General Industry

Ireland’s Top Visitor Attractions Revealed

By Dave Simpson
Ireland’s Top Visitor Attractions Revealed

Fáilte Ireland has published its annual list of Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions, which shows that almost all of the country's key attractions enjoyed another bumper year for visitors in 2017.

Topping the list of ‘free to enter’ attractions, the National Gallery of Ireland surpassed the one million visitor mark for the first time, experiencing growth of 41%. This was particularly helped by the reopening of its permanent collection halfway through the year, as well as hosting two major exhibitions of Caravaggio and Vermeer.

The most popular fee-charging attraction remains the Guinness Storehouse, with a total of 1,711,281 visitors through its doors, up 64,000 on the previous year. The Cliffs of Moher and Dublin Zoo came in second and third place in the same category.

Amongst Ireland’s ‘free to enter’ attractions, the National Gallery of Ireland proved to be the most popular destination, welcoming a total of 1,065,929 visitors through its doors, with the Castletown House Parklands, Celbridge, Co Kildare coming in second with 666,541 visitors and Glendalough, Wicklow, coming in third with 639,826 visitors.

Fáilte Ireland works with attractions across the country, helping to grow their visitor numbers and improve visitor experiences through a range of funding schemes and training programmes.


Commenting on the statistics, Fáilte Ireland director of product development Orla Carroll said, “Fáilte Ireland invests in new and compelling attractions throughout the country because we know that they bring visitors from around the world to our shores. Over the course of 2017 alone, Fáilte Ireland provided capital funding of over €22 million for a variety of tourism projects, helping to drive growth in every part of Ireland for the coming years. With continued investment like this, and through our work with partners across the country, we look forward to ongoing growth for tourism and to seeing new sites feature on the top attractions list.”

The full top list 20 of fee-charging attractions and the number of visitors each entry welcomed during 2017 is:

  1. Guinness Storehouse (1,711,281)
  2. Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience (1,527,000)
  3. Dublin Zoo (1,264,300)
  4. National Aquatic Centre (1,099,756)
  5. Book of Kells (983,410)
  6. Tayto Park (735,000)
  7. St Patrick’s Cathedral (603,000)
  8. Kylemore Abbey & Gardens (558,000)
  9. Muckross House Gardens and Traditional Farm (552,923)
  10. Powerscourt Gardens & Waterfall (501,601)
  11. Fota Wildlife Park (455,559)
  12. Blarney Castle & Gardens (450,000)
  13. Kilmainham Gaol (425,000)
  14. Kilkenny Castle (418,685)
  15. Rock of Cashel (376,488)
  16. Dublin Castle (371,000)
  17. Bunratty Castle & Folk Park (369,275)
  18. Brú na Boinne Newgrange (281,103)
  19. Christ Church Cathedral (238,285)
  20. Glenveagh Castle and Grounds (211,000)

Meanwhile, the full top list 20 of ‘free to enter’ attractions and the number of visitors each entry welcomed during 2017 is:

  1. National Gallery of Ireland (1,065,929)
  2. Castletown House Parklands (666,541)
  3. Glendalough Site (639,826)
  4. National Botanic Gardens (569,652)
  5. DLR Lexicon, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (525,708)
  6. Irish Museum of Modern Art (489,295)
  7. Doneraile Wildlife Park (480,000)
  8. National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology, Kildare St (474,564)
  9. Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin (407,529)
  10. Farmleigh (359,432)
  11. Kilkenny Castle Parklands (336,315)
  12. Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons (350,000)
  13. National Museum of Ireland - Natural History, Merrion St (336,412)
  14. Chester Beatty Library (335,875)
  15. National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks (234,336)
  16. Connemara National Park (221,713)
  17. The National Library of Ireland (197,245)
  18. Crawford Art Gallery (188,814)
  19. Malin Head Viewing Point (172,329)
  20. Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane (167,410)

© 2018 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.