Post-Lockdown Itinerary – Where to go in Ireland

Dreaming of travel? Our Community Assistant, Kaitlyn, has your post-lockdown itinerary covered!

Hi everyone,

If this COVID lockdown has you feeling stuck – you’re not alone. As my desire to travel increases, I’ve started to plan some trip ideas for when the country reopens. Fortunately for us all, we have chosen to study in an absolutely gorgeous place. Ireland is home to so many wonderful towns, outdoor wonders and awesome eateries. When possible, I love to spend my weekends exploring new areas. I know its freezing, but the beaches here offer incredible surfing conditions – purchasing a winter wetsuit was the best decision I made. I recommend trying to find an activity that you love, then planning trips around that theme. Prior to the COVID restrictions, travelling around the country and finding new beach locations made my time here all the more memorable.

Hopefully the ideas listed below can offer you some post lockdown inspiration 🙂

The North Coast

Portrush/Portstewart 1hr 10mins from Belfast 

The North Coast is one of my favourite places to visit. It is relatively close, clocking in at only slightly over 1 hr in the car. Whether you want to take a day trip or a weekend trip, I promise there is something for everyone here! There are plenty of Airbnb’s available if you wanted to book a wee trip away.

Yummy Eateries

Both Portrush and Portstewart are home to some fabulous eateries. If you would like something classic, like Maud’s or Bob and Bert’s you’re in luck! Culture Coffee and The Ramore also make great food.

However, I would be doing you an injustice if I didn’t suggest a hot chocolate and baked good from Vittel in Portstewart. They have only recently opened, so show a new business some love and check out their Instagram page – I promise it is drool worthy!

Water Sports 

There are endless beach options along the beautiful North Coast. I particularly like Portstewart Strand, Downhill Beach and Benone. You can surf, body board, stand up paddle board, kayak or swim. Honestly, if any water sport interests you, you can probably find a location in the North Coast to enjoy it. Both Troggs and Woodies offer rentals J Check them out via the links below:

Game of Thrones Filming Sites

If you’re taking a trip to the North Coast, there are multiple GoT filming sites nearby! GoT was one of my favourite shows, so it is pretty cool to be able to see some of the locations where it was created.

Ballintoy Harbour: Season 2 – when Theon Greyjoy returns to Lordsport Harbour. 

Portstewart Strand: Season 5 – Coast of Dorne.

The Dark Hedges: Season 2 – The Kingsroad, where Arya travelled as a new recruit for the Night’s watch.

Downhill Beach: Season 2 – Where Stannis Baratheon rejects the 7 Gods of Westeros to accept Melisandre’s Lord of Light.

Cushenden Caves: Season 2 – The cove where Melisandre gives birth.

Larrybane Bay and Headland: Season 2 – Where Renly named Brienne of Tarth as his Kings guard.

Coastal Walks

If you enjoy walking, particularly along beachfronts, you will never be short of options in the North Coast. The Giants Causeway, a UNESCO world heritage site, is definitely worth visiting if you are in the area.

Read more about this awesome site here:

Mourne Mountains: 1hr from Belfast

This location is another personal favourite – and again, it isn’t too far of a trip which is always a perk! The Mournes are the highest mountain range in Northern Ireland, featuring 12 peaks over 7 miles. You’ll want to carve out half a day and bring some snacks + plenty of water. It is an extremely rewarding experience to summit any of the peaks, and beautiful photos are a guarantee. Just be careful of extreme weather conditions and check the forecast before you go 🙂

Slemish: 45mins from Belfast

If you’re looking for a little afternoon outing, then climbing Slemish is a great option. The view of the country landscape is gorgeous – it would make a great picnic spot on a non-windy day. The best part, it takes less than 30mins to reach the top.

Galway: 3hrs 50mins from Belfast 

Galway is one of the first places I want to visit post lockdown. I have not yet been able to visit this part of the country, but I have included my planned itinerary below for anyone who wants ideas:

The Food

I have been told that Galway is a gastronomic gem. For any foodies out there, you can take a food tour that explores producers, brewers, chocolatiers and entrepreneurs. It is also home to Michelin Star restaurants.

Medieval History

Galway was once a prosperous medieval town. The same walls that marked the 13th century town are now incorporated into the modern-day architecture. Additionally, St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland.

Latin Quarter

This part of Galway looks like a must visit. It incorporates history and delicious food. It is picturesque and would definitely secure you a great pic for the gram. With bright colours and lively music filling the streets, it looks like a place that would spark joy.

Galway Market

This Market looks like a lovely way to either start the morning or spend the afternoon. Whether you’re an early riser or like sleep in, this looks like a fun activity to include during a trip. The market has been running for centuries. There are multiple kinds of stalls available offering a wide range of cuisines and art.

Galway Atlantaquaria

This is Irelands largest Aquarium. With a range of interactive displays, live presentations and animal interaction sessions, it is bound to be a fun outing.

Dublin: 2hrs from Belfast

Dublin is an extremely easy place to get to! Buses run directly from Belfast to Dublin. With such easy accessibility you could make this a day trip or a weekend trip.

Temple Bar

This picture worthy bar is a must stop for an international student such as myself. This location is constantly featured online and seeing it in person was really cool. I’d definitely recommend stopping past. 

Guinness Storehouse Factory/ Old Jameson Distillery/Irish Whiskey Museum

If you’re into any of the listed drinks, a trip to Dublin would give you an opportunity to explore them in more depth through one of their available tours.

Variety of Cathedrals

Dublin is home to many gorgeous cathedrals with admirable architecture. If you are interested in viewing these, a quick google search will show you a variety of options.

Picnic in Phoenix Park

Whether you’re looking to have a romantic picnic or enjoy snacks with friends, this park offers a beautiful setting. You could pack your own, find some locally sourced food or order a cute grazing box!

Wicklow Mountains 

These beautiful mountains were the filming site for P.s I Love You. They are stunning and if you have the time, definitely worth a visit!

Now this list isn’t extensive, but I hope it at least offers you some inspiration and excitement for activities that you can enjoy post lockdown. The country has many wonders which I hope you get to enjoy at some point during your time at Queen’s.

If you have any other ideas, we would love to hear them!

Photo: Kaitlyn MCaw
Kaitlyn MCaw

Community Assistant and Juris Doctor from Australia

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