Northern Ireland vs. Republic of Ireland: WHICH place is BETTER?

Our comparison of Northern Ireland vs. the Republic of Ireland: which place is better?

Northern Ireland vs. Republic of Ireland: Which place is Better?

Ireland is a beautiful island with two distinct political systems: Northern Ireland (‘the north’ or ‘the six counties’) and the Republic of Ireland (‘the south’ or ‘The Republic’). But which part of the island is better?

We’ve highlighted eight important comparisons below which compare the two regions of the island of Ireland, Northern Ireland vs. Republic of Ireland.

Ireland Before You Die’s top tips for visiting Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

  • If you want to travel to both the North and South of Ireland, then plan ahead in advance. Set your itinerary so that you can split your time between both parts and see what you want to. 
  • As the North and South are two separate jurisdictions, make sure to research and check up on any potential visa requirements when travelling to Belfast or Dublin Airport. 
  • Also, be aware of the currency differences. The North uses British pound sterling, while the South uses Euros. However, they are easily exchangeable and some border towns use both. 
  • While they are two separate jurisdictions, the border is frictionless and you can easily drive through. Thankfully, both parts drive on the left side of the road. 
  • Learn about the history of Ireland, both North and South. Take part in tours, visit key areas, drink in the bars and speak to the locals. It will be an incredible experience.

1. Price of a Pint – North vs. South

The price of a pint is a very Irish way of telling the cost of living in a given area. In the north, the average price of a pint is (£4) and in the south, a pint averages about €5.10 (£4.46).

So, if you live in the north you will get more beer for the money! In addition and on a more serious note, the north is cheaper on average for rent, property prices, the price of a meal and a hotel room. So at the first stage, the north wins! 1-0 to THE NORTH!

2. The Best cities – Belfast vs. Dublin

The two biggest and best cities that the north and south has to offer are Belfast and Dublin. Belfast is an amazing city with lots to do and see. So too, Dublin has an abundance of things to keep you happy.

However, Dublin has a bigger population than Belfast and as a result, there is much more to do and see in Dublin. There are lots more bars, restaurants and countless tourist attractions. Therefore, THE SOUTH has levelled the score. 1-1.

COMPARE: Get the definitive answer to this with Ireland Before You Die’s article on Dublin vs Belfast comparison: which city is better to live in and visit

3. Top Tourist Attractions – Giant’s Causeway vs. Cliffs of Moher

The two most iconic and visited attractions in the north and south have to offer are: The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare (The Republic) and The Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim (Northern Ireland). Both are outstanding areas of natural beauty in their own right but both very different. This is a very difficult one. One which we found it hard to decide over.

However, we believe The Giant’s Causeway edges this one on the basis that the rock formations are simply out of this world. You won’t find anything like them on the entire island of Ireland! 2-1 to the NORTH.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST: Make your mind up – Six must-see sights at the Giant’s Causeway vs Cliffs of Moher cliff walk: best route, distance, parking, when to visit and more

4. Political Leaders – Michelle O’Neill vs. Leo Varadkar

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Politicians are often the most divisive and unpopular people in society so this is quite a controversial one. Leo Varadkar is the Taoiseach of Ireland. There is no government in the North, but Michelle O’Neill is First-Minister elect.

As such, it seems only fair that Leo wins this one with an up-and-running Government. But, who knows, the score might be different next time we visit this! Therefore, The south wins this one. 2-2.

READ: For more on this, check out IB4UD’s article on Northern Ireland vs Ireland: Top 10 differences for 2023

5. The Best Stadiums – Windsor Park vs. The Aviva Stadium

The two biggest and best stadiums each area has to offer is the Aviva Stadium and Windsor Park (National Football Stadium at Windsor Park). The Aviva Stadium (formerly Lansdowne Road before redevelopment and branding) was reopened in 2010. The new Windsor Park recently had a makeover with 3/4 of it completely transformed.

The Aviva has more than double the seats of Windsor (51,700/18,434). Windsor arguably has a better atmosphere during Northern Ireland games as the stand is very close to the pitch. However, Overall, the Aviva is a better stadium as it all fits together beautifully as one and is truly a world-class venue. The Republic takes the lead, 3-2.

6. Breakfasts – Ulster Fry vs. The Full Irish

You’d think we’d have the same breakfast in one small island but there is actually some game-changing differences. In the south, it is named ‘The Full Irish Breakfast’ and in the north, ‘The Ulster Fry’. The ingredients are mainly the same in both with meats such as bacon, Irish sausages, black pudding, eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes.

However, in the north, there is the addition of potato farls and soda bread. In the south, they usually include white pudding. Overall, The Ulster Fry wins this one. If you disagree, have potato farls and soda with your fry and then let us know what you think then! 3-3 so far, things are getting interesting!

LEARN MORE: The full Irish breakfast: history and facts you didn’t know

7. Action Actors – Liam Neeson vs. Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson are two of the most famous Irish people, two legendary actors. Both have acted in a wide variety of films. Brosnan is famous for the 007 series, Mama Mia and The Thomas Crown Affair. Neeson is famous for the Taken series, Michael Collins and Schindler’s List. But which is the better action actor? Brosnan was amazing in Bond and Neeson was a killing machine in Taken.

However, we believe Neeson’s cutting edge was much better and convincing in the Taken series. The north takes the lead. 4-3.

8. Saint Patrick’s Day – Where is better to celebrate it?

This is a very important one for Irish people. St. Paddy’s Day is like Christmas for Irish people. Thus, it is important to know where to celebrate it.

One of the most interesting facts about St. Patrick was that he was actually a slave from Britain. He is the man credited with the spread of Christianity in Ireland.

During his life, he spent a lot of time in the north of Ireland and this is where he was buried. But where has the best St. Patrick’s Day celebrations?

In the north, there are a number of Saint Patrick’s Parades in northern towns and cities. There are some great places to celebrate St. Paddy’s but due to political reasons, these are not as widespread and some places you won’t find any celebrations. Contrast this to the south, the parade in Dublin is bigger and better than Belfast plus every corner of the Republic celebrates it. Therefore, the south wins this one. 4-4 draw.

READ: There is a mix of North and South in our article on the top 10 best places to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Ireland

Final Score – 4-4!

So the final score in the comparison of Northern Ireland vs. the Republic of Ireland is a draw! We can all agree that the whole island of Ireland has lots to offer! So let’s not debate this too much. Time for us all to go for a pint and celebrate our beautiful island, north and south!

Your questions answered about Northern Ireland vs. Republic of Ireland

If you still have some outstanding questions, then we’ve got you covered. Here, we have outlined the most frequently asked questions about Northern Ireland vs. Republic of Ireland.

What is the difference between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?

The North and South are two separate jurisdictions. Northern Ireland remains part of the UK, while the Republic is its own sovereign state.

Why is Ireland and Northern Ireland separate?

Due to the Government of Ireland Act 1920, Ireland was partitioned between North and South.

Is it better to visit Ireland or Northern Ireland?

We have went with a draw at 4-4. We highly recommend visiting both, with a shared culture and history, bustling cities, countryside that sprawls across an invisible border, and much more.

Is Republic of Ireland Catholic or Protestant?

The Republic of Ireland is predominantly Catholic. In the 2011 census, 4.3% of people in the Republic of Ireland described themselves as Protestants.

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