DRIVE

Dis­cover the best of North­ern Ire­land on a scenic round-trip from its cap­i­tal city

ELLE (UK) - - Contents -

A scenic road trip around North­ern Is­land? Count us in

THE ROUTE UL­STER’S FINEST

Take in peace­ful loughs, craggy moun­tains and pretty

vil­lages on this cir­cu­lar route through the prov­ince of Ul­ster, from Belfast to Lough Erne and back via Done­gal, County Antrim and County Ty­rone. Ul­ster, which covers nine coun­ties in the north of Ire­land, has some spec­tac­u­lar scenery, so you will soon see why it was such a rich source of back­drops in the mak­ing of Game of

Thrones. If you’re a fan, take time for a few de­tours to check

out some of the 15 dra­matic lo­ca­tions

close to the route.

THE CAR SLEEK & SPORTY

As you would ex­pect from Alfa Romeo, its first ever SUV, the Alfa

Romeo Stelvio, is a sleek, sexy model that looks more like the Gi­u­lia Sedan it was based on than the usual chunky 4x4 SUV. It’s light to drive (due to the alu­minium skin, doors and front wings), and fast and sporty, with an eight­speed gear box that can han­dle any twists and turns the Ir­ish roads throw at it.

THE PIT STOPS

ON LO­CA­TION

Game of Thrones fans will be in their el­e­ment,

with many shoot lo­ca­tions on the route

(Shane’s Cas­tle in County Antrim and the

Poll­nagol­lum Cave, County Fer­managh, to name but two). Make sure to stop for Wild At­lantic oys­ters at the Smug­glers Creek Inn

(smug­gler­screekinn.com),

which over­looks Ross­nowl­agh beach.

THE FIN­ISH IN THE CITY

On the shores of Lough Erne in County Fer­mangh you’ll find Finn Lough (dou­bles from £150, B&B;

finnlough.com), a beau­ti­fully de­signed lake­side re­sort with an un­usual for­est spa, plus bub­ble domes you can sleep in for op­ti­mum star-gaz­ing.

Once in Belfast, be­hind the town hall you’ll find Ten Square,

a 19th-cen­tury linen ware­house con­verted

into an el­e­gant ho­tel (dou­bles from £89, room only; ten­square.co.uk).

THE SIGHTS Dis­cover an­cient ru­ins along the route, from rus­tic cas­tles to caves

A UNIQUE STAY Rooms at Finn Lough (left and below) range from cot­tages to domes

EASY DOES IT The calm wa­ters of Lough Erne (left) make for a tran­quil stay

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