Northern Ireland at a Glance
Invigorated by an influx of international travellers in the last 10 to 15 years, Northern Ireland has started to come into its own as a leading tourist destination in Europe.
Its people are warm and inviting. The many cultural and heritage attractions are incredibly accessible, with nothing taking more than a two-hour drive to reach. Its landscape is varied, breathtaking and provides remarkable backdrops for photos and memories.
While there are innumerable places to visit in Northern Ireland, these are the ones that should not be missed:
- Belfast: Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast is best known for being the home of the RMS Titanic. In 2012, the city will celebrate the iconic ship’s 100 year anniversary with a grand festival. Beyond the Titanic Belfast offers stunning architecture and a vibrant nightlife.
- Giant’s Causeway: The only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway is a remarkable site consisting of hundreds of thousands of regular, hexagonal-shaped stones that run into the ocean. As its name suggests, legend has it the site was built by giants.
- Derry (or Londonderry): This is the only completely walled city in all of Ireland (Northern and Republic) today, and is considered one of the best walled cities in Europe. The city walls were built between 1613 and 1618 to keep out settlers from England and Scotland.
- Marble Arch Caves Geopark: In county Fermanagh, the Marble Arch Caves are one of the best cave attractions in Europe. Tours of the caves start with a boat trip on an underground river and then explore an array of cave formations. The caves, combined with Cuilcagh Mountain Park have been declared a UNESCO Global Geopark.
Northern Ireland essential facts
- Capital: Belfast
- Driver’s License: An International driving license as well as a major credit card and a driver’s license from your home country are all required to rent a car in Northern Ireland.
- Entry Requirements: A valid passport.
- GMT Time: +1hr. daylight savings time is applied.
- Languages: English.
- National Airlines: Aer Lingus.
- Population: Approximately 1.799 million.
- Electricity: 240volts, 50hertz.
- Departure Tax: No departure tax to be paid locally at the airport.
- Taxes: The Value Added Tax (VAT) on most goods and services is 21%. In order to process a VAT refund you must fill out a Retail Export Form, have customs stamp the form before you leave for home and then mail in the form along with your original receipts from home.
- Tipping: Many restaurants include a service fee on their bills, but if they do not, it is customary to provide a tip of 10 – 15% of the total bill. Hotel porters generally receive 50pence per suitcase. In taxis a tip of 10% is normal.
- Climate: Northern Ireland enjoys a temperate maritime climate. The west typically has more rainfall than the east. Average temperature in July is 17°C and 6°C in January. Weather can be unpredictable, so even on a sunny day it’s best to be prepared for rain!
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