Top 10 Castles to See in Northern Ireland

Top 10 Castles to See in Northern Ireland

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Last updated:
26.11.2020

Northern Ireland is a destination of stunning beauty and unparalleled heritage! In addition to the rugged landscapes, awe-inspiring sights, and bustling, colorful cities, it houses an abundance of authentic castles and ruins - must-visit monuments on any Northern Ireland tour.

Belfast Castle

One of the best-known castles in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Castle in the country's marvelous capital, is undoubtedly an excellent site to start your castle tour. It stands on the renowned Cave Hill, providing not only insight into the authentic architectural and historical heritage but marvelous views to enjoy as well. Surrounded by manicured gardens and lush local flora, the monument dates back to the mid-19th-century and features marvelous architecture. Some people say that the features of this exact castle were the source of inspiration behind some parts of Swift's "Gulliver's Travels."

Belfast Castle

Northern Ireland tour highlights:

  • Giant's Causeway;
  • Mussenden Temple;
  • Gobbins Cliff Path;
  • Old Bushmills Distillery;
  • Dark Hedges;
  • Titanic Belfast;
  • Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

Carrickfergus Castle

The imposing Carrickfergus Castle is a must-visit site of any Northern Ireland tour. Dating back to the 12th century, the landmark has been besieged by different forces on multiple occasions and underwent changes and restorations throughout the years; however, it stands strong to this day as one of the most significant monuments in the area. In addition to its eventful history, there are also numerous legends and interesting Carrickfergus Castle facts, making it a major point of attraction among curious globe-trotters from all over the world.

Carrickfergus Castle

Castlewellan

Located amid the lush Castlewellan Forest Park, Castlewellan Castle is another excellent addition to the Northern Ireland castle tour. Used as a Christian Conference Center, the imposing landmark boasts authentic architecture and spectacular surroundings. Its unique exterior paralleled with the extensive park adds up to a picture-perfect sight, making it a must-visit while in the area.

Castlewellan

Dunluce Castle

Set picturesquely on the edge of a basalt formation, the Dunluce Castle is without a doubt located in one of the most dramatic settings in Northern Ireland. The castle was first mentioned in 1513, and not long after, it became the base of the renowned McDonnell clan; throughout the years, the castle was home to several Earls of Antrim. Nowadays, visitors are welcome to explore the ruins of the one-of-a-kind castle and soak up the mind-boggling views over the surroundings, including the awe-inspiring cliffs at arm's length.

Dunluce Castle

Castle Ward

Located in County Down in Northern Ireland, the Castle Ward is a must-visit location during any tour around the country. Dating back to the 18th century, the National Trust property includes a fortified tower, buildings showcasing several exceptional architectural styles, as well as a large manicured garden perfect for a leisurely stroll. Not only is it a site of great architectural and historical significance in the area, it has also been the filming location of the renowned Game of Thrones series, which makes a visit as such even more unforgettable.

Castle Ward

Where in Northern Ireland was Game of Thrones filmed?

  • Magheramorne Quarry;
  • Downhill Strand;
  • Cushendun Caves;
  • The Dark Hedges;
  • Ballintoy Harbour;
  • Tollymore Forest Park;
  • Quoile River;
  • Inch Abbey;
  • Binevenagh.

Dunseverick Castle

Conveniently located just a short drive away from the Giant's Causeway and the Dunseverick village, the Dunseverick Castle is another monument set amid stirring surroundings. Even though only the ruins of the castle still stand on the site, it is a landmark of great historical significance, believed to be the place where, back in the 5th century, St. Patrick baptized Olcán, the Bishop of Ireland. In addition to that, the scenery and the views over the cliffs nearby also make it a must-visit while on a Northern Ireland tour.

Dunseverick Castle

Kinbane Castle

Continue your castle tour to marvel at the ruins of the Kinbane castle, as well as some more inspiring views over the picture-perfect surroundings. Once a two-story castle, it was originally built in the 16th century by Colla MacDonnell; however, destroyed and rebuilt throughout the years. Also known as the Kenbane Castle, it receives its name from the word Kinbane, meaning white head, referring to the white limestone promontory on which the castle stands.

Kinbane Castle

Enniskillen Castle

Make sure to stop by the renowned Enniskillen Castle and not only marvel at the imposing landmark but visit the displays of the Fermanagh County Museum on site. The 16th-century castle was under siege several times before falling into the hands of the renowned O'Donnell family. In addition to housing a museum with displays related to the prehistory, natural history, and rural life of the area, the site also boasts other fortified constructions to explore.

Enniskillen Castle

Dungiven Castle

Visit the Dungiven Castle and get better acquainted with the history of the area, including significant people and events that have once taken place on the site. Restored and repaired several times, the castle as seen now dates back to the 19th century. Even though its history goes way back to when it was home to the O’Cahan family, the castle was largely used in the 20th century as a dance hall and a venue for housing the US Army. Currently, the imposing castle is open as a luxury hotel, inviting its guests to not only delve deeper into the past but admire the awe-inspiring surroundings as well.

Dungiven Castle

Red Bay Castle

Located in County Antrim, within a short distance from the Glenariff village, the Red Bay Castle is another postcard-like stop on the castle itinerary. Like numerous other castles in Northern Ireland, it is set in a spectacular location overlooking the cliffs, the water, and the rugged surroundings. However, no matter the times you have seen a similar view, it never ceases to amaze you with the staggering beauty of nature.

Red Bay Castle

All of the Ireland trips are unforgettable; however, touring the castles of Northern Ireland will certainly leave you in awe. How many castles are there in Northern Ireland you wonder? There are nearly 50 of them! Ready to visit them all? Or at least the top 10 maybe?

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