History lovers mustn’t miss out on a visit to Belfast Castle, the much-loved structure that can be seen throughout Belfast and which offers wonderful views over the city and surrounding area. Explore the castle’s spacious grounds, hike up Cave Hill or have a bite to eat in the castle’s cellar.
The castle you see today is actually the most recent of three Belfast Castles that have existed over the years. The original structure was built in the 12th century during the Norman era, and stood in what is now the city centre. This was replaced in 1611 by a stone and timber castle, which burned down almost a century later. In 1862, the third Marquess of Donegall decided to construct a new castle on the slopes of Cave Hill. In the mid-1930s, it was gifted to the city, and between 1978 and 1988 it underwent extensive renovation.
Admire the Donegall coat of arms that sits over the front entrance to the castle. Belfast Castle’s permanent exhibits take you back in time to learn all about the families who lived here.
The area surrounding the castle is filled with local plants and wildlife, while the nearby Cave Hill County Park offers some great hiking trails. Enjoy the great views of both the castle and the city from the summit of Cave Hill. Children will love the playground in the castle grounds.
For a dinner with a difference, head to the Victorian-style cellar, or listen to local music at the Castle Tavern on a Friday or Saturday night. When the sun sets the castle glows with lights.
Located on Antrim Road, Belfast Castle is a 10-minute drive from the city centre. There is no admission fee and parking is free. You can hop on a bus to the castle gates and walk the remaining fifteen minutes to the entrance. The castle itself is open every day, but the restaurant and tavern close on Sunday and Monday nights.