The Best Gardens to Visit in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in Belfast has thousands of colourful blossoms
The Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in Belfast has thousands of colourful blossoms | © / Christopher Hill Photographic / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kim Gregory
8 July 2020

The gardens in and around Belfast city are as surprising as they are beautiful, with Japanese-style areas, rose gardens, castles, greenhouses and spectacular views. Here are the best.

Cave Hill Country Park

Natural Feature, Park
Map View
Belfast castle. Tourist attraction on the slopes of Cave Hill Country Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Aerial view. Belfast Lough and city in the ba
© Krzysztof Nahlik / Alamy Stock Photo

Begin at the grand Belfast Castle, which boasts a great garden itself. Cave Hill is on a tricky circular route that takes you high up to a peak overlooking the city. It has the best views in Belfast. Along the way, explore rocky Devil’s Punchbowl and hilltop McArt’s Fort. There are wildlife and archaeological sites, too, so keep a keen eye. Cave Hill allegedly inspired Jonathan Swift’s novel, Gulliver’s Travels (1726) – it’s that magical. Situated in Newtownabbey, it’s a short car or bus ride out of the city, up Antrim Road.

Ormeau Park

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This lesser-known park is perfect for activities. Just past River Lagan’s waterfront, you’ll find the oldest public park in Belfast. Ormeau Park is big with great views and makes for a lovely stroll. But if you fancy something a little different, try out the recreational facilities here. There’s a football pitch, a BMX track, and basketball, tennis and netball courts. The park is popular with joggers and hosts the Belfast City Marathon, so the vibe is always active.

Belvoir Forest Park

Natural Feature, Park
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Two walkers and their dog on a forest path in Belvoir Park Forest in South Belfast, N.Ireland.
© Ian Proctor / Alamy Stock Photo

A special spot of nature, Belvoir Forest Park is the only functioning forest within a city in the UK, making for a peaceful day out within bustling Belfast. Explore the beautiful woodlands and tree-lined lake, and discover hidden gems, such as a pretty old stone bridge. It’s headquarters to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), as there’s so much wildlife. To get there, take a bus to Castleboy Avenue or drive to the entrance at Belvoir estate, which has a car park.

Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park

Botanical Garden, Natural Feature, Park
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Numerous flower beds. Taken during Rose Week at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, South Belfast, N.Ireland.
© Ian Proctor / Alamy Stock Photo

If you love colourful blooms, you’re in luck. This garden favourite has meadows with over 20,000 flowers, stretching as far as the eye can see. It has a beautiful rose garden and a bandstand that looks like it’s straight out of Mary Poppins (1964). The park even has a Japanese-style garden with a lake and a traditional fountain. It can get busy, so it’s more for strolling and appreciating than sitting. Get there by a 15-minute drive or 20 minutes on the bus.

Botanic Gardens

Botanical Garden, Park
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The Palm House at the Botanic Gardens, Belfast. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.
© david soulsby / Alamy Stock Photo
Rising from the grass and flowers of the Botanic Gardens, you’ll find the impressive glass conservatory, Palm House. Built in 1840, it contains a jungle of tropical plants, hanging baskets, seasonal displays and birds of paradise. It really is a sight to behold. The gardens also have a second greenhouse, the Tropical Ravine, and often hold concerts and other events. Find it on Botanic Avenue, near Queen’s University and the River Lagan.

Victoria Park

Natural Feature, Park
Map View

This garden centres around a large, beautiful lake, with trees and flowers peppering the sidelines, where you can wander in the sunshine with lovely views. As you relax, spot planes flying low overhead from nearby George Best Belfast City Airport. There’s a bridge connecting the park to the harbour, so you can explore this area easily, too. It’s a little outside the city, just off Sydenham Bypass. If you don’t have a car, take the train to Sydenham railway station.

These recommendations were updated on July 8, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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