Things to do in Armagh: Discovering the beauty of the Orchard County
Updated On: May 12, 2023
Armagh is a city steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. The idyllic county offers a rich tapestry of experiences for visitors, from the city’s historic architecture to its bustling markets, scenic parks, and fascinating museums, there’s something for everyone in this charming destination.
In this blog, we’ll explore the top things to do in Armagh, ensuring that you can make the most out of your visit to this captivating part of Ireland. Whether you want to escape the city and explore the rural surroundings or take a deep dive into the history of the county, you can find what you’re looking for here.
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What is Armagh famous for?
Armagh is best known for its historical connection to St.Patrick, who founded his first church in 445 AD. The county is commonly referred to as the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, with its religious background and devotion to the patron saint of Ireland.
Armagh is also known as the Orchard County, due to the many apple orchards that were peppered throughout the county and of course the famous Brmbley Apple. Armagh is said to have fertile land that is rich in nutrients, making it ideal for growing apple trees.
Where is Armagh?
Armagh is one of the six counties that make up Northern Ireland. It is situated approximately 40 miles (64 kilometres) southwest of Belfast and resides on the banks of Lough Neagh.
How far is Armagh from Belfast?
The distance between Armagh and Belfast is approximately 40 miles, by car, it takes on average of 50 – 60 minutes depending on traffic conditions. Alternatively, you can also take a bus or a combination of train and bus services to travel between the two cities, which usually takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.
For full train and bus times and ticket booking services visit Translink.
Things to do in Armagh, Northern Ireland
Armagh has a rich selection of experience and activities on offer. Whether you want to explore the religious and cultural landmarks or experience the hustle and bustle of the main city, you won’t be disappointed with your time spent in the Orchard County.
Explore St. Patrick’s Cathedral
No visit to Armagh would be complete without a trip to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
Founded in the 5th century by St. Patrick himself, the cathedral has been rebuilt multiple times, with its present structure dating back to the 13th century. Inside, you’ll find stunning stained-glass windows, intricate carvings, and a museum that delves into the cathedral’s fascinating history.
You can also check out this article for more holy places in Ireland that you can include in your visit.
Enjoy the Serenity of The Mall
The Mall, a tree-lined public park in the heart of Armagh, is the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, picnic, or afternoon of people-watching. With its Victorian bandstand, charming footbridges, and well-tended flower beds, The Mall is an oasis of tranquillity amid the bustling city.
Visit the Armagh County Museum
The Armagh County Museum, housed in a beautiful Georgian building, provides a fascinating overview of the city’s history and culture. With exhibits on archaeology, natural history, and local art, the museum offers a wealth of information for visitors interested in delving deeper into Armagh’s rich past.
See a Show at the Market Place Theatre
The Market Place Theatre, located in the heart of Armagh, offers a diverse program of performances, including theatre, music, comedy, and dance. With its intimate atmosphere and superb acoustics, the theatre is an excellent venue for a memorable night out in the city.
Gosford Castle is a magnificent 19th-century architectural gem designed by the famous London architect Thomas Hopper. The castle’s unique blend of Norman and Gothic styles, as well as its imposing structure, is sure to leave visitors in awe. Although the castle has been converted into private apartments, its exterior remains a stunning backdrop for photographs and a testament to the region’s rich history.
The Robinson Library
The Robinson Library, located in the heart of Armagh, is a notable cultural and educational institution that is steeped in history. Originally built in 1771, the library was founded by Archbishop Richard Robinson as part of his vision to transform Armagh into a city of learning and culture. The elegant Georgian building, designed by renowned architect Thomas Cooley, stands as a testament to the city’s architectural heritage.
The Robinson Library houses a remarkable collection of rare books, manuscripts, and early printed works, covering a wide range of subjects such as theology, philosophy, history, and literature. Among its treasures are first editions of literary classics, illuminated manuscripts, and incunabula – books printed before 1501. These collections offer researchers, scholars, and bibliophiles an invaluable opportunity to delve into the world of rare texts.
Things to do in Armagh for families
Discover Armagh’s Ancient History at Navan Fort
Just a short drive from the city centre, Navan Fort (also known as Emain Macha) is an ancient ceremonial site that played a crucial role in Irish mythology. The fort offers visitors an immersive experience through its interactive exhibition centre, archaeological tours, and live performances that bring the site’s rich history to life.
Kids will love the enchanting surroundings and hearing about the myths and legends of Celtic Gods in Ireland.
Gosford Forest Park
Gosford Forest Park, located just a few miles outside Armagh in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, is a beautiful destination for nature enthusiasts, families, and outdoor adventurers. Spanning over 240 hectares, the park offers a serene escape, encompassing lush woodlands, meandering trails, and an impressive diversity of wildlife.
Activities to do with the family includes nature walks, cycling, and horse riding along the well-maintained trails that meander through the park’s diverse landscapes. Additionally, the park boasts a fantastic children’s play area, a deer enclosure, and several barbecue and picnic sites, making it an ideal location for a family day out.
Delve into the World of Science at Armagh Planetarium
Armagh Planetarium is a must-visit for science enthusiasts and curious minds of all ages. Established in 1968, this world-class facility offers a range of engaging exhibits, interactive workshops, and captivating planetarium shows that explore the wonders of the universe. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop to pick up a unique souvenir or astronomy-themed gift.
Armagh has a variety of events held on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. It boasts a bustling city life that is set against the stunning natural surroundings. There are lots of events on a regular basis in Armagh, check out our recommendations and plan an amazing journey.
Thriving Market Scene
Armagh is home to a vibrant market scene, where you’ll find a plethora of local produce, handmade crafts, and artisanal products. The Shambles Market held every Tuesday and Friday, is the city’s oldest and most popular market, while the Saturday Farmer’s Market at The Shambles Yard offers a delightful array of seasonal fruits, vegetables, and other locally sourced goods.
St. Patrick’s Day
Armagh, as the spiritual capital of Ireland, has a long-standing tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with great enthusiasm.
Each year, the city hosts a variety of events and festivities to commemorate the life and legacy of St. Patrick, who founded his first church in Armagh in 445 AD. Here are some highlights of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Armagh:
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The highlight of the festivities is the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which features colourful floats, marching bands, dance groups, and community organizations, showcasing the vibrant local culture. The parade route typically passes through the city centre, attracting large crowds of locals and visitors alike.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral Services
Both the Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland St. Patrick’s Cathedrals hold special services and events to mark the occasion. Visitors can attend these services to experience the spiritual significance of the day in a city so closely connected to St. Patrick’s teachings of Christianity.
Music and Entertainment
Armagh’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations often include a wide range of live music performances, from traditional Irish music sessions to contemporary concerts, featuring local and international artists.
The city’s pubs, restaurants, and event venues come alive with lively entertainment options throughout the festivities.
During the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, various family-friendly events take place across the city, such as storytelling sessions, arts and crafts workshops, face painting, and interactive performances. These activities provide an opportunity for children and families to engage with the history and culture of Armagh in a fun and educational way.
The Food and Cider Festival
In September the Food & Cider Festival hits Armagh, though, in truth, with its acres of orchards and unquestionable reverence for the Armagh Bramley Apple, every day here is a celebration of that wonderful fruit.
The Orchard County comes into its own each autumn. The city is alive with open-air markets, apple and cider farms, cookery masterclasses, tasting dinners and, of course, orchard and cidery tours.
Explore Things To Do in Armagh
There is no shortage of things to do in Armagh. If you are planning on an upcoming visit to Northern Ireland, be sure to check out these blogs for;
Things to do in Mayo | Things to do in Antrim | Things to do in Derry | Things to do in Fermanagh | Things to do in County Down | Things to do in Tyrone | Things to do in Monaghan | Things to do in Roscommon | Things to do in Northern Ireland for Couples | Things to do in Northern Ireland for Families | Things to do in Donegal | Things to do in Sligo | Things to do in Leitrim | Things to do in Louth | Things to do in Cavan.