Leaving politics to one side, the obvious differences involve the street signs that measure distances in miles rather than kilometres. There is also, of course, the currency, which is pound sterling rather than euro. You may also notice that the roads are better maintained and the accent has changed.
Northern Ireland also has much to offer the visitor that is uniquely its own.
The glorious Victorian architecture of Belfast sits in stark contrast to its thoroughly modern pleasures. Belfast is truly alive and kicking, with a breathless nightlife and a world-class culinary scene.
Don’t miss the multimedia visitor experience that charts the history of the Titanic. This doomed ship was built in Belfast: ‘she was fine when she left here’ is an oft heard quip!
More recent history can be explored as part of a black taxi tour. West Belfast lay at the heart of ‘the Troubles’ and you can visit the spectacular wall murals and the Peace Line while receiving a local driver’s equally colourful commentary.
The looming city walls of Londonderry encompass a delightful city that has established itself as the keeper of the cool, artistic flame.
You can get a sense of ancient history by walking the mile-long, 17th century walls or you can take in more contemporary events by visiting the Bogside Murals on the houses near Free Derry Corner.
Located just between Belfast and Londonderry is one of the strangest sights anywhere in the world.
County Antrim's Giant's Causeway is a UNESCO-listed, freak of geology that was formed around 60 million years ago by lava cooling. The resultant 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns stretch out into the waiting embrace of the sea.
It is no surprise that legends have built up around this spectacular scenery: enter the magical, benevolent giant, Finn McCool, building his bridge to fight his Scottish rival, Benandonner.
The Causeway is far from the only natural delight nearby. The breath-taking scenery along the Causeway Coast is unrivalled anywhere in Ireland. Just a little further north the green Glens of Antrim are nine lush, rolling valleys that offer beautiful scenic views all the way from the Antrim Plateau to the coast.
In the southeast, County Down is a land of contrasts. The serene beauty of Strangford Lough is set off by the slightly menacing presence of the Mourne Mountains.
Over in the west, County Fermanagh wins the beautiful lake stakes with its sublime scenery around Lough Erne. Here the visual pleasure is only half the story: it is a wonderful place for watersports, fishing or simply strolling around the monastic remains on the islands in the lake.
Vibrant cities, serene lakes, lush valleys, delightful coastline, geological oddities and historic interest all add up to just some of the reasons to visit Northern Ireland.
Book a break today to discover more!