WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE A NORTHERN IRELAND TOUR FROM DUBLIN
If you're visiting Dublin, Ireland, you should add taking a Northern Ireland tour from Dublin to your itinerary. The Irish countryside provides some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet. The picturesque panoramic views at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the Giant's Causeway make a visit to the Northern Ireland coastline a must-do
THE DARK HEDGES
The first stop of the Northern Ireland tour took us to the Dark Hedges. This is a long tunnel of beech trees lining a country road, made famous because it's a location featured in a scene from Game of Thrones. As a Game of Thrones fan, I was certainly looking forward to seeing this attraction in person. At one time there were about 200 trees planted in the 18th century but now there are only about 90 left. Many of the trees have damage from just being old and they are susceptible to damage by storms. It was infuriating to see tourists allowing their children to climb these 200+ year old trees despite the admonishment from the tour guides present.
CARRICK-A-REDE ROPE BRIDGE
Our next stop on the Northern Ireland tour took us to the coastline to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. So what is it? It's a rope bridge that you can cross over to a small island. That's all I knew about it. My friends selected this tour and I didn't ask any questions. I just paid my money and came along for the adventure. We were blessed with phenomenal weather during our trip with mild temperatures and no rain at all. The weather along the coastline was perfect to appreciate the natural beauty of the countryside. As we made the hike from the parking lot down to the rope bridge the views took my breath away. Seeing the towering white cliff faces meet the clear turquoise waters was everything! I was mesmerized.
The wind down near the cliff's edge had started to pick up and I was afraid I would lose my scarf and my hat when I crossed the bridge. As we neared I saw that the bridge wasn't very long, only 60ft, but it was definitely high up, 100ft to be exact. They only allow a few people to cross at a time and only one direction at time which is why the line queues up so long. The wait was worth it to get to the small island. I'm not gonna lie, it was a little bit scary. I'm not afraid of heights but with the wind blowing like it was.
After stopping for a quick lunch at a cute little restaurant near the rope bridge, we headed over to the Giant's Causeway site. This is a World Heritage Site and quite a natural wonder.The Northern Ireland coastline is lined with columns of interlocking hexagonal lava from an ancient volcanic eruption. There are tidal pools to explore down below as well as spectacular views from the path up high on the cliff. I loved walking out to the tidal pools and I even saw scallops! There's also a cool rock feature that I dubbed the mermaid throne which is a great photo-op.
Our tour concluded with a quick stopover in Belfast. We literally had enough time to stop, take a bathroom break, grab a snack and then get back on the bus. The architecture in Belfast was really intriguing and I wish I had the chance to spend a bit more time there to really see how history has shaped UK Northern Ireland to be so different from the country of Ireland.