I absolutely love trains. I’m actually a fan of public transport in general (I know, I’m strange), but trains are just far superior to buses. I love how you can get up and walk around, have a drink (I’ll have 5 gins please), get a bite to eat and just watch the gorgeous scenery fly by without having to worry about directions or traffic. Car free, care free! It’s so much more relaxing. So when I got the opportunity to take a luxury rail trip with Railtours Ireland up to Northern Ireland for a couple of days I had to take it. Here’s what I got up to on the trip. Obviously there are so many things to do in Northern Ireland and we couldn’t do them all, but we fit an awful lot in!
7:35am – Train from Dublin Connolly to Belfast on the Enterprise Express. Breakfast on board.
9:45am – Arrive in Belfast. Grab coffee. Hop-on-hop-off city tour.
10:45am – Titanic Centre and SS Nomadic. Lunch at Titanic Centre.
3:10pm – Train from Belfast to Derry along the coast.
5:25pm – Drive through the beautiful countryside to Lough Eske in Donegal.
6:45pm – Arrive at Harvey’s Point Hotel (dinner & drinks).
10:00am – Breakfast. Gratuitous photo-shoot in the unbelievably fabulous hotel room.
11:45am– Visit W.B.Yeats grave in Sligo.
1:30pm – Lunch at Drumcliffe.
3:00pm – Train from Sligo back to Dublin.
About Railtours Ireland
Railtours Ireland First Class offer travellers/tourists/staycationers the opportunity to see large portions of Ireland in a short length of time if needed. Their tours vary from 1 to 9 days. A Railtours Ireland host accompanies the guests on every tour. Our Railtours host was Jim and he was an absolute delight. He made sure we were properly fed and watered on the train and gave us all the important info about our surroundings. The breakfast on the train up from Dublin was delicious and HUGE. I hadn’t tasted potato pancakes in years (divine)! And the views on every leg of the journey were all lush green scenery or rainbows over the coast. I understand why people obsess over the Irish countryside so much now. On the final day of our trip on the train back from Sligo we had a whole train car to ourselves with our own dedicated food cart. Luxury train travel at its best! You can check out all the different tours that Railtours Ireland offers here.
When we arrived in Belfast city we were taken on a tour of the city. I always think hop-on hop-off buses (or boats) are a great way to see a city if you don’t have much time. We drove around the city centre, stopped at the Peace Wall to write a message and learnt about the Divis Flats.
Then it was time to visit the Titanic Centre which I was delighted about as I’d heard about it from so many people but had never actually visited myself. It did not disappoint. It’s such an incredibly varied and interactive museum. At the risk of sounding uncultured, I am generally bored out of my mind in museums.
However, the Titanic Centre has a short amusement ride, a 3D immersive tour of the ship as it would have looked back in the day, a cinema showing you underwater footage of people exploring the wreck and so much more. I genuinely teared up reading the communications between Titanic and nearby vessels moments prior to her sinking. It’s very emotional.
And for those of you that have a family connection to the Titanic you can look at the ship’s guest log and find their names. The real surprise for me was visiting the SS Nomadic just across from the Titanic Centre. I’d never heard of it before, but instantly fell in love with it. It might have been the name striking a chord within my soul, or the dress up booth where you could try on replica old fashioned clothing, but either way, this ship had me absolutely enchanted. Well worth a visit!
Want to book a day trip from Dublin to Belfast and see all the highlights?
FULL DAY TOUR OF BELFAST ONLY – €50
FULL DAY TOUR OF BELFAST, GIANT’S CAUSEWAY & DARK HEDGES – €50
During our trip with Railtours Ireland we spent the night at Harvey’s Point in Donegal on Lough Eske. This is Ireland’s number 1 hotel on TripAdvisor. A pretty impressive claim to fame! The hotel is right on Lough Eske, surrounded by greenery and mountains. But it’s the hotel rooms themselves that impressed me the most.
Now, I’ve had the good fortune to have visited some of the most incredible hotels in the world. But never in my life have I had a bigger room than the one I had at Harvey’s Point. When I was first led into my room and given a quick tour (because it was so sizeable that getting lost was a genuine possibility) I had to keep collecting my jaw from the floor.
The tub was excessive and calling my name. There were lights around the mirror. Trekking across the expanse of my room I finally realised my view. It looked right over the lake. You can see from the photos that it was absolutely spectacular.
And let’s not forget the rest of the hotel. I must admit that the layout was a bit hard for me to wrap my head around. But when I did finally reach the dining room and bar area it was gorgeous. There are lots of cute like nooks and cranies in this hotel that are just begging to be explored.
It’s definitely a much more old-fashioned hotel, so if that’s not to your taste then it might not for you. However, I loved the old-world elegance and vintage glamour of it. What I particularly like about Harvey’s Point is that it’s for people of all ages. There were children all the way up to pensioners and everything in between.
W.B. Yeat’s Grave
Our final stop before getting the train back to Dublin was Sligo to visit the grave of famous poet, W.B Yeats. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it’s a very understated tourist site. I guess that makes sense considering it is a graveyard, and Mr. Yeats is not the only one resting there.
The grave itself is very unassuming. Not lavish in any way. No concrete angels or anything like that. Though there is a gorgeous little church with the most stunning doors which you can see pictured above. I assume that the handles are an ode to Yeats’ famous poem, “The Wild Swans of Coole”. I used to love that poem when we studied it in school.
If it’s a rainy day, as you can see it was during our visit, there’s a cute little gallery and gift shop just outside the graveyard. Definitely worth stopping in to warm your bones before you continue on your journey. After we left Mr. Yeats in peace it was time to hop back on a train with Railtours Ireland and head back to Dublin. What a trip. I feel like we did so much in just over 24hrs.
Have you ever explored a country by rail?
Do you like train travel?
Let me know in the comments!
*Railtours Ireland & Harvey’s Point provided me with a complimentary trip/stay. However, as always, all opinions are my own. I never endorse anything or anyone that I do not personally believe in.