Is Northern Ireland safe to visit? (What you need to know)

Are you asking yourself is Northern Ireland safe to visit? Look no further. Check out our guide for all you need to know for a secure trip to this beautiful place.

Is Northern Ireland safe to visit? (What you need to know)

The beautiful northern areas of the Emerald Isle should definitely be included as part of any trip here, and there are a variety of reasons why.

Whether you are a history buff and wish to learn more about Belfast’s political past, or you’re keen to explore the stunning natural beauty of the Giants Causeway or the Mourne Mountains, it’s a sometimes-overlooked gem not to be missed, especially when backpacking Ireland.

But many still ask the question, is Northern Ireland safe to visit? Given the regions troubled past, you could be forgiven for wondering just how safe the place is for tourists.

The conflict the area has endured, particularly at the end of the twentieth century, has been well documented in history books and media all across the world. There are also Belfast Mural tours, both walking and taxi, that allow tourists to learn more about the era.

Putting your mind at rest – educate yourself before you go

Is Northern Ireland safe to visit? Yes, and Derry is a great place to see.
Derry city.

To put your mind at rest; the short answer is yes, Northern Ireland is very a safe place to travel. In fact, it is now considered the safest region in the UK. Belfast, its capital city, has much lower crime rates when compared with other cities like Manchester and London.

However, the peace process in Northern Ireland has been a long and complex journey, and there have been some incidents of violence over the last few decades that have hit the news cycles. Before you travel, it’s a good idea to educate yourself, just as you would before going anywhere.

Why hasn’t Northern Ireland been safe in the past? – conflict across the region

Northern Ireland was not safe to visit in the past due to the conflict.
The British Army in Conway Street, Belfast, 1970. Credit: Kaspar C / Flickr

‘The Troubles’ refers to a period of violent conflict between nationalists (mainly self-identified as Irish or Catholic) and unionists (mainly self-identified as British or Protestant). At the height of the conflict, bombings and violence were frequent in the country, and death rates soared.

However, since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Belfast has flourished to become a vibrant and lively city. While there remain sporadic instances of sectarian violence, these have decreased dramatically in scale and frequency.

In recent decades, the tourism sector in Northern Ireland has boomed. Just witness the site where the infamous Titanic was built, as well as where hugely successful TV show Game of Thrones filmed many of its scenes, there’s never been a better time to visit the region.

Is Northern Ireland safe to visit today? – some of the lowest crime rates in Europe

The crime rates in the North are getting lower and lower.

Yes. Northern Ireland, when compared to the rest of the world, has one of the lowest crime rates among industrialised places, second only to Japan, and is extremely safe for tourists to visit.

According to statistics from the U.N. International Crime Victimisation Survey (ICVS 2004), Northern Ireland has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe (lower than the United States and the rest of the United Kingdom).

While ‘The Troubles’ mark a dark era in Ireland’s past, this has led to a high level of security in place to help keep trouble to a minimum. Instances of political crime do still happen from time to time, but these are usually cases of inter-community violence or crime committed by paramilitaries which are never directed towards tourists.

The lure of Belfast – a safe city to visit and live in

The lure of Belfast is now a big pull for people wondering is Northern Ireland safe to visit.

A survey ranked Belfast as the second safest city in the entire U.K. to live in, just behind Birmingham. That makes Belfast safer to visit than London, Manchester, York, Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Cardiff. It also boasts lower crime rates than Dublin.

On top of that, the locals of the North have gained a reputation for their warmth and hospitality, with the region being named the friendliest part of the U.K, meaning you’ll need to ask less and less the question; ‘Is Northern Ireland safe?’.

However, similarly to any place you would visit in Europe, standard safety practices should be adhered to. Practice common sense as you explore the cities and towns of Northern Ireland and look after yourselves and your companions.

Should I visit Northern Ireland? – the million-dollar question

You should visit Northern Ireland to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking Causeway Coast.
The beautiful Causeway Coast. Credit: Tourism Ireland

Absolutely! No trip to the Emerald Isle is complete without a trip across the border. No traveller should miss the stunning, wild beauty of the Northern coast, or the experience of listening to live music with a pint in the bustling hub of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

Thankfully, the most troubled days of Northern Ireland’s history are in the past, and you can help boost further development of this gem of a place by booking your trip and exploring all it has to offer. Is Northern Ireland safe? You bet it is.