Holiday Cottages in Northern Ireland
For far too many years, Northern Ireland has been in the minds of people for the wrong reasons. The Troubles have overshadowed the natural magnificence of the landscape, the rich and diverse culture, and the many other attributes that makes it such a fantastic holiday destination. Stretching from Coleraine in the north to Warrenpoint in the south, and from Belfast to Strabane, a self-catering holiday in Northern Ireland is one you'll never forget.
Country Antrim is brimming with exciting attractions to appeal to all holiday makers. It's home to one of the United Kingdom's most spectacular natural wonders: the Giant's Causeway. These incredible basalt columns were caused by a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago, and are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's safe to say you won't see anything like them anywhere in the UK, if not the world.
Country Antrim is ideal for the person who enjoys being active outdoors, with plenty of walking and cycling trails, golf galore, historical castles, beautiful gardens, and lots of opportunity to get wet from surfing to coasteering. From ancient landmarks to the very modern city of Belfast, Antrim's charms will keep you happily occupied whether you're there for a weekend or several weeks.
Armagh celebrates its history enthusiastically. The Armagh Public Library was founded in 1771, and is a brilliant resource if you're researching your family background. Armagh County Museum is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours learning about the past, while Navan Centre and Fort takes you to the heart of a fascinating archaeological site. While there is ample choice for energetic visitors, Armagh also has two impressive cathedrals, an engaging planetarium, and lots of wonderful gardens, including those at Ardress House. The area is renowned for the quality of its apples, so make sure you visit the orchards while you are there.
Down is a fantastic choice for those wanting to explore the mountains around Mourne country. Not only is it beloved by walkers, it has expertly designed golf courses which will challenge even the lowest handicapped player. While you're in Down be sure to check out the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, where kids and young-at-heart can get a good impression of what life was like back in the day. Tollymore Forest Park in Newcastle, and the Silent Valley and Ben Crom Reservoirs are great for a day out, while gardeners will appreciate the beauty of the Walled Garden in Bangor, and the grounds of Castle Ward.
Londonderry is fortunate to have some of the best coastline in the country. A terrific way to see it is on the train from Londonderry to Coleraine, while driving along the Causeway Coastal Route is a pleasure in life that should not be missed. Derry boasts not one, but three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB): The Causeway Coast, Binevenagh, and the Causeway Coast and Glens, including Rathlin Island. The capital of Londonderry is surrounded by wide walls which you can walk along, circuiting the city at your own pace and stopping to explore areas which catch your attention.
Tyrone and the Sperrins (an AONB) are a great combination of rivers and mountains, forests and peaceful countryside. Ancient remnants of Tyrone's ancestors, such as the Beaghmore Stone Circles, are still visible, providing an intriguing look into the lives of people living 6,000 years ago. More recently, Tyrone was the leaving point for immigrants seeking to start a new life in America, and you can learn about them at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh. The Abingdon Collection is a quirky museum specialising in military and automotive memorabilia. Ramblers are spoiled for choice with miles of designated routes, and cyclists aren't forgotten either, but even a stroll through Peatlands Park or the gardens at Argory will is a delight for the senses.
The appeal of Northern Ireland should not be underestimated. The allure of its natural beauty coupled with an ingrained sense of hospitality and welcome will ensure you have a holiday you'll never forget.