Categories: Walking & Hiking

Belfast is a wonderful city for walkers. There’s always something new to discover and its compact size makes it an easy and inviting spot to explore on foot. Go just a little further afield though and you’ll find yourself in the tranquil Belfast Hills. Only minutes from the city, there are fantastic views of Belfast’s famous landmarks and some amazing walks and trails to investigate.

Divis and the Black Mountain

West of Belfast, Divis is the highest point in the Belfast Hills at 478 metres. Follow the Ridge Trail, a 4.2 mile circular route with spectacular views and no major uphill climbs. Or choose one of the other three great walks through this National Trust-owned site. All deliver amazing views across the Mourne Mountains to Scotland. And you’ll also see the city sights from a whole new angle. Look out for Titanic Belfast, Belfast City Hall, Stormont Parliament Buildings and, of course, Samson and Goliath - Harland and Wolff's famous yellow cranes.

The view from Cave Hill

A mountain top with literary associations, Cave Hill - Belfast’s ‘sleeping giant’ – was the inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

A fairly challenging 4.5 mile circular route takes you from the picturesque Belfast Castle, past the caves to McArt’s Fort, crossing moorland, heath and meadows to a properly panoramic view of the cityscape below.

The Gruffalo Trail - and other characterful family fun walks

The Gruffalo Trail at Colin Glen is one for kids of all ages. Meet the characters from everybody’s favourite picture book, magically recreated in this stunning forest park. A family-friendly 0.6 miles each way, you can follow in the Gruffalo’s footsteps to encounter the silly old fox, the owl and the snake - until you catch up with an amazing 8-foot tall version of the Gruffalo himself.

The Botanic Gardens

There’s fun indoors and out here. Set in the grounds of the fascinating Ulster Museum, Belfast’s Botanic Gardens are alive with colour and scent. The park’s been here since 1828, so there’s a whole lot to explore on a fun 0.8 mile circular route.

Time out along the Lagan Towpath

Everyone can enjoy messing about by the river on this tranquil riverside walk. Suitable for little legs and longer ones, this is part of the continuous 1-mile flat route along the Lagan Towpath, linking Belfast and Lisburn. A 1-mile circular route starts at Stranmillis - not far from Queen’s University and the Ulster Museum – then follows the river and 18th Century canal system through a wonderland of riverside meadows, wetlands and mixed woodlands.

Minnowburn & Giant’s Ring

Still on the Lagan Towpath, Minnowburn is an oasis of green near Shaw’s Bridge. Trails here run to 2.1 miles. It’s always worth a climb up Terrace Hill to the stunning walled garden. It was built by linen merchant Ned Robinson and is a great spot to picnic, with views across the Lagan Valley. And, if you feel like an after-picnic stroll, it’s just a short wander to the Giant’s Ring, a huge Neolithic earth henge and tomb.

Stormont Estate

Belfast’s impressive parliament building, Stormont Estate has two official walking routes within its grounds. One is a very manageable 2.5 miles. Stormont is also one of the stops you’ll make on the Belfast City Sightseeing Bus Tour and if you want to know more about it, there are  guided tours of the buildings Monday to Friday.

These are just some of Belfast’s fantastic walking spots. There are many more out there just waiting to be explored. So have a wander around and you might discover a side of the city – and its surrounding countryside – that you’ve somehow overlooked before. Happy walking.