This corner of the Ireland island remains a part of the United Kingdom and, unlike Ireland proper, has a significant Protestant population. The nation was known for violent clashes between Protestants and Catholics throughout the 1980s, although peace treaties have helped to ease the tension. Northern Ireland is generally safe to visit and the people are quite welcoming.

What to do

Belfast is the capital, and much like so many other UK cities that had become run down, this one has also been massively revitalized in the last decade or so. The city was home to most of the violence that has plagued the area for so long, but now it feels completely safe. The center of the city has a nice mix of old and new, and it's noticeably cheaper than Dublin.

The north coast, which is often called the Causeway Coast, is spectacularly beautiful, and the area is dotted with castles and old ruins, but Giant's Causeway is its most famous tourist attraction and the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country.

Getting there

You can book a flight into Belfast International Airport (code: BFS) on the outskirts of the city. This airport can be reached from New York and continental Europe, but it's not known for having really low airfares. You can also book a flight into the George Best Belfast City Airport (code: BHD), which is only two miles outside the city. Most flights originate in the UK, but you can obviously fly into London and then take a short hop to get here for a reasonable price. You can also take a ferry from England to Belfast if you prefer a nautical approach.

Where to stay

There are obviously many hotels in Northern Ireland, and a number of hostels as well. Belfast is fairly inexpensive compared to Dublin, so it's becoming a popular weekend getaway for Europeans. Book early if you plan on coming over a weekend especially.