If you’ve recently booked your trip and are looking for the best things to do in Northern Ireland, we’ve got you covered!
For a place that only covers just over 5% of the whole of the U.K., there is no end of Northern Ireland tourist attractions for you to visit.
Northern Ireland has been aptly named “Game of Thrones Territory” as the picturesque landscapes provided many of the backdrops for the TV show.
But don’t worry, if Game of Thrones isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of things to do in Northern Ireland that you will love!
Northern Ireland has the perfect mix of outdoor activities for nature lovers in the surrounding countryside and great attractions to do in the city.
Belfast is a fun, friendly, and lively place that’s great for people of any age.
We’ve kept this list of the best things to do in Northern Ireland as diverse as possible to fit your every need but it really wasn’t hard to do. There are so many interesting places in Northern Ireland you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Don’t forget to check out our ultimate list of things to do in Ireland too!
20 Best Things To Do In Northern Ireland: Epic Bucket List Ideas
Visit Tollymore Forest
Tollymore Forest is located just five minutes away from the town of Newcastle and sits at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.
This forest is one of the most naturally beautiful places to visit in Northern Ireland.
There are a variety of outdoor Northern Ireland activities such as camping, walking, and horseriding.
There are different trails for you to choose from which are all under five and a half miles. Along the way, you will see rocky outcrops, grottos, and caves.
Tollymore Forest also provided many backdrops for Game of Thrones. In fact, the very first scene of the series was shot in Tollymore Forest and was covered in artificial, biodegradable snow!
Many more iconic scenes were filmed in this forest, including the scene where the Direwolf puppies are found.
See The Game Of Thrones Doors
There are so many Northern Ireland tourist attractions for Game of Thrones fans, including intricately carved doors that depict scenes from the show. These are littered all across Northern Ireland.
We even have a full guide to the Game of Thrones doors to help you plan your trip.
The doors are carved out of trees from the Dark Hedges that were knocked over by a storm in 2016.
The Dark Hedges are actually another Game of Thrones filming location, which makes these doors even more special!
Walk On The Giant’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway was created by an ancient volcanic eruption that resulted in over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns.
It’s one of the most popular places to go in Northern Ireland because of how unique the landscape is.
There are many different trails you can walk to see the Giant’s Causeway, including a trail that is under a mile and a trail that is wheelchair and buggy friendly!
There are many stops for you to see when walking the Giant’s Causeway.
Check out the famous “wishing chair” which is a natural rock throne formation. It has been sat on so many times it has become shiny and smooth.
Swim at Downhill Strand
For one of the best beaches in Northern Ireland, head to Downhill Strand in Castlerock.
This sandy beach is about seven miles long and really wide so it is perfect for a beach day.
Spend time swimming, surfing, building sandcastles, birdwatching, or searching for waterfalls along this beautiful stretch of coastline.
The beach was also another filming location for Game of Thrones! It was used as the setting of Dragonstone.
The beach is one of the best free things to do in Northern Ireland! Parking is free too. You can park right on the beach which is really convenient.
The beach sits under rugged cliffs and the Mussenden Temple which dates back to 1785. This is a great spot to admire the views of the ocean.
Explore Dunluce Castle
Dunluce Castle is a beautiful medieval castle ruin located on the Antrim coast.
It sits directly on a set of cliffs on the coastline, providing one of the most dramatic photo opportunities in Northern Ireland.
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Northern Ireland where you learn a lot about history, this is a long and tumultuous one.
There are tales of banshees and how on one stormy night, the castle kitchens went plummeting into the sea.
You can download a Dunluce Castle app for your visit which has a lot of helpful information.
This castle is what to do in Northern Ireland if you are interested in photography!
Cross Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
Are you looking for a great photo opportunity? Then the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is definitely one of the places to visit in Northern Ireland. Just don’t look down!
This rope bridge connects the mainland to the tiny island of Carrick-A-Rede.
The bridge is located near Ballintoy and is suspended over 100 feet above sea level. This is exhilarating for some, and terrifying for others!
Carrick-A-Rede Island is home to just one building, a fisherman’s cottage, but there are plenty of things to do for nature lovers.
Carrick-A-Rede is one of the best places in Northern Ireland to see wildlife. If you’re lucky you will see basking sharks, dolphins, and porpoises!
This is definitely one of the best activities in Northern Ireland!
See The Titanic Museum
Everyone has heard of the infamous, unsinkable ship, but how much do you actually know about it?
The Titanic Museum is one of the most interesting things to do in Belfast.
The museum is situated in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, which is actually where the Titanic was built! It’s a short walk from the city center but can also be accessed by Belfast Bus Tours.
It’s considered the best Titanic museum in the world and has many interactive exhibits for you to explore.
For those who are afraid of heights: be warned that the building is very tall and has a lot of inside balconies.
Walk Down The Dark Hedges
The Dark Hedges is a must-see in Northern Ireland! This landscape is truly iconic!
It’s an avenue of beech trees along Bregagh Road between Armoy and Stranocum. The trees form a spectacular-looking tunnel.
This is definitely one of the best things to do in Northern Ireland if you’re a Game of Thrones fan. Arya Stark herself has been down this very tunnel!
You can no longer drive down the road as it’s protected for future visitors to see.
However, there are places you can use for very short-term parking spots. It’s also a stop on many Game of Thrones tours.
Make sure to check out our post about the Best Time To Visit Ireland which breaks down the weather, what to do etc!
Go On A Game Of Thrones Tour
There are so many different Game of Thrones tours for you to go on in Northern Ireland.
If you’re wanting to do a tour yourself, you can read up on our Game of Thrones locations itinerary to help get you started.
If you would rather go on a guided tour, a simple search will give you many different options, such as this tour.
Guided tours are a lot of fun because you get the opportunity to meet other Game of Thrones fans, which makes the experience more special.
Tours are also a great way to learn things you may not have known before!
Explore Glenoe Waterfall
Ireland is known for its jaw-dropping scenery and Glenoe Waterfall is no exception. It is one of the best waterfalls in Ireland!
We think visiting a waterfall is one of the best things to do in Northern Ireland as they are so beautiful.
Just a short walk away from the village of Gleno, this waterfall is nestled away in a small glen.
The terrain is known to be steep and slippery so make sure you bring appropriate footwear!
Visit The Grave Of Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick is known as the “apostle of Ireland” and is the primary patron saint of Ireland.
His grave is located outside of Down Cathedral on the highest part of Cathedral Hill.
The massive granite stone was placed over the grave in the early 1900s to protect it from the many pilgrims who visited it.
St. Patrick’s Centre in County Down houses a Saint Patrick exhibition where you can learn more about the life, mission, and legacy of Saint Patrick.
It is a must-do in Northern Ireland if you are interested in history.
Take A Trip To Rathlin Island
Rathlin Ireland is the only inhabited offshore island off the coast of County Antrim with a growing population of just 150.
Rathlin Island is one of the cool things to do in Northern Ireland for people who love walking. There are three lighthouse walks and five off-road walks!
The wildlife and scenery on Rathlin Island are famously excellent. Keep an eye out for seals on a rocky shoreline.
The island is easily accessible by a ferry that departs from Ballycastle.
Hike Through The Glens of Antrim
Hiking through the Glens of Antrim is one of the most beautiful things to do in Northern Ireland with kids. We regard it as one of the best hikes in Ireland.
This hike certainly isn’t one of the easiest hikes you can do, but the views of Scotland are definitely worth it.
The Glens of Antrim are an Area of Outstanding Beauty and are one of the popular landmarks in Northern Ireland.
There’s a total of nine glens altogether and each one is surrounded by their own stories, legends, and mysteries which makes this hike one of the most interesting in Ireland.
Explore Belfast Castle
Belfast Castle is truly a spectacular building that is set on the slopes of Cavehill Country Park.
This picturesque castle is a popular location for weddings because of its beautiful sandstone architecture and beautiful gardens.
Belfast Castle is well known for excellent food, so is a great spot to eat after exploring the castle grounds.
This is one of the best activities in Belfast so make sure to add it to your Northern Ireland bucket list!
Take In The View From Mussenden Temple
Mussenden Temple is definitely a stop you should consider when looking for the best things to do in Northern Ireland for adults and kids alike.
The temple dates back to 1785 and the surrounding scenes are some of the most photographed in the whole of Ireland.
The circular temple sits right on the cliffs of Downhill Demesne, near Castlerock in Londonderry. From the temple, you can see the sea for miles.
Relax At Portrush White Rocks Beach
Beaches should definitely be on your list of attractions in Northern Ireland. You will love the epic beaches of Ireland!
Portrush White Rocks Beach has been awarded the prestigious blue flag award and is known as a popular surfing destination.
The limestone cliffs provide a beautiful backdrop to photos. There are also spectacular caves including Shelagh’s Head, the Wishing Arch, Elephant Rock, and Lion’s Paw.
The nearby town of Portrush provides many different restaurants where you can eat after a day of relaxing on the beach!
Visit The Belfast Botanic Gardens
We love Botanical Gardens, and the one in Belfast is definitely one of the fun things to do in Northern Ireland that you shouldn’t miss.
The lawn is incredibly popular during the summer, with tourists and students alike both using it as a sunbathing spot.
The iconic Palm House was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon and is one of the earliest examples of a curvilinear cast iron glasshouse.
It really is one of the most stunning greenhouses in the world and is a must-see place to visit in Belfast!
In summer, there is a beautiful rose garden for visitors to explore as well.
Watch The Sunset At Scrabo Tower
Sunsets are one of the most beautiful things to see, and they are even more beautiful from high up!
Scrabo Tower is one of the best places to visit in Northern Ireland if you’re looking to see a spectacular sunset.
Scrabo Tower is located on Scarbo Hill in Scrabo Country Park.
As well as being a beautiful sunset spot, this location is great to see views of Strangford Lough and the surrounding countryside.
This is one of the things to do in Northern Ireland at night!
Take a Prison Tour at Crumlin Road Gaol
Crumlin Road Gaol is the only remaining Victorian-era prison in Northern Ireland.
After its closure in 1996, the prison and the Courthouse across the road which is connected to the prison via underground tunnels remained derelict until the prison was turned into a popular Northern Ireland tourist attraction.
The courthouse still remains derelict.
There are daily tours of the prison where you can explore the grounds with a guide and learn all about the history of overcrowding, the gallows, and the infamous escapes.
The prison is said to be haunted, and you can take your own trip into the paranormal with a paranormal tour.
This is one of the many great things to do in Belfast for a thrill seeker!
Hike the Scenic Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail
The Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail in Co. Fermanagh is one of the best hikes in Northern Ireland if you are looking for a workout with amazing vistas.
Known as the “Stairway to Heaven,” the trail is about 7 miles out-and-back. It is rated as difficult with an elevation gain of around 2,000 feet.
The upward trek is worth it for the panoramic views of lakes, mountains, and bogland.
There are so many things to do in Northern Ireland!
Whether you’re a huge Game of Thrones fan, want to hike the Glens, or learn more about the fascinating history of Belfast, there’s something to satisfy your needs.
We hope you enjoy your stay in Northern Ireland! Check out our guide to planning a trip to Ireland.