Yesterday marked the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland, which separated from the rest of Ireland to become part of the UK on May 3, 1921 with the Government of Ireland Act. Given current crowd restrictions and political sensitivities, it was a pretty low-key affair. I found it quite poignant that each school planted a native tree to honor the occasion and reflect upon what Northern Ireland's next 100 years will look like. I hope sometime in those next 100 years you'll explore the UK's smallest constituency for its large amount of culture, history, cuisine, and captivating landscapes.
Begin in Belfast, then head to the otherworldly coastline of Giants Causeway and off again to more remote experiences to get the authentic flavor of life in this vibrant country, like observing a special, private demonstration of some lively, hard-working sheepdogs in action. Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, and the 19th century was its golden age; a leader in the Industrial Revolution, Belfast was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1888. It's a compact city with a rich legacy of Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian architecture. You must add a drive along the spectacular 120-mile Causeway Coastal Route, ranked one of the world's Top Five Road Trips for its ever-changing tapestry of scenery and colors. Here are some other highlights of Northern Island not to miss!
This modern, world-class museum (pictured above) is in a striking aluminum-clad building designed to resemble the hull of a ship and built on the actual site of the former shipyard where the Titanic was built. The museum helped transform Belfast, and since it's opening in 2012 has won 15 awards including World's Leading Tourism Attraction Award at the World Travel Awards in 2016. We can arrange a private, guided visit of this fascinating museum to uncover the legends of the infamous Titanic and to step aboard the Nomadic, which took passengers to the ill-fated ship.
NORTHERN IRELAND FOODIE FAVES
Savor a delicious day and meet lovely locals in County Down, a region renowned for having more award-winning food producers and restaurants than anywhere else in Northern Ireland. You'll taste artisan food and drinks, meet the producers, and learn more about the county's Irish food scene with an exclusive bread-baking lesson. Sample authentic cider from a wonderful, 5th generation family business. Hit the streets of Portrush on a delightfully delicious foodie walking trail, and take an interactive beer masterclass with a talented brewer as you taste 10 superb craft beers. Cheers!
THE GIANT’S CAUSEWAY
Northern Ireland's only World Heritage Site (awarded 1986) is the captivating Giant’s Causeway. It's designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and oft referred to as the Eighth Natural Wonder of the World. A volcanic eruption 60 million years ago created approximately 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that you'll continuously marvel at on a privately guided tour, followed by a nip of whiskey from reputedly the oldest whiskey distillery in the world.
Close to Giant’s Causeway you'll find the picturesque ruins of Dunluce Castle, a medieval castle that served as headquarters for the MacDonnell Clan. Strikingly situated on romantic, rocky cliffs overlooking the North Atlantic, it has also been inhabited by the feuding McQuillan clan. Part of the magnificent castle fell into the sea one stormy night in 1639, which only adds to its allure.
OLD BUSHMILLS DISTILLERY
Old Bushmills Distillery prides itself in being the oldest distillery in Ireland; its license dates back to 1608, though whiskey was likely made here at least 200 years before that. For generations, they've believed hand-crafting small batches is how to produce the smoothest Irish whiskey. We can arrange for a guided tour through the whiskey production floor to watch the whiskey-making process from start to smooth finish.
Nine Muses Travel can arrange an exclusive, privately guided tour of Hillsborough Castle, the Queen’s official residence in Northern Ireland as well as the home of Northern Ireland's Secretary of State since the 1970s. It's a working royal palace, and you'll be a guest of honor!
SUNRISE SEA FISHING
Explore the Causeway Coast in a unique way, by going asea at sunrise to reel in your catch of the day and have it cooked by a professional chef for breakfast. Sail past islands and stunning coastal features and alongside sea-life to watch the sun ascend over Dunluce Castle, fishing rod in hand. Unforgettable!
THE DARK HEDGES
Game of Thrones fans know this site as the "Kingsroad," that led Arya Stark away from King's Landing in the company of new Night's Watch recruits. This tunneled row of gnarly beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the 1800s to impress visitors approaching their home, Gracehill House, and it's been impressing everybody else since.
PRIVATE WALKING TOUR OF BELFAST
Nine Muses Travel specializes in private tours with specialist guides, and you'll appreciate this special attention as you hear more of the Belfast's turbulent past. Your guide will explain how The Troubles began, telling the stories of the people involved, their role in the conflict, and the effects of attacks and incidents on the city. You'll also discover how the city progressed since the Peace Process and gain an objective and engaging insight into Northern Ireland's historic conflicts.
WHERE TO STAY
Culloden Estate and Spa in Belfast is a dream... a majestic Gothic mansion, secluded by 12 acres of spectacular gardens and woodland. Nine Muses Travel clients receive these complimentary amenities: breakfast daily, a traditional afternoon tea for two, hotel car transfer to the city center, and more!
WHY USE A TRAVEL ADVISOR?
Nine Muses Travel can custom build a completely private itinerary just for you, your family, or your group. We can arrange rental vehicles, private guides, and the best accommodations to maximize your time, with expert advice on how to get the most out of any destination. I can also INCLUDE these amenities at the finest hotels across the globe.
Complimentary room upgrades at check-in, subject to availability
Complimentary daily breakfast
Early check-in / late check-out, subject to availability
Nine Muses Travel works with exceptional land operators who add unparalleled value:
RISK-FREE bookings you can change (dates & destination!) for any reason up to 7 days prior
World Travel & Tourism Council "Safe Travels" stamp of approval
Arrangements for PCR testing internationally before your return to the U.S.
Expert guides: historians, naturalists, artists, unique locals with insider tips & insights
Flexibility with your touring - See and do as much, or as little, as you prefer!
24/7 real-time support
I design journeys to inspire artists, arts lovers, and intellectually curious travelers seeking authentic arts, culture, history, and cuisine for life-changing, joyful discoveries with special insider access and amenities, all over the world. Let's start planning your next adventure!
Danielle Dybiec | Founder & President