Northern Ireland and Donegal
The historic Irish province of Ulster, comprising Northern Ireland and Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, has come a long way since the troubles of Belfast and Londonderry. Today you can enjoy culture in revitalised Belfast, explore the thrilling Antrim Coast especially at Giant’s Causeway, play championship golf and discover Ireland’s most traditional corner in wildly beautiful Donegal.
Boasting a newly re-energised capital city, one of the world’s great drives and a history as rich as anywhere in the Republic, Northern Ireland is a uniquely exciting place to visit. There are over nine thousand years of human history to discover in the birthplace of Saint Patrick and the Titanic, and some utterly astonishingly beautiful landscapes to explore from the Giant’s Causeway on the coast of Antrim to the Mountains of Mourne. There are also medieval castles as fine as any on the island, remote early Christian monastic sites, round towers and Celtic crosses to discover, all with fascinating stories to tell.
The capital city and gateway to Northern Ireland, Belfast has emerged from its sectarian troubles and is now enjoying a new lease of life. Its restaurants, pubs and cultural venues are alive with great food, chatter and music, and absorbing exhibitions and museums that will let you learn the real story of the famously ‘unsinkable’ Titanic or marvel at the incredible workmanship of Bronze Age metalworkers.
Heading north from Belfast, you will soon be following the coast on an unforgettable road trip winding through the nine Glens of Antrim between picturesque villages such as Ballintoy and an ever-changing tapestry of scenery and colors, much of which appeared in the blockbuster series Game of Thrones. The climax of the journey is the Giant's Causeway on the North Antrim coast, where tens of thousands of basalt columns have created one of the world’s most bizarrely beautiful coastal landscapes. When not exploring, you can relax with a game of golf at some of Britain’s finest golf courses and savour the smoky peatiness of the world’s oldest whiskey.
Across the border and into Donegal, you’ll find Ireland’s most traditional region. Gaelic is still spoken by many, and the warmth and hospitality of the people is only matched by the raw beauty of nature from Europe’s highest sea cliffs at Slieve League to the wilderness mountains and lakes of Glenveagh National Park watched over by golden eagles. Here you will find incredible walking, cycling, fishing and surfing, lonely beaches and, always, serendipitously just around the corner a traditional pub with a pint or two of Guinness, some fabulous fresh seafood and, more often than not, a fiddler, a pennywhistler and button accordionist waiting to reel and jig you into a state of utter contentedness.
Donegal, Northern Ireland
Perched on the shores of tranquil Lough Eske amongst the rural beauty of Donegal, the luxurious Harvey’s Point is a secluded hideaway amongst some of Ireland’s most stunning natural scenery.
The Merchant Hotel
Belfast, Northern Ireland and Donegal, Ireland
On the edge of Belfast’s trendy Cathedral Quarter, the Merchant Hotel is a unique blend of Victorian grandeur and Art Deco elegance, housed inside the former Ulster Bank headquarters, dating back to 1860.
Culloden Estate & Spa
Holyrood, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Culloden Estate & Spa is a luxurious five-star hotel situated above Belfast Lough in the Holywood Hills just outside the city. A peaceful base for exploring historic Belfast, Culloden Estate offers a fantastic spa, polished service and fabulous views.