Backpacking Northern Ireland

Evergreen meadows, steep cliffs, good whisky, and a hearty pub meal in the evening – if this is your ideal holiday, you should head to Northern Ireland. Unlike the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland is a part of Great Britain. You shouldn’t go without a raincoat and some sturdy shoes, but with the right equipment, the wet weather can have its good sides. When there’s lots of fog above the meadows, it’s easier to buy into the fantasy that you might come across a leprechaun…

Have fun exploring our ideal backpacking route for Northern Ireland.


Important Basics

Official Language

English

Capital City

Belfast (London)

Form of Government

Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy

Phone Country Code

+44

Currency

Pound sterling

Climate

ø Maximum daytime temperature: 7 to 19°C

Ø Maximum night temperature: 3 to 12°C

Summer: June to September, Winter: December to February

Fun Fact

The prefix “Mac”, widely used in names, means “son of”.

Cities

Belfast

Belfast is still very much a hidden gem among Europe's cities. You won’t have to stroll behind a horde of tourists, and it still has a lot to offer culturally. There’s a great selection of pubs, which is, for many, one of the main reasons to visit Ireland. A tour of the city will take you past some impressive buildings, such as the City Hall, the Botanical Gardens and Ulster Hall (the city's entertainment centre). Be sure to check the event planner before your stay; you might be able to attend a unique concert or comedy performance at the country’s premier concert hall. In the evening, of course, there’s no way around a pub. After all, it's the perfect way to spend an evening – with a pint, some live music and a mix of locals and travellers.

In Belfast, you can sleep in one of the hostels in the city centre. For €20 per night, you can get a bed in an 8-bed dorm.

Bushmills

To get up north to Bushmills, it’s best to hire a car. The quickest route to the north coast is about an hour and a half by car. Bushmills is a small Irish town, just like you’d imagine. But it’s best known for something else: it’s home to the oldest whiskey distillery in the world. Even if you’re not a fan of whiskey, you should definitely make a trip to the Old Bushmills Distillery.

You’ll stay in Bushmills for the next few days, as you can explore the wonders of the Causeway Coast from here without having to move each day. You can spend the night in a local hostel for €20 per night. For this price you’ll get a bed in a 4-bed dorm and potentially meet some fellow travellers for your excursions.

Giant’s Causeway

Just a few minutes’ drive from Bushmills, there’s a unique natural phenomenon – Giant’s Causeway. These are formations of stones arranged in columns and steps along the coast. Irish legend says it

must’ve been built by giants. The shape and arrangement of the stones are so precise that it’s hard to believe that they were formed by nature. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you won’t want to stop exploring!

Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges became well-known through the television series Game of Thrones, in which it was called the King's Road. The seemingly endless avenue of beech trees is a must-see, even if Game of Thrones isn’t your thing! On sunny days, the light falling between the thick branches creates a play of shadows on the ground. On foggy, rainy days the avenue looks like the entrance to a mysterious world.

Carrick-A-Rede

Also on the north coast, not far from Bushmills, is the Carrick-A-Rede region. Most visitors come here to cross the suspension bridge that connects Carrick-A-Rede Island with the mainland. The thrill of crossing the bridge and the incredible views it provides has made this a popular tourist attraction where admission is charged. In any case, leave enough time for a walk along the coast. The flora and fauna up here are very unspoiled and if you pay attention, you might even see dolphins or porpoises swimming along the coast.

Besides the attractions mentioned above, there’s of course much more to discover, like Dunluce Castle or the endless sandy beach of Benone. Your time in Northern Ireland will be exciting and full of new discoveries.

After exploring the north of Northern Ireland, it’s back to the capital. Depending on your schedule, you can spend some more time in Belfast or catch your flight home.


Belfast

Belfast

Belfast is still very much a hidden gem among Europe's cities. You won’t have to stroll behind a horde of tourists, and it still has a lot to offer culturally. There’s a great selection of pubs, which is, for many, one of the main reasons to visit Ireland. A tour of the city will take you past some impressive buildings, such as the City Hall, the Botanical Gardens and Ulster Hall (the city's entertainment centre). Be sure to check the event planner before your stay; you might be able to attend a unique concert or comedy performance at the country’s premier concert hall. In the evening, of course, there’s no way around a pub. After all, it's the perfect way to spend an evening – with a pint, some live music and a mix of locals and travellers.

In Belfast, you can sleep in one of the hostels in the city centre. For €20 per night, you can get a bed in an 8-bed dorm.

Bushmills

Bushmills

To get up north to Bushmills, it’s best to hire a car. The quickest route to the north coast is about an hour and a half by car. Bushmills is a small Irish town, just like you’d imagine. But it’s best known for something else: it’s home to the oldest whiskey distillery in the world. Even if you’re not a fan of whiskey, you should definitely make a trip to the Old Bushmills Distillery.

You’ll stay in Bushmills for the next few days, as you can explore the wonders of the Causeway Coast from here without having to move each day. You can spend the night in a local hostel for €20 per night. For this price you’ll get a bed in a 4-bed dorm and potentially meet some fellow travellers for your excursions.

Giant’s Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

Just a few minutes’ drive from Bushmills, there’s a unique natural phenomenon – Giant’s Causeway. These are formations of stones arranged in columns and steps along the coast. Irish legend says it

must’ve been built by giants. The shape and arrangement of the stones are so precise that it’s hard to believe that they were formed by nature. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you won’t want to stop exploring!

Dark Hedges

Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges became well-known through the television series Game of Thrones, in which it was called the King's Road. The seemingly endless avenue of beech trees is a must-see, even if Game of Thrones isn’t your thing! On sunny days, the light falling between the thick branches creates a play of shadows on the ground. On foggy, rainy days the avenue looks like the entrance to a mysterious world.

Carrick-A-Rede

Carrick-A-Rede

Also on the north coast, not far from Bushmills, is the Carrick-A-Rede region. Most visitors come here to cross the suspension bridge that connects Carrick-A-Rede Island with the mainland. The thrill of crossing the bridge and the incredible views it provides has made this a popular tourist attraction where admission is charged. In any case, leave enough time for a walk along the coast. The flora and fauna up here are very unspoiled and if you pay attention, you might even see dolphins or porpoises swimming along the coast.

Besides the attractions mentioned above, there’s of course much more to discover, like Dunluce Castle or the endless sandy beach of Benone. Your time in Northern Ireland will be exciting and full of new discoveries.

After exploring the north of Northern Ireland, it’s back to the capital. Depending on your schedule, you can spend some more time in Belfast or catch your flight home.

Northern Ireland Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - Belfast
Home - Belfast
Flight
50
8-bed dorm
20
2. Belfast
Belfast
-
8-bed dorm
20
3. Belfast - Bushmills
Belfast - Bushmills
Rental Car
4- bed dorm
20
4. Bushmills
Bushmills
-
4-bed dorm
20
5. Bushmills
Bushmills
-
4-bed dorm
20
6. Bushmills
Bushmills
-
4-bed dorm
20
7. Bushmills – Belfast - Home
Bushmills – Belfast - Home
Rental Car + Flight
50

Total price.

Flights 100,00
Transportation 150,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodation 120,00
Total370,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Irish Breakfast: tomatoes, bacon, egg, toast.. it’s everything you can think of! You’ll be served a lavish breakfast in Northern Ireland.

Soups

Mushroom soup: in Northern Ireland, a creamy mushroom soup served with butter is very popular.

Oyster soup: in coastal areas, oyster soup is a definite favourite.

Main courses

Roast beef: the Northern Irish love roast beef, especially on Sundays. It’s usually served with salad and potatoes.

Bacon: in Belfast bacon is a big hit. Whether as a snack or main course, bacon is a favourite for locals and travellers alike.

Salmon: the Northern Irish are crazy about smoked salmon. It usually comes with salad or potato salad.

Oysters: also considered a main course, oysters are a Northern Irish speciality.

Irish Stew: this is originally from Ireland, but also served in Northern Ireland. It’s lamb with potatoes and onions.

Drinks & Snacks

Bushmills Whiskey: one of the best and highest-quality whiskeys in Northern Ireland. Be sure to try it on a trip to the pub!

Beer: Northern Irish beer is a dream. Kilkeel Whitewater and Hilden are some names you should remember.

Northern Ireland

The exchange rate for 1 British Pound (£1) is around €1.08 (as of March 2020). See prices for certain products and the cost of living below:

Cost of Living

Food

Free Time

Personal Hygiene

Dos

Ask questions: the Irish are very helpful and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

A round on you: if you’re celebrating with a group, you should pay for a round from time to time. If you don’t, this is quickly considered rude.

Host gift: the Northern Irish love to receive gifts. This is particularly important if you’re visiting friends or have been invited somewhere.

Don'ts

Alcohol in public: this is prohibited in Northern Ireland and is enforced with heavy penalties. So, you have to stick to this.

Smoking: smoking is also completely prohibited in public buildings.

Politics: do you want to speak to a local? To be on the safe side, pick a topic other than politics or Northern Ireland itself.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

Yes

Temporary national ID

Yes

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert Koch Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid until the end of your trip. Please also inform yourself on the current entry regulations regarding the Corona virus. Current information about this can be found at your country’s Foreign Office.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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