8 Great Places to Visit in Northern Ireland

Some of the fantastic things to do in Northern Ireland include visiting locations built by Finn McCool (Giant’s Causeway), a Game of Thrones location (Dunluce Castle), a castled city, and much more.

On a 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 hear your favorites.

8 Great Places to Visit in Northern Ireland

1. Giant’s Causeway

Finn McCool—no relation, or is he—and Irish legend, created a walkway between Northern Ireland and Scotland when he grabbed and hurled chunks of land into the sea. He and a Scottish giant had a tiff and proceeded to destroy 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
Northern Ireland attractions: Giant’s Causeway

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 if they are on tours) 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
in Bushmills, Northern Ireland, make sure you hike to the Giant’s Causeway overlook
8 Great Places to Visit in Northern Ireland
what to see in Northern Ireland: Giant’s Causeway overlook

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
places to visit in Northern Ireland: Old Bushmills Distillery, Bushmills
8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland
where to drink in Northern Ireland: Old Bushmills Distillery, Bushmills

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
Northern Ireland attractions: Finn MacCools tavern, Bushmills
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
fun places to visit in Northern Ireland: Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge
8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland
where 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
where to visit in Northern Ireland: Dunluce Castle

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
what to see in Northern Ireland: Londonderry
8 great places to visit in Northern Ireland
Londonderry, Northern Ireland parade: a scene right out of Derry Girls

8. Family History Locations

More than 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 am fortunate 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 at this location 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 ancestral home in Toberhead, Northern Ireland

See also Northern Ireland Mild Adventures and In the Footsteps of Finn McCool and Ireland Luxury Lodging: Where to Stay in Ireland.

What are your favorite places to visit in Northern Ireland?

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19 thoughts on “8 Great Places to Visit in Northern Ireland”

  1. The Giant’s Causeway reminded me of the old video game Qbert. It really is one of the strangest natural formations I’ve ever visited. Had mixed emotions over all the murals found in Belfast, Londonderry, etc. Many would be considered works of art but their messages were hard to swallow.

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

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

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

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

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

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