Northern Ireland Extension (Three Weeks Plus)
For those with the time, entering Northern Ireland via Derry is an uneventful transition. Continuing east, however, brings you to the Antrim Coast and along the famed Giant's Causeway. The three-hour cliff-side walk is stupendous. Photographing Ireland's smallest worship center, St. Gobban's Church in Portbradden, makes a cool souvenir. An appealing stop at the Dunluce Castle and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge makes it a full day. For dinner, the well-priced fare at the Nook near the visitor center is recommended. A night in the restful Valley View B&B makes the day a ruminative gem.
This latter itinerary of Northern Ireland can also be done from Belfast or Dublin. Taking a black-taxi tour of Belfast's impressively sad and moving political and religious murals is a must. Following, the inner sanctums of Northern Ireland's Antrim coast is a gem, especially for those in pursuit of scenic outdoor delights.
Continue to Belfast if you desire, but a trip along the southeastern coast of Northern Ireland, topped by a visit to the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry should be on the list if kids are on board. Then, it is down to Newcastle and the undiscovered Mourne Mountains. A few nights at the eco-friendly Tory Bush Cottages, walks in the Tollymore Forest Park, a visit to Newcastle, and biking around the uninhabited environs make a truly splendid vacation. Pick up the color-coded walking routes (at the Newcastle Tourist Office) through the Mourne Mountains for true off-the-beaten path adventures.