Looking for things to do in Portrush, Ireland? You’ve landed in the right place!
Portrush got a lovely slice of publicity in 2019 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.
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The best things to do in Portrush, Ireland
You’ll find the charming little town of Portrush right next to the sea in the magnificent County of Antrim in Northern Ireland.
The town is a popular spot among tourists and those living in Ireland alike, thanks to its proximity to heaps of great things to do. The many restaurants, bars and hotels also help.
Below, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do in Portrush, from beaches and great food to scenic drives and nearby attractions.
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. Grab a coffee from the town and set off on a ramble along the sand.
2. Then warm the bones with breakfast at Panky Doos
If you’re in search of things to do in Portrush, Ireland, 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. Spend a rainy afternoon at Portrush Coastal Zone (one of the best things to do in Portrush with kids)
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.
4. And then a sunny one rambling along Whiterocks Beach
Whiterocks 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!
5. Follow in the footsteps of golfing greats at 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.
6. Get the adrenaline flowing at Barry’s Amusements
If you’re in search of things to do in Portrush, Ireland, 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!).
7. Grab a post-adventure feed at Ramore
How do great harbour views and a collection of restaurants catering for a number of different tastes sound? That’s what you get at Ramore.
Situated on Main Street (you can’t miss it – it’s the one with the enormous RAMORE sign in block capitals), Ramore is a unique gathering of bars and bistros with styles ranging from Spanish tapas to fresh seafood.
Check out the cocktail bar above Asian restaurant Neptune and Prawn for stunning sunset views.
8. And then grab 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. 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 somewhere or something to recommend, let me know below.
We’ve had a crazy amount of emails asking about everything from things to do near Portrush for large groups to where is Portrush. Below, we’ve tackled some of the most FAQs that we’ve received.
Where is Portrush?
Portrush is located in County Antrim in the north of Ireland. It is one of the six counties in NI that falls within the UK. If you’re reading this and you’re scratching your head, rea our guide to the differences between Ireland vs Northern Ireland.
I’m wondering what to do in Portrush if I only have a few hours?
- Kick start your day with a walk on West Strand Beach
- Then grab breakfast at Panky Doos
- From there, head for the incredible Whiterocks Beach for a nosey around
- Then head 10-minutes along the coast to see Dunluce Castle