Holiday inspiration currently loading...
Your exploration of Northern Ireland starts in Belfast.
Your hotel in Belfast
A unique and enchanting property, it’s easy to see why your accommodation in Belfast has been showered with awards. Set within a pair of grand townhouses in the city’s fashionable University District, everything here is just a little extra. With 16 themed rooms paying tribute to some of the province’s most celebrated figures, each enjoys striking decoration, high-quality beds and en-suites and an array of art and antiques form your host’s private collection.
At the head of Belfast Lough, the city is compact and easy to get around, whether by public transport or on foot. Belfast is teeming with a multitude of stylish bars, gourmet restaurants, trendy clubs and some of the best shopping in the UK. Visitors can enjoy traditional Irish music in a local pub or dance the night away to the latest vibes – the choice is yours!
The birthplace of the Titanic, Belfast’s industrial heritage has shaped a city steeped in culture, seen at the City Hall, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and the city’s many preserved historic buildings. Also, the city’s many parks, gardens and galleries offer a perfect haven to relax. Don’t miss the newly refurbished Ulster Museum; it has an enviable collection of Irish art and the wonderful Girona Exhibition of Spanish Armada gold.
Today you will head south to County Down.
Your hotel in County Down
In the historic market town of Castlewellan, your accommodation in Co Down enjoys a long history of providing hospitality. Starting as a nine-bedroom traditional guest house, the hotel has been recently refurbished and expanded to offer 20 stylish bedrooms and an appealing restaurant. Framed by the Mourne mountains and standing right by the entrance to ancient Castlewellan Forest Park, it delivers the perfect opportunity to wrap up well and spend the day exploring the great outdoors.
With a history that covers over 7,000 years, County Down is blessed with a wealth of historic sites and is forever associated with St Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, who is reputed to be buried in the cathedral at Downpatrick. Included in this holiday is entrance to the St Patrick’s Day Centre – a permanent interpretative exhibition centre featuring interactive displays on the life and story of Saint Patrick. High on our recommendations would be Inch Abbey, with its defensive “round tower”, the majestic Grey Abbey ruins, and the spiritual Nendrum, tucked away in a quiet corner of Strangford Lough. This is an abundant nature reserve with seals, geese, terns and wildfowl nestling about its peaceful shores. You’ll also soon appreciate County Down’s contrasts – small green fields set in rolling hills, then the rugged Mountains of Mourne and the highest mountain in Northern Ireland – Slieve Donard.
Today head north to the northern coast of County Antrim. Your destination this evening is the village of Bushmills, famous for its distillery and perfectly placed to explore one of the most scenic parts of Ireland.
Your hotel in County Antrim
Centuries of history exude from the old timber beams and rough plaster walls of this landmark inn. At its heart is the gas-lit sixteenth century snug, with soot-stained walls and ceilings and a pulley suspended above the fireplace. You could spend hours here over a Guinness or a dram, dreaming up romantic notions of encounters gone by. The snug is encased by a ‘mere’ two-hundred year old inn, with an even more modern, yet sympathetically designed, outer shell. Guest rooms are spacious and atmospheric, with individual character and attention to detail to retain design in keeping with the building’s charm. This place is a genuine meeting point for travellers and locals alike, buzzing with conviviality and conversation throughout a jigsaw puzzle of interconnecting public rooms and cosy corners. The outdoor courtyard and terrace come into their own in the summer months, while open peat fires provide the perfect ambience in other seasons.
The famous sights of the Northern Coast, including the geological phenomenon of the Giant’s Causeway, and the much-photographed clifftop ruins of haunting Dunluce Castle, are just a short drive away. For the more adventurous, test your nerve and head for heights by venturing across the suspended rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede. The Bushmills Distillery is just a short walk from the hotel, and a perfect place to end the day with a relaxing “dram.”
For your final adventure we have included a day trip to the peaceful wildlife haven of Rathlin Island that, despite being six miles off-shore, is still home to a vibrant community of around seventy people. In the harbour is the Boathouse, where visitors can discover some of the exciting history, learn about present day island life and see some artefacts from shipwrecks around the island. Enjoy a short walk round to Mill Bay where there’s a colony of seals – they’re fun to just sit and watch! At the other side of the harbour are two churches where visitors can sit quietly or just admire the architecture. At the west of the island is the renowned RSPB Seabird Centre, where puffins, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes can be viewed during the summer months. It’s also home to some magnificent views – on clear days Donegal, the North Antrim coastline, the island of Islay and the Mull of Kintyre can be seen. There are many tales of myth and mystery surrounding Rathlin, the most famous tells of Robert the Bruce.
The ferry ports and airports of Belfast are less than two hours’ drive, with Dublin just over four.
This holiday covers three centres, County Down, County Antrim and Belfast city.
The most convenient ferry routes are the direct routes from southwest Scotland, from Cairnryan or Troon, to Larne or Belfast, overnight from Liverpool to Belfast, or from North Wales to Dublin.
There are also numerous direct flight connections to Belfast from many UK airports including all London airports, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Luton, Southampton, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
£975 per person for November 2023 to March 2024, £1035 per person for April & October, £1085 per person for May to September.
Prices based on seven nights on a bed & breakfast basis, based on two sharing a double or twin room ensuite. This includes tickets to the Titanic Visitor Experience, entry to St Patrick’s Day Centre in Downpatrick, and a day trip to Rathlin Island.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
We work hard to make sure the unexpected doesn’t affect your trip. On rare occasions, changes or cancellations may occur, affecting accommodation, transport or excursions. We are committed to informing you of any such circumstances and will use our knowledge and resources to offer suitable alternatives wherever possible.
You are requesting availability for
This holiday can be arranged from January to November.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
Please note: All fields marked * are required
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
I have known the Giant’s Causeway since I was a wee boy. We visited every summer during the school holidays and, like many, I was entranced by the s...
Belfast was delightful…it was so much fun.James & Rosemary , Pennsylvania, USA