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33 Best Things To Do In Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Map

If you are planning a trip to Northern Ireland there are lots of must-see things to do and places to go.

Northern Ireland has historic and romantic castles, beautiful countryside and has had a tumultuous history, all of which are reflected in this list of places to go and things to do while you are in this part of the UK.

33 Things To Do in Northern Ireland

If you love the series Game of Thrones you will have the opportunity to visit so many of the filming locations as well as tour the studios where the TV series was made.

  1. The Giant's Causeway
  2. The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

    Image Credit: Eva Shuster

    The Giant's Causeway is the best known natural feature in the whole of Northern Ireland. According to legend it was created by the Giant Finn McCool, but it is actually made from volcanic basalt columns.  

    Managed by the National Trust and a UNESCO world heritage site, it is the absolute must-see of a visit in Northern Ireland. Due to its popularity, booking is recommended.

  3. City Sightseeing Tour of Belfast
  4. If you want to see all of Belfast, book a hop-on-hop-off ticket valid for 48 hours and you could see everything Belfast has to offer. From the Titanic Quarter to the Ulster Museum and the Botanic Gardens as well as the W5 Interactive Science Centre, Belfast Zoo and Crumlin Road Goal.

    Explore the city and see both the big attractions and the sites of Belfast’s more recent history, including the many murals and memorials to the Troubles of the last century.

  5. Titanic Belfast
  6. Titanic Quarter

    Image Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

    Titanic Belfast is an iconic piece of architecture and the world's largest Titanic visitor experience, exploring the Titanic story in a fresh and insightful way. The exhibit includes nine interactive galleries where you discover the sights, sounds, smells and stories of the ship, as well as the people and city that made her.

    See the slipway where the Titanic was launched from the Harland and Wolff shipyard and visit the Titanic Quarter to try anything from a Segway to a boat trip around the harbour.

  7. Game of Thrones Studio Tour
  8. One of the newest attractions in Northern Ireland, this is a must for fans of George R.R. Martin's books and the massively popular TV series that they spawned.

    The Game Of Thrones Studio Tour includes sets, costumes and props, and is located in Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, one of the many actual places where the series was filmed.

  9. Game Of Thrones Tours
  10. Game of Thrones Map

    Image Credit: mauRÍCIO SANTOS

    These tours give you the opportunity to see the filming locations Of Game of Thrones with knowledgeable guides and they will even lend you a costume to wear while you are on the tour.

    Based in Belfast there is a choice of coach tours to more distant locations or walking tours, including a brand new Glass of Thrones tour through Belfast’s Titanic Quarter to see a series of 8 stained glass windows to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary.

  11. OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory
  12. The OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory is an International Dark Sky Park, where astronomy meets archaeology. The first of its kind in NI, with no light pollution. You can visit the observatory and see the both the astronomical telescope and the solar telescope in action, depending on the time of day that you visit of course!

    It is located in the Sperrin mountains, and in particular Davagh Forest, which has a large number of surviving ‘megalithic’ monuments including ancient field systems, standing stones, stone circles and burial tombs.

  13. Ulster Folk Museum
  14. Old fashioned woodwork tools

    Image Credit:Philip Swinburn

    The Ulster Folk museum is home to a rich collection of heritage buildings and objects, which displays, preserves and demonstrates the traditions, stories and skills passed down through many generations of people in Ulster.

    Step back in time 100 years and discover cottages, farms, schools and shops as you wander through the beautiful parkland of the Folk Museum.

  15. Ulster Transport Museum
  16. Next door to the Folk Museum is Ulster Transport Museum where you can climb on and off majestic steam locomotives as well as see horse drawn carriages, electric trams, motorbikes, buses, fire-engines and vintage cars.

    They also have a programme of temporary exhibitions, and from 2023 there will be a new sculpture trail in the grounds of the museum, Our Place In Space.  The trail will be free to follow  and intended to help us consider how we might better share and protect our planet in the future.

  17. Belfast Zoo
  18. Belfast Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals and 150 species, the majority of which are facing increasing danger in their natural habitats.

    You can see elephants and giraffes, reptiles, birds and primates. The zoo also celebrates its long history of conservation, wellbeing, and nature.

  19. The Parliament Buildings, Stormont
  20. Stormont Castle

    Image Credit: veve

    The Parliament Buildings at Stormont is the home of Northern Ireland's devolved government. Housed in one of the most striking pieces of architecture in Northern Ireland, you can also find out about the work of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

  21. Hillsborough Castle
  22. Hillsborough Castle is King Charles’ official residence in Northern Ireland, as well as being the official residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

    As well as offering 100 acres of ornamental lawns, meandering waterways, peaceful woodlands and picturesque glens, you can also tour the castle and there is a programme of special events on throughout the year.

  23. Whitehead Railway Museum
  24. Carrickfergus is the home of the Whitehead Railway Museum where you can see Irish steam locomotives, carriages and rolling stock in five galleries filled with engines where you can learn about Northern Ireland’s railway heritage, as well as visiting the preservation workshops.

  25. Carrickfergus Castle
  26. Carrickfergus Castle

    Image Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

    Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman castle in County Antrim. Besieged in turn by the Scots, Irish, English and French, the castle played an important military role until 1928 and remains one of the best preserved medieval structures in Ireland.

    The castle now houses historical displays as well as cannons from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

  27. Ulster American Folk Park
  28. The Ulster American Folk Park is the world famous story of Irish emigration to the United States. Follow the emigrant trail as you journey from the thatched cottages of Ulster, on board a full scale emigrant sailing ship leading to the log cabins of the American Frontier. 

  29. Dundrum Castle
  30. Dundrum castle in County Down is an important example of Norman architecture stands on the top of a rocky hill commanding fine views south over Dundrum Bay and the beautiful Mourne Mountains.

  31. Ulster Museum
  32. Skeleton in Ulster Museum

    Image Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

    Situated in the Belfast’s beautiful Botanic Gardens, Ulster Museum has fascinating collections of art, natural science and history.

    Alongside dinosaurs, meteorites, Spanish sailors and Egyptian mummies you can explore the history of the region from Ancient Ireland, to the Troubles, and whatever the future may hold. It also has a programme of temporary art exhibitions, lectures and children’s events.

  33. Exploris Aquarium and Seal Sanctuary
  34. Exploris Aquarium and Seal Sanctuary is the only aquarium in Northern Ireland.

    You can see a sunken galleon, friendly sharks and a snappy crocodile, plus jelly fish, penguins, turtles, tropical fish and rays. Plus you could adopt a seal, see the new otter enclosure and there are special events for school holidays.

  35. Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
  36. Carrick A Rede Bridge

    Image Credit: Francesco Baerha

    The first rope bridge at Carrick-A-Rede was constructed over 250 years ago by fishermen to connect the island with the mainland. It is now maintained by the National Trust.

    Visitors must book in advance to walk over the bridge and is subject to the weather for safety reasons.

  37. Armagh Observatory and Planetarium
  38. The Legendary Telescopes Tour at Armagh observatory is a special guided tour of the Observatory and its Grubb 10″ and Calver 18″ telescopes.

    Next door is the Planetarium where you can see stars in their 12m dome with it’s with a state-of-the art digital projector system, along with an exhibition on the solar system, augmented reality append astropark with a scale model of the Universe, brought down to Earth in a beautiful natural setting.

  39. Dunluce Castle
  40. Dunluce Castle

    Image Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

    Dunluce Castle is one of the most picturesque and romantic of Irish Castles, with an exciting history. With evidence of settlement from medieval times, the present castle ruins date mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries.

    You can view the castle ruins and there is a visitor centre so that you can learn all about the castle’s dramatic history and see  historical and archaeological exhibits.

  41. Marble Arch Caves
  42. Cuilcagh Lakelands Global Geopark is the location of the Marble Arch Caves, formed over millions of years in the limestone rock of County Fermanagh. 

    Take a guided tour of the caves with a choice of tours available along with a visitor centre with virtual reality tours and special events throughout the year.

  43. Mussenden Temple
  44. Mussenden Temple

    Image Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

    Mussenden Temple and the ruined Downhill Demesne in County Londonderry sit in beautiful landscape with the temple built on the edge of a cliff.

    You cannot go inside the temple, but the cliff top view is magnificent This National Trust property is free to visit with a charge for parking for non-members.

  45. Crumlin Road Gaol
  46. History lovers will be fascinated by a visit to Crumlin Road Goal, the Victorian prison that in it’s time held some notorious prisoners during its time as the county goal for Antrim.

    Now a museum, conference centre and concert venue you can take a guided tour or wander round on a self-guided tour.

  47. Curry’s Fun Park
  48. If you love all the fun of the fair Curry’s Fun Park has two locations in Porthrush and Salthill.  All the traditional funfair rides such as the big wheel, helter skelter, carousel, waltzers and dodgems plus lots of child-friendly rides too.

  49. Peace Maze and Castlewellan Forest Park
  50. Castlewellen

    Image Credit:Ben Kerckx

    Castlewellan is Northern Ireland’s National Arboretum, with an outstanding collection of trees and shrubs. It has a new children’s play park, Animal Wood and the park features the Peace Maze, a permanent hedge maze which is one of the largest in the world.

    The maze was built in 2000, to commemorate the peace process which ended the troubles in Northern Ireland. Symbolically, the maze consists of two parts which must be crossed into to solve the maze and reach the centre, where you can ring the peace bell.

  51. Florence Court
  52. Florence Court is a beautiful 18th-century home set on a sustainable estate and garden.  You can explore the estate, see the kitchen garden or take a tour of this Georgian Mansion which is managed by the National Trust.

    Along 10 miles of trails in the adjoining forest park you can see some fascinating industrial heritage artefacts, including a water-powered sawmill and a blacksmith's forge.

  53. Bangor Castle Walled Garden
  54. Although the castle is not open to the public (it houses Ards and North Down Borough Council) it’s garden is open to visitors, and you can see a plethora of varieties of flowers, plants, fruit and vegetables mix with sculptures and a unique fountain.

    It is free to visit and the garden has four zones; the kitchen garden, the herb and topiary garden, the swamp garden and the flower garden. It also boasts two unique pieces of sculpture inspired by North Down’s maritime history.

  55. Museum of Free Derry
  56. Museum of Free Derry Mural

    Image Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

    The Museum of Free Derry tells the people’s story of government oppression, the struggle for civil rights, the descent into conflict, of Free Derry and Bloody Sunday.

    Not an easy day out, it tells the story of the Troubles from the perspective of the people of Northern Ireland who lived through it. The museum is located right in the centre of where the events of Bloody Sunday took place and run by those affected by the events of that day. You can also take guided walking tours of the area.

  57. The Derry Walls
  58. Derry Walls

    Image Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

    Derry is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and is one of the finest examples of walled cities in the whole of Europe. They surround what is now know as the ‘old town’ quarter at the heart of the modern city of Derry Londonderry.

    You can walk right around the walls to get a good view of them and it is also possible to walk around the top of the ramparts, giving a wonderful view of the city.

  59. The Old Bushmills Distillery, Co. Antrim
  60. You can take an hour-long tour of this long-established whiskey distillery and watch how whiskey is made from start to finish. Note that children are not allowed on the distillery tour. The tours are available on weekdays only.

  61. Silent Valley
  62. Silent Valley

    Image Credit: Irek Marcinkowski

    Silent Valley is a reservoir located in the Mourne Mountains Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in County Down. A visitor centre has a wealth of information about the work of Northern Ireland Water, the water cycle and the local wildlife.

    You can appreciate the beauty of this area by following one of the number of walking trails and you can download an app with the story of Silent Valley. 

  63. Colin Glen
  64. Colin Glen Adventure Park is the destination for fans of activity and sport.  In the spectacular 200-acre Forest Park  you’ll find Ireland’s only official Gruffalo Trail, SKYTrek high-ropes, laser tag and archery.

    The leisure section includes state of the art sports including Northern Ireland’s first TrackMan Driving Range, TrackMan Indoor Suite, 9-hole golf course, an indoor 3G Sports Dome, outdoor pitches and more.

  65. Enniskillen Castle
  66. A visit to County Fermanagh’s Enniskillen Castle includes entry not only the castle itself but not one but two museums.

    Take a self-guided tour of Enniskillen Castle Museums including the historic Castle site and two Museums - Fermanagh County Museum and The Inniskillings Museum, which commemorates The 5th Royal Inniskillings.

    The Fermanagh County Museum has exhibits about the area's prehistory, natural history, traditional rural life, local crafts and Belleek Pottery, as well as telling the history of the castle.

  67. Castleward
  68. Castleward

    Image Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

    This National Trust property is an 18th-century mansion, famed for its mixture of architectural styles.

    Outside there is a magnificent sunken gardens, a water-powered cornmill and 121 miles of multi use trails as well as woodland and adventure playgrounds for the kids. Special events take place throughout the year.

Now that you have seen all the amazing things there are to do in Northern Ireland, here are the best family holiday parks in Northern Ireland for if you are planning a holiday in this beautiful country.

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