What to see in Northern Ireland?

Top 10 attractions in Northern Ireland

Top 10 Points of Interest in Northern Ireland

For many years, Northern Ireland didn’t attract tourists, but after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, a power-sharing agreement to promote peace, it became popular again. Since then, Ulster (also called Northern Ireland) has recovered both economically and culturally and is one of the most visited places in the world.

Recently, Northern Ireland’s role as a filming location for “Game of Thrones” has led to a new wave of tourists. For those in the know, even in bad times, this corner of Ireland has always been high on the tourist agenda. Famous natural attractions, such as the mystical Bridge of Giants, are complemented by new sites, such as the Titanic in Belfast.

The government has invested heavily in making Northern Ireland a magnet for visitors. There are fantastic stores, world-class restaurants, remarkable history and culture, exceptional golf opportunities and a vibrant music scene. There are plenty of places for families, couples and individual travelers to visit in Northern Ireland, and all can be assured of a warm and friendly welcome.

Find out more about the best places to visit with our list of the best attractions in Northern Ireland.

  • Note: Some sites may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety concerns.

1. Bridge of Giants.

Giant's Causeway

Known worldwide for its layered basalt columns, the Bridge of Giants is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. These polygonal natural formations (there are about 40,000 of them) were formed by a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. Today they form the centerpiece of an area of exceptional natural beauty.

Three different periods of volcanic activity have produced lower, middle and upper basalts. The middle basalt rock forms the famous amphitheaters of hexagonal columns. Legend has it that it was carved by the mighty giant Finn McCool, who left his ancient home to fight his enemy Benandonner on the other side of Scottish waters.

Weather permitting, you can even see Scotland from afar.

Don’t forget to check out Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, the most modern visitor center. This state-of-the-art facility not only stands out for its architecture and design that reflect the unique topography of the area, but also offers a fascinating introduction to the history of the area (audio guides are provided).

2. Causeway Coast and Dunlus Castle

Causeway Coast and Dunlus Castle

The first stop for most tourists on this picturesque coastline is, of course, the Giant’s Bridge, a World Heritage Site. However, the surrounding coastline is stunning and not to be missed. There’s plenty to enjoy, including beautiful beaches, sand dunes, and golf at Portrush (with a world-class course) and Portstewart.

If you’re brave enough, either one is perfect for an invigorating swim.

A 10-minute drive west through the picturesque village of Bushmills brings you to the ruins of medieval Castle Dunlus. It is definitely worth a visit to the kitchen, located on the edge of the cliff, and many centuries ago, on a terrible night, the kitchen fell into the terrible waves below. Apparently, the only survivor was the kitchen boy who was sitting on the windowsill and had to be rescued.

Footage of the castle’s exterior was used in the movie Game of Thrones.

3. Carrick-a-Ride Rope Bridge

The drive east from the Giant’s Bridge takes about 15 minutes and takes you to another Northern Ireland landmark, the dizzying Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Located near the pretty seaside town of Ballintoy, this impressive sight is not for the faint of heart.

A hanging bridge connects a small island where fishermen used to catch salmon. Admission to the area is free, but if you cross the bridge, you’ll have to pay.

4. Titanic Belfast Museum.

Titanic Museum Belfast

This star-shaped building with the White Star Line logo is a Belfast landmark. It is a tribute to the history of the Titanic ship. Belfast was once the shipbuilding center of the British Empire, a fact not to be overlooked in this part of the city.

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There are nine interactive exhibits on the site where the infamous Titanic ship was built. Enjoy a tour of the slipway and dry dock, and for a fee, you can visit the ship Nomadic. This steamer, built in 1911, transported passengers from shore to waiting liners.

There is a restaurant, cafe and souvenir store on site. It really is a world-class tourist attraction.

5. Glens of Antrim

It’s not just the North Antrim coast that attracts. Drive from Ballycastle toward Larne on the coastal A2 road and serene lakes, waterfalls, forest trails and hills await you.

Along the way, look out for the Glendoon Bridge, a fine example of innovative design and construction. Ballypatrick Forest Park has a 10-kilometer trail around Mount Carnigani, which is especially scenic.

The small seaside town of Portrush, on the border with Londonderry, is also worth a visit. Royal Portrush Golf Club and Dunluce Links, one of the most challenging golf courses in the world.

6. Carrickfergus Castle.

Carrickfergus Castle

About 20 minutes from Belfast is the important town and port of Carrickfergus, home to an imposing castle. One of Ireland’s best-preserved medieval structures, this Norman castle fought off enemies for eight centuries.

The fortress, just off the coast and overlooking the town, still exists, and the reconstructed banqueting hall is a special attraction, especially for children. You can take an audio guide at the visitor center and explore the interior and walls of the castle.

Nearby is the Andrew Jackson Center, the reconstructed ancestral home of the 7th president of the United States.

7. Ards Peninsula.

Ards Peninsula

South of Bangor, near Donahady, begins the scenic 32 km long Ards Peninsula. From Donahady the road runs along the Irish Sea coast to Bellywalter with its beautiful beach, Bellyhalbert, and finally Cloughie, where it branches inland to Portaferry.

It’s worth stopping and admiring the serene 18th-century Mount Stewart House and Gardens, just a 10-minute drive from Ballihalter. On the west shore of Strangford Loch is the seaside resort of Killilig, dominated by Hilltop Castle. On a good day you can see the famous Mourne Mountains in the distance.

Portaferry is at the southern tip of the peninsula, where there is a ferry to Strangford. Or you can drive along the west side of the peninsula along the shores of Strangford Loch.

8. Ulster Folklore and Transportation Museum

This “living” museum, about 15 minutes from downtown Belfast, is designed to show life in Northern Ireland more than 100 years ago. There are reconstructed working cottages, working farms, village schools and stores, and 68 hectares of parkland to explore. Tour guides demonstrate traditional crafts.

You can climb aboard a steam locomotive and tour the Transportation Museum with its impressive collections of streetcars, fire engines, motorcycles, beautiful vintage cars and horse-drawn carriages. A visit to this place takes a whole day.

9. Londonderry (Derry)

The second city of Northern Ireland, Londonderry – or Derry as the locals call it – is located where the River Foyle flows into the sea lake of the same name. The partition of Ireland has stripped the city of part of its natural inland territory, Donegal, but it remains a major port and industrial center with a traditional textile industry, chemical and engineering plants, and pottery factories.

Its attractive surroundings make it a popular tourist destination and a good base for trips to the Inishowen Peninsula and Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. The town itself has almost entirely preserved the outlines of its medieval walls and a number of interesting old buildings.

10. Loch Earn

Two connected lakes form Loch Earn in County Fermanagh, a favorite place for fishing, kayaking and boating. Castles and stately homes dot the shores, and the islands are a major attraction.

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28 best sights of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is a land of deep lakes and high mountains, where Irish and English culture are intertwined.

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Who goes to Northern Ireland and why

Northern Ireland’s turbulent history is filled with numerous wars. The relentless resistance is reflected in the local architecture. Tourists come to admire the ancient defensive towers, majestic castles and temples which resemble impregnable fortresses.

Northern Ireland is home to popular festivals. In early July, visitors flock to Belfast for a festival dedicated to sailboats. During this time, dozens of yachts and cruise ships can be seen on the waterfront. People take part in costume shows, games, listen to live music, explore the decks of their favorite ships, and buy souvenirs.

In mid-summer, Belfast hosts a blues festival. Thousands of fans come to see talented performers from around the world give concerts at city venues.

In early May, Fools’ Day is celebrated. The streets are filled with clowns, acrobats, and comedians, and festive parades and costume parades begin.

The beautiful nature of Northern Ireland attracts lovers of outdoor activities. There are bicycle trails along the mountain slopes and on the plains. In towns and cities there are equestrian clubs and stables. Lakes Loch Ern and the Brann River are great places for fishing and boating.

Young children love the playgrounds and attractions in the city squares and parks. Schoolchildren enjoy visiting ancient castles, fortresses, museums, take part in hiking tours.

While traveling, try popular Northern Irish foods: mashed potatoes with butter and green onions, dried salted red seaweed, and lingering honey toffee.

Architectural Monuments

Belfast Castle

samok belfast

On a hillside rises Belfast Castle, built in the style of Scottish barons in the late 19th century. Sir Arthur Chichester built it to replace a medieval Norman tower that burned down in 1708.

The majestic structure is one of the most recognizable in Northern Ireland. It’s adorned by numerous cone-roofed turrets and a stone staircase. The castle is surrounded by a park ensemble with picturesque fountains, flowerbeds, statues, and benches for relaxing. Inside there is a restaurant and a souvenir shop.

Ward Castle.

samok uard

On the shores of Strangford Loch in County Down is Ward Castle, founded in the 16th century. The manor of Irish aristocrats consists of a large manor house, outbuildings, watchtowers and high defensive walls. The Gothic facade of the castle is decorated with the family coat of arms, lancet windows and pointed towers.

For many years the shooting of “Game of Thrones” took place here. Tourists flock here to see for themselves Winterfell, the ancestral home of the Starks.

The Town Hall in Belfast.


In Donegol Square you can admire the city council building. The Baroque-style town hall was built in 1906 from Portland stone. It has a huge copper dome in the center, four corner towers and a pediment with sculptures.

During the tour, tourists are shown the opulent interior of the reception chambers and the grand staircase. Guests can see colorful stained glass windows, lamps, paintings, shields of the provinces of Ireland, and memorials dedicated to the Earl of Belfast, Lady McCullagh, and the 36th Ulster Division.

Dunlus Castle.

samok danlyus

In County Antrim, the ruins of a 13th-century castle remain. Fragments of the fortress are on a mountain by the sea and are surrounded by high cliffs. A stone staircase and bridge lead to them. The ancestral home of the McDonnells clan fell into decline in the XVII century and began to slowly deteriorate.

All that remains of its former grandeur are the two round towers, elements of the defensive walls and outbuildings. Tourists come here to admire the ruins, the panorama of the surrounding area and to take beautiful pictures.

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Carrickfergus Castle

samok kerikfergus

The castle in the Norman style of the XII century in County Antrim is well preserved to this day. The impregnable fortress, consisting of two connected towers and thick walls, was intended to protect Carrickfergus Bay.

Visitors are allowed to explore the courtyard, ancient cannons, weapons, and Main Hall. The interior of the castle illustrates in detail the life and customs of medieval knights.

The City Wall of Londonderry

gor stena

Londonderry is the oldest Irish city located on the banks of the River Foyle. Its historic center is surrounded by the famous 17th-century city wall, which is 8 metres high and 9 metres wide.

The fortification withstood many sieges and was never breached. Along the walls are lined historical buildings: the Memorial Hall of Apprentices, the Cathedral of St. Columba. Walking near the fortifications, people explore the city’s gates, loopholes and cannons.

Scrabo Tower.

basnia skrabo

The observation tower in Down County, built in the 19th century on a high hill, is 41 m high. It was erected as a memorial to Charles Vane, Marquis of Londonderry. The square tower in the style of the Scottish Renaissance consists of a base and a body in 7 tiers.

There are small towers with cone-shaped domes on top. The roof is easily accessed by a steep staircase – from here you can look out over Strangford Loch and across to the towns of Comber and Newtownards.

Stormont Parliament House


The Northern Ireland Minister’s residence is in a white neoclassical mansion decorated with columns and statues. The building is surrounded by a beautiful park and is accessed by a wide road. A statue of Sir Edward Carson stands before it.

The Palace of Parliament is a model of English primness and restraint. Tourists are not allowed into the inner chambers. People stroll in the park and admire the architectural ensemble outside.

Craigmore Viaduct


In Armagh County near the village of Bessbrook, it’s easy to find the railroad bridge built in 1852 by John Benjamin McNeil. It consists of 18 arches, reaching a height of 24 meters. The total length of the structure is 300 meters.

The arches are made of granite mined in local quarries. The bridge is considered the tallest in Northern Ireland and offers a magnificent view of the surrounding area.

Religious attractions

Massenden Temple

hram maseiden

A small rotunda in County Londonderry rises on the rocky shore of the Atlantic Ocean. The pavilion was built in the 18th century for the Bishop of Derry. The round rotunda has a wide dome and is decorated with columns and stucco.

It used to hold the bishop’s library. The room was constantly heated to keep the valuable books in good condition. This is probably the reason why the rotunda preserved its ancient interior.

The Cathedral of St. Columba

sobor st kolumba

The Anglican Cathedral in Londonderry was founded in 1614. Its facade is decorated with arches, teeth on the roof and a large stone cross. The Gothic structure has a square tower with a high spire. The top has an observation deck, which is accessed by a steep staircase. There are colored stained-glass windows, frescos, and a local relic – a gilded silver bowl of the XVII century.

St. Malachy’s Church in Belfast

cerkov st malahia

The construction of St. Malachy’s Parish Church, which began in 1841, was completed in just one year. Erected by Thomas Jackson Waterford in the Tudor style, the church attracts attention with its tall identical towers at the ends of the transept, its crenellated roof, and its graceful slender spire.

In the interior, frescoes, sculptures, and a marble altar attract attention. By the way, the vaulted ceiling is an imitation of the chapel ceiling in Westminster Abbey.

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Cathedral in Downpatrick

kafedralni sobor

On Cathedral Hill at the center point of the city rises a twelfth-century cathedral that has been destroyed and rebuilt several times at the expense of the city’s community. Today’s cathedral includes parts of the ancient church and the Benedictine Abbey of Downpatrick.

The Gothic structure has two pointed towers, an octagonal vestibule, lancet windows and large arches. Inside are stone crosses from the ninth to twelfth centuries, a fifteenth-century altar and silver church utensils. On the grounds is the tomb of St. Patrick.

Movilla Abbey

abbatstvo movilla

The monastery at Newtownards, built as early as the sixth century, was the center of Celtic Christianity for more than 1,000 years. Then the abbey was dissolved by order of Henry VIII, and the church relics were removed to other places.

Now the abbey is a picturesque ruin, consisting of a small stone church with a cross on the roof and fragments of walls. Near the monastery the Anglo-Norman cemetery remains. The tombstones of the men show swords, and the graves of the women show willow vines and sickles.

Museums of Northern Ireland

Titanic Belfast


The former shipyard of the Harland & Wolf Shipbuilding Company is the site of a museum and monument that tells the story of the Titanic. This is where the ill-fated ship was launched in 1912 and sailed on what turned out to be her last voyage.

The five-story building has an angular shape and resembles the stern of a huge ship. The exhibition itself consists of nine interactive galleries. Visitors can learn about Belfast’s economic heyday in the early 20th century, the construction of the Titanic, her launch, her maiden voyage and the crash.

Enniskillen Castle

samok eniskillen

The 15th-century castle at Fermanagh, founded by the Maguire clan, has high, thick walls, powerful watchtowers and loophole windows. For many years it has been a reliable stronghold and has more than once withstood enemy sieges.

Now there is a museum in the castle. Tourists can see the armory, soldiers’ barracks, rooms for prisoners, banquet hall and outbuildings. Adults and children can learn about important historical events and the life of medieval feudal lords in an interesting way.

Folk Art and Transport Museum

musei nar tvorchestva

On the outskirts of the city of Belfast there is a museum located in two buildings. In the first branch there are the agricultural tools, national clothes, musical instruments, pictures of local painters, ancient ornaments and statuettes carved from wood. The pride of the exposition is the old cottages transported from different parts of Ireland.

The second building houses a collection of vehicles: models of cars, buses, motorcycles and railway trains.

Ulster Museum

musei olstera

This museum displays items highlighting the culture and history of Northern Ireland. Separate exhibitions introduce expensive jewelry, weapons, coins, and artifacts recovered from shipwrecks or excavations.

In the local history department interactive exhibitions tell about the flora and fauna of these places. Adults and children enjoy exploring the skeletons of extinct animals, minerals, and items from the Stone and Bronze Ages.

Sheelin Irish Lace Museum

musei krugeva

In the village of Bellanalek, the Irish Lace Museum operates in a small house. Exhibits made between 1890 and 1920 are preserved there. Guests are shown lace shawls, veils, hats, and wedding dresses.

Next to the museum there is a store that buys up and restores antique lace. Here you can easily buy openwork blouses, cuffs on dresses, cardigans, handbags and ribbons.

W5 Science Center


An interactive museum designed for children of all ages, located in Belfast. The four exhibit areas feature things that allow you to perform physical and chemical experiments to learn the secrets of science.

Children can make a race car, a controlled robot, create a small tornado, and learn why tsunamis and earthquakes occur. After a walk through the museum, you can visit a good cafe and souvenir store.

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Natural attractions and entertainment

Giant’s Causeway

doroga gigantov

Near the town of Bushmills on the Causeway Coast, there are about 40,000 basalt columns standing close together. Some of them are up to 12 meters high. The natural landmark was created millions of years ago by a volcanic eruption.

The tops of the hexagonal and octagonal columns form a kind of road that starts at the foot of the rock and goes into the sea. The Giant’s Path is a protected area and has protected status.

Dark Hedges Alley

allea hadges

The Stuart family of County Antrim planted beech trees along the lane in the 18th century. Now their huge trunks look majestic and mysterious. The crowns of many of the trees are intertwined, forming a tunnel through which the sunlight shines.

Beech Alley gained worldwide popularity after the release of Game of Thrones. In the famous television series, Dark Hedges became the King’s Tract, the central road of Westeros.

The Mountains of Mourne.

gori morn

The Granite Ridge in County Down is part of Northern Ireland National Park. It consists of 28 mountain peaks covered with lush vegetation. There are rivers of clear water on the gentle slopes and hiking trails in the mountains.

While traveling, people admire rare birds and valleys overgrown with heather, flowers and trees. The mountain peaks offer a gorgeous view of the bay of the sea.

Loch Earn

loh ern

At 123 km² it’s the deepest lake in Northern Ireland. It attracts attention with its many large and small islands. On the island of Devenish a round tower of the XII century with a conical roof, a medieval stone cross and a chapel have been preserved. There are ancient figures of pagan deities carved out of wood on Boa. The largest monument depicts the Roman two-faced god Janus.


karik a rid

Carrike-a-Reed Bridge in County Antrim is a popular Northern Irish landmark. It runs at a height of 30 meters and connects the mainland with the island of Carraic. The structure is 20 meters long and only a meter wide. The bridge swings at the slightest whiff of wind, but despite this it can easily withstand the weight of about 10,000 tons, as it is made of durable modern materials.

To walk on the suspension bridge is worth choosing a windless day, as well as comfortable clothing and shoes. By the way, there is a fee to walk through Carrick-a-Ride.

Marble Arch Caves.

pesheri marbl arch

The limestone caves in Fermanagh County are beds of underground rivers. During the tour, tourists travel by boat through the dungeons, walking past calcite waterfalls, stalagmites and stalactites.

The Marble Arch, located at the outlet – where the river flows out of the ground – is very popular. The caves are equipped with electric lighting, laid metal paths with railings.

Botanical Gardens

bot sad

Not far from Queen’s University in Belfast there is a botanical garden, owned by the city council. It has greenhouses for plants from various countries. Visitors can see Australian 11-foot lilies, African dombeia, succulents and medicinal herbs.

Oak, pine, and hornbeam trees have been planted in the park, and flower beds have been planted. Tourists relax on the benches, admire the sculptures, enter the rose garden and Palm House.

Bushmills Distillery


The small village of Bushmills is famous for its whiskey production. The local distillery, which makes triple-distilled single malt, recently celebrated its four hundredth anniversary.

During its tour tourists will learn the main stages of the drink production and see with their own eyes how the malt is mixed with water and yeast and how it is transformed into high-quality whiskey.

After the hour-long tour guests are offered to try and buy different sorts of local alcohol.

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