Picturesquely crumbling into the sea, Dunluce Castle played its part in Northern Ireland’s dramatic history before falling into its current state of romantic ruin. Learn more about taking a trip to this castle here.
Dunluce Castle History
This rocky peninsula on Northern Ireland’s Antrim Coast has been the site of a castle since the 13th century. But the McQuillan family built the Dunluce Castle you see today in the 16th century. They ruled here until the MacDonnell clan displaced them after a series of heated battles.
The MacDonnells improved the castle’s architecture in the Scottish style. The castle’s gatehouse got a unique feature when the Spanish Armada ship La Girona wrecked in a storm on the rocks nearby in 1588; the family re-purposed the ship’s cannons and installed them in gatehouse.
The castle remained the seat of the Earl of Antrim until the MacDonnells lost all of their money. Then the castled began to deteriorate and parts of it fell into the sea below. The locals tell of the dramatic event when the kitchen collapsed into the sea, only one kitchen boy surviving.
Today, the castle remains stand perched on the dramatic cliffs, still in danger of crumbling into the sea below. But despite its disheveled appearance, Dunluce Castle remains an imposing and romantic site on the Causeway Coastal Route.
The castle has even been used as a filming location for television and movies, recently serving as the House of Greyjoy in Game of Thrones.
It is a great place to learn about the fortress’s turbulent history while taking in the unrivalled views and outstanding natural beauty of the surrounding area.
Visiting Dunluce Castle
You can visit the castle and walk around the grounds, despite its precarious position on the cliff’s edge. Your tour of the castle is self-guided and casual. You will receive a handout when you enter the castle to guide your tour, watch a short video at the visitor’s center, and be able to read informative plaques posted around the grounds.
Many bus tours of the Antrim Coast will also stop for a photo opportunity down the road from the castle, allowing for a great view of the ruins.
The castle is open daily from February through November from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from December through January from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the last entry 30 minutes before closing. Admission costs £6 for adults; £4.50 for seniors 65+, students 18+, disabled, and unemployed citizens; £4 for children 5-17; and free for children under 5.
This is an impressive historic site with breathtaking views. It is truly an incredible sight to behold and is well worth the trip!
Top Dunluce Castle Day Trips
Are you planning to visit Dunluce Castle on a day trip? To take some of the stress out of planning your visit, opt for a guided tour! Check out this list of the top Dunluce Castle day tours from Belfast and Dublin to help you make the most of your trip.
Day Trips from Belfast
- Giant’s Causeway Day Trip with 7 stops
- Giant‘s Causeway & Game of Thrones Locations Tour with 8 stops
- Northern Highlights Full-Day Guided Tour in Northern Ireland with 11 stops
Day Trips from Dublin
- Giant‘s Causeway, Dark Hedges, Dunluce & Belfast Tour
- Giant’s Causeway Tour and Whiskey Tasting
- Giant’s Causeway, Dark Hedges & Titanic Guided Tour
Ready to visit Dunluce Castle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find accommodation: You can find top hotels near Dunluce Castle or top hotels in Belfast using Booking.com.
- Get packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.
Have you visited Dunluce Castle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland? What is your favorite Northern Irish castle? Let me know in the comments!