11 Must-See Places to Visit Near Belfast
With museums and tourist attractions galore, it’s no surprise that Belfast has seen a resurgence of visitors in recent years. The Northern Ireland capital is home to a rich history and culture. But so many people are missing out on the impressive sites just outside of the large city. The capital is just a short drive from the best places to visit in Northern Ireland.
With a coastline measuring just over 3,000 km, driving around Northern Ireland is the easiest and best way to take in all the glorious sites. The only problem is deciding where to go first.
Fortunately, using our extensive travel knowledge, Holiday Autos has put together a handy guide to the top 11 must-see places near Belfast.
1. CS Lewis Square
Just a short drive from the city centre, you’ll find yourself transported into the magical world of Narnia. CS Lewis was born and bred in Belfast, with landscapes and castles of Northern Ireland inspiring his creation of the world of Narnia.
Featuring 7 bronze sculptures from ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’, CS Lewis Square is definitely worth a visit for fans of the epic tale.
2. Belfast Zoo
If you don’t want to venture too far out of the city, a trip to the zoo is the ideal day out. Perfect for all ages, Belfast Zoo is one of Northern Ireland’s oldest and most popular tourist attractions – a definite must do in Belfast.
Admire animals from all over the world, with elephants, lemurs and monkeys amongst those living in the zoo.
3. Carrickfergus Castle
Located in County Antrim, Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman castle on the northern shore of Belfast Lough. Only 25 minutes from Belfast city centre, the historical monument is a fascinating attraction for all the family.
For over 800 years, the castle has been an imposing figure on the landscape of Northern Ireland, whether approaching from land, sea or air.
4. Lough Neagh
Visit the largest lake in the British Isles and immerse yourself in the heritage, history and culture of Northern Ireland. Easily one of the best places to visit near Belfast, Lough Neagh offers a tranquil atmosphere, unspoilt scenery, secluded bays and skyward views.
Take a stroll around the idyllic lake and take in the peaceful nature of the water. There are plenty of places to eat and drink too, so you can make a whole day of it.
Image by Kenneth Allen, Bartin's Bay at Lough Neagh - geograph.org.uk - 680454, Retouched, CC BY-SA 2.0
5. Bangor Marina
For something a little different, head to Bangor Marina for a fun day by the sea. Packed with restaurants, bars, shops and cinemas, the marina has something for everyone.
It provides the perfect combination of beautiful views, plenty of history and an abundance of things to do. Even better, it’s just a half an hour drive from Belfast.
6. Slieve Donard
If you’re more of an outdoorsy person, why not discover the highest mountain in Northern Ireland? Less than an hour’s drive from the city centre is Slieve Donard, standing at an impressive 2790 feet.
The climb isn’t restricted to avid walkers. It’s actually a relatively easy walk. You’ll be rewarded for the climb once you reach the top and can take in views of Britain, the Isle of Man and half of Ireland on a clear day.
7. Giant’s Causeway
Many don’t regard a trip to Northern Ireland as complete without a visit to the geological wonder of the Giant’s Causeway. For centuries, the remarkable formation was known only to shepherds and kelp gatherers.
The 40,000 columns of basalt are now enjoyed by tourists from around the world. Although the drive is a bit further from Belfast than other attractions, taking just over an hour, the coastal route to the Giant’s Causeway is regarded as one of the most spectacular in the world.
8. Dark Hedges
Fans of Game of Thrones will love this natural phenomenon, having been used as a key location in the series. The Dark Hedges is a walkway of beech trees, planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century.
Most recently, the avenue is recognised widely as the King’s Road in Game of Thrones, making it an immensely popular tourist attraction for TV fans.
Get transported into the familiar world of Westeros with a visit to this impressive natural wonder. Be sure to remember your camera and brush up on your photography skills as you’re sure to want to capture the moment you enter into the world of Game of Thrones.
9. Ballintoy Harbour
Another Game of Thrones hot spot can be found at Ballintoy Harbour, the exterior filming location for Pyke and most recognisable as the Iron Islands.
The small fishing harbour is found at the end of a narrow steep road, passing by the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge – another must-see!
This secluded location is not just for lovers of Game of Thrones, the quaint shops, charming churches and picturesque views make this an unmissable trip. The harbour is an ideal stop-off along the coastal route, especially for those looking to experience a true sense of rural Irish life.
10. Old Bushmills Distillery
For many, when thinking of Ireland, whiskey is one of the first associations that comes to mind. There is no better way to discover the history of Irish whiskey than a visit to the Old Bushmills Distillery. Just over an hour’s drive from Belfast centre, the ‘grain to glass’ distillery handcrafts whiskey on one site.
Old Bushmills is Ireland’s oldest working distillery, having produced the well-loved spirit since 1608. Take a tour around the building, learning about the production of Old Bushmills whiskey before tasting the drink for yourself. Just remember to choose a designated driver and never drink and drive.
11. Titanic Belfast
Looking for places to visit in Belfast? In the heart of the city is Titanic Belfast, a museum dedicated to the famous sunken ship.
The museum is the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience and was named the world’s leading tourist attraction at the World Travel Awards 2016. Discover more about the tragic tale of the British passenger ship on its maiden voyage.
Built in Belfast city, the Titanic is famous around the world for its untimely demise after colliding with an iceberg in 1912. Be transported through time with a walk around the Giant Atrium, Titanic Suite and Bridge.
This unique must do Belfast experience is not to be missed!
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