Looking for things to do in Portrush, Ireland? You’ve landed in the right place!
Portrush got a lovely slice of publicity in a few years back when the eyes of the world fell briefly on the town after hosting The Open golf championship, receiving an estimated 190,000 visitors.
Really though, this buzzing little coastal spot in Antrim has been attracting people for years thanks to its stunning promontory setting, charming seaside atmosphere and proximity to some of the best things to do in Northern Ireland.
In the guide below, you’ll find heaps of things to do in Portrush, from the beautiful Whiterocks Beach to countless nearby attractions.
Our favourite things to do in Portrush, Ireland
The first section of this guide is packed with our favourite things to do in Portrush and nearby (within reasonable driving distance).
Below, you’ll find everything from walks and tasty eats to stunning beaches, scenic drives and much, much more.
1. Banish the cobwebs with a swim on West Strand Beach
Ok, so it doesn’t have the balmy temperatures of the Mediterranean but this gorgeous arcing stretch of shore to the west of Portrush town is a great place to relax.
Regardless of whether you fancy admiring the coast from the comfort of the sand or if you’re feeling hardy and want to brave the chilly water, this place is well worth a visit.
The West Strand (also known as ‘Mill Strand’) begins at the South Pier of the bustling Portrush Harbour. Always use caution when entering the water!
2. Then warm the bones with breakfast at Panky Doos
If you’re in search of things to do in Portrush after a chilly swim or a brisk saunter along the sand, this next place should be right up your street.
Head over to Panky Doos on Eglinton Street to start your day the right way with a solid breakfast feed.
Choose from a range of morning classics, although they do a mean range of pancakes here so bear that in mind if you want to give your breakfast an American twist.
The cakes and afternoon tea are pretty amazing here too if you’re around later in the day and fancy something a little sweeter.
3. Tackle the Portrush to Portstewart walk
If you’re looking for active things to do in Portrush, the walk from Portrush Harbour out to Saint Patrick’s Well in Portstewart is worth a bash.
Although it’s around 3 hours in length (there and back), this is an easyish stroll that follows a chunk of the Causeway Coast Way Walk.
Over the course of the walk, you’ll see everything from beaches and Ballyreagh Castle to coves and views out to Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula.
There’s public toilets in Portstewart (on Portmore Road) or you can rest up in one of the towns many restaurants.
4. Spend a rainy afternoon at Portrush Coastal Zone
Right, so, the photo above won’t do our next place any justice, but please bear with me! If you’ve ever visited Ireland, you’ll know that rainy days and unpredictable weather is a way of life here.
So, if the weather’s a mess when you arrive, take a moment to learn a little more about the area around you by heading to the Portrush Coastal Zone on Bath Road.
Home to coastal and marine exhibitions (including a rock pool with live sea creatures), the Coastal Zone is an interesting place for kids and adults to learn more about Northern Ireland’s coastal wildlife and heritage.
If you’re looking for things to do in Portrush in the rain, this is a great option (as the 4.6/5 from 560+ reviews on Google will attest).
5. And then a sunny one rambling along Whiterocks Beach
Whiterocks Beach is beautiful any time of day but when the sun’s out it’s a truly lovely place to feel the wind on your face and admire the scenery that surrounds you.
Stretching out just beyond the Causeway Coastal Route, the limestone rocks, jagged cliffs and spectacular views make this a dramatic place for a walk.
Depending on how far you feel like going, the stunning medieval ruins of Dunluce Castle are on the way if you keep heading east – although more on that later!
6. Hit the waves with Portrush Surf School
If you’re wondering what to do in Portrush with a big group, give surfing a crack. You’ll find Portrush Surf School at Portrush Yacht Club where it’s run by champion surfer Martin ‘TK’ Kelly.
The most popular sessions are the Group Surf Lessons – a 3-hour surf experience that caters to first timers and that are led by experienced instructors. They also run stand-up-paddle boarding lessons (2 hours) if you’d rather dodge the waves.
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Portrush, the newly launched ‘Giant SUP‘ takes you out on a massive, 18ft paddle board that’s perfect for groups!
7. Spend a day conquering the Antrim Coast
Portrush is the perfect starting point for the incredible Causeway Coastal Route, with the first major attraction (Dunluce Castle) a handy 10-minute drive from the town.
This coastal drive is arguably one of the best in Ireland and, if you start early in the morning, you can explore a good chunk of it over the course of a very adventurous day.
Over the course of the drive (here’s a guide to the route), you’ll visit the attractions below and much, much more:
Other popular Portrush attractions
Now that we have our favourite things to do in Portrush out of the way, it’s time to see what else this corner of Antrim has to offer.
Below, you’ll find everything for the world-famous Royal Portrush Golf Club and the popular Barry’s Amusements to much, much more.
1. Royal Portrush Golf Club
As one of the finest links courses in the world, there’s good reason why Royal Portrush hosted The Open golf championship in 2019.
If your standard’s high enough then follow in the footsteps of Ireland’s own Shane Lowry (the 2019 winner) and take to the greens and fairways of this famous old course.
A round on the Dunluce Links course can be tough on the wallet so consider booking a visit in the colder months or taking on the quieter Valley Links course.
Related read: Check out our guide to the best hotels in Portrush (with something for most budgets).
2. Barry’s Amusements
If you’re in search of things to do in Portrush with kids, Barry’s Amusements has kept the punters happy for almost a century.
Opened in 1926, it’s been a fixture on the West Strand for generations and continues to provide thrills for the family all year round.
With 15 attractions, including two rollercoasters, one water slide and the rather intimidatingly named Extreme Orbiter, there’s plenty at Barry’s to keep you entertained (and perhaps a little dizzy!).
3. A post-adventure feed
If you’ve read our guide to the best restaurants in Portrush, you’ll know that there’s an almost endless number of great places to eat in the town.
For a meal with a view, head to Ramore – on a fine day the scenery from the outdoor terrace is glorious!
We also seem to go back to the Quays over and over again (a quick glance at the photos above should give you a good idea as to why!).
4. A post-adventure pint at Harbour Bar
If you’re wondering what to do in Portrush after a long day of exploring, get yourself to the Harbour Bar. One of the oldest pubs in Northern Ireland, you can’t leave Portrush without enjoying a pint of Guinness (or a cup of tea!) here first.
Situated right on the harbour (obviously) and conveniently next to Ramore, this legendary watering hole is known for its great atmosphere, an extensive collection of whiskey and gin and its happily liberal attitude to bringing dogs in.
And if you just can’t wait for the weekend to arrive, then come down here for their famous ‘Thirsty Thursdays’ night…
Things to do near Portrush, Ireland
In the second section of the guide, we’re tackling things to do near Portrush (within reasonable driving distance).
Below, you’ll find everything from craggy coastal castles and a whiskey distillery to one of the most visited attractions in Northern Ireland.
1. Dunluce Castle
‘Picturesque’ is one of those words that goes thrown about very liberally in travel guides but I couldn’t think of an adjective to better describe the dramatic ruins of Dunluce Castle.
Situated precariously on a rocky outcrop between Portrush and Portballintrae, the castle dates from the 15th century.
Only a 10-minute drive from Portrush centre, it’s especially stunning at sunset (there’s also some fine Irish myths attached to it).
2. Bushmills Distillery
Established in 1608, Bushmills claims to be the oldest licensed distillery in the world and you probably wouldn’t argue with a date like that.
With water sourced from the River Bush and named after the mills that made the Barley, Bushmills is arguably one of the most iconic Irish whiskies in the world.
Mix a tour of the distillery and a tasting session with a trip to the nearby Giants Causeway, although we’d recommend doing the Causeway first, for obvious reasons!
3. The Giants Causeway
Without a doubt, the world’s most exciting collection of basalt columns. Northern Ireland’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giants Causeway is a unique natural wonder and one of Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions.
And while that means it does receive a lot of visitors, that shouldn’t put you off because it’s truly one of a kind.
If you’re in search of the more unique things to do Portrush has to offer, take a boat tour from Portrush and see its unmistakable splendour from the water.
What to do in Portrush: what have we missed?
I’m sure that we’ve unintentionally left out some great things to do in Portrush, Ireland, in the guide above.
If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!
FAQs about the best things to do in Portrush
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the what to do in Portrush when it’s raining to what Portrush attractions are indoors.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are the best things to do in Portrush this weekend?
If you’re looking for things to do around Portrush, try the walk to Portstewart, stroll along the towns many beaches or conquer the Causeway Coastal Route.
What are the best rainy day Portrush attractions?
If you’re wondering what to do in Portrush in the rain, Portrush Coastal Zone is a solid option and the reviews online are excellent.
What are the best things to do near Portrush?
If you’ve had your fill of the Portrush attractions, there’s lots more to see nearby, from Dunluce Castle and the Giants Causeway to the Dark Hedges and lots more.