Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

8 Great Places to Visit in Northern Ireland

On a much too short family trip to Northern Ireland, we saw incredible scenery, historical locations, and even some personal family history. While we would love to return to this enchanting area of the world, the memories will last forever.

This article has some of my favorite places to visit in Northern Ireland but I would love to read about your favorites.

 

8 Great Places to Visit in Northern Ireland

1. Giant’s Causeway. Irish legend says that Finn McCool (no relation, or is he?) grabbed and hurled chunks of land into the sea to create a walkway between Northern Ireland and Scotland. He and a Scottish giant had a tiff and then destroyed the walkway, leaving the Giant’s Causeway. Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was one of my family’s favorite places to visit in Northern Ireland.

 

8 Great Places to Visit in Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

2. Causeway Coast Way Walking Trail. Busloads of visitors visit the basalt column area of Giant’s Causeway, but a small percentage of people take time (or are permitted time) to explore the surrounding areas. Look at these incredible views from the walking path above the Giant’s Causeway.

 

8 Great Places to Visit in Northern Ireland

Giants Causeway overlook, Northern Ireland

 

8 Great Places to Visit in Northern Ireland

Giants Causeway overlook, Northern Ireland

 

3. Old Bushmill’s Distillery. Only 2.5 miles from the Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre, the Old Bushmill’s Distillery is the oldest operating distillery in all of Ireland and has been at this location in the village of Bushmills for over 400 years.

 

8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland

Old Bushmills Distillery, Bushmills, Northern Ireland

 

8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland

Old Bushmills Distillery, Bushmills, Northern Ireland

 

4. Finn MacCool’s Public House. Still in the village of Bushmills, take time to have another shot of Bushmills Whiskey before heading to your next attraction. Finn MacCool’s is housed in the oldest building in Bushmills and also provides lodging, including a convenient family room (4 persons).

 

8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland

Finn MacCools tavern, Bushmills, Northern Ireland

 

8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland

Finn MacCools tavern, Bushmills, Northern Ireland

 

5. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Another National Trust property—as is Giant’s Causeway—Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge looks scarier than it actually is. However, not everyone can handle the swaying bridge 100 feet above the turbulent sea below. Can you?

 

8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

 

8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

 

6. Dunluce Castle. Built over 500 years ago, Dunluce Castle is thought to be the inspiration for Chronicles of Narnia and is the setting of House of Greyjoy from Game of Thrones. The medieval castle is just a few miles west of Bushmills and occupies a majestic setting along the northern coast.

 

8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland

Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland

 

7. Londonderry. West about one hour driving time from Dunluce Castle is Northern Ireland’s second largest city, Londonderry. Located on River Foyle, Londonderry has a massive protective wall—over 1 mile around, 26 feet high, and up to 30 feet wide. Londonderry is a great place to view the ancient military fortification and cannons along with modern attractions. While walking along the top of the castle walls, we witnessed a peaceful demonstration.

 

8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland

Londonderry, Northern Ireland

 

8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland

Londonderry, Northern Ireland

 

8. Family History Locations. It is estimated that 25 million US residents can trace their family ancestry to Northern Ireland. Also, 12 US Presidents had Northern Irish ancestors. Note that this includes only Northern Irish and not Irish ancestors (like President Barack Obama has)! I was fortunate to be able to trace the MCCOOL family line to a tiny (actually no longer existent) village called Toberhead in County Londonderry, near the small town of Magherafelt. During our visit we were granted special permission to visit the original McCool family house which has existed since 1670. Have you been able to visit your ancestral homeland(s)?

 

8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland

McCoole’s Road, Toberhead, Northern Ireland

 

8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland

McCool Homestead, Toberhead, Northern Ireland

 

Please also see:

 

What are your favorite places to visit in Northern Ireland?


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13 Responses to “8 Great Places to Visit in Northern Ireland”

  1. Green Global Travel (@GreenGlobalTrvl) May 29, 2016 at 10:03 am #

    Northern Island looks like a great place to visit. The art at the Finn MacCools tavern is funny.

  2. Mary @ Green Global Travel May 29, 2016 at 10:01 am #

    Northern Island looks like a great place to visit! Also, funny image of the warrior holding the beer.

    • McCool Travel May 30, 2016 at 9:33 pm #

      Glad you like it. Hope you get to visit Bushmills.

  3. Dang Travelers April 7, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    We just loved Northern Ireland, such a shame so many people skip it! We’ve been to four of these beautiful locations.

    • McCool Travel April 10, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

      Superb. I am guessing that the McCool ancestral home was NOT one of your spots. 😀

  4. Susan Moore April 4, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

    Every time I see a photo of Giant’s Causeway I want to book a trip to Northern Ireland! Thank you for the travel inspiration!

  5. Doreen Pendgracs April 3, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

    I’ve not yet been to Ireland, but your photos and the fact that the Guinness Storehouse is there are 2 very good reasons to make me want to go. Thx for sharing.

  6. Johanna ~ Lifestyle Fifty April 3, 2016 at 2:25 am #

    Would love to visit Ireland, anywhere really. Northern Ireland looks beautiful. Dunluce Castle, and Narnia, Game of Thrones – hmm, grist for the writer’s mill! Want to visit!

  7. Sue Reddel March 31, 2016 at 2:02 pm #

    I haven’t been to Northern Ireland yet but it sure looks beautiful. Bushmills? Count me in. Slainte!

  8. tripwellgal March 22, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

    Haven’t been yet but I love the wildness of the places you visited and of course, Bushmills!

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