Cheap flights to Northern Ireland

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Northern Ireland is jam-packed with attractions – from the majestic Mourne Mountains and Sperrins, an area of outstanding natural beauty, to Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in Ireland and the UK, and Lough Erne, the Bann, Foyle, Blackwater and Lagan rivers, wild Rathlin Island off Antrim’s coast, and, of course, its bustling old cities Belfast and Londonderry.

The Causeway Coastal Route is justifiably famous. It covers 129km (80 miles) of coastline across two counties, beginning in Belfast and ending in Londonderry. Highlights include the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, Glenariff Forest Park and White Rocks Beach.

The region is composed of six of the nine counties of the Irish province of Ulster. Fermanagh, Antrim, Tyrone, Londonderry, Armagh and Down are the six, partitioned in 1920, and subject to decades of conflict that ended (or started to end) with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

Outside these six, the other three counties of the historic province of Ulster in the Republic of Ireland are Monaghan, Cavan, and Donegal.

Quite possibly, Northern Ireland’s greatest attraction is its people, who, like their Southern Irish neighbours, are friendly and hospitable, with a passion for the “craic”.

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Northern Ireland climate

Northern Ireland – the six counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone on the north east side of Ireland – has a temperate maritime climate, like the rest of the country. It is influenced by the Gulf Stream which makes Ireland warmer than it should be given its latitude. The summers are warm and the winters are mild. Rain, however, is never far away, and the north of the country gets more snow than the republic during the winter.

When is the best time to fly to Northern Ireland?

Peak season:

The summer months of July and August generally enjoy the best weather. This is festival season so Northern Ireland flights and accommodation are in high demand.

Off season:

There is no off-peak season, per se. The cities of Londonderry and Belfast have become popular city-break destinations year-round. Northern Ireland’s winters are mild with very little snow.

Getting around Northern Ireland

The province is so small that it is not necessary to take Northern Ireland flights to get around. There are efficient public transport (bus and train) links. Many visitors from the UK bring their cars on the ferries that ply the seas between Ireland and the UK. Major rental-car companies are represented at the region’s airports. 

What is good to know if travelling to Northern Ireland?

  • The Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast is a luscious gin palace. It is the only bar owned by the National Trust. Black-taxi tours of the Shankill and Falls Roads, Protestant and Catholic areas divided by peace lines, shine a light on more troubled days. Other tours take in the university quarter and the Titanic trail (where visitors can take a virtual tour of the Titanic story using the latest GPS-based technology, the Node explorer), the ill-fated ship was built in the Harland and Wolff shipyard. Carrickfergus,  a well-preserved early medieval castle, sits on the edge of Belfast Lough. Touring the castle, there are life-size historic figures depicting everyday scenes.
  • Londonderry: the city walls that held firm during the Siege of Derry in 1658 can be walked.
  • The Giants Causeway in Antrim – a grouping of about 40,000 basalt columns, the result of a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago – is Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage site. According to legend, the Irish giant, Finn McCool built them in order to reach his love, a giantess who lived in Scotland), there is a visitors’ centre and a souvenir shop. The Bushmills Distillery is just two miles away and is open for tours. It is the only active Irish distillery open to visitors. Carrickarede rope bridge – 24 metres (80 feet) up – in Ballintoy can be crossed for the princely sum of £2 between the months of April and September.
  • Florence Court in county Fermanagh dates from the 18th century, where the Earls of Enniskillen lived. The house and grounds are open to the public. Mount Stewart on Strangford Lough in Down is also open to the public and its grounds, created in the 1920s are said to be among the greatest in the UK.

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