hot spots

Drumroll, please: And the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland are...

Dublin Zoo? Book of Kells? Tayto Park? Here’s the places that took the top spots on this year’s list compiled by Fáilte Ireland.

OUT OF ALL the things to see and do in this country, it probably says something that for the second year in a row the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin has topped the list of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland.

Fáilte Ireland has released its list of the most popular fee-paying and free attractions in 2012, which found that more than one million people visited the centre dedicated to all things Guinness last year, closely followed by Dublin Zoo with 1.02 million visitors.

“The list always makes fascinating reading, but it’s also a good reminder of the huge range of visitor attractions that we have in Ireland,” said Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar.

The lists are both quite Dublin-heavy, especially when it comes to the free attractions: all but one – Holy Cross Abbey in Tipperary – are located in the capital, while six of the top ten fee-charging attractions are in Dublin.

Let’s take a look at what tourists are checking out:

The top 10 fee-charging tourist attractions in Ireland

1. Guinness Storehouse – 1,087,209 visitors

(Maxwells/PA Wire)

2. Dublin Zoo – 1,029,417 visitors

(Niall Carson/PA Wire)

3. Cliffs of Moher – 873,988 visitors

(Photocall Ireland)

4. National Aquatic Centre – 813,406 visitors

(Photocall Ireland)

5. Book of Kells – 561,259 visitors

6. Tayto Park – 391,000 visitors

(David Cantwell/Photocall Ireland)

7. St Patrick’s Cathedral – 385,000 visitors

(ralpe/Flickr/Creative Commons)

8. Fota Wildlife Park – 377,500 visitors

(Sean MacEntee/Flickr/Creative Commons)

9. Blarney Castle – 329,000 visitors


10. Kilmainham Gaol – 310,910 visitors

(Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland)

Top 10 free visitor attractions

1. National Gallery of Ireland – 660,486 visitors

(Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

2. National Botanic Gardens – 544,685 visitors

(Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

3. National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology – 409,275 visitors

(Photocall Ireland)

4. Farmleigh – 375,064 visitors

(Maxwells/PA Wire)

5. Science Gallery – 302,171 visitors

(Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)

6. National Museum of Ireland – Natural History – 290,927 visitors

(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)

7. National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History – 271,309 visitors

(Niall Carson/PA Wire)

8. Chester Beatty Library – 255,704 visitors

(William Murphy/Flickr/Creative Commons)

9. Holy Cross Abbey – 240,000 visitors

Cranberries singer Dolores O Riordan at her wedding in Holy Cross Abbey in Tipperary. (Photocall Ireland)

10. The National Library of Ireland – 180,320 visitors

(Julien Behal/PA Wire)

What one attraction would you recommend to tourists visiting Ireland? Over to you in the comments…

Read: Boost for tourism with visitor numbers up 5.4 per cent in first six months >

Read: This city is selling itself as ‘the most Irish-friendly in Europe’ >

Read: Galway, the ring of Kerry and museums: What tourists like most about Ireland >

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