Many don’t know that the Titanic actually was built in and set sail from Belfast. There is an amazing museum that you must visit if you’re in town. City Centre and the Mall are both fun places to go. The Mall has an amazing 360 degree view at the top of the glass dome. and there are plenty of cute coffee shops along the way. St. George’s market is a great place for some locally crafted goods and food. Also, make a stop at Maggie Mays for breakfast or lunch and head to Five Points for snacks and drinks accompanied by live Irish music in a very authentic atmosphere in the evening. For the more adventurous types, there are plenty of outdoor excursions like hiking Cave Hill or visiting the Belfast castle. Be sure to stop at the local Tesco (grocery store) before you head up for a £3 meal deal to take with you! I ate a lot of these!!
Probably my favorite part of Northern Ireland, though was exploring the North Coast for a day. Buying a rambler (bus) all-day ticket lets you get to places like Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, and Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge easily and quickly. You could easily spend more than a day exploring along the north coast, but it’s an amazing experience even if you have only one day to hop around.
If you only have a couple of days in London, the best way to see the most things is…you guessed it…those very touristy double-decker tour buses!! It was actually really fun riding around London on top of one of those, and it really wasn’t a bad price for the time it saved us from walking around. Plus, having a live guide on the bus really makes it interesting and fun! We basically just rode the bus around both days to get an overview and then stopped where we wanted to explore more. Also, our ticket came with a river cruise as well! So that really was a great value! Here were some of the highlights.
Definitely do the London Eye. It’s a little pricey, but it’s a once in a lifetime experience you shouldn’t miss if you can help it. Hyde Park was beautiful! And we got fish and chips at a restaurant in the park for lunch. Big Ben was under construction, so that was a big bummer! But we got to attend Evensong at Westminister Abbey which is a really cool experience, AND you don’t have to pay admission. Visiting the outside of Buckingham Palace and watching the changing of the guard was fun, but I liked the night before when we walked down the road toward the Buckingham Palace and witnessed none other than PRINCE WILLIAM himself riding down the street in his Range Rover and within a couple steps from me. I had a serious fan girl moment, and it was totally unexpected!! But one of my favorite parts of London by far was the London Dungeons. Definitely an experience like none other. You go through the Dungeons as actors recreate parts of London’s not-so-nice history for you, and it was an experience I’ll never forget!
Some of my favorite sites included the iconic Cliffs of Moher, Killary Fjord, Connemara National Park- The Diamond Hill Hike, Dunamase Castle, and Kylemore Abbey. One of my favorite memories of this leg of trip, though, was when we headed to Dog’s Bay a beautiful white sand beach in Ireland of all places! The water was crystal clear and the sand was pure white. You could have easily mistaken your location to be a Caribbean island, which seemed so crazy to me! But as soon as we all jumped in, we realized we definitely weren’t somewhere tropical with the 40 degree water. It was freezing!!! But honestly one of my favorite memories of the whole trip!
We ended our last night in Galway at an authentic Irish pub/restaurant called The Quays. It was the BEST time! The band was amazing!! They played a mix of Irish traditional music and American music with an Irish twist, so we knew a lot of the songs, but it was really a unique experience! Even just wandering around Galway was a highlight and definitely my favorite city in Ireland! A great end to an even better trip! Bonus points if you sing Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl in the car as you drive around! Good times!