Take a day trip and discover the stunning parks, enchanting woodland and coastal scenery in Belfast and across Northern Ireland.
Set in the former estate grounds of Malone House in south Belfast, Barnett Demesne comprises marshland, meadows and woodland. The park features an arboretum, daffodil garden, ecotrail, orienteering routes and a children’s playground near Shaw’s Bridge. Those looking for adventure can try the bike trails and jump parks. The trails consist of a shared use 3.4km green trail and a 3.9km blue trail with three red loop options (1.5km), featuring Ireland’s first official purpose-built jumps park.
Cave Hill Country Park
For generations, Cave Hill has been synonymous with Belfast, with its imposing outline visible throughout the city. Named for the five caves located on the side of the cliffs, the area contains a wealth of natural, archaeological and historical features, including Belfast Castle. Visitors can venture to the top for panoramic views of Belfast, following the waymarked walking trails suitable for casual walkers or serious ramblers. The park is home to an abundance of birds and wild plants, and kids will love the Cave Hill Adventurous Playground.
A perfect outdoor escape in the heart of the city, Botanic Gardens boasts manicured flower beds, walking trails and a beautiful Victorian palm house, which has been part of the park since it was established in 1828. Pick up a takeaway coffee from the nearby cafés in the Queen’s Quarter and stroll through this city gem that is popular with residents, students and tourists alike.
Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park
Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in south Belfast is one of the city’s most popular parks. Covering more than 128 acres, the park is made up of rolling meadows, copses, woodland and gardens, and is home to City of Belfast International Rose Garden, which attracts thousands of visitors to Rose Week celebrations which take place in July each year.
Lisburn & Castlereagh
Lagan Valley Regional Park
Between Stranmillis in Belfast and Union Locks in Lisburn, Lagan Valley Regional Park covers 4,500 acres of countryside and 11 miles of riverbank. The Regional Park is a mosaic of countryside, urban parks, heritage sites, nature reserves and riverside trails. Take the towpath by River Lagan offering miles of level walking in tranquil, attractive surroundings.
Hillsborough Castle Gardens
The glorious gardens at Hillsborough Castle are a joy to explore. From ornamental grounds to peaceful woodland, meandering waterways and picturesque glens, there are over 100 spectacular acres to discover. Visit the tranquil Lady Alice’s Temple, take the Yew Tree Walk and visit the beautiful Walled Garden.
Ards and North Down
Cairn Wood is a haven of serenity. Located along the back road leading from Church Road towards Dundonald, it offers excellent views towards Bangor and far beyond. Explore the forest on well-marked paths through a mixture of mature conifers and young trees.
The shores of Strangford Lough has inspired artists and outdoor enthusiasts for centuries, and this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is home to many amazing spaces. Take a drive along the scenic Portferry Road that overlooks the lough, stopping at Mount Stewart for a stroll around its unique, historic demesne. Or spot local birds and wildlife in the wetlands at Castle Espie.
Antrim and Causeway Coastal Route
Antrim Lough Shore Park
Situated on the shores of Lough Neagh, Antrim Lough Shore Park is an area of natural beauty with many attractions and activities to enjoy. The Lough Shore Park is a magnet for those seeking relaxation by the water’s edge, offering delightful spots to enjoy a picnic, feed the swans or walk along the many pathways. The park is also popular for water-based activities, archery and climbing.
Causeway Coastal Route
County Antrim’s Causeway Coastal Route runs north from Larne, and is the gateway to the Nine Glens of Antrim with Glenariff Forest Park at its heart. On the north coast you’ll find breathtaking clifftop views, wide open sandy beaches, the ruins of Dunluce Castle and Ballintoy harbour that portrayed the Iron Islands in Game of Thrones.
This handsome Irish gentry house is surrounded by 320 acres of wooded riverside estate. Take the scenic Lime Tree walk, follow the riverside path along the banks of the Blackwater River or relax with a picnic in the pristine gardens. Kids will love the outdoor adventure play area.