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Attractions near Navan

Boyne Valley

Navan stands on the doorstep of one of one of Ireland’s richest cradles of cultural landmarks and ruins. The River Boyne joins the River Blackwater here, carving out a fertile valley that was essential to the survival of the ancient people that lived here. This region is, without a doubt, the leading tourist destination in Ireland.  
The following are the leading sightseeing attractions in the Boyne Valley:

Hill of Slane

Christianity came to Ireland in the 400s, and the Hill of Slane was the epicentre of this cultural shift. In 433, the King of Tara had issued an edict against Christianity. With that in mind, St. Patrick went to the top of this hill no Easter Sunday and lit a signal fire in defiance. Many religious structures have been built on the hill since then, including a Franciscan friary and a 16th-century bell tower.

Hill of Tara

Long before St Patrick lit his legendary fire on the Hill of Slane to signal a shift in Ireland’s religious psyche, the country was ruled by the Kings of Tara. The Hill of Tara is their legendary seat of power. Ancient kings were coronated here on the Stone of Dessiny, and the ceremony involved the would-be ruler subjecting himself to a series of challenges. If he completed these challenges with the deftness expected of a warrior and ruler, then the stone would belt out a scream that could be heard all over Ireland.


For those who access to a hire car in Navan, there is no need to pick and choose which sites to explore. Driving between the most prominent attractions is easy and affordable, and there is no reason that a visitor could not expect to see all of the major attractions. That being said, if there is only time for one round of sightseeing, this is the attraction that simply cannot be missed.

Newgrange passage tomb has been standing for approximately five millennia, which means that it’s older the Pyramids of Giza. It sunk into the ground and slipped from the public mind for around 1,000 years, until excavation began in the 1600s. This large, dome-shaped mound is a spectacular site to behold, covering more than an acre of land and comprising 97 kerbstones. Imagine hauling these hunks of granite – which are believed to have originated in the Wicklow Mountains, more than 80 km away – with nothing but Neolithic-era tools.

The scale of the exterior is impressive, but its façade is admittedly subdued. One of Newgrange’s most amazing features is easy to overlook. The artisans that designed and built this passage tomb fit it out with a roofbox that allows a focused slice of light into the innermost chamber on the day of the winter solstice. On that day, this inner room – which is normally steeped in darkness – is bathed in sunlight for 17 minutes. It’s a marvellous site to behold.

Of course, the list of people who would like to witness this 17-minute event is far too long to accommodate. A waiting list is maintained, but even getting your name on this list is daunting. A simulation in the visitor’s centre recreates the event for tourists.

Old Mellifont Abbey

Ireland’s oldest Cistercian abbey was built in the 1100s and lies about 11 km outside of Drogheda. The abbey perches on the river Mattock, a tributary of Navan’s river Boyne. The building served as a model for future Cistercian abbeys built in Ireland. Guided tours are offered during the warmest months (May to October). The structure is mostly in ruins today, but this is part of the charm. The Lavabo, where monks once washed their hands before meals, and the Chapter House are both standout features.

Trim Castle

The largest Norman Castle in all of Europe is found in Ireland. The original walls staked out a half-kilometre perimeter around Trim Castle, and well over half of the original construction is still standing. The castle was built in the 1100s, and it withstood a seven-week siege a century later. Bear in mind that the castle is only open at weekends and on bank holidays except for during the summer season (Easter Sunday to Halloween), when it is open every day.

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