One of the great things about Belfast is that within a short drive from the city you can discover a region filled with lush valleys, a stunning coastline, country parks, magnificent estates, wonderful wildlife and historic attractions. Experience Belfast Plus and uncover stories, culture and much, much more.
Hillsborough Castle and Gardens
Visit Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, a stunning late Georgian mansion built in 1770s. The official residence of the Royal Family when in Northern Ireland, and home to the Secretary of State, Royal Hillsborough Castle and Gardens is open to visitors for tours. Take a walk around the beautiful gardens including ornamental grounds, peaceful woodlands, meandering waterways and trimmed lawns as well as modern commemorative trees and exotic plants.
Mount Stewart is a 19th-century house and garden in County Down, Northern Ireland, owned by the National Trust. Engaging tours of the opulent house reveal its fascinating heritage and historic world-famous artefacts and artwork. Explore garden rooms and enjoy a walk around the picturesque lake surrounded by beautiful swathes of woodland and unusual statues.
Irish Linen Museum
This award-winning museum is based in Lisburn’s oldest building, a former 17th century Market House. It brings to life the history of the Irish linen industry and its importance to Lisburn. Made from the stems of flax, a blue-flowered plant, linen has long been seen as a high-status cloth.
Ulster Folk Museum
Step back one hundred years and discover the traditions and heritage of Ulster’s past at Ulster Folk Museum. Celebrate the everyday skills, customs and traditions passed down over many generations at Ulster Folk Museum. Discover how keeping the heritage of our ancestors alive can help us reconnect with our past to grow and thrive in the world today.
The Hinch Distillery sits in the heart of the County Down countryside. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about local distilling traditions on guided tours. Everything has been designed not only to produce world class whiskey and gin, but also to provide visitors an up-close view of the whole process. Hinch also boasts a beautiful, fully licensed Brasserie serving the best local produce created by their expert team, and a gift shop.
Grey Abbey is one of the best examples of Anglo-Norman Cistercian architecture in Ulster and was founded in 1193 by Affreca, wife of John de Courcy, the Anglo-Norman invader of East Ulster. The remains, in the beautiful parkland setting of the nearby grand house of Rosemount, consist of the church with cloister and surrounding buildings to the south.
Hillsborough Fort and Forest
Artillery fort built in 1650 by Colonel Arthur Hill – the Hill family built the village of Hillsborough starting with the fort. Hillsborough Forest, set within the historic landscape of Large Park, offers the visitor 150 acres of mixed woodland in which to walk and relax with nature. Bird life is rich and varied and larger mammals, including foxes and badgers, may also be seen.
Bangor Castle Walled Gardens
The garden is divided into four different sections, each with its own horticultural personality. It also boasts two unique pieces of sculpture inspired by the borough’s maritime history. The Ward family designed the Bangor Castle Walled Garden in the 1840s.
Hilden Brewery is Ireland’s Oldest Independent Brewery. It is situated in Lisburn, 20 mins away from Belfast City Centre. (19 mins by train Great Victoria Street to Hilden Halt). Hilden Brewery offer a brewery tour and lunch in the Stables restaurant and white-washed Georgian courtyard that housed the stables and loose boxes. If you are looking for heritage and charm alongside a fabulous experience then look no further.
The Echlinville Distillery on the Ards Peninsula became Northern Ireland’s first licenced distillery in over 125 years, distilling its first spirit in 2013. A genuine farm distillery, all Echlinville’s new make spirit is distilled from barley grown, harvested and floor malted on their distillery farm near the shores of Strangford Lough. Echlinville has also made a name for itself on the whiskey tourist trail, with distillery tours attracting visitors from home and abroad.
Belfast Plus Events
Browse our Belfast Plus guide to discover what’s on today, what’s on this weekend, and more things to do this month.