Newry is the youngest city in Northern Ireland.
Along with Lisburn, having received its Royal Charter as part of the Jubilee celebrations of 2002. The city has existed as a settlement for well over 850 years.
Unfortunately, best known for its supposed proximity to bandit country, that portion of Northern Ireland nearest the border with the Republic of Ireland] which proved a focus of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Newry is now an established regional hub, the largest settlement in the area, well positioned between Belfast and Dublin and popular with shoppers and tourists.
Belfast International Airport is approximately 70 miles from the city. You can access the airport by airport bus leaving Belfast Europa Buscentre on the hour and half hour and returning to the city at 10 and 40 minutes past the hour. Belfast International can be reached by plane with easyJet from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Liverpool, Bristol and London Luton, Gatwick and Stansted from £12.50 (single). They also fly from Amsterdam, Paris, Nice, Nice, Malaga and Alicante from £17.50. Bmibaby fly from Teeside, Manchester, East Midlands and Cardiff from £12.50 (single). Jet2 fly from Leeds/Bradford and Prague from £29. Smaller airlines also fly from Aberdeen and Brussels.
Belfast City Airport is around 40 miles from the city centre. It is served by an airport bus. It is served by the regional airlines flybe, BA City Express and aer arann to many UK cities and Cork. Bmi also make several flights a day to London Heathrow.
Newry is also well served by public transport from Dublin Airport, 65 miles to the south.
Northern Ireland Railways run a very limited service from a dilapidated station approximately three miles from the city centre, but a free bus does run from the train station to the city centre itself. The Enterprise, the supposedly fast train to Dublin, leaves from Belfast Central, stops at Newry and then continues to Dublin Connolly. Travelling by train to anywhere else in Ireland requires a change in Dublin.
Ulsterbus operate the intercity bus network in Northern Ireland. Eurolines operate 2 daily services to Belfast from Glasgow and Edinburgh, and 2 daily services to London via Manchester and Birmingham. All of these are via Stranraer.
Newry is served from a new and comfortable, if somewhat soulless Bus Centre, and the journey by GoldLine Express to and from Belfast takes about an hour. As a regional hub, local bus services are centred from Newry and thus reaching outlying areas of the region is relatively cheap and simple. It should be noted that these bus routes are not particularly well served in terms of frequency, and some forward planning is advisable.
Belfast is accessible from Stranraer, Cairnryan, the Isle of Man, Liverpool and Troon.
Newry's nearest port, Warrenpoint is used mainly for freight and is unsuitable for commercial tourism.
Newry is a small city and is easily explored on foot. However, reaching some of the scenic hinterland for which Newry is rightly renowned is best achieved by car.
Belfast has many interesting sights. A walk from the Queen's University of Belfast to the Odyssey will take in a lot of the best, and worst. The university building is great, one of Belfast's landmarks. It must have been even nicer before they knocked down a lot of it to build some awful 60s buildings around the main courtyard. See http://www.qub.ac.uk for more information on the university itself.
Standing with your back to the main building, walking straight on past the union building will take you to the Lisburn Road, a long street lined with decent bars and cafes. Doorsteps, in particular, have good value sandwiches that a starving yeti would struggle to finish. Turning left from the university is either the Stranmillis Road, cool once but now the sole reserve of estate agents, or the Malone Road, which has two bars (one apparently being the best 'meat market' in the UK, if that's your thing). Beyond both lie leafy suburbia.
Turning right and right again takes you to Botanic Avenue, which has expensive coffee bars and a fine Indian restaurant, The Moghul. Continue down towards Shaftesbury Square, which is like a rubbish Time Square. Either route on into town (Dublin Road or Great Victoria Street) is lined with interesting stuff. Auntie Annies on the Dublin Road is a good spot for a pint.
It's very hard to miss the City Hall in the centre of town. They run good tours which are free. A walk down Royal Avenue will depress anyone that doesn't have a thing for boring high street shops. Instead walk down the back streets, past Cornmarket and onwards to Belfast Cathedral, to see at the same time the greatness and crapness of Belfast.
Until quite recently it was essential for any visitor to go to the Kitchen Bar, a brilliant bar which had the greatest pub grub in Belfast, if not the world. Of course it was knocked down to make way for the sort of soulless development that has turned every city centre in the UK and Ireland into boring clones of each other. Around the Cathedral you will reach the 'Cathedral Quarter', supposedly the keystone of Belfast City Centre regeneration, but upon close inspection is actually run down and grim. Making your way to the Odyssey will show you how a city will turn out if someone's idea of ideal urban development is the London Docklands.
Around the city there is plenty to see.
Belfast Castle (daily 9am-6pm, admission free) dates from 1870 and was restored in 1988. It is situated on Cave Hill and has good views of the city and coast. Beside the castle is Belfast Zoo (daily 10am-5:30pm admission £6.70). A substantial modernisation programme has recently been finished, and the zoo has a very good variety of animals. The prairie dogs are of particular interest, as their tunnels extend throughout the park, rendering any open space looking like a giant game of 'whack-a-rat'. Much merriment was caused when the zoo was praised for letting the prairie dogs run wild and free, when the real reason for this was some bright spark forgot that prairie dogs can dig.
The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (daily 10am-6pm admission £6.70) is great. It is one of Ireland's premier tourist attractions. It has an absolutely vast collection, and you could spend days exploring all of it. Highlights include a recreation of an old Irish town, a DeLorean (great scott!, etc.) and a warehouse full of old steam locomotives. Also, on Saturdays, there is a miniature railway operating in the Folk museum, which is more fun than a sackful of weasels.
Either pub food in the city's innumerable bars, or try one of the Indian restaurants like the Moghul mentioned above, which has great lunch deals.
Ba Soba and Nick's Warehouse are good places in an attractive area of town near the cathedral.
Cayenne on Shaftesbury Square is a well established place for some posh nosh.
aldens on the Upper Newtownards Road is one of Belfast's best 'posh' restaurants. Although a couple of miles out from the city centre, the quality of the food and the standard of the service will reward the trip.
As well as Auntie Annies described above, Katy Daly's is a good bar at the bottom of Adelaide Street, behind the City Hall. Alternatively, any of the pubs and clubs on the 'Golden Mile' between the University and the City Hall. The bars in the Odyssey are also popular.
A few good hostels. See http://www.bugeurope.com/reviews/Northern_Ireland/Belfast/ for reviews.
Business types will no doubt like the Hilton or the Europa, adjacent to the main bus station.
Belfast's reputation as a dangerous city is much exaggerated, however it pays to be careful. The area between the City Hall and the University is mostly safe, but do not walk anywhere else in Belfast alone at night. The streets are generally deserted and nobody is likely to help if you get into trouble. Be careful, ask locals for advice and enjoy the hospitality of the vast majority of Belfast people. And don't make any overtly political statements about Northern Ireland unless you really know what you are doing.
For all Belfast's faults, it is still a great place to spend some time when you scratch the surface of tribal politics and lousy urban planning. It is a city seemingly always on the brink of something bad happening, and an air of danger and excitement is always present. More importantly, it is a place on the doorstep of the UK and Republic of Ireland, yet completely different to anywhere in these places. You will learn more about the British and Irish psyche than a trip to a cheesy Irish pub in Dublin or a trip to Buckingham Palace. It provides an example (whether good, bad, or otherwise) into how ethnic conflicts can be solved the world over. Most of all, it is interesting in a way that Cork, Leeds or Bristol just aren't.