SCENIC, HISTORIC AND on the rise.
Those are the words used by travel bible Lonely Planet to describe Northern Ireland in their recent top ten European travel destinations poll.
The North was joined by Iceland, Budapest and Porto amongst others in the piece, which focused on places that are on the up. The travel guide told readers to eschew such favourites as Amsterdam and London in favour of Belfast, Derry and Carrick-a-Rede.
The piece points to Derry’s standing as the UK City of Culture for 2013, but there is far more to the North than just that, we’ve taken a look at five reasons to visit Northern Ireland.
5. It has ice hockey
(Image: Belfast Giants)
Northern Ireland is a country that generally has punched above their weight in a sporting sense, with Olympic champions and the current world number two golfer thrown in. The Belfast Giants are continuing that tradition, but in ice hockey. The team has won three regular-season titles as well as two playoff tournaments.
They play their home games in The Odyssey Arena and were a one-time home of hockey legend Theo Fleury, who racked up a ridiculous 74 points in 34 games.
Their season starts in September.
4. The Ulster American Folk Park
(Image: Discover Northern Ireland)
In this fully-working museum, visitors can tracks the experience of emigrating from Ulster to the United States.
Except instead of Green Card worries and fake ids, this museum is set in the 18th and 19th centuries and tracks Irish emigrants moves to the Frontier of Civil War-era America.
3. Derry City
(Pic: Discover NI)
Who are we to question Lonely Planet? The UK City of Culture for 2013 is a place in the midst of a renaissance. The only surviving walled city in Ireland, Derry is the place to be this year, with a year of cultural and artistic events, as well as a new sense of togetherness.
Add to that spectacular buildings like the Guildhall and Mussenden Temple and you’ve got it all.
2. Belfast and the Titanic
Ok, so celebrating the fact that you built one of the world’s most famous failures is a bit of weird choice, but when it’s done as spectacularly as this, who cares?
The Titanic Museum in Belfast, which opened last year, marks the city’s involvement with the doomed liner and recently played host to a sold-out Game of Thrones exhibition.
1. The Giant’s Causeway
Predictable? Probably. Wrong? Absolutely not.
The rock formation is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of only a few places in the world that can be legitimately described as breathtaking.
So that’s our suggestions, over to you in the comments for your suggestions on things to see and do in Northern Ireland.