Are you including Belfast in your Ireland budget vacation itinerary?
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From Dublin, Belfast is a quick 2-hour trip by train and if you are renting a car, the journey is also doable.
What's great about these 10 day trips from Belfast is that you do not require a rental car.
Most of the 10 great attractions that you'll find in this blog post are within an hour or two of Northern Ireland’s capital city, which itself has a range of fun things to do, including the fabulous Titanic Belfast and other must-see attractions.
The Giant’s Causeway
No visit to Northern Ireland is complete without seeing the legendary Giant’s Causeway.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated on the rugged shores of the North Atlantic, and it has been capturing the imagination of visitors for decades.
What makes this place so dramatic is its unusual interlocking basalt rocks that are hexagonal in shape and that were probably formed by a volcanic eruption millions of years ago.
Or, if you believe in Irish myths and legends, they were formed by the mighty Finn McCool and his enemy Benandonner, who between them tore up great chunks of the Antrim landscape and hurled them into the sea.
In between those basalt formations you’ll find the Wishing Chair, the Camel’s Back, and the Giant’s Boot.
The Giant’s Causeway Day Trip from Belfast with Viator Tours is the perfect way to see this amazing attraction. But that’s not all you’ll see on this tour.
Also included in the full-day itinerary are stops at Carrickfergus Castle, Dunluce Castle, The Dark Hedges, Carnlough Harbour, and the Caves of Cushendun, made famous on the HBO series Game of Thrones.
If you want to enter the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, you will need to pay the fee for that as it is not included in this tour.
However, other similar day trips from Belfast include admission fees. They include the following:
Giant's Causeway Tour from Belfast – Luxury Coach + All Admissions Included; the Game of Thrones Locations Tour Including Westeros and Giant’s Causeway; the Game of Thrones – Iron Islands and Giant’s Causeway (led by guides who have appeared in the hit show).
Private tours of the Giant's Causeway and surrounding attractions are also available if you'd rather stay away from large groups. They are offered by Belfast Tours NI, Giants Causeway Tours, and Tiny Tours.
Rathlin Island Walking Tour
The tour starts at Ballycastle Pier where you will take the Rathlin Island Ferry to the island, a seven-mile journey (about 50 minutes).
Once you’re on the island, you’ll walk from Church Bay to the oldest lighthouse on the island known as the East Light, which was built in 1847.
From there, you can get fantastic views across the Rathlin Sound to Ireland, Scotland, and the Western Isles.
There are three lighthouses on Rathlin Island.
This moderate walk is very doable on smaller roads, grassy paths, and rolling headlands.
You'll be intrigued by this beautiful place and its stories, including shipwrecks, of which there were about 40 over the centuries, as well as the island’s connection to Robert the Bruce and the discovery of hidden clachans (a term commonly used in Northern Ireland and Scotland to describe a small village or hamlet).
Be prepared for an enjoyable day tour from Belfast as you hear about “stories of Elizabethan treasure, ghastly massacres, and Scandinavian Vikings.”
The price of this 3-hour tour is an affordable £20. The cost of the ferry is not included (approximately £13 return).
How to Get There: You can get a bus from the Europa Bus Station in Belfast directly to the Ballycastle Marine Corner (near the pier). The journey takes about 2 hours and 50 minutes.
The Glens of Antrim
Fancy taking a 6-mile trek of Glenarrif Forest Park, locally known as the Queen of the Glens?
The 1,000-hectare forest includes planted woodland, lakes, outdoor recreation spaces, and areas of conservation.
The Inside Trek, a leader in sustainably-minded hiking trips in Northern Ireland, is the company that leads this challenging hike, the perfect day tour from Belfast.
The hike will take you through the forest, along the edge of steep river gorges as well as spectacular waterfalls.
One of the highlights of this walk is the view of the Mull of Kintyre at the summit.
No need to worry about having to arrange public transportation to the start of this amazing one-day tour.
The folks at The Inside Trek can collect you from your accommodation in Belfast, all in the comfort of a 5- or 7-seater vehicle.
Half-day hikes start at £50 per person, with one-day hikes costing £85 per person.
The cost of the tours includes all equipment, transportation, food, and drink.
The Mourne Mountains Region
The Mountains of Mourne or the “The Mournes” as they are affectionately known in County Down is another region of outstanding beauty in Northern Ireland that you simply can’t miss if are interested in taking a day trip from Belfast.
Mourne Road Tours offers a full- or half-day exploration of the region at an affordable price (£50 per person for the full day and £25 per person for the half-day tour).
Visit the seaside resort of Newcastle where the “Mourne sweeps down to the sea,” borrowing a line from the Percy French classic, “The Mountains of Mourne.”
Then experience the majestic Mournes, the highest and most dramatic of the mountain ranges in Northern Ireland, on lonely mountain roads where you will see it up close for yourself.
The Murlough National Nature Reserve is yet another stop on this fascinating day tour from Belfast.
The reserve is a 6,000-year-old sand dune system that includes a network of paths and boardwalks.
It is a breeding ground for several birds, and the area is also home to between 50 and 130 common and grey seals.
On this day trip from Belfast, you’ll get to walk through the ancient sand dunes, with miles of Blue Flag beaches stretching along the Down coast, and then visit Dundrum Castle, built around 1180 by the Norman knight John de Courcy.
St. John’s Lighthouse on St. John’s Point is the last stop on the tour.
The lighthouse is painted in a striking combination of yellow and black stripes.
Gobbins Day Tour
The Gobbins Cliff Path, about 20 miles from Belfast, is known as Europe’s most dramatic cliff walk.
The dramatic path was created by Berkeley Deane Wise, a railway engineer, at the turn of the 20th century.
His intention was to create an accessible tourist attraction from Belfast that would be attractive and accessible to all.
When it was opened to the public in 1902, the admission was sixpence to view and was described as a “perfect marvel of engineering.”
Today, the Gobbins Path, built on the edge of the cliffs on the North Channel, is as dramatic as ever, with its original tubular bridge and several other, newer bridges, together with stone-carved staircases that bring visitors through caves and into under-sea tunnels.
Witness the stunning rock formations in the Gobbins’ caves, the result of millions of years of calcium deposits on the seafloor that solidified into a limestone that can be seen in these dark areas of the attraction.
You can see this attraction for yourself on a day trip from Belfast that is organized by Glenara Elite Travel.
The cost of the fully guided tour, which is available in July and August only, costs $300 for 4 people. The tour operator will pick you up from your hotel in Belfast.
Lough Neagh Tours
The freshwater lake known as Lough Neagh (pronounced “nay”) is the largest on the island of Ireland.
A recent article in National Geographic referred to it as Ireland’s answer to Italy’s Lake Como.
The area in County Armagh is popular with locals and tourists who flock to places like Oxford Island, a National Nature Reserve where you will find a range of natural habitats such as reed beds, wildlife ponds, forests, and wildflower meadows.
For a fun day out on the lake — and only a half-hour from Belfast — you can immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy a delicious eel supper prepared by a fourth-generation eel fisherman and his family at the Lock Keeper’s Cottage.
The Food and Drink Tour – Life on the Shoreline, Lough Neagh, is organized by Lough Neagh Tours, a local company that arranges a wide variety of guided and self-guided tours that focus on the heritage, history, and hospitality around this unique lake.
Meet artisans Bronagh Duffin of Bakehouse NI and Ann Marie Collins of Annie’s Delights who will help prepare this special feast that also includes a sampling of local whiskey, Gold & Browne’s handmade chocolate brownies, and traditional Irish music at the Crosskey’s Inn, the oldest thatched pub in Ireland.
Pickup in Belfast city center is available for this tour.
Tour of Belfast and the Ards Peninsula
Have you heard of the Ards Peninsula?
This beautiful region only an hour’s drive from Belfast is in County Down and separates Strangford Lough from the North Channel of the Irish Sea.
On this full-day tour from Belfast, you’ll get to spend the morning in this beautiful region with tour guide Lorraine, a Belfast native, and professional tour guide.
Lorraine typically combines a bit of Northern Ireland politics (not too much!) with social history, sightseeing, nature, and visitor attractions.
Expect to stop at the Grey Abbey ruins, a 12th-century monastery and cemetery, as well as Mount Stewart House & Gardens, built in 1820 for the Marquess of Londonderry and now managed by The National Trust.
On your tour of Belfast with Lorraine expect to see many of the city’s Victorian buildings, its pubs, and adjacent quaint alleyways, and of course the infamous murals and the Peace Wall that still divides the Protestant and Catholic communities in the city.
The cost of the tour is $534 and is suitable for a group of 8 people.
Meeting point options include Belfast’s rail or bus station, the cruise ship port, the airport, your hotel, or any other place where you are staying in Belfast.
Navan Centre & Fort and Armagh Day Trip
Once considered the sacred capital of Ulster and an important pre-Christian royal site, the Navan Centre & Fort was once home to the Emain Macha, named after the children of the Goddess Macha who reputedly established the fort thousands of years ago.
Travel guide, local historian, and Irish history specialist Barry will take you to this wonderful attraction, where, as he says, “myth and reality meet.”
It is a place where living history characters bring ancient Ireland to life in replica Iron Age dwellings.
On this full-day tour from Belfast, you will also visit the city of Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, and the seat of the archbishops of Armagh, representing both the Catholic and Protestant faiths.
While there, you’ll get to visit the city’s two magnificent cathedrals, St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Roman Catholic) and St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland), where Brian Boru, once the High King of Ireland, is reputedly buried.
The cost of the 7-hour tour is suitable for up to 6 people at a cost of $465.
Take a trip across the province either by private tour or on Translink to the beautiful city of Derry (also known as Londonderry).
If you choose to do this without a guide, it’s fairly easy to get to Northern Ireland’s second-largest city by public transportation.
Simply take the Translink train from Belfast to Derry, which runs every hour and takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
You’ll find the journey is comfortable and the route the train takes through the countryside and along the ocean as it approaches Derry is beautiful.
Be sure to sit on the right-hand side of the train as you’re going north to Derry as you catch the best scenery on this side.
Once you’re in Derry, there’s a lot to see including its famous city walls, St. Columb’s Cathedral, and Guildhall, among other attractions.
You can also choose to take a private tour with Ireland Tourism Ambassador David Douglas of Derrie Danders.
David knows his hometown well and you’ll get a really great introduction to the city in his 2-hour walking tour.
He offers several different tours for those curious to find out more about Derry.
Check them out on TripAdvisor and read some of David’s glowing reviews.
Game of Thrones Private Land Rover Tour
There is a range of Game of Thrones tours from Belfast to choose from, but this one is a great day out for a group of 4 people, with two couples sharing the cost.
Your guide Adrian, who worked as a photo double for the character Ser Davos on the hit HBO series, will take you on a 10-hour Game of Thrones journey.
Stop at Larrybane Quarry, The Dark Hedges, the Cushenden Caves, Ballintoy Harbour, and much more.
There are two itineraries to choose from on this epic day tour from Belfast. Adrian brings props and costumes from the show so that you can really journey back in time.
The cost is £600 for 4.
Are any one of these 10 day trips from Belfast on your itinerary? Let me know in the comments below.