Tourism Culture

Best Things to do in Northern Ireland: Places to Visit, Outdoor Adventure Activities to Do

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

· 11 min read

The best things to do in Northern Ireland are exploring its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cultural scenes. Key attractions include the Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its unique basalt columns. The Titanic Belfast museum offers a deep dive into the history of the infamous ship built in Belfast's shipyards. 

For fans of "Game of Thrones," visiting the filming locations like the Dark Hedges can be a thrilling experience. The walled city of Derry/Londonderry offers historical tours that explore its complex past. Nature lovers will enjoy the Mourne Mountains, ideal for hiking and enjoying panoramic views. The Ulster Museum in Belfast provides insights into Northern Irish history, art, and science. For a taste of local life, explore the St. George’s Market, where you can find local crafts, foods, and live music. These diverse activities make Northern Ireland a captivating destination for all types of travelers.

dunseverick, northern ireland, antrim coast

Top Things to do in Northern Ireland

  1. Visit the Giant's Causeway

  2. Explore Belfast

  3. Walk the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

  4. Tour the Old Bushmills Distillery

  5. Visit the Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens in Belfast

  6. Explore the Mourne Mountains

  7. Enjoy the Coastal Scenic Drives

  8. Discover Derry’s Historic Walls

  9. Attend a Traditional Music Session

  10. Visit the Dark Hedges

giant's causeway, antrim, ireland

1. Visit the Giant's Causeway

Explore the Giant's Causeway, a special place that's part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. It's famous for its amazing columns made of basalt rocks that fit together like puzzle pieces. These columns were formed by volcanoes long ago. You'll be amazed by the unique shapes and patterns they make. People have lots of stories and legends about this place, adding to its magic. 

When I visited, I was struck by not only by the sheer beauty of the landscape but also by the rich stories that seemed to echo with each step along the rugged shore.

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belfast

2. Explore Belfast

Explore Belfast, the vibrant capital city of Northern Ireland, where culture, history, and creativity converge. Visit the iconic Titanic Quarter, step inside the historic Crumlin Road Gaol, and wander through lively streets adorned with colorful murals that tell the story of the city's past and present. When I visited, I was struck by the depth of history and the vibrant contemporary culture that make Belfast a truly dynamic city.

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bridge, suspension bridge, hanging bridge

3. Walk the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, suspended high over the Atlantic Ocean, for a thrilling experience. Admire the breathtaking coastal views and feel the adrenaline rush as you traverse this iconic bridge connecting the mainland to Carrick Island. When I made the crossing, the blend of fear and exhilaration was unforgettable, with every step revealing a new vista of the rugged coastline below.

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tanks, brewery, fermentation

4. Tour the Old Bushmills Distillery

If you're a whiskey enthusiast, don't miss a visit to the Old Bushmills Distillery, Ireland's oldest licensed distillery, dating back to 1608. Take a guided tour to delve into the whiskey-making process and sample some of the finest Irish spirits. When I toured the distillery, the rich aroma of aging whiskey was as intoxicating as the stories of its centuries-old craft.

botanical garden, dusseldorf, garden

5. Visit the Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens in Belfast

Immerse yourself in art, history, and natural science at the Ulster Museum, home to a diverse range of exhibits including Irish treasures, ancient artifacts, and contemporary artworks. Afterward, take a leisurely stroll through the adjacent Botanic Gardens, featuring exotic plant species and tranquil green spaces. Immerse yourself in art, history, and natural science at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, where you can explore a diverse range of exhibits including Irish treasures, ancient artifacts, and contemporary artworks. After your museum visit, take a leisurely stroll through the adjacent Botanic Gardens, featuring exotic plant species and tranquil green spaces. When I visited, I found the seamless blend of cultural enrichment and natural beauty to be the perfect way to spend a day in the city.

lake, nature, travel

6. Explore the Mourne Mountains

Explore the rugged beauty of the Mourne Mountains, an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Hike along scenic trails, conquer towering peaks, and soak in panoramic views of sweeping valleys and shimmering lakes in this picturesque mountain range. During my hike, the stunning landscapes were a constant source of awe, making every strenuous step worth the effort.

coastal, coast

7. Enjoy the Coastal Scenic Drives

Take a road trip along Northern Ireland's stunning coastal routes, major tourist attractions, such as the Causeway Coastal Route and the Wild Atlantic Way. Marvel at the dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and quaint coastal villages dotted along the way. When I drove these routes, the breathtaking views and charming stops made every mile a memorable adventure.

historic walls

8. Discover Derry’s Historic Walls

Step back in time as you walk along the well-preserved walls of Derry/Londonderry, the only completely walled city in Ireland. Learn about the city's tumultuous history and admire panoramic views of the surrounding landscape from atop the ramparts. I remember feeling transported to another era as I traced the path of the city's history along these ancient defenses.

traditional music

9. Attend a Traditional Music Session

Experience the lively traditional music scene of Northern Ireland by attending a session at a local pub or music venue. Tap your feet to the rhythm of fiddles, bodhráns, and tin whistles as talented musicians showcase the rich musical heritage of the region. Joining in one of these sessions, I felt the vibrant spirit of the community come alive through every note, humming your way back to the car park.

dark henges

10. Visit the Dark Hedges

Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of the Dark Hedges, an iconic avenue of beech trees featured in popular TV shows and movies. Wander beneath the gnarled branches and marvel at the otherworldly beauty of this natural wonder. Walking this mystical path, I couldn't help but feel like a character in a fairy tale, surrounded by the surreal beauty of these ancient trees.

Things to do in Northern Ireland Description
Visit the Giant's Causeway Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site known for its unique basalt columns
Explore Belfast Discover the vibrant capital city with its rich history, culture, and attractions
Walk the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge Experience the thrill of crossing the iconic rope bridge suspended over dramatic coastal cliffs
Tour the Old Bushmills Distillery Learn about the distillation process and enjoy tasting sessions at Ireland's oldest working distillery
Visit the Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens in Belfast Explore the extensive collections of art, history, and natural sciences, and enjoy the tranquility of the Botanic Gardens
Explore the Mourne Mountains Hike or drive through the picturesque mountains, offering breathtaking views and outdoor activities
Enjoy the Coastal Scenic Drives Take a leisurely drive along the stunning Causeway Coastal Route or the Wild Atlantic Way, passing by scenic coastline, castles, and charming villages
Discover Derry’s Historic Walls Walk along the historic city walls of Derry/Londonderry and explore its rich history and cultural heritage
Attend a Traditional Music Session Experience the lively atmosphere of traditional Irish music in a local pub or music venue
Visit the Dark Hedges Marvel at the stunning beech tree-lined avenue, famous from Game of Thrones

Things To Do in Northern Ireland for Couples

digital art, couple, silhouettes

Northern Ireland offers a captivating blend of romantic landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, making it a perfect destination for couples seeking both adventure and relaxation. From the idyllic Causeway Coast to the historic streets of Belfast, this enchanting region promises an array of experiences that cater to all tastes. Whether you prefer cozying up in quaint pubs, exploring ancient castles, or enjoying scenic walks in nature, Northern Ireland has plenty to offer. Let's explore some of the best activities and attractions for couples in this beautiful part of the world.

Stroll Along the Giant's Causeway

Begin your romantic journey with a leisurely stroll along the legendary Giant's Causeway. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a geological marvel of interlocking basalt columns, formed millions of years ago by volcanic activity. As you walk hand in hand with your loved one, take in the breathtaking scenery and marvel at the unique hexagonal formations. The rugged coastline and crashing waves provide a dramatic backdrop for intimate moments and shared exploration. Whether I'm admiring the sunset or simply enjoying our company, the Giant's Causeway created unforgettable memories.

castle ward

Visit Castle Ward

Step back in time with a visit to Castle Ward, a stunning 18th-century mansion set amidst beautiful gardens and woodlands. This historic estate offers couples the opportunity to engross themselves in the romance of bygone eras while exploring the iconic filming location of Winterfell from Game of Thrones. We wandered through the grand rooms of the mansion, strolled hand in hand through the manicured gardens, and even embarked on a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride around the estate. With its timeless beauty and tranquil ambiance, Castle Ward was the perfect setting for our romantic day out.

botanical garden

Relax in the Botanic Gardens

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and retreat to the peaceful oasis of the Botanic Gardens in Belfast. These beautifully landscaped gardens offer couples a tranquil escape from the stresses of everyday life, with winding pathways, serene ponds, and an array of exotic plant species to discover. We found a secluded spot to sit and enjoy a romantic picnic, reveling in each other's company amidst the verdant surroundings. As we wandered hand in hand through the Botanic Gardens, taking in the sights and sounds of nature, we couldn't help but admire the colorful blooms and the tranquil atmosphere. It was the perfect backdrop for a romantic day spent together.

Take a Black Taxi Tour in Belfast

Discover the rich history and vibrant culture of Belfast with a Black Taxi Tour of the city. These guided walking tours offer couples the opportunity to explore Belfast's most iconic landmarks and learn about its tumultuous past, from the Troubles to the peace process. With knowledgeable local guides at the helm, you'll delve into the heart of Belfast's neighborhoods, hear stories of resilience and reconciliation, and gain insight into the city's unique identity. Whether we're exploring the political murals of the Falls Road and Shankill Road or discovering hidden gems off the beaten path, a Black Taxi Tour is a fascinating and informative way to experience Belfast together.

gourmet dinner

Enjoy a Gourmet Dinner

Treat your taste buds to a culinary adventure with a gourmet dinner at one of Northern Ireland's top restaurants. From Michelin-starred establishments to cozy country pubs, the culinary scene in Northern Ireland offers something for every palate. We indulged in fresh seafood, savored traditional Irish fare, and sampled innovative dishes crafted from locally sourced ingredients. With its warm hospitality and world-class cuisine, Northern Ireland proved to be the perfect destination for us as food-loving couples, eager to savor the flavors of the Emerald Isle together.

Walk the Walls of Derry

Experience the romance of centuries past with a walk along the historic walls of Derry/Londonderry. As the only completely walled city in Ireland, Derry's ancient fortifications offer couples the chance to step back in time and immerse themselves in the city's rich history. We strolled hand in hand along the ramparts, taking in panoramic views of the city below and marveling at the well-preserved bastions and gates. Whether we were exploring the city's historic landmarks or simply enjoying each other's company against the backdrop of centuries-old architecture, a walk along the city walls of Derry was a romantic experience to remember.

mountain, mist, landscape

Explore the Mourne Mountains

Escape to the breathtaking beauty of the Mourne Mountains for a romantic adventure in the great outdoors. Lace up your hiking boots and set off together to explore this picturesque mountain range, home to sweeping valleys, shimmering lakes, and towering peaks. Whether you're conquering the summit of Slieve Donard, the highest peak in Northern Ireland, or meandering along scenic trails hand in hand, the Mourne Mountains offer endless opportunities for couples to connect with nature and each other. With its rugged beauty and tranquil ambiance, this iconic landscape provided the perfect setting for our romantic mountain getaway.

Cruise on Lough Erne

Experience the romance of Northern Ireland's lakelands with a scenic cruise on Lough Erne. This vast network of lakes and waterways offers couples the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful scenery in the country from the comfort of a boat. We set sail together and meandered through tranquil waters, passing by lush green islands, historic landmarks, and secluded coves along the way. Whether we opted for a leisurely sightseeing cruise or a romantic sunset cruise, our journey on Lough Erne created unforgettable memories for us as a couple.

castle hotel

Stay in a Castle Hotel

Indulge in a fairytale getaway with a romantic stay in a castle hotel. Northern Ireland is home to a wealth of historic castles that have been lovingly restored and transformed into luxurious accommodations. From opulent suites to cozy guest rooms, these castles offer couples the chance to live like royalty for a night or two. Enjoying gourmet dining, pampering spa treatments, and scenic walks in the castle grounds, we immersed ourselves in the romance of centuries past. Whether we were celebrating a special occasion or simply seeking a romantic retreat, our stay in a castle hotel was an unforgettable experience for us as a couple.

Visit the Dark Hedges

Immerse yourselves in the enchanting beauty of the Dark Hedges, an iconic avenue of beech trees featured in popular TV shows and movies. Wander hand in hand beneath the gnarled branches and marvel at the otherworldly atmosphere of this natural wonder. Whether you're capturing the perfect photo or simply enjoying a peaceful stroll, the Dark Hedges provide a romantic setting for quiet moments together. As the sunlight filters through the canopy of leaves above, we felt as though we'd stepped into a fairy tale with each other by our side.

What are the Outdoor adventures to Do in Northern Ireland?

The outdoor adventures to do in Northern Ireland are hiking the Mourne Mountains, canoeing on the River Blackwater, coasteering along the Causeway Coast, cycling the Great Western Greenway, surfing in Portrush, paragliding over the Glens of Antrim, walking the Causeway Coastal Path, golfing at Royal Portrush Golf Club, bouldering in the Fair Head, and horse riding on Downhill Beach. Northern Ireland's stunning landscapes and rugged coastline make it the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking thrilling adventures and unforgettable experiences. From hiking majestic mountains to surfing along pristine beaches or visiting the visitor centre, there's no shortage of exhilarating activities to enjoy in this captivating corner of the world.

hiking

Hiking the Mourne Mountains

Embark on a journey through the breathtaking beauty of the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland's highest mountain range. Lace up your hiking boots and set off on scenic trails that wind through sweeping valleys, past shimmering lakes, and up to towering peaks. Whether we're conquering the summit of Slieve Donard or exploring the tranquil beauty of Silent Valley, the Mourne Mountains offer us hikers of all levels the opportunity to immerse ourselves in nature and experience the thrill of outdoor adventure.

kayak, kayaking, paddle

Canoeing on the River Blackwater

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and explore the tranquil waters of the River Blackwater by canoe. Paddle your way through picturesque landscapes, past lush green forests, and alongside charming riverside villages. Keep an eye out for native wildlife such as otters, kingfishers, and herons as you navigate the gentle currents of this scenic waterway. For an adrenaline-fueled adventure, canoeing on the River Blackwater promised us a memorable outdoor experience, perfect for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

boat, fishing boat, sea

Coasteering Along the Causeway Coast

Experience the thrill of coasteering along the rugged cliffs of the Causeway Coast, where land meets sea in a dramatic collision of waves and rock. Strap on a wetsuit and helmet, and prepare to scramble, climb, and leap your way along the beautiful northern Irish coastline, exploring hidden caves, natural arches, and secluded coves along the way. With expert guides leading the way, we had the opportunity to cliff jump into crystal-clear waters, swim through sea caves, and marvel at the stunning coastal scenery from a unique perspective. As first-time adventurers, coasteering got our hearts racing and left us with memories to last a lifetime.

man, riding, cycling

Cycling the Great Western Greenway

To visit visit Northern Ireland Hop on a bike and explore the Great Western Greenway, a scenic cycling route that winds its way through some of the most beautiful landscapes. Pedal along old railway lines, through lush green countryside, and past charming villages as you soak in the stunning views of mountains, lakes, and coastline. With smooth, traffic-free paths and plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the scenery, the Great Western Greenway was the perfect destination for me as a cyclist of all ages and abilities looking to experience the natural beauty of Northern Ireland on two wheels.

surfing, sunset, waves

Surfing in Portrush

Catch some waves and experience the thrill of surfing on the shores of Portrush, one of Northern Ireland's premier surfing destinations. With its consistent swells, sandy beaches, and stunning coastal scenery, Portrush offers the perfect conditions for surfers of all levels, from beginners to experienced riders. For carving up the surf like a pro, the adrenaline rush of catching a wave and riding it to shore was an experience I won't soon forget.

paragliding, sports, flying

Paragliding Over the Glens of Antrim

Take to the skies and experience the exhilaration of paragliding over the Glens of Antrim, where lush green valleys meet the shimmering waters of the Irish Sea. Strap into a tandem harness with a certified instructor and launch from one of the region's scenic hilltops, soaring high above the landscape as you take in panoramic views of rolling hills, rugged coastline, and ancient ruins below. As a first-time flyer, the thrill of gliding through the air like a bird and experiencing the beauty of Northern Ireland from above was an adventure I'll never forget.

Walking the Causeway Coastal Path

Embark on a scenic stroll along the Causeway Coastal Path, one of the most stunning coastal walking routes in the world. Stretching for over 30 miles along the rugged coastline of Northern Ireland, this iconic trail takes hikers past dramatic cliffs, secluded beaches, and historic landmarks, including the world-famous Giant's Causeway. As I took a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, the Causeway Coastal Path offered breathtaking scenery and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure during my visit.

golf, golf ball, hole

Golfing at Royal Portrush Golf Club

Tee off at Royal Portrush Golf Club, home to one of the most challenging and picturesque golf courses in Northern Ireland. Nestled along the rugged coastline of County Antrim, this championship links course offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the rugged landscape beyond. With its challenging fairways, undulating greens, and unpredictable coastal winds, Royal Portrush provided a true test of skill for me as a golfer during my visit. A round of golf at Royal Portrush was indeed a memorable outdoor adventure.

Bouldering in the Fair Head

Challenge yourself and test your climbing skills with a day of bouldering at Fair Head, one of Northern Ireland's premier rock climbing destinations. Located on the scenic Causeway Coast, Fair Head offers climbers a variety of challenging bouldering routes set against the backdrop of stunning coastal scenery. With its rugged cliffs, natural rock formations, and breathtaking views, Fair Head provided the perfect setting for me as a climber to push my limits and experience the thrill of outdoor adventure in one of Northern Ireland's most beautiful landscapes.

horse, riding, animal

Horse Riding on Downhill Beach

Saddle up and explore the picturesque landscapes of Northern Ireland on horseback with a guided horse riding adventure on Downhill Beach. Feel the wind in your hair and the rhythm of your horse's hoofbeats as you trot along the sandy shores of this stunning beach, with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean stretching out before you. As a novice equestrian, horse riding on Downhill Beach offered me a unique and unforgettable way to experience the natural beauty of Northern Ireland's coastline.

FAQs On Best Things to do in Northern Ireland

What are some must-visit attractions in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland offers a wealth of attractions suitable for all types of travelers. Highlights include the Giant's Causeway with its famous castle and unique basalt columns, the historic walls and vibrant cultural scene of Derry/Londonderry, and the Titanic Belfast museum that tells the story of the iconic ship. The scenic Causeway Coastal Route is another tourist attraction and also a must for those who enjoy breathtaking landscapes.

Are there any activities for outdoor enthusiasts in Northern Ireland?

Yes, Northern Ireland is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The Mourne Mountains are perfect for hiking, offering routes that range from gentle walks to challenging climbs. For water sports, the lakes of Fermanagh and the North Coast provide great opportunities for boating, fishing, and surfing. Additionally, the region boasts several pristine golf courses, including Royal Portrush, one of the hosts of the Open Championship.

What unique cultural experiences can tourists find in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland is rich in cultural experiences, from traditional music sessions in cozy pubs to the vibrant Belfast arts scene. Visitors can explore the Seamus Heaney HomePlace, dedicated to the Nobel laureate poet, or experience the Ulster Folk Museum where they can step back in time and understand the historical way of life. The annual Belfast International Arts Festival is another cultural highlight, featuring artists from around the world.

What are some family-friendly activities in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland offers plenty of fun activities that cater to families. The Exploris Aquarium provides interactive marine exhibits and a seal sanctuary. The W5 interactive science museum in Belfast offers hands-on exhibits that engage children in learning and discovery. For a more adventurous experience, families can visit the Tollymore Forest Park for a day of hiking, picnicking, and exploring the great outdoors.

 

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

I am a globe-trotter with a passion for exploration. From the sun-kissed coasts of Portugal to the snow-capped peaks of Switzerland, my travels are as diverse as they are inspiring. My journeys through Spain, Finland, Austria, and Germany have fueled my soul and shaped my writing.