Portrush is a respectable hybrid of a blink-and-you-miss-it town and a prominent tourist destination.
Portrush sits on the Causeway Coast, sandwiched between Portstewart and Portballintrae. If you’re looking for a scenic base to explore the Giant’s Causeway, Dark Hedges, and crumbling ancient architecture, Portrush is a strong contender.
However, there are plenty of things to do in Portrush as well – so don’t just rush out on day trips during your stay. Here are ten things for your Portrush itinerary, with a mixture of local and nearby attractions to keep you entertained.
Take a surfing lesson
Portrush is where surfers and vintage campervans flock. In fact, its surfing reputation is so great that Portrush Surf School claims it to be ‘The Surf Capital of Northern Ireland’!
For beginners, the £42.50 Group Surf Lesson is a great way to catch your first waves and experience the Causeway Coast surf culture. The lesson has a maximum of sixteen attendees and lasts three hours. If you are a solo traveller, you’ll get plenty of chances to meet new people.
If you want to splash on private tuition or perfect more advanced techniques, opt for a Private Surf Lesson. At £100 per person, the two-hour session doesn’t come cheap, but you’ll receive tailored one-on-one attention.
Have a morning coffee by the sea at Babushka Kitchen Café
After a morning in the ocean, coffee is most likely needed! Luckily, you don’t have to stray too far for a coffee in Portrush.
Overlooking West Strand Beach and Portrush Harbour, the Babushka Kitchen Café is where to go for an oat milk latte or quick piccolo. Coffee prices average at £3.00, and you can pick up breakfast for between £4.50 and £8.00.
Sitting with a hot coffee and watching the ocean is easily one of the best things to do in Portrush. And Babushka Kitchen Café is a testament to Portrush’s laidback coastal culture.
Visit the Coastal Zone
Have the rain clouds come out? No problem. Head to the Coastal Zone in Portrush Harbour to have an educational rainy-day experience.
The museum has coastal pools and tanks to discover native marine life. There is also a viewing platform to spot porpoises, dolphins, and seals.
The Coastal Zone has a human focus, too, with exhibitions to educate visitors on Northern Ireland’s coastal communities’ heritage.
Better still? Entrance is free, so you can breathe a sigh of relief after your expensive surf as your bank account is safe.
Head East and road trip the coast
While there are many things to do in Portrush, you equally need to take advantage of its fantastic location.
By heading east and following the coast, you’ll find some of Northern Ireland’s most famous attractions. Pass Dunluce Castle (more on this later), Bushmills Distillery, the Giant’s Causeway, Dunseverick Castle, Ballintoy Harbour, and Carrick-a-Rede Bridge.
From Portrush to Carrick-a-Rede is only a 25-minute drive, although you should allow a full day to incorporate all the best attractions along the way. Squeezing an ultimate Causeway Coast road trip into less than an hour’s driving time may seem jammy, and it is. As I’ve said, Portrush is an incredible base when exploring Northern Ireland’s North coast.
Play a round of golf
Since Portrush is probably fifty percent golf course, it would be a shame not to play a round of golf!
The Royal Portrush Golf Club famously hosted the 148th Open Championship, which attracted lots of attention to the town. Golfers will enjoy the 36-hole course and fresh ocean breeze. A golf-course location doesn’t get much more scenic than overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
There is a 2022 flat-rate cost of £255 per person to play on the Dunluce Green. However, those visiting between November and March can enjoy a reduction to only £100 per person – something to consider for golf enthusiasts visiting Portrush. There are also Spring and Autumn reductions in place in April and October, and you can play for £160 per person.
If this is sounding over budget, don’t worry. The Valley Green 2022 flat rate is only £60, with a much friendlier winter reduction of £30. If you aren’t as interested in a specific course, I’d recommend opting to play on the Valley Green.
Hop on a ferry to Skerries Island
The Skerries are a cluster of islands just offshore of Portrush. For a morning out on the ocean, book a tour with Aquaholics, who run boat trips from Portrush and Portstewart.
The company runs a £15 boat trip offering pick up from Portstewart then Portrush harbour. The trip lasts for an hour and a half, carrying a maximum of twelve passengers. The Skerries are a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and you’ll be able to spot plenty of marine and birdlife. Tours commonly entail sightings of dolphins, seals, and porpoises!
If you’d like to extend your boat trip, Aquaholics also run a £17.50 tour that visits the Giant’s Causeway from the water. Whether you’ve visited the Giant’s Causeway already or not, seeing the phenomenon from the water provides a unique perspective. Plus, it only adds half an hour and £2.50 onto a Skerries Islands tour – a win-win, in my opinion.
Visit Dunluce Castle
As mentioned, Dunluce Castle is just outside of Portrush and definitely worth visiting. The castle is a crumbling Medieval settlement, estimated to date back to the 16th century. Dunluce Castle was once home to the MacDonnell and McQuillan clans, making it a prominent base in the history of Irish families.
Choose a ten-minute drive or an hour and ten-minute coastal walk to reach the castle. I’ve included a table of 2022 rates compiled from Discover Northern Ireland’s data.
|Adult||Child 5-17||Child 0-5||Concession||Family of up to five|
Hike to Portstewart
Fancy a stretch of your legs? Tackle the 7-mile return hike to Portstewart.
The route follows Portstewart Road along the coast, passing Ballyreagh Golf Course and Rinagree Coastal Park. It is worth stopping at Rinagree Point to take in the coastal views before dropping into the centre of Portstewart.
Once in Portstewart, spend a day on the Portstewart Strand, take a stroll along the promenade, or grab an ice cream from Mauds.
Unwind at Whiterocks Beach
Speaking of beaches, don’t forget to dedicate some time to Whiterocks Beach in Portrush.
While West Strand might be best for surfing, Whiterocks is particularly known for its beauty. Whiterocks Beach has impressive limestone cliffs, almost comparable to a small-scale version of the White Cliffs of Dover.
Pack a picnic, go for a swim, or walk the scenic Whiterocks Coastal Path to get more views.
Spend an afternoon at Barry’s Amusement Park
After a holiday full of nature and water activities, Barry’s Amusement Park is one of the best things to do in Portrush.
The Amusement Park has rollercoasters and a mixture of indoor and outdoor rides. Whether you’re an adult or a child, you’ll have plenty of fun! The Big Dipper rollercoaster ride has amazing views of the beach, so it is particularly suited to both children and adults.
** Note that Barry’s Amusement Park was sold before the COVID-19 outbreak, and its re-opening has been delayed since. Keep an eye on its opening before you visit Portrush.**
What are the best Portrush family activities?
The Coastal Zone and Barry’s Amusement Park are the best Portrush family activities.
What to do in Portrush when it’s raining?
The best things to do in Portrush when it’s raining are Coastal Zone and Barry’s Amusement Park. You could also embrace getting wet and go surfing.
What are the Portrush tide times?
You can track Portrush tide times seven days in advance on the BBC Weather website.
What is the typical weather in Portrush?
Winters in Portrush are long, wet, windy, and cold. Summer lasts from June to August and is typically breezy with temperatures rarely rising above 25 Degrees Celsius.
Is Portrush worth visiting?
In a word, yes! Portrush is definitely worth visiting.
Portrush is one of the best places to visit in Northern Ireland. You can easily add a weekend detour to Portrush from a holiday in Derry or Belfast, and I’d recommend it as a base for exploring the Causeway Coast.
Click here for recommendations on the best hotels in Portrush.
Got any extra recommendations for things to do in Portrush? Feel free to drop them in the comments below.