There is nothing quite like a road trip to fuel the passion for the outdoors. The sense of freedom it offers can’t be had any other way. For many, some of their favourite personal stories are made of the travel adventures they had on the road.
One such journey for you can be a road trip in Ireland, all the way from the stunning North Sea coast of Northern Ireland (part of United Kingdom) to its capital, Belfast and finally into the Republic of Ireland and its iconic capital, Dublin. The route passes through great coasts, cattle farms, old castles, Irish distilleries & pubs and the M1 motorway between the two famous capitals.
The best part for Indians is that no extra visa is required for either country, as long as you have a valid UK travel visa with you. This is because Northern Ireland is a part of UK, just as Scotland & Wales are, and the Republic of Ireland has open borders with Northern Ireland. So you are actually free to roam wherever you want in all of Ireland without having to reach for your passport.
I went on this journey with my elder brother. We took a flight from London to Belfast (the budget airline, Easy Jet, flies this route regularly) and from Belfast Airport we hired a fancy BMW hatchback and were on our way. Surprisingly, the BMW’s rental cost was almost like that of a regular Ford or Honda hatchback, so it was an easy choice for us.
We started with a short tour of Belfast, the home of the Titanic.
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It’s in the shipyard here that the ill-fated vessel was built and there is a lot of tourism around it now, starting with the very strange looking building called ‘Titanic Belfast’. It is an attraction that tries to recreate the interiors of the RMS Titanic so that you can be taken back in time and inside the ‘unsinkable’ ship, as it was ironically called then.
The next day, we drove up to the north of the country, and saw the eerie ‘Dark Hedges’, which is a ghostly canopy of old bent trees that entirely cover the narrow road, and is a must stop for avid photographers.
The road took us to the northern most part of Ireland which has the ‘seen to be believed’ Causeway Coast. The coast has, along its 100 odd kilometres, white cliffs facing the sea, a 20 meter rope walkway into the small Carrick island, the Unesco World Heritage site Giant’s Causeway and the serene sea facing Dunluce Castle.
It must be said, that the Giant’s Causeway is the star attraction of the north coast. It has these hexagonal shaped vertical volcanic rocks, which are smooth at the top. Packed tightly together, they have the honeycomb appearance, when viewed from above.
We then made our way down south all the way to Dublin via the M1 motorway. Here, if you are fond of your mean machine, you will have a good time putting the pedal to the metal as you try to cover the 250 plus kilometres. Just make sure you notice the speed limit signs from time to time and don’t get a ticket for the thrill, which we almost did.
Now Dublin is a beer lover’s paradise. The Temple Bar district, dotted with small pubs and cafes, is the stuff of legends with the ubiquitous Guinness Irish beer and the one & only ‘Temple Bar’ itself. A pub crawl is the order of the day and of the night as well. The Dublin Castle is also definitely worth a visit along with Dublin’s many churches and museums, its quaint districts, the Old Jameson distillery (Irish whiskey) and all things along the River Liffey.
After 2 days in Dublin, it was time to head back to Belfast on the M1 motorway, return the BMW at the airport and be airborne, flying back to London.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.