Northern Ireland Basic Information
If you want to relive the Titanic experience, you can come pretty close at the Titanic Belfast. Here, you can tour 9 galleys and learn the history of the boat that ‘was fine when she left here’. Want to know more about this fascinating little country? Read on.
Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain, so the same visa rules apply. If you’re an Aussie, you can holiday in the country for up to 6 months without a visa. Unless you want to work, of course, then you’ll need to apply for a work visa before you travel. You can apply for these visas online and if you’re approved, you can work anywhere in Britain for up to 2 years. Be aware that this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa details, get in touch with the UK High Commission in Canberra.
In Northern Ireland you’ll use the British Pound. You might notice a variety of notes issued by different banks, but most can be used in the rest of the UK too. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the British Pound fluctuates constantly, so it’s a good idea to monitor the rate and swap your cash when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider taking a credit card or travel money card with you. A Cash Passport card allows you to transfer your money onto the card in the form of British Pounds and other popular currencies like Euros, so it’s a good option if you plan to travel between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Northern Irish cuisine is influenced by both the UK and Ireland. Probably the best known traditional dish is the Ulster Fry – a full-on breakfast that’ll keep you going for most of the day. Your plate will be overflowing with bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms and potato faris (kind of like a hash brown). It’s served with toasted soda bread and a cuppa. If you’re not into greasy spoon breakfasts though, another local favourite is good ol’ porridge. Northern Ireland's probably the only place in the world where it’s served with a dash of Bushmills whiskey. Other all-day favourites include Ardglass potted herrings, boxty (potato cakes), pasties, vegetable roll (ironically made with peppery beef) and dulse – a salty seaweed snack. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, try yellowman – it’s a crunchy golden confectionary like honeycomb. You can find it at markets mainly. Of course, you’ll find all kinds of international cuisines in Northern Ireland, particularly in the cosmopolitan city of Belfast.
These northern folk love their music, so you’re guaranteed to find some sweet groovin’ tunes no matter where you head. There are all genres of music here, so whether you’re into rock, dance, alternative, bluegrass or maybe even traditional Irish music, you’re guaranteed good craic, particularly in Belfast. Catch killer bands at pubs or at live music venues, classical music at Ulster Hall or kickin’ DJs at Shine. Lush in Portrush plays wicked DJ sets too. If you just fancy a cocktail or two, you can find a heap of trendy bars in Belfast such as Irene’s, Nan’s, The Apartment, the Pothouse, the Cloth Ear and many more. Of course, it’s mandatory to down at least one Guinness at traditional pub too, so head to the John Hewitt or a pub in a picturesque part of the countryside for ‘diddly diddly’ music and whiskey. Northern Ireland also has a pretty awesome reputation for its theatre, poetry and prose. After all, it has produced some seriously big names – C.S. Lewis, Seamus Heaney, Samuel Beckett and Liam Neeson. So, why not see a show while you’re here too?