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Game of Thrones and Troubles tours ranked in Tripadvisor's top UK travel experiences

The Dark Hedges
The Dark Hedges
Sarah Tulloch

By Sarah Tulloch

A Troubles walking tour and a Game of Thrones-themed coach trip are the Northern Ireland attractions ranked in the top 10 travel experiences in the UK on Tripadvisor for 2019.

Belfast Troubles City Centre Walking Tour, operated by DC Tours, was ranked fourth in Tripadvisor Traveller's Choice Awards for Experiences in 2019, making it the highest-ranking experience in the UK outside of London.

The two-hour tour costs £18 and visits locations where key events took place and gives an insider's perspective on the conflict, its lingering effects and Northern Ireland’s path to peace.

It boasts a five-star rating on the review site and includes stops at City Hall, the banks of the Lagan and the city's Cathedral Quarter.

Reviewers on Tripadvisor commended local tour guides Paul Donnelly and Gabe Nelson for their "unbiased" and "knowledgable" storytelling.

"We spent a very enjoyable walk around central Belfast with our guide Paul," wrote one reviewer. "Paul was very knowledgeable and presented a non-biased account of the times from the early 70s to now."

They added: "All made very real with the recent death of the journalist Lyra McKee just two months ago demonstrating the ongoing tensions. Well worth the time."

Just making the list was the Game of Thrones and Giant's Causeway tour hosted by McCombs Coach Travel, which ranked at number 10 in the top UK travel experiences.

The coach trip, which costs £35, leaves from Belfast for an all-day tour, stopping off at key Game of Thrones filming locations including Cushendun Caves, Ballintoy and the Dark Hedges, as well as a visit to the Giant's Causeway - a UNESCO world heritage site.

Tour guides share behind-the-scenes gossip and filming facts from the famed HBO fantasy series and at the Causeway, they explain the geological formation of the unusual basalt columns and the legends of giants they inspired.

One Canadian reviewer said the McCombs tour "blows every other tour out of the water".

She wrote: "My family and I haven’t stop talking about our tour and the guide since. Derek was extremely knowledgeable about GOT. He was hilarious and kept us all laughing. My grandmother who hasn’t watched one episode enjoyed every part.

"The scenes were great, the tour was fabulous and our guide was 10/10 amazing!"

Booming Troubles tourism and a "Game of Thrones effect" saw 2018 as the best ever year for tourism in Northern Ireland, with almost five million visitors flocking to attractions around the province.

A tour of the Vatican with skip-the-line access was named as Tripadvisor's number one experience worldwide.

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