You are here: HomeIreland's most popular tourist attractions for 2012 announced Print Page

Ireland's most popular tourist attractions for 2012 announced


Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism authority, today published their listing of Ireland’s top visitor attractions for 2012 and for the second year running the Guinness Storehouse has topped the bill with an increase of 61,532 visitors on 2011.

The iconic Dublin attraction grew its visitor numbers by almost 6% to 1,087,209 to hold on to the top spot for the fee-charging attractions followed closely by Dublin Zoo with 1,029,417 (up 3% on 2011) and the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience attracting 873,988 visitors (up 8% on 2011).  The National Gallery of Ireland continued its dominance of the free attractions listing – recording over 660,000 visitors last year followed by the National Botanic Gardens at 544,685.

To view the full table of to fee-charging click here and free attractions click here

Speaking today Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said –

“This list always makes fascinating reading, but it’s also a good reminder of the huge range of visitor attractions that we have in Ireland. People visit this country for many reasons, but they always expect a high standard of things to see and do.

“As our tourism strategies become ever more focused on different types of visitor, this list is a useful guide of where they are going during their visit. And if you already live in Ireland, the good summer we are all enjoying is a great excuse to get out and see these attractions for yourself.”

Commenting on the figures, Shaun Quinn CEO Fáilte Ireland said -

“Our visitor attractions are a big part of the tourism offering and with the increase in visitor numbers to Ireland, it is no surprise that our top attractions have also enjoyed a busy year.  I have no doubt that the recent good weather will have encouraged many Irish people to get out and about and discover what is on their doorstep - next year we may be quoting even bigger numbers.

“Tourism is in a good place compared to five years ago but we can’t become complacent. In order to draw more visitors to our shores we need to ensure we are providing the right type of holiday experiences – particularly for our overseas markets. In that respect, research like this is a valuable help to all of us in the sector as we continue to develop and improve Ireland’s tourism offering.”

The opportunity to experience Ireland’s culture and history is a major appeal for our overseas holidaymakers, about nine in ten (91%) say that it is an important factor in their decision to come to Ireland on holiday.  Furthermore, a similar proportion (94%) say that they are satisfied with their experience of Ireland’s history and culture.  

For many such holidaymakers, their primary point of access to Ireland’s heritage is through their visits to our tourist attractions - according to Fáilte Ireland’s Survey of Overseas Travellers, around two million overseas holidaymakers go to sites of historical or cultural interest every year.

Top 10 Fee-Charging Attractions 2012

Name of Attraction                                         2012

Guinness Storehouse Dublin                             1,087,209
Dublin Zoo Dublin                                            1,029,417
Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience Clare               873,988
National Aquatic Centre Dublin                            813,406
Book of Kells Dublin                                           561,259
Tayto Park Meath                                               391,000
St Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin                               385,000
Fota Wildlife Park Cork                                       377,500
Blarney Castle Cork                                           329,000
Kilmainham Gaol Dublin                                      310,910

Top 10 Free Attractions 2012

Name of Attraction                                                                      2012

The National Gallery of Ireland Dublin                                  660,486
National Botanic Gardens Dublin                                          544,685
National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology                            409,275
Farmleigh Dublin                                                                375,064
Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin Dublin                    302,171
National Museum of Ireland - Natural History                        290,927
National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History         271,309
Chester Beatty Library Dublin                                              255,704
Holy Cross Abbey Tipperary                                               240,000
Connemara National Park                                                   202,543

Follow us on Twitter @Fáilte_Ireland


For further information please contact:
Louise Tolerton - Press Officer
086 6086578/01 8847135

Catherine Whelan
087 6449572/01 8847181 

Jump to top


Keep up to date on tourism news

Stay informed of all industry news with our fortnightly newsletter.

Sign up for our e-newsletter