Cruising Ireland From North To South – Londonderry, Belfast and Dublin
We finished our cruise through the Nordic countries with a day in Dublin. We were so excited to get a small taste test of Ireland from North to South on this cruise. We started with a stop by Londonderry and a day trip to walk the Giant’s Causeway. Docked in Belfast, we toured along the scenic Ards Peninsula. And a day in Dublin brought back great memories of a visit long ago.
I know some eyes rolled when I talked about all of these stops as “Ireland”. Londonderry, the Giant’s Causeway and Belfast are all in Northern Ireland. This country is in the United Kingdom (UK). In fact the “Troubles” were fought over this exact issue – whether to be part to the UK or distinct. Dublin is in the Republic of Ireland and is not part of the UK. But permit me the liberty to think of the different parts of this great island as facets of the bigger whole.
Anchored in Greencastle For Londonderry
We knew we arrived in Ireland when we awoke and looked out the window at the green rolling hills. Londonderry was on the Foyle River at the end of the long Lough Foyle. Most cruise ships stop in the port in Greencastle at the mouth to the Lough. There was a commercial dock a little further in. But we heard it was a more expensive port to stay at. And not quite as quaint!
Our cruise ship anchored in the bay off of Greencastle around 1pm after the almost 2 day sail from our stay in Iceland. It then was a short tender ride to the dock. But with a 6.5 hour tour, the tender trip back and forth made it a long day.
Drive To Londonderry
I did not look closely at my map before we departed the ship. Even though we were at a very northern point, I was surprised to learn that we actually landed in the Republic of Ireland. As we drove through Londonderry, we passed into Northern Ireland. It was strange to see us change from kilometres to miles. But I was glad they both still drove on the same side of the road.
The bus took us through Londonderry but did not stop. We caught a quick glimpse of the Peace Bridge in town. And saw the golf course recently used for the British Open. But unfortunately we were so late returning from our trip that we could not get off in Londonderry and make our way back to the dock before sailing.
The first stop on our day trip was at a viewpoint out to the Dunluce Castle ruins. The cloudy skies added a moody air to this deserted spot. We did not get a chance to get closer.
But we were quickly hustled back on the bus. Most of this tour day would be spent on a walk along the Giant’s Causeway. Definitely a great stop on our tour of Ireland from north to south.
Walking The Giant’s Causeway
We had a brief 2 hour stop at the Giant’s Causeway. We moved quickly to see as much as we could after the shuttle bus dropped us at the main area. Stone pillars started at ground level and grew in size as we moved along the shore.
The red cliffs above the Giant’s Causeway called to us. As we navigated the slippery mud, we saw amazing sites in the the walls. And stunning sights when we turned the corner at the top.
A walk along the Giant’s Causeway was such a fascinating stop on our tour of Ireland from north to south.
The Modern City Of Belfast
We had one rainy day in Belfast. There were a number of tours that went around the city of Belfast. But we chose to do a tour that took us outside of the city along the Ards Peninsula. What we saw of Belfast we got through the bus windows as our guide provide background information.
As we drove along we saw a lot of street art that depicted the historical conflicts in Northern Ireland. And showed that not all of the conflict was forgotten. But was also saw street art that reflected the cultural revival of this city. We saw much lighter themed street art when we spent a day in Dublin.
Shops and restaurants lined the streets. Our guide talked about the entertainment now available in the city. Belfast certainly looked like a spot to return on a visit to Ireland from North to South.
Along The Ards Peninsula
We left Belfast and drove out along the Ards Peninsula. The main stop on our day trip from Belfast was at Grey Abbey. It was one of Ireland’s most impressive examples of early gothic architecture. We walked around the grounds and looked at the abbey ruins in a beautiful park setting.
Even though it poured rain while we explored, we enjoyed the chance to walk around the ruins of the Grey Abbey. An interesting spot to visit if you travel in Ireland from North to South.
Our final stop was the small fishing village of Donaghadee on the Irish Channel. We walked along the harbour in the rain. But were glad to have a stop for Irish Coffee at the Pier 36 Pub.
As we drove back to Belfast, the Irish Sea presented a very different side of the Ards Penninsula. This was definitely a spot to return to when we come back to visit Ireland from North to South.
Returning For A Day In Dublin
Our final Irish port as we finished up our cruise of the Nordic countries was Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. Many years ago I spent some time in Dublin on business. So it was great to return for a quick day in Dublin. After the ship docked, we took the shuttle from the cruise dock into town.
There were many ways to take a tour in Dublin. We originally planned to take a river tour. Our local friend Jim suggested we do the duck boat tour. But the grey skies did not bode well for the day. So we just walked and walked. We were sure we would find a pub or two if the rain came!
The Trinity College and the Bank of Ireland Cultural and Heritage Centre were along our route as we headed to the Liffey River. The interesting Ha’penny Bridge was a good spot to stop along the river.
There was so much to see when we had a quick visit in Dublin on this return to Ireland.
Delighted By Colourful Dublin
We were amazed at the colourful flowers that decorated the fronts of the stores and pubs. We made sure to stop at the iconic Temple Bar. Even if we did not go in for a beer.
We found a very eclectic collection of street art when we visit Belfast. Much of that carried strong political messages. On our day in Dublin, we were delighted with the whimsical street art we found.
Even on a rainy day in Dublin, we found colour everywhere to brighten our day.
Churches Around Dublin
We marked a number of churches on our online map of Dublin. The vast Christ Church Cathedral sat at the intersection of several streets. It even had a bridge over the road. An interesting statue of a sleeping person was on a bench was outside of the cathedral.
From there we wandered to St Audoens Church. While I enjoyed the grounds outside, David headed inside. It was both pretty and historic. David touched the lucky stone for both of us.
As we walked along we saw the St. Augustine and St. John The Baptist Catholic Church. It was a stunning red stone building on the outside. And inside we found a beautiful and ornate church. I was drawn to the stained glass windows.
We got a little lost on our way to meet our friend. The statues in front of the Whitefriars Carmelite Church beckoned us inside. But we really did not have time to do more than peek into the entrance at this church.
The final church on our map was St. Patricks. We wandered in the park beside the church. But were out of time to explore the inside.
There were so many churches to explore on a visit to Ireland from North to South. So we were glad we took the time in Dublin to see a few more closely. When we hit Southampton, we continued our look at beautiful churches when we visited the Salisbury Cathedral.
Finished With A Pub Stop In Dublin
We headed quickly through the St. Stephen’s Green Park. It looked like a spot to spend more time. But we were more excited when we headed to a local pub and met our friend Jim for a drink.
We were sorry we missed the Guinness tour on this visit to Dublin. But David was glad he got a Guinness at the Doheny & Nesbitt Pub before we left. When we visited Belfast, I had Irish whisky in my first Irish Coffee. Of course, I needed just another one of those. Visiting the whisky distilleries and the Guinness brewery were definitely on the list for a return trip to Ireland from North to South.
We were glad our cruise stopped in Dublin for the day. It was certainly not enough time to see this city or the surrounding area. But we loved the chance to catch up with a friend. And we got a taste test of why we need to return.
Dublin For A Day Was A Great Way To End When Cruising Ireland From North To South
We were delighted with our small taste test of Ireland from North to South when we did a cruise of the Nordic countries. Our first glimpse of the green shores of Ireland drew us in. Exploring the Giant’s Causeway gave us a view of the volcanic history of this beautiful island. Belfast was a delightful surprise. And spending a day in Dublin was the perfect way to wrap up our taste test of Ireland. We got an interesting glimpse into life in the city and the countryside. And experienced both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the South.
But our short visited just teased us. There was so much more we wanted to explore. A return trip to Ireland will definitely be planned. After we finished our day in Dublin, the cruise ship headed for the final port in Southampton for our last taste of the UK countries.
Have you cruised Ireland From North To South? Did you get a day in Dublin? Did it leave you wanting more?
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