Portrush is a small coastal town on the shores of Northern Ireland that offers a relaxed atmosphere with plenty to see and do. From Game of Thrones filming locations to hiking, adventure activities, and plenty of history, you’ll find it here at this seaside sanctuary. If you’re planning a visit to this lovely town, keep scrolling to find our list of the best things to do in Portrush, UK.
Go for a Dip at Portrush Whiterocks Beach
On a hot summer day, a visit to Portrush Whiterocks Beach is just what the doctor ordered. This gorgeous sandy oasis is perfectly located in the middle of town, so once you’re ready for lunch, you can pop off to one of the restaurants along the water or grab a slice of pizza nearby.
This is one of the best free things to do in Portrush, as you can also stroll along the sand and explore the caves along the cliffside. The waters are fantastic for boogie boarding and swimming as well. If you have ever wanted to learn to surf, you can also head on over to the Portrush Surf School and sign up for lessons or rent a board of your own for the day.
Ride the Coasters at Curry’s Fun Park
Another fun thing to do in Portrush is spending a day riding roller coasters and playing carnival games along the ocean at Curry’s Fun Park!
This amusement park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Portrush, with plenty of fun rides for all ages. Those seeking thrill rides will enjoy being spun and flung on the Beast or riding the most popular roller coaster, the Big Dipper. There are also plenty of rides and attractions for little ones and for the whole family, like bumper cars, an arcade, and a merry-go-round. Afterward, you can enjoy a sweet treat like a donut or soft-serve ice cream from one of the vendors.
The park is open every day from noon until late evening and is ideally located in the center of the city.
Challenge Your Game at Royal Portrush Golf Club
If you like to golf and are wondering what to do in Portrush, then look no further. Those who are big fans of PGA might already be familiar with the town’s iconic 36-hole golf course.
The course was first built in 1888 and has hosted many legendary golfers over the years, including Rory McIlroy, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer. Even Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II visited the course in 2016 on her first official golf course visit ever.
The Royal Portrush Golf Club is not only known for its host of celebrities but, more importantly, for its challenging courses. The golf club features two courses. The Dunluce Links offers spectacular views of Dunluce Castle and is ranked as one of the most challenging and spectacular links in the world. The Valley Links is where one of two qualifying rounds are played every year for the North of Ireland Open Championship. This championship course poses many natural obstacles and challenges even the best golfer’s accuracy.
Discover the Ruins at Dunluce Castle
The ruins of this incredible castle erupt out of the rocky cliffside, offering dramatic scenes. The castle is more famously known for its role in Game of Thrones as it was the inspiration behind the digital creation of the House of Greyjoy.
You can easily spend a couple of hours roaming through the ruins and learning about the clans that used to live there. Although most of the castle has fallen into ruin, a good amount still holds strong, and the visitor center hands out information about the history of the site. One of the best things about visiting this incredible castle is the views from the cliffs it offers. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera along for this outing!
Visit Giant’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway is one of the most popular attractions in all of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and it’s located less than a 20-minute drive from Portrush!
Visitors flock from all over the world to wander across the oddly shaped hexagon columns that erupt out of the ground. It is known as the Giant’s Causeway because legend tells the story of a battle between two giants, the Irish giant Finn McCool and the Scottish giant Benandonner. It is said that the battle resulted in these hexagon-shaped basalts. On a clear day, you can see Scotland on the horizon from the Giant’s Causeway, making this an absolute must-see in Portrush.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site also boasts plenty of hiking trails, a lovely gift shop with local crafts, a café, and a large visitor center with interactive learning experiences. Events like nature crafts and seed collecting are also regularly offered.
Enjoy a Pint or Meal at Fullerton Arms
If you are sightseeing in Portrush and the surrounding area for the sole purpose of visiting as many Games of Thrones locations as possible, then add this stop to your list.
Fullerton Arms is a classic Irish pub and restaurant roughly a 25-minute drive from Portrush. This cozy pub offers one thing that none other does, though: a room completely dedicated to Game of Thrones. Visitors can take pictures with banners or on a replica throne. However, the most impressive memorabilia here is the door. A few years ago, one of the trees fell down along the Dark Hedges (also in GoT). Tourism NI then decided to carve six heavy, intricate wooden doors out of the fallen tree and dedicate each tree to an episode from the last season of the show. The door at Fullerton Arms represents Episode 6: The Iron Throne, thus explaining why they also have a replica throne.
Learn About the Ocean at Portrush Coastal Zone Museum
Located in an old Victorian bathhouse, the Portrush Coastal Zone Museum offers a fantastic center for learning.
Here you can stroll through the museum and learn about the marine life and coastal environments in the area. There is also a virtual reality suite where you can learn about the geodiversity of the north coast. After wandering through the center, head out to the sea platform to see if you can spot any dolphins or seals. This is one of the best free activities in Portrush, but the museum is only open from June to August.
Stroll Along Ramore Head Walk
If you are looking for a place to visit in Portrush for an evening stroll after dinner or a family-friendly walking trail, then head to Ramore Head (pun intended).
This lovely half-mile walk will take you along the rock seashore on a paved path, so it’s easy for those with strollers or mobility disabilities. There are plenty of benches from which to enjoy views of the Skerries Islands or watch the sunset over the sea. The walk takes about 15 minutes, leading you right back to Ramore Ave.
Wander Through Benvarden Gardens
Stroll through the walled gardens and immaculate grounds at one of the best-kept gardens in Ireland!
Benvarden Gardens boasts an incredible, walled garden area of nearly two acres that has scarcely been changed since its inception in 1788. You can roam through the rose gardens and lavender plants, all the while taking pictures. The grounds are equally as gorgeous and feature a lovely woodland pond. After a walk through the gardens, you can head to the tea room. The gardens are open daily from June 1st to August 31st. Unfortunately, no dogs are allowed on the premises.
Learn to Bodysurf at West Strand Beach
Head on over to West Strand Beach to Alive Adventures and learn how to body surf. First, we’ll give you a few minutes to google what body surfing is…Wild, right? Well, you can learn how to body surf and get all the equipment with a 1.5-hour rental. Alive Adventures has a great group of instructors, and if body surfing isn’t for you, you can also opt to learn surfing the regular way with a board and all.
Ride Along the Coast With E-Bikes
Renting e-bikes is a great way to see the town. You can rent e-bikes from Alive Adventures and explore all Portrush has to offer. Stroll along the coastal roads and bike paths that cover the countryside and most of the town without pushing yourself too hard. The e-bikes are allowed outside of the Portrush area, so you can use them to head to Giant’s Causeway or other nearby attractions. E-bike rentals are only available to adults and/or minors aged 16–18 with a parent.
Walk Whiterocks Coastal Path (Portrush to Bushmills)
If you are an avid hiker and looking for a Portrush attraction, then this coastal hiking path is for you.
You can start the 2.8-mile hike from the Portrush Harbour, navigating your way along the coast and passing White Rocks Beach. The walk is rated easy, with a low elevation rate. The trail follows along the Royal Portrush Golf Club, taking you along the East Strand and popping out at the Royal Court Hotel. From here, the path is parallel with Dunluce Road, so continue to follow the road east and make sure to look behind you to take in the panoramic views of Portrush and County Donegal in the distance. Follow Dunluce Road (A2) all the way to Bushmills! The hike takes roughly two hours.
Test Your Skills at Mini Golf Portrush
If you find the Northern Ireland weather a bit too much to handle, then why not head to Mini Golf Portrush for a day of indoor miniputt?
This fantastic hidden gem has been beautifully decorated inside with neon lights and aesthetically pleasing décor. Needless to say, this isn’t your childhood mini golf course.
Go Cave Paddleboarding
Are you looking for some different activities in Portrush? Then why not discover the caves of the rocky shorelines in Northern Ireland like never before on a stand-up paddleboard?
This two-hour tour from Freedive Northern Ireland, based out of Portrush, takes you to some of the most stunning caves in the area. Equipment is included, and previous experience on a paddleboard is recommended. If you have never gone stand-up paddleboarding before, the company also offers beginners lessons. All those wishing to do the tour must be a minimum of 16 years old. The company offers snorkeling trips to the caves as well.
Sip Whisky at Old Bushmills Distillery
Visit the oldest licensed distillery in the world in Bushmills, just a 10-minute drive from Portrush.
This historic distillery dates back to 1608, when King James I granted it the first liquor license. Visitors aged eight and up can join a tour of the grounds and learn about Old Bushmills’ 400 years of distilling history, how the whisky is triple distilled, and the grain-to-glass process. The tour lasts about an hour and covers one kilometer of walking, ending in the bar where you can then sample some of the distillery’s legendary whiskies.
Go on a Fishing Excursion
With the sea right on its doorstep, Portrush offers some fantastic spots to catch some fresh fish.
While you can fish at a lot of places nearby, the best way to go fishing in Portrush is with a chartered fishing boat. Causeway Boats out of Portrush Harbor offers three-hour mackerel fishing trips that people of all fishing skills can join. All of the equipment is included in the tour, and you will be shown tips and tricks from experienced fishing guides. The boat holds a maximum of 12 people, meaning that you’ll get a more intimate trip where you aren’t just treated as a number. This fishing excursion is available from March until October.
This one is for all the adrenaline junkies out there! Start your day off with an adventure with Causeway Coasteering with one of their adventure packages.
The guided tours range from two to three hours and teach bouldering and climbing so that you can get the ultimate thrill – cliff jumping! The tour is led by a certified lifeguard and includes a wetsuit, wetsuit boots, buoyancy aids, and a helmet. You’ll also get to discover some of the coast’s hidden caves and rugged landscape. This is a perfect way for families or couples to spend the day discovering more of the Northern Irish coast. The tours are open all year.
If you want to hit the open waters but have no idea how to sail, then consider going on one of Causeway Coast Sailing’s tours!
The tours leave from Ballycastle Marina with the option of going on a half-day sailing trip or a sunset cruise. The sunset sailing trip leaves 30 minutes before sundown and sails out to Rathlin Sound. You are offered a complimentary coffee or tea to enjoy while sailing. The half-day tour lasts about three hours and gives you the opportunity to learn more about sailing while discovering the beautiful Northern Irish coastline.
Visit Skerries Island
The Skerries are a group of islands just off the coast of Portrush that many wildlife species call home. The islands are a wildlife refuge, so you can’t go on land, but you can visit on a speedboat!
North Coast Speedboat Trips offers great trips out to the islands, perfect for families, couples, or groups of friends. The boat departs from Portrush Harbour and takes about 25 minutes to reach the Skerries. Once you arrive, you can enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape and try to spot dolphins, seals, and seabirds. On the way back, the captain cranks the music and speeds the boat all the way back to the harbor. Private tours are also available for those who want to make a day trip on the water.
Explore Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne
If you are looking for some spectacular old buildings to discover, then head west toward Portstewart, where you’ll find Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne.
This small building served as a library in the 18th century and was built to reflect Rome’s Temple of Vesta. The gorgeous temple is perched on the side of the cliff overlooking Benone Beach and is part of a massive estate with a mansion, thatched farmhouse, and cottages. You can learn about the eccentric earl who used to live there and what life was like in the 17th and 18th centuries. The views from the cliff’s edge are not to be missed, so make sure to bring your camera! Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne is located about a 25-minute drive from Portrush.
Now that you’ve read about all the best things to do in Portrush, what are you waiting for? Get out there and have yourself an adventure! Also, don’t forget to sample some of the local fish and chips. They are seriously amazing and fresh.