In late 2012, was living in the UK and knew I’d be moving back to the USA by the end of the year. I did also knew that there were 2 things I HAD to do before leaving Europe: Visit Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and go to the Christmas Markets in Germany. I scheduled both of these as solo trips as I wanted to make sure I got to do everything I wanted and go completely at my own pace, which can be super slow when I have my camera with me. For my first trip, I spent a weekend in Belfast; a perfect spot for a solo traveler.
It was November 2012, I was recovering from a nasty cold, but the weather held out for me. I spent a long weekend in the nation’s capital and made the most of the two full days I had in-country. One day I took the Giant’s Causeway and Antrim Coast tour with Belfast City Sightseeing, which included a stop at Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery (for lunch only), and made a few other short stops. As a solo traveler, without a car, I was very happy with my tour. The guide was friendly and we had ample time at each location. My ONLY suggestion would be that, especially if you go in Autumn/Winter, that you choose a tour that hits Giant’s Causeway in the late-morning / early-afternoon. We arrived late-afternoon and I had to run down to the site to have a mere 30min taking photos before we lost the light completely. The site was absolutely stunning and I highly recommend paying this natural wonder a visit. Here are a few shots from the day:
My second day included a full-day Big Red Bus tour – Belfast City Sightseeing Tour. This tour is definitely worth the money, especially on a beautiful day like I had, and I happily traveled around the city, seeing a lot of historical sights, including the Shankhill area. I did not get to spend enough time in that area and decided I’d head back the next morning, before my flight home. I did, however, get to see the Stormont and Parliament Buildings, The Belfast Peace Wall and even the lamppost that was the inspiration the one featured in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Before catching my flight home, I went back to the Shankhill area and walked among the amazing street art, taking the time to absorb as much magnificence as I possibly could. I would definitely visit the area again and although I was alone (and walking around with a couple thousand dollars worth of camera equipment), I never felt any concern for my safety.
I stayed at the budget friendly ibis Belfast City Center hotel and had many satisfying meals in their restaurant. No trip to Ireland (Northern or Southern) is complete without a trip to the Avoca Cafe. I spent a glorious afternoon in their Belfast cafe and did a bit of shopping at the local street market.
Belfast, and the surrounding areas is a great place for a long weekend or holiday. I had a lovely time on my trip and highly recommend this wonderful city!