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Best Day Trips from Belfast

Published by: Bounce25 January, 2023
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Belfast has everything, from scientific exhibitions, literary inspirations, and cultural escapes to world-class restaurants, superb shopping, and gorgeous landmarks! But despite its limitless offerings, it’s still nice to venture out of the city and see more of Northern Ireland and the shores of the Irish Sea by organizing day trips from Belfast. Just a short drive from the city centre, you’ll find ancient castles, caves, high mountains, and a wealth of cultural and natural beauty unlike anywhere else in the world.

Take a road trip from Belfast to the famous filming locations of Game of Thrones across the region, including the Dark Hedges, Dunluce Castle, and Cushendun Caves. Get the full experience of Northern Ireland and explore historical sights, medieval castles, rugged coastlines, and stunning scenery within easy reach of the capital city. But if your plans fall through and you need an alternative adventure, the best museums in Belfast will take you on an extraordinary journey through time. Pack your bags and stow them safely with Bounce luggage storage in Belfast to begin creating unforgettable memories on your day trip.

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How to get out of Belfast

This coastal city is well-connected by train and bus services and is easy to navigate on foot or by bicycle. For those who want to use Belfast as a base to explore other parts of the region, it has a reliable public transportation system that Translink manages. Belfast Central Station (now called Belfast Lanyon Place) is on Great Victoria Street and a good place to start.

Of course, you can rent a car and tour at your convenience, sightseeing on the way. It gives you flexibility and comfort, as you don’t have to rely on anyone during your day trip from Belfast. But if you want to meet others and immerse yourself in the culture, take the train or use the Metro buses. Ulsterbus manages the buses, which run regularly and follow twelve routes. Also, you can book a taxi from the central city to your desired destination for shorter journeys.

From Belfast to Carrickfergus

One of the shortest day trips from Belfast is the charming town of Carrickfergus. It is situated on the north shore of the Belfast Lough, only thirty minutes from many of the city’s famous attractions. Carrickfergus is one of the oldest towns in Northern Ireland and the oldest in County Antrim. It can be your first stop on your tour, and from the town, you can begin your trip along the Causeway Coastal Route and see more of the region.

The town is home to the famous Carrickfergus Castle, a Norman castle that played a critical military role until 1928. It is one of Ireland’s best-preserved medieval structures and has been an imposing monument on the landscape of Northern Ireland whether approached by sea, air, or land. It welcomes visitors who can see historical displays and cannons from the 17th to 19th centuries.

How to get to Carrickfergus

Carrickfergus is a quick drive from Belfast, which will take about half an hour. You can rent a car or hail a cab from the city to take you there. If you decide to take the bus or train, railway and bus services will take twenty to thirty minutes.

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From Belfast to Giant’s Causeway

For one of the best geological experiences on Northern Island, visit Giant’s Causeway. This tourist spot is distinguished for its more than 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns. These unique rock formations were naturally formed nearly six million years ago from a basaltic lava flow or when lava from an underwater volcano rapidly cools. According to local legend, however, it was formed by the Irish giant Finn MacCool.

The Giant’s Causeway is an ideal destination for those into rock formations and natural geological structures. The sight is breathtaking when seen up close, so it has been a favorite destination for years since its founding in 1690. The Giant’s Causeway is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only one in Northern Ireland.

How to get to Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is located approximately 100km north of Belfast, and you can get there by driving for a little over an hour. Alternatively, you can take the train from Belfast Lanyon Place to Coleraine. Then ride bus line 402 to Aird Giants Causeway The Nook before making your way to the destination. You can also take the bus straight from Belfast Pottinger's Entry High Street to Aird Giants Causeway The Nook.

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From Belfast to the Peace Bridge

Another exciting destination you should add to your day trip itinerary is the Peace Bridge. It opened in Derry/Londonderry on June 25th, 2011, over the River Foyle and quickly became the center of the city’s events and activities. It’s a visual treat and an obligatory stop on any Derry travel.

The Peace Bridge is a stone’s throw from the city’s renowned 400+-year-old Walls and the Guildhall. It is a self-anchored suspension bridge constructed with two identical curved structures that form a winding and tilting ‘S’ shape. These two structures intersect at the center of the bridge to form a single bridge, like a handshake. It’s a symbol of hope and peace for the people of the city, telling a fascinating story of triumph over adversity. There’s something special about this bridge, and it’s one of those places you must go to and see for yourself.

How to get to the Peace Bridge

The distance from Belfast to Derry is about seventy miles (112 km), and it takes about an hour and a half to get there if you’re driving. Then, you can walk across the bridge and experience it for yourself. You can also take advantage of direct bus and train services between two North Ireland cities, which will take about two hours.

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From Belfast to Dunluce Castle

If you’re into exploring these ancient architectural masterpieces, you should check out Dunluce Castle during your day trip from Belfast. Though the medieval castle was long since abandoned and ruined, it’s still a renowned tourist spot for its relevance in Ireland’s culture and history.

The original Dunluce Castle was constructed in the 13th century by the second Earl of Ulster, Richard Óg de Burgh. However, the only sections of that castle that survived are a part of the wall facing the mainland and two of the round towers. The castle you see today is one of Ireland’s most dramatic ruins, with tales of banshees, a kitchen falling into the stormy waters below, and shipwrecks.

Besides its rich history, many people might know it as the location used for the famous fantasy television series Game of Thrones, making it one of the best day trips from Belfast, especially for fans of the show. They will recognize the castle as the home of Theon and Yara Greyjoy or the filming location of The House of Greyjoy.

How to get to Dunluce Castle

Driving or taking a taxi from Belfast to Dunluce Castle will require you to travel more than 90km, about an hour on the road. Meanwhile, going by train from Belfast Lanyon Place to Coleraine and riding a bus to get to the location takes about an hour and 15 minutes. If you’re going by bus, it takes three to four hours to go from Belfast Bridge Street to Coleraine and then transfer to another bus to get to the historic castle.

From Belfast to Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges is a tourist attraction that wasn’t naturally occurring but also not intentional. The area is a short road leading to the entrance of the Georgian estate Gracehill House. It was built in 1775 by James Stuart, who then named it after his wife, Grace Lynd. The family decided to plant over 150 Beech trees to impress visitors coming to their mansion.

After centuries, the trees developed a domed crown, forming a tunnel over the road. This resulted in a fantastic sight, brought by the spectacular arrangement of the ancient trees and the fusion of light and shadow. Thanks to its ethereal look, it became one of the famous Game of Thrones filming locations, otherwise known as the King’s Road in the popular series. This further increased the Dark Hedges’ popularity, making it one of the most photographed phenomena.

How to get to Dark Hedges

To go to the Dark Hedges by car, head north of Belfast for about 80km until you reach the Bregagh Road, Stranocum, County Antrim, BT53 8PX. For public transport, get on the one hour and 10 minutes train ride from Belfast Lanyon Place to Ballymoney. It does not pass by the Dark Hedges, so you’ll have to take a 15-minute taxi ride to get to the location.

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From Belfast to Glenariff Forest Park

One of the best Belfast day trips for nature lovers and adventure seekers is Glenariff Forest Park. It covers over one thousand hectares, featuring lakes, planted woodland, conservation areas, and outdoor recreation spaces. Several walking trails will take you through the forest, offering stunning views across the sea and over the Glen.

The best way to come to Forest Park is during summer or spring when the weather is pleasant for outdoor activities like horse riding, touring, and walking. There are also barbeque areas, picnic spots, and a tea house for relaxation.

How to get to Glenariff Forest Park

The Forest Park is only fifty minutes to an hour northwest of Belfast city center. The best way to get there without a car is by train or bus. While there’s no direct bus service from the city to the park, you can catch public transport from Bridge Street in Belfast with a stop at Parkmore Glenariff PO via Ballymena.

From Belfast to the Gobbins Cliff Path

Experience Ireland’s coastline up close in a thrilling adventure at the Gobbins Cliff Path. It’s characterized by the many bridges connecting glacial boulders and narrow crevasses, elevated pathways, tunnels, and caves, making up the five-kilometer path. You’ll even pass by a tubular bridge, Man O’War, gallery, aquarium, swinging bridge, and clifftop viewpoint.

While visiting the Gobbins Cliff Path sounds like a fun adventure, you need to be at least fit enough for the almost three-hour walk. The pathway is also uneven, so it would feel like constantly going up and down the stairs. Therefore, it should be part of your day trips from Belfast when looking for a heart-pumping adventure.

How to get to the Gobbins Cliff Path

If you’re going to the Gobbins Cliff Path from Belfast by car, take the A2 Causeway Coastal Route to Larne until you reach Carrickfergus, then turn right on B90 Island Lower Road. Observe the brown signposts signaling your arrival. Otherwise, you can take a train from Belfast to Larne and stop at the nearest station, Ballycarry.

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From Belfast to the Sperrins

With heather-clad hills, soft valleys, and occasional roller-coaster roads, the Sperrins are a must-visit destination when visiting Northern Ireland. It should be part of your day tour, with many activities to offer every adventurous traveler.

Escape the urban bustle for a tranquil day in the Sperrin Mountains, an area of unparalleled natural beauty. Explore the wilderness, Ice Age-carved landscapes, and historic sites. Whether you’re in the mood to tackle massive hills or simply want to go out for a relaxing afternoon walk, the Sperrins are a true nature lover’s paradise.

How to get to the Sperrins

You can take advantage of Sperrin Mountains' all-day guided tour organized by some companies from Belfast. This way, you can travel to the area with a group and a tour guide. For those who prefer public transport, a taxi or a bus journey will take about an hour and forty minutes. However, a drive to and through the mountains will always be a highlight of the alluring day trip, as you can enjoy the scenery and stop at scenic areas along the way.

Enjoy the Incredible Day Trips from Belfast!

Marvel at the beautiful Northern Irish countryside and dive deep into the region’s cultural heritage, colorful past, and breathtaking landscapes through the most adventurous day trips from Belfast. Dramatic cliffs, mountains, majestic landmarks, and famous movie and TV sets are all a quick day trip away, giving you no reason to stay at your apartment or hotel. Pick your preferred mode of transportation and begin your adventure from the beautiful city of Belfast.

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