Ulster is Ireland’s most northern province and it is full of places to explore. Here is a the Ultimate Ulster Bucket List – things you must do here before you die.
1. Portsalon Beach, Co. Donegal
A very extensive sandy beach on the shores of Lough Swilly. It gently slopes towards the Atlantic ocean and is located in a Natural Heritage Area (NHA). The beach at Portsalon can be reached by travelling northeast in the R246 from Carrowkeel to Portsalon.
2. Atlantic Drive, Rosguill Peninsula, Co. Donegal
The route onto the extremely beautiful and very manageable Rosguill Peninsula starts by the side of the church in Carrigart, 13km northeast of Creeslough, and passes rabbit-infested dunes at the back of a tremendous and usually deserted beach.
At the top of the strand is DOWNINGS, a sprightly holiday centre patronized mainly by Northern Irish tourists, with caravan sites hogging the rear end of the beach and holiday chalets creeping up the hillside behind the village. Downings’ main street heads northwards to become the panoramic Atlantic Drive, which runs around the headland and also makes for a stupendous thirteen-kilometre walk.
The range of views encompasses the essence of Donegal – rugged landscapes in a constant tussle with the Atlantic Ocean – though, sadly, this is becoming increasingly blighted by large numbers of new-build houses and caravan sites.
3. Slieve League, Co. Donegal
Slieve League is a mountain on the Atlantic coast of County Donegal, Ireland. At 601 metres (1,972 ft), it has some of the highest sea cliffs on the island of Ireland. Although less famous than the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Slieve League’s cliffs reach almost three times higher.
4. Mussenden Temple, Co. Derry
Mussenden Temple is located in the beautiful surroundings of Downhill Demesne near Castlerock in County Derry. It perches dramatically on a 120 ft cliff top, high above the Atlantic Ocean on the north-western coast of Northern Ireland, offering spectacular views westwards over Downhill Strand towards Magilligan Point and County Donegal and to the east Castlerock beach towards Portstewart, Portrush and Fair Head.
5. Dunluce Castle, Co. Antrim
Dunluce Castle is located dramatically close to a headland that plunges straight into the sea, along with the North Antrim coast, and was the headquarters of the MacDonnell Clan.
There is archaeological evidence of a village that surrounded the castle which was destroyed by fire in 1641. The site was also witness to the sinking of a colony ship that broke up on the rocks off Islay in 1857 with the loss of 240 lives.
6. Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim
he Giant’s Causeway is proof that Mother Nature provides the most dramatic tourist attractions. The natural wonder is comprised of around 40,000 polygonal basalt rock columns, formed by the ancient volcanic landscape and stretching along the coastline like a series of gigantic stepping stones.
A Giants Causeway Day Trip from Belfast is one of the country’s most popular excursions, with visitors taking the unique opportunity to walk one of nature’s most peculiar pathways.
7. Glens of Antrim, Co. Antrim
The Glens of Antrim, known locally as simply The Glens, is a region of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It comprises nine glens (valleys), that radiate from the Antrim Plateau to the coast.
The Glens are an area of outstanding natural beauty and are a major tourist attraction in north Antrim. The main towns and villages in the Glens are Ballycastle, Cushendun, Cushendall, Waterfoot, Carnlough and Glenarm. The inhabitants of the glens are descended mainly from native Irish, Ulster Scots and Hebridean Scots. The Glens are mentioned in the song “Ireland’s Call”.
8. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Co. Antrim
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Co. Antrim. It is a famous rope bridge near Ballintoy. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. It spans 20 metres (66 ft) and is 30 metres (98 ft) above the rocks below.
The bridge is mainly a tourist attraction and is owned and maintained by the National Trust. In 2009 it had 247,000 visitors. The bridge is open all year round (subject to weather) and people may cross it for a fee.
9. Waterfall in Crawfordsburn Country Park, Co. Down
Located on the southern shores of Belfast Lough, there are two excellent beaches, spectacular scenery, tranquil walks through wooded glens and a stunning waterfall, Crawfordsburn Country Park provides a relaxing natural retreat. Hedgehogs, squirrels and badgers are just some of the animals which make their home in the woodland glen and when walking along the coastal path look out for seals frolicking in the waves.
10. Mourne Mountains, Co. Down
The Mourne Mountains are a granite mountain range in County Down. It includes the highest mountains in Northern Ireland and the province of Ulster. The highest of these is Slieve Donard at 850 metres (2,790 ft).
The Mournes is an area of outstanding natural beauty and has been proposed as the first national park in Northern Ireland. The area is partly owned by the National Trust and sees a large number of visitors every year.
11. St. Patrick’s grave, Co. Down
Down Cathedral is a Church of Ireland cathedral. It stands on the site of a Benedictine Monastery, built in 1183. Saint Patrick’s remains are buried in the graveyard. Magnificent stain glass windows, box pews and beautiful organ case enhance this interesting building.
12. Silent Valley and Ben Crom, Co. Down
An easy family walk in landscaped parkland with a spectacular mountain backdrop. There is a restaurant and information close to the dam wall.
The walk is steep in places. Walkers can walk another 3 miles up to Ben Crom reservoir and return (another 3 miles) on the same route back to Silent Valley reservoir. A regular bus service operates in the summer season to Ben Crom.
13. Beaghmore Stone Circles, Co. Tyrone
Discovered during peat cutting in the 1940s the site at Beaghmore consists of 7 stone circles. All of the rings are associated with cairns and a stone row runs towards these cairns.
It is possible that Neolithic occupation and cultivation preceded the erection of burial cairns and ceremonial circles and alignments: some irregular lines and heaps of boulders resembling field-fences or field-clearance may predate the ritual structures.
At some stage, peat started to form over the site, and it may conceivably be that the cairns and rows were erected in a futile propitiatory attempt to restore fertility to the soil by attracting back the fading sun.
14. Enniskillen Castle, Co. Fermanagh
Enniskillen Castle, situated beside the River Erne in County Fermanagh, was built almost 600 years ago by the ruling Gaelic Maguires. Guarding one of the few passes into Ulster, it has been strategically important throughout its history. Today, the historic site houses two museums, Fermanagh County Museum and The Inniskillings Museum.
15. Devenish Island, Co. Fermanagh
Iconic place in the beautiful lake county that is Fermanagh. It contains one of the finest monastic sites in Ireland. A round tower thought to date from the 12th century is situated on the island, as are the walls of the Oratory of Saint Molaise who established the monastery in the 6th century, on a pilgrim route to Croagh Patrick in County Mayo.
It became a centre of scholarship and although raided by Vikings in 837 and burned in 1157, it later flourished as the site of the parish church and St Mary’s Augustinian Priory.
16. Dún na Rí Forest Park, Co. Cavan
Voted Cavan’s No.1 tourist attraction on TripAdvisor. The 565-acre Dún na Rí Forest Park is just outside Kingscourt along the banks of the River Cabra and features a dramatic gorge embracing part of the Cabra Estate, formerly owned by the Pratt family.
The Romantic Glen of the Cabra River, stretching the full length of the park is an area steeped in history and legend. It is said that Cuchulain camped there at night, while by day conducting his single-handed defence of Ulster against the armies of Maeve. The Normans were here also and in later years the glen echoed to the sounds of Cromwell’s armies.
17. The City Walls, Co. Derry
No. 1 attraction on Trip Advisor to Date. Scenic/ Historic Walking Area. Customers View: “We were very moved by the way our guide was implacably neutral in his description of the causes of the troubles and we left having our views changed for good.
This is a complicated part of the world and our guide brought it to life for us. He was very articulate, had a great sense of humour and answered our questions in an intelligent manner. This tour is a must.”
18. Castle Leslie Estate, Co. Monaghan
Castle Leslie Estate, home to an Irish branch of Clan Leslie and located on the 4 km², Castle Leslie is both the name of a historic Country House and 1,000-acre Estate adjacent to the village of Glaslough, 11 km (7 mi) north-east of Monaghan town in County Monaghan, Republic of Ireland.