Saturday, March 2, 2024

Looking for a short break? Here’s why Northern Ireland should be at the top of your travel wishlist (and our guide to where to go and what to do!)

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If you’re on the hunt for a memorable getaway, you might just be overlooking an extraordinary short break destination that’s right on your doorstep.

A flourishing food scene, otherworldly scenery and unique heritage sites are all waiting to be discovered in Northern Ireland – and not only is it less than a 90-minute flight from London, but with British Airways Holidays you can book flights and accommodation all in one go.

Ideal for a weekend break, Northern Ireland’s compact size means you can easily yo-yo between its bustling cities and the secluded wilderness of the coast and countryside.

Or if you want to spend a bit more time exploring, a fly-drive holiday could be for you. Hit ocean-hugging roads and scenic mountain passages as soon as you land, spending nights in stylish accommodations along the way.

A warm welcome from the locals, famed for their warmth, character and sense of ‘craic’, will make the trip all the more memorable.

Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter

The Beyond the Bridge Experience in Carrick-a-Rede, County Antrim

The Beyond the Bridge Experience in Carrick-a-Rede, County Antrim

And book with British Airways Holidays for getaways to this cultural jewel from as little as £199pp for a two night break and choose from a variety of flight routes. With 23kg of baggage included, you’ll have no hidden luggage fees and plenty of room for souvenirs.

What’s more, British Airways Holidays partners with a range of hotels for every budget type, so you’re sure to find one (or more) to suit you.

You can book now and pay later in as many installments as you like and with deposits from just £60 per person*, safe in the knowledge your holiday is ATOL protected. Lending more peace of mind, British Airways Holidays offers a guaranteed refund within 14 days if it can’t fulfil your trip and twenty-four-seven support will be on hand throughout your break, should you need it.

So, here’s why you should pick Northern Ireland for your next short-haul jaunt – and what to see and do when you arrive…

SHOWSTOPPING SCENERY

First on you itinerary should be the UNESCO-listed Giant¿s Causeway; thousands of interlocking basalt columns whipped by the Atlantic Ocean on County Antrim¿s coast

First on you itinerary should be the UNESCO-listed Giant’s Causeway; thousands of interlocking basalt columns whipped by the Atlantic Ocean on County Antrim’s coast

To visit Northern Ireland is to throw yourself head-first into a sea of spectacular landscapes.

And first on you itinerary should be the UNESCO-listed Giant’s Causeway; thousands of interlocking basalt columns whipped by the Atlantic Ocean on County Antrim’s coast, although lore tells that giant Finn McCool forged the causeway to cross the Irish Sea in order to face a rival giant in Scotland.

It’s one of many highlights of the Causeway Coastal Route, a 130-mile road trip from Belfast to Derry-Londonderry that winds past clifftop walking trails, dramatic sea arches and wide-open beaches.

En route, stop to cross the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge to Carrick Island, with waves thundering beneath your feet. Go on a guided walk along The Gobbins cliff path, laid out by Victorian railway engineer Berkeley Deane Wise, and spot native ferns, puffins and dolphins in their natural habitat as you move.

Picnic and surf along two-mile Portstewart Strand, keeping your eyes peeled for green fritillary butterflies in the dunes.

The sweeping sands of Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry

The sweeping sands of Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry

Cushendun Caves, County Antrim, was a stand-in for 'The Shadowlands' in Game of Thrones®

Cushendun Caves, County Antrim, was a stand-in for ‘The Shadowlands’ in Game of Thrones®

A real-life fantasy, Northern Ireland is home to more Game of Thrones® filming locations than anywhere else in the globe. On a guided tour, learn how County Antrim’s Cushendun Caves was a stand-in for ‘The Shadowlands’; the red squirrel-filled Glenariff Forest served as the ‘Vale of Arryn’; and the Dark Hedges, an 18th-century avenue of beech trees, doubled as ‘Kingsroad’.

Stargazers will be starry-eyed over the OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland’s only International Dark Sky Park. Gaze at the wonder of the constellations as they illuminate the enchanting Beaghmore Stone Circles, which date back to the Bronze Age.

Break in your hiking boots in the beautiful Mourne Mountains, County Down

Break in your hiking boots in the beautiful Mourne Mountains, County Down

Feeling active? Break in your hiking boots in the beautiful Mourne Mountains, granite peaks that inspired author C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. Mountain guides can lead the way, or you can even tackle the terrain by bike.

Horse-ride through the heather-rich moorlands of the little-known Sperrins range and trek along the Cuilcagh Boardwalk trail, passing by time-worn cottages and the occasional red grouse on the approach to Cuilcagh mountain.

Or hop between villages on the shores of tranquil Lough Neagh, Ireland’s largest lake, photographing the stunning scenery along the way.

REAMS OF HISTORY AND HERITAGE

In Belfast's Titanic Quarter learn how the ¿Ship of Dreams¿ was built and berthed, before having an interactive experience in the gleaming Titanic Belfast museum

In Belfast’s Titanic Quarter learn how the ‘Ship of Dreams’ was built and berthed, before having an interactive experience in the gleaming Titanic Belfast museum

See a different side to Belfast with a Black Taxi Tour - a local driver will guide you around the city¿s political murals

See a different side to Belfast with a Black Taxi Tour – a local driver will guide you around the city’s political murals

Every corner of Northern Ireland is wrapped up in history and heritage.

See a different side to Belfast with a Black Taxi Tour – a local driver will guide you around the city’s political murals.

In the Titanic Quarter, learn how the ‘Ship of Dreams’ was built and berthed on a walking tour through the shipyard and slipways, before having an interactive experience in the gleaming Titanic Belfast.

Admire the stained glass window collection of Belfast City Hall and see a show in the Grand Opera House, with its elaborate Victorian interior designed by theatrical architect Frank Matcham.

St George¿s Market, Belfast, is a must-visit for gourmands

St George’s Market, Belfast, is a must-visit for gourmands

Mingle with locals in the historic St George’s Market, a must-visit for antique hunters and gourmands, while art aficionados will swoon over oil paintings in the 19th-century Ulster Museum and the latest contemporary art exhibitions at The MAC Belfast.

Try basket weaving at the Ulster Folk Museum, a cluster of period buildings that take you back to the Northern Ireland of bygone years and walk the 17th-century walls of Derry-Londonderry, one of Europe’s most remarkable walled cities. Inside lies the Tower Museum, where exhibits illustrate the city’s origin story.

Learn about the city’s 1960s and 1970s civil rights movement at the Museum of Free Derry and pay a visit to the People’s Gallery – 12 large-scale murals by creative trio The Bogside Artists.

Get swept up in the romance of the medieval Dunluce Castle, County Antrim

Get swept up in the romance of the medieval Dunluce Castle, County Antrim

History buffs will love the opportunity to be swept up in the romance of medieval Dunluce Castle, a cliff-edge edifice, once the site of a feud between the warring McQuillan and MacDonnell clans.

Or marvel over Carrickfergus Castle, which stands guard over Belfast Lough, and take a boat out to the ruins of an Augustinian abbey on the secluded island of Devenish in the Fermanagh Lakelands.

Turn your camera on ancient Navan Fort, once a site of pagan ritual, or photograph the 18th-century Mussenden Temple, an Italianate icon with front-row views of the Atlantic.

Tour the elegant rooms and gardens of Hillsborough Castle, the official residence of the Royal Family when they visit Northern Ireland, and stop for tea in striking Brownlow House, where American and British troops were stationed during World War II.

A BOTTOMLESS BANQUET

The Muddlers Club, Belfast, which takes its name from a secret society and serves up clever dishes from its Cathedral Quarter kitchen, has earned another Michelin star

The Muddlers Club, Belfast, which takes its name from a secret society and serves up clever dishes from its Cathedral Quarter kitchen, has earned another Michelin star

The Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast, formerly a Victorian gin palace

The Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast, formerly a Victorian gin palace

Foodies, you’re in luck. Northern Ireland has a first-rate culinary scene thanks to the bounty of fish from its lakes and coastline and top-quality meats and vegetables from its rolling green farmland.

An ever-growing list of creative restaurants offers a contemporary take on these ingredients, while hidden-gem pubs and cafes give a taste of more traditional local fare.

Treat your palate to a Michelin-starred meal in Belfast. One-starred OX, overlooking the River Lagan, sees chef-owner Stephen Toman plate up a sophisticated showcase of seasonal local produce. Another star has been handed to The Muddlers Club, which takes its name from a secret society and serves up clever dishes from its Cathedral Quarter kitchen.

It’s a rite of passage to begin your day with an Ulster Fry, a comforting, carb-loaded plate of soda bread, black pudding, potato farl and more. Or pick up breakfast baps in St George’s Market, one of Belfast’s oldest attractions.

If you’re self-catering, why not forage for wild spring shoots and fungi in County Armagh or shop for ultra-fresh produce in weekend farmers markets, to whip up your own culinary wonders.

Enjoy the freshest of fish at the Mourne Seafood Bar, Belfast

Enjoy the freshest of fish at the Mourne Seafood Bar, Belfast

Northern Ireland’s seafood scene will reel you in too. Feast on langoustines and smoked haddock risotto at the Mourne Seafood Bar, or tuck into fish caught by local boats at Harry’s Shack along the sweeping Portstewart Strand.

Drop into cosy, time-honoured pubs for a pint and a chat. There’s The Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast, formerly a Victorian gin palace; Antrim’s The Crosskeys Inn, Northern Ireland’s oldest thatched pub and a hotspot for musicians; and Armagh’s Hole In The Wall, a jail-turned-pub that’s said to be haunted by a ghost.

The Crosskeys Inn, County Antrim, is Northern Ireland's oldest thatched pub and a hotspot for musicians

The Crosskeys Inn, County Antrim, is Northern Ireland’s oldest thatched pub and a hotspot for musicians

Make your own micro-beer in the Walled City Brewery in Derry-Londonderry – or sip on their ‘Derrymilk’ chocolate stout. 

Try gin distilled with wild botanicals on a tour of Rademon Estate in Down, or savour the smooth, triple-distilled whiskey of the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world – Bushmills of Antrim.

With culture, history and awe-inspiring landscapes, there’s so much to discover on a short break to Northern Ireland.

So why not start planning your adventure now? 

BOOK YOUR SHORT BREAK TO NORTHERN IRELAND WITH BRITISH AIRWAYS HOLIDAYS

Dark Hedges, an 18th-century avenue of beech trees in County Antrim, doubled as 'Kingsroad' in Game of Thrones®

Dark Hedges, an 18th-century avenue of beech trees in County Antrim, doubled as ‘Kingsroad’ in Game of Thrones®

British Airways Holidays makes it simple to book a spectacular short break to Northern Ireland – and it’s guaranteed to be good value.

You can book now and pay later with deposits from as little as £60 per person*. Plus, you can pay off the balance in as many installments as you like, with the balance due four weeks before you travel on a short-haul break.

For your convenience a 23kg checked bag is included, so you can bring home plenty of gifts for loved ones and mementoes of your trip.

Accommodation can be seamlessly sorted too – an assortment of quality hotels rated three stars and upwards partner with British Airways Holidays, so you’ll find the perfect spot whether you’re seeking high-end luxury or a low-cost getaway.

And if you’re planning a fly-drive break, you’ll get the most competitive prices when you book your car hire with Budget or Avis through British Airways Holidays. As well as great rates, you’ll enjoy flexibility, a choice of vehicle types and pick-up and drop-off locations.

It pays to have peace of mind, too. Trips booked through British Airways Holidays are all ATOL protected, and there’s a guaranteed refund within 14 days if the trip can’t be fulfilled.

Moreover, there’s a 24-hour holiday helpline on hand to assist you, should you have any queries during your getaway.*

Click HERE to book your short break to Northern Ireland now

*Prices are subject to change and availability. Price stated is per person based on 2 adults sharing, inclusive of all airport taxes, fees and charges (additional resort/hotel fees, taxes and service charges may apply) and includes return economy (Euro Traveller) flights from London Heathrow to Belfast International Airport, 23kg baggage per person and a minimum of two nights 4* accommodation in Belfast for travel on selected dates between 1 March 2024 – 31 March 2024 inclusive only. Amendment and cancellation fees are set-out at the time of booking. Full terms and conditions at ba.com/northernireland British Airways Holidays reserve the right to amend or withdraw this offer at any time. Package Holidays from British Airways Holidays Ltd are ATOL protected (No. 5985). British Airways Holidays standard terms and conditions and conditions of carriage apply. All information is correct at time of publishing – 21st February 2024, errors and omissions excepted (E&OE). 

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