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Belfast side trip--Carrickfergus? Downpatrick? Other?

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Belfast side trip--Carrickfergus? Downpatrick? Other?

I'll be in Belfast for a full day in June on a cruise. I'll be there from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I've been here before and seen a lot of the city sites. I'm thinking of taking a trip outside the city this time. Any suggestions for an interesting town that can be easily reached by bus or train? How does Carrickfergus compare to Downpatrick as a day trip? Other suggestion?? thanx

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1. Re: Belfast side trip--Carrickfergus? Downpatrick? Other?

Both have points of interest but both are small and won't take a large amount of time. Main attraction at Carrick is the castle and rick St Patricks grave, centre and museum. But if you have been in Belfast before then I assume that you won't have been to he brand new Belfast Titanic. You could fairly easily combine that with Carrick which is much closer than Downpatrick.

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2. Re: Belfast side trip--Carrickfergus? Downpatrick? Other?

Agreed that Carrickfergus, whilst a nice place to visit, won't take all day. The castle is definitely well worth a visit in itself though. I also agree that if you have an interest in Titanic you could do the Titanic Experience and Carrick in the one day quite easily, although do be aware you'll need to book your tickets for Titanic in advance (it has proved to be very popular).

If it were me I would do the Titanic Experience in the morning, then walk to Titanic Quarter Halt (you may also see this station referred to as Bridge End - don't worry, it's one and the same - it was just recently renamed) and get the train to Carrickfergus. You'll need to change trains at Central Station but it's very easy to do.

If you do decide to go to Carrickfergus I'd suggest bringing a map (just a print from Google Maps would be fine) to help you get from the train station to the castle - it's not immediately apparently when you get off the train but in reality it's pretty straight forward when you know where you're going.

There are other options other than Carrickfergus and Downpatrick for a day trip, e.g. Newcastle and Bangor are pretty seaside towns that many people enjoy visiting. Our public transport (trains and buses) are overseen by a company called Translink and you can use their website to check out timetables and options on how to get to places of interest:

http://www.translink.co.uk

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3. Re: Belfast side trip--Carrickfergus? Downpatrick? Other?

A few suggested itineraries taking in Bangor:

Bangor is a seaside town with a large marina, plenty of places to eat, and some superb walks and parks including the North Down museum & walled garden, Pickie park, Ward park, Bangor Harbour and, a little further out, Ballyholme Bay. You could spend a very pleasant afternoon here although a sunny day would be preferable (probably true for most out-of-Belfast excursions)

Transport back to Bangor would be best via the train. A half hourly service runs Monday to Friday.

Option 1) Take a metro bus 4a and jump off at Stormont Estate for the morning, the seat of the NI Assembly (perhaps you have already done this on a HOHO bus, if not, it's well worth a visit) You might head across the road to the Stormont Hotel when hunger hits hastingshotels.com/stormont-hotel/dining.html or hold off until later when you arrive in Bangor.

A bus to Bangor can be caught at the Ulster hospital (Ulsterbus service 4) The hospital can be reached on foot in around 15 - 20 minutes or you could jump back on the Metro 4a going out of Belfast and take the short trip that way. The Ulsterbus takes a hilly scenic route offering fantastic views on a clear day. The only problem here is the bus times are restrictive - I would say the 11:30 or 13:00 are the two options and it's a half hour ride to Bangor.

Option 2) Take the train towards Bangor first thing in the morning. You could stop off at the quaint town of Holywood en route or, if walking is your thing, alight at Carnalea and meander around the coastal path to Bangor.

Of course, there are numerous alternatives; Get off the train at Helen's Bay and visit Grey Point fort (free entry) and the beach. Bangor is reachable on foot from there but it's a sizeable distance to cover. Again the trains are half hourly so getting back on at the same station is an option.

If old trains, trams, cars and bikes are your thing you could jump off at Cultra station and visit the Transport museum (or the neighbouring folk park for a taste of life as it used to be)

I set out to give you a few options so sorry if this has become overwhelming but I hope you will be able to pick out the keys points and get a flavour of the area should you wish to visit.

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4. Re: Belfast side trip--Carrickfergus? Downpatrick? Other?

As stated both Carrick and Downpatrick are very small places, I would recommend Bangor.

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5. Re: Belfast side trip--Carrickfergus? Downpatrick? Other?

Why bogtrotter? On a nice day Bangor has its merits and nice coastal walk but I don't know that it would constitute "an interesting town" especially for a tourist with only one day. Also it is sprawling so not the easiest to get around. But Cats123 could maybe add to this as I tend to only ever be in Bangor to visit friends so may miss out on things.

I am a fan of the Ulster folk and transport museum at Cultra though as an option - and you can easily get lost in time and end up spending most of the day there!

I think the combined Titanic Exhibition and Carrickfergus would be possibly the best option and not at all weather dependent (given what this year's summer is looking like!)

Edited: 24 June 2012, 10:50
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6. Re: Belfast side trip--Carrickfergus? Downpatrick? Other?

Donagadee close to Bangor warrants an interesting town accolade.

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7. Re: Belfast side trip--Carrickfergus? Downpatrick? Other?

For more information about Carrickfergus, see www.carrickfergus.org

The Castle and gift shop are open daily, in summer, from 1000 until 1800.

If you choose to visit the historic church of St.Nicholas, note that it is only open to visitors on Tuesdays (2nd June until 4th September) from 1400 until 1530 and on Saturdays (same dates) from 1100 until 1500. A booklet about the history of the church and detailing items therein is available. See also www.saintnicholas.org.uk

Trains between Belfast Central and Carrickfergus run frequently throughout the day - about every half hour in each direction.

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8. Re: Belfast side trip--Carrickfergus? Downpatrick? Other?

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