If you’re like us and you find yourself running short on time while road tripping around Ireland, you may opt to take a tour to Northern Ireland instead of driving there. After spending 11 days road tripping along the Wild Atlantic Way, we headed into Dublin to return our car and see the city. This afforded us the chance to take a day tour to Northern Ireland.
There are a lot of options available when it comes to selecting day trips from Dublin, so be sure to do your research, read reviews and chose a company that suits your travel style. For us, that perfect came from Paddy Wagon Tours and involved a full day tour visiting the Causeway Coast, Giant’s Causeway, Game of Thrones movie sites and the historic city of Belfast.
Looking for more things to do in Dublin? Check out ==> Book Nerd’s Guide to the Best Bookshops in Dublin
The Dark Hedges- Game of Thrones Movie Site
Game of Thrones is a hot item these days and that was apparent as we rolled up the country back roads towards the infamous Dark Hedges. The hedges themselves are instantly stunning with their contrast to the green fields around them but it is hard to not be distracted by the troves of people walking down the road. Wandering down between the towering trees left me imagining what it would be like to visit this place when nobody else was there.
The trees really are stunning and it’s easy to see why they used this site for the Game of Thrones set. The trees themselves transport you back in time and the estate that they lead to sets up the perfect atmosphere for a visit. Remember to enjoy the visit, linger a while in the back of the crowd and just enjoy your chase to witness such a site.
Upon leaving Dublin our driver warned us that the weather is often fickle and unreliable on the north coast. Despite how nice the weather may be in Dublin it is possible to arrive on the coast and have rain and blinding fog. However, we had the luck of the Irish with us that day and arrived to a crystal clear, sunny coastline.
This afforded us clear views of the coast all the way to Scotland. This meant we added some photo stops to the tour to take in the views. It was really a site to behold, standing in the northernmost part of Ireland on a clear day. The water was bright blue, the grass green and the flowers blooming while the blue waters crashed softly against the cliffs.
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
If you’re looking to add a little exercise to the trip and adrenaline, if you are unsure of heights, then be sure the make the hike to the Carrick-A-Rede Bridge. The bus will stop here, but participation is optional.
The hike is lovely, taking you along the coast with great scenery and eventually ends at a tiny suspension bridge that allows you to cross over to the island of Carrick. The bridge is narrow and airy creating a thrill when the wind picks up a little. We opted to stay on the land side and hiked up even farther to the top of the cliff for some aerial type views of the bridge and coast.
There is much lore that surrounds the history of Giant’s Causeway and it’s creation. While science has proven that these rocks were formed during a volcanic explosion and years of waves crashing against them, the locals have a different theory. There is local lore that tells the tale of the giant, Fin MacCool, who built a bridge between Ireland and Scotland to confront his archrival, Benandonner.
After meeting Benandonner he became scared of the giant and fled back to Ireland where Benandonner followers only to be told that the hiding Finn was in fact a baby. Seeing this, the Scottish giant thought he must be a huge father and fled back to Scotland destroying the bridge. No matter what story you believe, it is a sight you must see on a trip to Ireland.
Rounding out the day was a stop in the iconic city of Belfast. I wasn’t sure what to expect here and our driver did a fantastic job of telling us the history and lore of the city while also helping us get a feel for the transition it has weathered over the centuries.
We were dropped at City Hall and given free time to explore the city. Some of the people on our bus had arranged an optional Black Taxi tour of the city, which takes you into the off limits areas of the city, but this isn’t a standard option on this tour due to time constraints. We spent our time walking about the CBD and just taking in the beautiful buildings and atmosphere.
Back to Dublin
It was a long day but one that we will never forget. I think the highlights for us were without a doubt Giant’s Causeway, the Dark Hedges and the clear sunny day we had of the Causeway Coast that allowed us some spectacular views. Of course, if you are looking for a reliable bus operator that will give you a jam packed day with great sights and good banter, we can certainly recommend Paddy Wagon Tours and their Causeway Trip.
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More on Ireland:
- 9 Castles in Ireland You Cannot Miss
- 33 Ireland Photos Guaranteed to Cause Wanderlust
- Best Road Trip Routes in Ireland
- Ireland Travel Guide
- Best Hikes in the Mourne Mountains of Northern Ireland
- A Short Guide to Renting A Car in Ireland
- Horseback Riding in Dingle, Ireland
- Finding Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland
- The Real Titanic Experience in Ireland
- Climbing Carrauntoohill- Ireland’s Tallest Peak
- Where to Stay in Dublin for 2019
- Best Places to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
- 10 Best Day Trips from Dublin Worth Taking
- 3 Days in Dublin-Things to Do in Dublin
Disclosure: We partnered with Paddy Wagon Tours to bring you this adventure. However, all opinions are 100% mine. All photos owned and created by Divergent Travelers.
For more information on Visiting Ireland and planning your own adventure visit the official tourism page of Ireland.