Belfast Castle is a symbol of the city and can be seen from across town. A visit to the castle is a must for history enthusiasts and those wanting to appreciate the best views of the city. Admire the romantic-looking Scottish baronial architecture, wander the castle’s expansive grounds, have a traditional Irish meal in its cellar, or hike Cave Hill.
Over the centuries, there have been three Belfast Castles. The first was a Norman 12th-century structure in what is now the city center. It was replaced by a stone and timber castle in 1611. Nearly a century later it burned down and the 3rd Marquess of Donegall chose to build a whole new castle on the slopes of Cave Hill in 1862. It was donated to the City of Belfast in 1934 and renovated from 1978 to 1988.
See if you can find the Donegall coat-of-arms over the front door and then enter to explore the castle’s permanent exhibits. Learn about the families who lived here and their importance to Belfast.
Walk the castle grounds to discover the native flora and fauna of the area. For a more rugged experience, visit the adjacent Cave Hill County Park, which has excellent hiking trails.
Take in the views of Belfast from the castle, or hike to the summit of Cave Hill to view the castle from above. There is also a playground for children in the castle grounds.
Enjoy local food in the Victorian-style cellar during a unique lunch or dining experience. At night, the lit-up castle acts as a beacon to people looking for traditional Irish fun. Hear local music at the Castle Tavern on a Friday or Saturday night.
Belfast Castle is located on Antrim Road, on the edge of Belfast, a 10-minute drive from downtown. Parking and admission is free. The castle is also served by bus; however, it’s a 15-minute walk from the castle gates to the actual building. Belfast Castle is open daily, but the tavern and restaurant close on Sunday and Monday nights.