Ireland’s Top Visitor Attractions Revealed

Ireland’s Top Visitor Attractions Revealed

Visitors pour into Guinness Storehouse and Kilkenny Castle Parklands


- Any surprises on the List
- What is the criteria underpinning this list
- What makes these attractions so appealing LINK 

News Release

Fáilte Ireland has today (Sunday 4th August) published its annual survey of Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions for 2018.

Once again the Guinness Storehouse tops the list with over 1.7 million visitors last year.  The Cliffs of Moher closely follows in second place with 1.5 million - an increase of over 3% on the previous year and Dublin Zoo holds the 3rd spot with over 1.2million visitors in the same category.

The survey also collates visitor numbers on free-to-enter attractions with a new entry to the list, Kilkenny Castle Parklands (1) claiming top place with the National Gallery of Ireland closely following.

Overall, the top ten fee-charging attractions during 2018 were:

1.  Guinness Storehouse - 1,736,156 (visitors)
2. Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience – 1,580,000
3. Dublin Zoo – 1,230,145
4. Book of Kells – 1,057,642
5. Tayto Park – 700,000
6. St Patrick’s Cathedral – 627,199
7. Kylemore Abbey & Garden – 561,657
8. Muckrose House – 550,649
9. Powerscourt House Gardens and Waterfall – 472,523
10. Blarney Castle & Gardens – 460,000

Ireland’s top ten ‘free to enter’ attractions for 2018 were:

1. Kilkenny Castle Parklands (2) – 799,032
2. The National Gallery of Ireland (3) – 775,491
3. Glendalough Site – 732,824
4. National Botanic Gardens – 655,609
5. Castletown House Parklands – 642,278
6. Irish Museum of Modern Art – 505,891
7. Doneraile Park – 490,000
8. National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, 466,038
9. Farmleigh House Estate – 389,932
10. Battle of the Boyne/Oldbridge Est – 355,608

Fáilte Ireland publishes an annual list of top visitor attractions1 to give attractions insight into how they are performing. It complements Fáilte Ireland’s research on ‘What makes a Great Visitor Attraction’, which allows attractions to look to each other’s successes in order to find ways to improve their own visitor experience.

Speaking about the results of the Fáilte Ireland Visitor Attractions Survey, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Product Development Orla Carroll:

“While 2018 was a positive year for most of Ireland’s top attractions, there are many challenges ahead for the tourism industry. As the National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland’s role is to support the development of a ‘world-class’ tourism sector. Our work with attractions in helping them grow their visitor numbers through training and funding is a significant part of what we do across the country. Over the course of 2018 alone, Fáilte Ireland approved grant funding of more than €31million for 46 projects.

“In May this year, we announced funding of up to a total €150m through our new Platforms for Growth initiative. The first “Platform” is “Iconic Immersive Attractions” with individual grants available for large-scale visitor attractions of €2.5million upwards. This is Fáilte Ireland’s largest programme of investment yet and with continued investment like this, and through our work with partners across the country, we look forward to seeing new locations feature on the top attractions survey list.”


1 In order to streamline the Fáilte Ireland Visitor Attractions Survey, this year’s survey has been conducted using a new definition of what constitutes an ‘attraction’:

An attraction may be defined as a permanently established destination, capable of attracting day visitors or tourists, which must be open to the public, without them necessarily having to pre-book. The primary purpose of the attraction should be sightseeing, for which it may be feasible to charge admission. It should also allow access for entertainment, interest, or education rather than being primarily a retail outlet or a venue for sporting, theatrical, or film performances.

As a result, a number of tourism businesses who may previously have appeared on the list have been reclassified as ‘amenities’, ‘activities’ etc. and have not been included.

2 Kilkenny Castle Parklands introduced a new counter system mid-2017. This system collected visitor numbers for a 12-month period for the first time in 2018.

3 In 2017, the National Gallery of Ireland re-opened a newly refurbished wing and hosted two major exhibitions; Beyond Caravaggio and Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, which attracted large numbers of visitors in 2017.

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