Leaving the city and getting out into the country is a perfect opportunity to see the ‘real’ Ireland. Traveling the winding country roads, one never knows what to expect so visitors should always be careful. On the less traveled roads, it’s not uncommon to encounter sheep, goats, or cattle crossing, so cautious driving should be practiced. Northern Ireland is also home to some of the most beautiful scenery that the country offers. The frequent rain showers, mist, and fog that allow the all the plants to stay green, also can make driving difficult.
Visitors to Belfast who do decide to rent a car will have the opportunity to see some gorgeous parts of the country outside Belfast, which can make for excellent day trips.
Newtonabbey Borough: Located just 10 minutes north of Belfast, this Irish Borough is known as a vacation paradise, and the gateway to Antrim County. Here, visitors will find any and every outdoors activity that Ireland has to offer: beaches, hiking and biking trails, sailing, fishing and more. During the summer months, this is where many Irish spend their time. To get to Newtonabbey Borough Council, just take the M2/M5 Motorway north.
Carrickfergus: This charming little town can be reached in just under half and hour, and features the famous Carrickfergus Castle, built in 1180 to protect Belfast Lough, as well as a beautiful Elizabethan church, and a museum examining the family history of American President Andrew Jackson, whose family is from here. To reach Carrickfergus, take the M2 to the M5, then the Carrickfergus exit.
Glens of Antrim: The Irish are known for spinning yarns and fairy tales, and visiting the Glens, one gets the sense that this pristine and elemental wonderland may indeed house supernatural creatures. Full of greenery, lakes, beaches, ocean vistas, picturesque villages, rivers, and wildlife, these 20 square miles offer the visitor a glimpse of all the diversity the Ireland has to offer at just over an hour’s drive from Belfast. A wonderful way to spend a day is driving through this beautiful area. Visitors wishing to reach Cushendall (the best place to start the journey) can get there by following the M2 (Londonderry signs) to Cushendall Road.
Giant’s Causeway: Also located in the Glens of Antrim is the famous Giant’s Causeway, and probably the most spectacular natural monument in all of Ireland. Steeped in mythology and fables, the Causeway is actually a series of geologic rock formations that resemble part of a giant bridge. The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is set is a picturesque location in the Glens of Antrim.