Established in 1828, the flower-filled Botanic Gardens are Belfast’s loveliest green space and an ideal gray-day escape. The 28-acre (11-hectare) public park centers on the Charles Lanyon–designed mid–19th-century Palm House, a magnificent cast-iron and glass construction with a birdcage dome.
Belfast Botanic Gardens are a popular day-out destination for both locals and visitors, with the warm greenhouses, tropical plants, mature trees, and colorful flower beds serving as a salve on dull, rainy days. Stroll through the rose garden, warm up in the Palm House—one of the earliest examples of a curvilinear cast-iron glasshouse—and follow the raised walkway through the 1889-built redbrick Tropical Ravine, which re-creates a rainforest-type setting. The gardens are also home to the Ulster Museum, whose exhibits focus on key chapters from Northern Ireland’s history as well natural history and art.
The entire park features as a stop on hop-on hop-off bus tours of the city. Concerts and festivals occasionally take place here.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Belfast Botanic Gardens are a must-visit for the green-fingered, or anyone who wants a moment’s respite from the big-city bustle.
- Some parts of the gardens are accessible to wheelchair users and strollers via a network of paved paths.
- Free Wi-Fi is available in the park.
How to Get There
Belfast Botanic Gardens are located in the University Quarter in South Belfast. The train station is Botanic, which is about a 10-minute walk away. From the station, head south down Botanic Avenue and College Park East. Alternatively, ride the Metro bus number 8 from Belfast city center to Queen’s University.
When to Get There
The gardens open year-round at 10am; closing times vary seasonally. Spring and summer are when most plants are in bloom, while the heated Palm House and Tropical Ravine offer respite from the cold in winter. If you’re going on the weekend, get there early to avoid the crowds.
The botanic gardens are packed with plant species from the southern hemisphere that you might not expect to find in this cool climate. Many of these were first introduced by the park’s former head gardener, Charles McKimm, in the late 19th century. Look out for banana, cinnamon, century-old ferns, and rare orchid plants.