Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast is the centre of many beautiful gardens and parks, perfectly suited to a peaceful wander during the day. The Belfast City Council takes pride in maintaining its distinctive parks and gardens, resulting in a magnificent web of outdoor opportunities. Some routes filter through landmark rivers and lakes that run through the city. Check out our recommendations for a scenic walk in Belfast.
Situated in east Belfast, this historical park has remained an oasis for wildlife. Victoria Park has two possible walking routes: an inner and outer loop around the lake. Begin the outer loop by following the path on the right at the car park. Sight the bowling green, a small rose garden, the children’s playground and a BMX track. Further on, the path runs an embankment between the lake and Connswater River. Across the river are the Short’s aircraft factories, which in turn are overshadowed by Samson and Goliath. At the car park, the inner loop begins across the footbridge over the lake by turning right. The mown path meanders through the trees and houses wading birds.
Walk a short route through an urban park with beautiful floral displays, beginning at the park entrance from Musgrave Park Hospital. Follow the main path to your left along the side of the bowling greens. This path will lead you to a round flower bed with a standing stone feature in the centre; take the path on your left. Sight the one kilometre marker post. Continue around the lower part of the park where the path sweeps around to another entrance gate at Stockman’s lane. Continue straight at this junction and follow a smaller meandering path through the trees and spring bulb displays.
This circular route explores a busy local park located at City Cemetery, and features bedding plants, and the views of Divis Mountain, the highest point of Belfast Hills. Follow the path uphill through the park, past the flower beds and the bowling pavilion on your left. After a short distance the route crosses a small bridge over the Ballymurphy Stream. Turn right here and continue climbing the hill keeping the playing fields on your left. On your right is the city cemetery. As you climb, pause to admire the views. Look back over the city and the Bog Meadows below and up to the Black Mountain and the Belfast Hills. When contouring around the top of the playing fields, follow the path downhill past mature Scots pine and oak trees. Further on into a wooded glen, you will pass under mature ash and beech trees.
Botanic Gardens houses the Palm House, a tropical ravine, a rose garden, and the Ulster Museum. Situated in the university area, the Botanic Gardens is a popular place amongst students, but also for locals to appreciate a scenic walk in the park. The circular route can be started from any of the seven entrances. Once inside the main gates of the park you will see the statue of Lord Kelvin. Follow the right path leading to the front of Ulster Museum and to the entrance of the Tropical Ravine. From the ravine take the tarmac path to the right. Continue past an entrance gate to your right and straight ahead to the herbaceous borders. Beyond you will reach a low wall and a set of steps on your right that leads through the stone pergolas in the centre of the rose garden. Further on you will reach the bowling green. Passing the rockery and the main lawn on your left, at the three-way junction you will sight the Palm House. Continue along the path, which leads past the oak and conifer collections.
Bloomfield Greenway is a pleasant and peaceful walk or cycle along the former Comber railway line starting in east Belfast and ending in Dundonald. From the top of the car park follow the path to the Beersbridge Road. Taking care crossing the road, continue along the path. Although a pipeline was recently laid under this route, the corridor still retains some of its mature character. Re-planted shrubs and trees are becoming well established. Soon the path passes under the North Road Bridge. The path continues between high embankments towards the Sandown Road. Look out for the remains of the former railway platform and pockets of wildflowers on the banks.
Waterworks, Belfast’s former water supply is now home to many birds and wildfowl, and has become a popular place for locals. There are three walks around this site – 0.4, 0.9 and 1.4 miles around two lakes on tarmac paths. The longest walk locates a flower bed and by keeping to your left you will walk long the stream and over the bridge. Continue along the tree lined avenue and alongside the lower pond, pausing to enjoy the birdlife and views of Cave Hill. Soon you will pass a small playground before passing over another bridge. The path winds its way around the upper pond.
Ormeau Park’s route explores a historic parkland overlooking the River Lagan. Beside the Ormeau Recreation Centre, take the tree-lined path to the right of the recreation centre, past the all weather pitches. Continue along this path, past mature trees and woodland copses. You will pass a small shelter, ahead will be a former walled garden. Beyond, you will see the bandstand on your right. Follow the path to the right which leads past a second shelter, some flower beds and mature conifer trees. Just beyond these on your right is a small wildflower meadow. Continue past a triangular rose bed on your left, but veer left at the next triangular flower bed, in which there stands a bell on a post.
This route explores a beautiful Local Nature Reserve in the Lagan Valley with varied wildlife habitats. After a short distance you will find a path to the left leading to Lester’s dam and pond. Retrace your steps to the main path, and continue along for a good distance through wooded areas and past meadows until you come to a steep set of steps. These leads down to the Lagan towpath. Turn left along the towpath for a short distance, then take the bridge on your right over the former canal and cross the stile. Keeping the River Lagan on your right, follow the grass path that leads round Moreland’s Meadow. At the far end of the meadow, you will cross another stile and then a small bridge. From here turn right on to a narrow path that leads to a footbridge and back over the canal onto the towpath. Turn right and follow the river as it winds its way downstream. Be sure not to forget your sensible footwear.
Cave Hill Country Park
A challenging route, over unsurfaced paths, past the caves to McArt’s Fort, and crossing moorland, heath and meadows. You will discover much of what the park has to offer, from archaeological sites and wildlife to panoramic views. Beginning at Belfast Castle, follow the green way-marked arrows. This path leads up through the trees, climbing on to a plateau. Stop here to admire the fabulous views over the city and Belfast Lough. Continuing on, take the next path on your left. This skirts round the Devil’s Punchbowl, passes below the largest cave before veering to the right. Follow this path as it climbs steadily up the hill, pausing to take in the surroundings and views on the way. Continue climbing up the steps to a cattle grid and fence, at the top veer to the left and follow the grass path to the top of the hill and McArt’s Fort. Pause again to take in the magnificent views before joining the main path on its gradual descent down the south facing slopes of Cave Hill.
The Barnett Demesne route explores an historic estate in Lagan Valley Regional Park, taking in Malone House, meadows, woodland and along the River Lagan. From the Malone House car park, follow the path around the front of the house and alongside the security fence. Follow this path downhill pausing on the way to admire the views over the Lagan Valley, across to Minnowburn Beeches and, the wildflower meadows on your right. At the bottom of the hill turn right along the towpath, taking time to admire the old Shaw’s Bridge. Follow the towpath for a distance as it winds alongside the river. When you reach a green, disused kissing gate, pass through, then turn right through a gap in the vegetation back into the woodland of Barnett Demesne.