and of course of the food – out of this world!
Overall this was such a brilliant short break which we would highly recommend. On every level, for children and adults of all ages, the north has it all. Big thanks and hugs to our friends in Tourism Northern Ireland and Discover Northern Ireland for looking after us so well on the trip!
To find out more about the wonders Northern Ireland has to offer, check out https://discovernorthernireland.com/