Is Northern Ireland Friendly to American Tourists?

Botanical Gardens, Belfast

You’ve clicked through to this blog because you’d like to know whether Northern Irish people are friendly to American tourists. Well… You see… The answer is… YES. Northern Ireland is absolutely safe for American tourists. That’s the end of this article…

Okay, we’ll give you a longer answer than that — and some tourism advice if you’re planning to visit Northern Ireland in the future. If anything here inspires you to book with us, check out our multi-day tours of Ireland, including our Wild North 8-day Tour of Ireland which spends most of the tour time in Northern Ireland.

Why Do People Think Northern Ireland isn’t a Friendly Place?

Northern Ireland has battled with its reputation for decades now, and this is no doubt down to The Troubles — the period of civil unrest and violence spanning thirty years, between 1968 and 1998. During this time, many people lost their lives and as this violence had a political edge to it, most of these stories made international news. This means that people all over the world saw news stories and read articles about the violence in Northern Ireland, so it is completely understandable that tourists still ask the question, is it safe to visit Northern Ireland?

But Northern Ireland was never hostile to American tourists. Not during The Troubles and certainly not now. The occasional English tourist might have a scary story or two from the bad old days, but that time is well and truly behind us now. The Troubles are a thing of the past and Northern Ireland has completely transformed itself. There are murals, peace walls, and other vestiges of the past, but the country has come on so far in the 23 years of relative peace since the Good Friday Agreement.

Northern Irish People are Friendly to Everyone

While this article’s initial focus is on whether the Northern Irish are friendly to Americans, it’s worth saying that they’re friendly to everyone, really. While there are some differences between the north and the south of Ireland, you’ll find that our reputation for friendliness is very much deserved. Strike up a conversation with a local in a pub and don’t be surprised if they ask you to join them.

The Irish and the Northern Irish Generally Like Americans

There has always been a great relationship between Ireland and America. Many Americans are part of the wider Irish diaspora and visiting Ireland is seen as a chance to explore their Irish heritage. Irish and Northern Irish people, in general, appreciate tourists showing an interest in their country, and many of us appreciate how great it is for our economy to welcome our American cousins. Other than that, there is a shared sense of humour and a shared language, so we always get on well with American tourists. If anything, Northern Ireland receives less tourism than the Republic of Ireland, so you may even find that the people there are even happier that you’ve chosen to visit their corner of Ireland.

Things to do in Northern Ireland

Now that you’re settled on visiting Northern Ireland, you’ll need some fun things to see and do. Chances are you already have a few things on the bucket list, but we’d like to add a few more.

Spend a Few Days in Belfast

Titanic Museum
Belfast’s Titanic Museum

Northern Ireland’s capital city is packed with amazing places to see and things to do. In some ways, Belfast is more like that traditional Irish city people probably envision than Dublin is. This is because Dublin is very metropolitan and modern. While Belfast is certainly not ‘old-fashioned’ it’s got more old-man pubs that feel as though they’re from an earlier time. So, if you want a good wood-panel pub with traditional Irish music, then Belfast has you covered. Make sure to check out Lavery’s, The Crown Bar, and Madden’s Bar for some of the best traditional Irish music. Also make sure you visit the beautiful Botanical Gardens pictured at the top of this blog. 

You will also want to check out the Titanic Experience (pictured above) . This is one of the most impressive, innovative museums in the world — it even has a slow-moving ride within the museum where you get to move through various exhibitions, learning about how the Titanic was built in Belfast. For even more activities, check out our guide to the top things to see and do in Belfast. And if you’re staying for only a short time and would like to figure out which big city to visit, read which city is better to visit and why? Belfast or Dublin?

The Giant’s Causeway

While there is a lot more to Northern Ireland than the Giant’s Causeway, we’re happy to report that it’s not overrated at all. There’s so much to appreciate here, whether you’re more interested in the geological story of lava meeting cold water, forming the enigmatic hexagonal basalt columns, or you’re more interested in the myth of Fionn mac Cumhaill, the giant who made a causeway to Scotland to battle his rival. And for some, it’s simply the epic views along the Causeway Coast that impress most of all.

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle
Dunluce Castle

Not too far from the Giant’s Causeway, you’ll find Dunluce Castle. While the entire island of Ireland has over 30,000 castles, Dunluce Castle is one of the most impressive structures. Not only is it in reasonably good condition for a castle over 500 years old, it is also built on the most dramatic spot possible, resting atop the rugged cliff face overlooking the sea. Dunluce Castle is guaranteed to impress even the most well-travelled visitors to Northern Ireland.

There are way too many worthwhile things to see and do in Northern Ireland; we just wanted to offer a few ideas while reassuring any American readers anxious about travelling that Northern Ireland is very friendly to Americans. If you have any questions for us — whether about this blog or about our Ireland tours — please feel free to get in touch. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your big Irish adventure, including a visit to Northern Ireland!