Top 10 Places to Visit in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's magnificence is interwoven with it's culture, tragic history and the friendliness of it's people. Walkers, cyclists, rock climbers, hikers and sailors enjoy it's mountains, lakes and sweeping coastline. I love Northern Ireland's ancient castles, country houses, the horse fairs and oyster festivals. Northern Ireland really has something for everyone.
Giants Causeway

1. Giants Causeway

Undoubtedly the Giant Causeway is Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction. The Causeway consists of thousands of interlocking basalt columns. They were formed by an ancient volcanic eruption and most of the columns are six sided. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead into the sea, the pictures really don’t do the Causeway justice.

2. Belfast Castle

The castle is located on the lower slopes of Cave Hill Park. The first Belfast Castle burned down in 1708. The new castle was completed in 1870 and built in the Scottish baronial style. The estate features parkland and mature mixed woodland. The castle offers superb views of the city. The Belfast Castle has a restaurant and visitors centre where you can learn more about the estate.

3. St. Patrick's Cathedral

Saint Patrick established his primary church here on Armagh Hill in 445AD. There's been a church on the spot since then. While the church has been remodeled repeatedly, even as recently as 2004, the fundamental form of the Cathedral is still as designed by Archbishop O'Scanlon during the 12th century.  It's a simple building with intriguing monuments featuring an 11th-century carved stone cross.

4. The Old Bushmills Distillery

The distillery is a very popular tourist attraction with 120,000 visitors per year. A distillery using the Bushmills name was first established in 1743, making it the oldest distillery in the world. The region has a history of distillery that goes back to 1276.

In the 1900s, the USA’s Prohibition hit Bushmill’s sales hard. Fortunately they had a large stockpile to export when prohibition was ended in 1920.

Mussenden Temple

5. Armagh County Museum

If you want a taste of the history and Culture of Northern Ireland, you really should take time to visit the Armagh County Museum. Their collection includes historic domestic tools, local art, photography,  textiles, archaeological artefacts and uniforms.

The museum has a small shop with interesting books and other mementos. There is also a number of places to eat nearby.

6. Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is a ruin of a medieval castle. It is located on a basalt outcrop with sheer cliffs into the ocean on 2 sides. You walk across a bridge to get to the castle. Before the castle was built an early Irish fort stood on the same place. There use to be a Dunluce town near the castle. It was raised to the ground in the Irish uprising of 1641 and never rebuilt.

7. Glenariff Forest Park

It is a 1185 hectare forest in County Antrim. The park is part of Glenariff glen. Glenariff Forest Park has 3 waterfalls, riverside walks and forest trails, there is also a shop, visitor centre and caravan/camping site. Just check as the camping site isn't open all year round.

8. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

This is a popular rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim. The rope bridge connects the mainland to the small island of Carrickarede. The bridge spans 66 foot and is 98 ft above the rocks. The bridge was originally built by salmon fishers the salmon use to move through the area to spawn in the River Bann and the River Bush.

9. Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne

The Mussenden Temple is a small round building on cliffs near Castlerock. The building looks out over the Atlantic Ocean and the Western Coast of Northern Ireland.

The building was constructed in 1785 as a library. The cliff has eroded over the years bringing the building closer and closer to the edge.

10. Roe Valley Country Park

The River Roe flows through part of this park.The park is around 3 miles long and features mainly riparian woodland on each side of the Roe river. The area next to the river is mostly steep gorges. There is however some flat grassland on the northwest bank.

Green Lane Museum is located in the park. The museum's exhibits focus on local history, rural life and the local linen industry.

Dunluce Castle




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