Fáilte Ireland, the Irish tourist development authority, has published its annual list of the country’s top attractions.

Most of the attractions included in the list registered good growth during 2016. After years of strong performance, Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse retained the top spot with 1.6m visitors and potential brand ambassadors.

Paid-for attractions were more popular than free ones. The National Gallery of Ireland, also in the capital, was the busiest in the latter category with 755,000 visitors, up 5% over 2015.

The figures only account for attractions in the Republic of Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, for example, received 944,000 visitors in 2016.

“Our visitor attractions are a great barometer for tourism activity,” notes Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland. “The growth across most attractions reflects a record tourism year.”

Natural assets offer untapped potential

Kelly adds that the country boasts several destinations with untapped potential: “If we take a site such as the spectacular sea cliffs at Sliabh Liag, it has a similar appeal as the Cliffs of Moher – yet the latter receives eight times as many visitors. This is just one example of the many of our attractions and natural assets which have the potential to generate even more visitors, revenue and jobs for local communities.”

The top five paid-for attractions in 2016 were as follows:
• Guinness Storehouse: 1,647,408 (+10%)
• Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience: 1,427,166 (+14%)
• 
Dublin Zoo: 1,143,908 (+3%)
• National Aquatic Centre: 1,037,992 (+4.5%)
• Book of Kells: 890,781 (+6%)

The top five free-to-enter attractions were:
• The National Gallery of Ireland: 755,577 (+5%)
• Irish Museum of Modern Art: 584,856 (+20%)
• National Botanic Gardens: 583,539 (+5.5%)
• Doneraile Wildlife Park: 480,000 (+11%)
• National Museum of Ireland: 479,261 (+4.8%)

To view the top 20 paid-for and free-to-enter attractions across the Republic of Ireland, see below. The nation’s tourism and hospitality industry employs an estimated 220,000 people and generates an estimated €5.7 billion in revenue a year.

Main image courtesy Guinness Storehouse