On our third day in Ireland we headed north to Belfast and Northern Ireland!
Day 3 Itinerary for Monday, February 22, 2016:
- 7:00 AM: Leave Hotel
- 9:00 AM: Explore Belfast
- Belfast Castle
- Crown Bar
- Titanic Museum
- 10:00 AM: Crumlin Road Gaol Tour
- 11:30 AM: Coastal Route to Giant’s Causeway
- 2:30 PM: Giant’s Causeway
- 3:30 PM: Bushmills Distillery
- 4:30 PM: Dunluce Castle/Mermaid Cave
- Hotel: Kilronan Castle Hotel
This is how the day ACTUALLY unfolded:
We woke up early again and headed north toward Belfast. We were super excited that we would be going into a different country and to see how Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland differed. We took a toll tunnel out of Dublin that was pretty neat to go through though it was relatively pricey. There are tolls in various places throughout Ireland. Make sure to have some cash handy to pay these tolls. Also there’s a license plate toll on the M50 but only parts of it. You have to make sure you keep track of them and pay them online, otherwise the rental car company will take the payment and any late fees off your credit card.
The trip to Belfast took much longer than we anticipated because we were hungry and got off the highway in search of food. So by the time we reached the city, we didn’t have time to go sightseeing. We did, however, make sure to take the Crumlin Road Gaol (Jail) tour and it was MAGNIFICENT. We had a tour guide named Gavin and he was incredibly knowledgeable, though slightly hard to understand. He also had a hard time understanding us, which we found to be the norm for most people in Northern Ireland. Our tour lasted about an hour and a half and was very intriguing. Though we couldn’t take video, we were allowed to take still photos!
Once we were finished here, we took the windy coastal route up to the Giant’s Causeway. It took a bit longer to take the coastal route but it was absolutely stunning. The weather changed several times on our way but once we reached the causeway, we were greeted with sunshine!
When we researched the Giant’s Causeway I had it in my head that it was a huge area of these hexagonal stones. While it was a wonderful site and something you definitely shouldn’t miss, I think you’ll be surprised, as we were, to see that it’s not as huge as was anticipated. We loved it nonetheless!
Next up, we went to the Bushmills Distillery which was very close to the causeway. Though the tour was fun and interesting, I was rather bummed that I couldn’t take any pictures during. I did find it interesting how they have various types of whiskey that are aged different lengths of time in various barrels in order to give each a distinct flavor. Though we were given a sample of the 10 and 12 year flavors, we only had a sip of each before we were on our way to go see the Dunluce Castle and Mermaid’s Cave. The bartender must have thought we were crazy returning our nearly full glasses but we didn’t want to have alcohol in our systems when we were driving plus we didn’t have much time before the castle would close!
I am so happy that we decided to go to the Dunluce Castle and Mermaid’s Cave. It is a beautiful castle but beyond that, the views off the side of the cliff that the castle is perched on are stunning. The Mermaid’s Cave is below the castle and if you are willing to walk down and back up approximately 120 stairs, you’ll find yourself in for a treat!
From here we had a LONG drive back to our hotel, so we found a nice little place to eat called Granny Annies and WOW the food was AMAZING especially the chocolate cake and ice cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it right now! Yum!
The trip home was curvy and dark and rainy and the posted speed limits are for crazy people, like my husband, who like to race tiny cars around crazy mountain passes when there’s only enough room for maybe a car and a half to fit between the hedges or rock walls that line the roads. Needless to say, I was happy to be at our hotel! (Don’t get me wrong, my husband is a phenomenal driver. I’m just a worrier.)
The Kilronan Castle Hotel was another beautiful place to stay. It had the real castle feel complete with suits of armor and thrones, while still being very posh and cozy. This was probably my favorite place we stayed while on this trip.
Don’t wait to see what we do on Day 4, our “free” day!