Holiday planning is in full swing and staycations are the number one ticket to epic fun without the epic trek this summer says Tourism NI!

Now is your chance to embrace Northern  and see it through the eyes of a tourist. This summer presents an opportunity to check out the local tourist spots that have been on the list to explore for years, with Northern Ireland offering unique activities on the doorstep.

Thousands of international visitors flock to Northern Ireland every year for stunning landscapes, world-class food and drink and, of course, the spirited, warm and friendly people. This year will be different, but it also presents the perfect opportunity for you to really get to know your surroundings.

Tourism NI has shared some top tips for holidaying at home and reasons to get excited for an unforgettable staycation this summer.

  • Less stress, less hassle

With a staycation, wave goodbye to rushing off to your destination or franticly trying to fit everything for your family into a small suitcase. Plus, you no longer have to set multiple alarm clocks to get the whole family up and ready early in the morning to get moving.

By planning a trip at home, you can travel at your own pace, easily pack a car up with all your necessities and even add a bit of extra for the kids to enjoy. You can start off stress-free and bring that mind-set with you through the whole trip.

Bonus tip. In a car you can map out and explore the incredible scenery on your travels, such as Lough Navar Forest Park in County Fermanagh with its 10km scenic drive leading to spectacular views.

  • Bring your dog on your next adventure

One big bonus of driving to a destination is that you can bring man’s best friend with you on your trip. There are lots of dog-friendly accommodations and activities across Northern Ireland so you don’t have to worry about leaving them with family or friends or pay extra fees for kennels.

We’ve all had a lot of time at home with our dogs recently and a trip packed with outdoor walks and hikes will leave your pup wagging their tail all the way home.

Want to book dog-friendly accommodation? Check out Blessingbourne Estate’s self-catering accommodation in Fivemiletown, County Tyrone. A mix of 3, 4 and 5* accommodation, from family and dog friendly cottages to the 5* Gate Lodge

  • Connecting with local friends

We’ve all missed our friends during lockdown but as Northern Ireland re-opens, so do opportunities to visit friends from a social distancing standpoint.

Why not plan a holiday in conjunction with a few friends that you haven’t seen in a while and organise outdoor walks and activities that can be enjoyed together safely. You can travel in separate cars or meet up at different points of your trip and have a proper catch-up.

Looking for some outdoor adventure? Check out the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail in County Fermanagh or Slieve Gullion Forest Park in County Armagh. If you’re looking for a fun activity around food and drink, what about Taste & Tour in Belfast to take you ‘off the eaten track’? Taking bookings from 17th July.

  • Something for everyone to enjoy

Whether you are hoping for some relaxation at a world-class spa, crave outdoor adventure, want a memorable experience with the family, or can’t wait to savour a delicious meal at one of our many award-winning restaurants, Northern Ireland has what you’re looking for in a getaway.

You’d be surprised to learn about all the incredible activities on offer, just waiting for you to make that booking.

How about exploring Hillsborough Castle and Garden, Castle Ward or Mount Stewart? With extraordinary gardens and grounds to explore and incredible history around every corner, you’ll leave in awe of these beautiful locations. Make sure you check opening times and ticket requirements in advance.

  • Spontaneity is welcomed

Have a sunny Friday off? Why not be spontaneous and turn it into a two-night getaway? When planning a holiday at home this is easily managed and planned.

Pick an area that you have always wanted to explore, book accommodation, pack the car and off you go! On your way look up places to eat, areas of natural beauty to explore and why not check out some fun activities to book and add to your weekend itinerary.

Your colleagues will be jealous of your staycation stories come Monday morning!

Looking for an easy day out with family or friends by the water? Benone Strand in County Londonderry is an extraordinary spot not to be missed or check out water sports with Strangford Lough Activity Centre taking bookings now.

  • Become an expert at home

Another great reason to staycation is the opportunity to learn about Northern Ireland and submerge yourself in a tourist experience that attracts millions of visitors from around the world.

There is so much to learn, just waiting right around the corner. From local legends and myths, new cuisines yet to be tasted, mountains waiting to be climbed and skills yet to be learned, there are memories that you never knew you’d make here calling for you to seek them out.

Interested in learning something new? Visit the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy, celebrating the village’s most famous son. There are two floors peppered with Heaney’s books and personal belongings as well as a recreation of the poet’s attic study in Dublin. From Friday  July 10 the exhibition and café at HomePlace will reopen.

  • Supporting our community together

The tourism sector has been devastated by the Covid-19 crisis. With hotels, attractions, restaurants and other tourism facilities closing for a significant period of time, the industry is eager to welcome back visitors and showcase the incredible offerings they have in Northern Ireland.

By planning your next vacation at home, you will be playing a pivotal role in supporting your local businesses, historic sites and areas of natural beauty as they open their doors and welcome visitors back.

Pictured: Benone Beach

Nadia Duncan

Author: Nadia Duncan


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