15 Of The Best Walks In Belfast (Handy Strolls + Hardy Hikes)

Best walks in Belfast
Photo left by Gerry McNally (Shutterstock). Photo right via Lagan Valley Regional Park on Facebook

There are some brilliant walks in Belfast if you’re staying in the city and you fancy a saunter.

From the family-friendly Gruffalo Trail to the tough slog that is the Cave Hill Walk there’s a stroll that’ll suit most fitness levels.

There’s also gorgeous forest walks, a nearby greenway and a plethora of finely maintained parks just waiting to be explored.

Our favourite walks in Belfast

The first section of this guide is wedged with our favourite walks in Belfast. These are walks that one of The Irish Road Trip Team has done and loved over the years.

Below, you’ll find everything from the walk up Divis and the Black Mountain (one of our favourite things to do in Belfast!) to a couple of hidden gems near the city.

1. The Divis Summit Trail

black mountain walk
Photos by Arthur Ward via Tourism Ireland’s Content Pool
  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Walk type: Loop 
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Duration: Allow 60- 90 minutes

The Divis and Black Mountain walk is a mountainous trek with outstanding city and lough views from the top. It takes you over heath and blanket bog to the highest peak in the Belfast Hills.

One of the features of this National Trust managed land is the stone-pitching. Look out for the huge flat interlocking slabs of stone that are used to stabilize slopes and counter seepage problems.

Park at National Trust Long Barn car park which has toilets and a cafe or use the free car park on Divis Road and add 0.5 miles to your route. Here’s a full guide to what is our favourite of the many Belfast walks.

2. Cave Hill

cave hill belfast
Photo by Joe Carberry (Shutterstock)
  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • Walk type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Challenging (Grade 5)
  • Duration: 90mins to 2.5 hours

Beginning at the car park and entrance to Belfast Castle, this challenging Cave Hill hike follows rough unsurfaced paths. Follow the green way-markers and expect the full gamut of steep climbs, meadows, heathland and moorland.

Along the way, you’ll pass  archaeological sites, caves, a waterfall and McArt’s Fort. Panoramic views of the city, Lagan Valley and Belfast Lough are the prize when you stop to catch your breath.

At the end of the circular route, return to Belfast Castle which has a café for a welcome cuppa as well as a restaurant and toilets. See our full guide to what is one of the tougher walks in Belfast.

3. Carnmoney Hill

 

  • Distance: Various up to 3 miles
  • Walk type: 3 different circular walks
  • Difficulty: Three routes ranging from gentle to moderate (Grade 4) with some steep climbs
  • Duration: Between 30 and 75 minutes

Described as a green oasis in an urban area, Carnmoney Hill has 3 different routes with something that should suit most fitness levels.

There’s a gentle stroll (red markers) around the foot of the hill, a 30-minute (yellow) lower woodland walk or the hilltop hike (blue).

There are some steep inclines on the longer walk but views of Belfast Lough, the Mourne foothills and the Antrim coastline make this a delightful countryside hike. Managed by the Woodland Trust, the trail starts from Knockenagh Avenue with parking in a lay-by.

4. Giant’s Ring Trail

family friendly walks belfast
Photo by Mcimage (Shutterstock)
  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Walk type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Challenging (Grade 5)
  • Duration: over an hour

This wonderful Giant’s Ring Trail takes you close to nature with woodland and riverside stretches and superb views. The walk starts in the free car park just off the ring road next to Shaw’s Bridge in Minnowburn.

Terrain includes some gravel and dirt paths, agricultural land and a boardwalk. Highlights include Minnowburn Bridge and the Giant’s Ring, a neolithic stone henge and burial site.

Toilets and well-earned refreshments can be found nearby at Barnett’s Desmesne or Forestside Shopping Centre.

5. The Garden Trail at Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park

Lady Dixon Park walks
Photos via Google Maps
  • Distance:  1.1 miles
  • Walk type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderately easy with some steps 
  • Duration: 20-30 minutes

This delightful garden trail at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is more of a leisurely ramble on grass and surfaced paths that’ll appeal to those looking for some handy Belfast walks.

Starting from the upper car park off Upper Malone Road, the trail passes the Japanese Garden, Golden Crown Fountain, Wilmont House, Walled Garden, Azalea Walk and ends near a children’s play area as an incentive for reluctant young walkers!

As well as the colourful formal gardens there are woodland areas of enjoying the flora and fauna. End back at the park where a café and toilets are available. See our full guide here.

6. Creagagh Glen and Lisnabreeny

 

  • Distance 1.5 miles each way
  • Walk type: Linear walk – out and back
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Grade 4)
  • Duration: at least one hour

This lush glen walk explores the Castlereagh Hills with city views from the summit. Park at the National Trust on Lisnabreeny Road or in streets around Knockbreda Road.

The shady woodland paths are unsurfaced and include wooden stairs in places. The route ascends through the glen then climbs to the grounds of Lisnabreeny House, former home of poet Nesca Robb. Look out for pretty waterfalls and birds.

Park and forest walks in Belfast

Now that we have our favourite Belfast walks out of the way, it’s time to see what else Northern Ireland’s capital has to offer.

Below, you’ll find a mix of moderate and easy forest walks in Belfast, from the brilliant Colin Glen to the often-missed Ormeau Park.

1. Colin Glen Forest Park

Colin Glen walks
Photos via Colin Glen Forest Park on Facebook
  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Walk type: Loop 
  • Difficulty: Moderate with some inclines
  • Duration: 75-90 minutes

Colin Glen Forest Park off Stewartstown Road is considered the green lungs of Belfast. The forest park has car parking, toilets and a café.

Follow the path past the red suspension bridge keeping the river on your right. Red markers indicate the route through woodland to a dragonfly pond and NY-owned Upper Colin Glen.

The lush valley follows the Colin River with surfaced paths through parkland and beside the river making it suitable for year-round walks. Enjoy views of Black Mountain and Belfast City as well as an abundance of wild flowers.

2. Belvoir Park Forest

Belvoir Park
Photo by David Marken (Shutterstock)
  • Distance: vary from 0.6 – 2 miles
  • Walk type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy blue paths or moderate red trails
  • Duration: varies

Belvoir Park Forest is a working forest within the city, close to Belfast’s outer ring road. Start and end at the Belvoir Park Forest car park which has information and a viewpoint. Pick the length and gradient of your woodland walk.

The blue Arboretum Path is an easy 0.6 mile route. The Lagan Trail is a more challenging 1.25 mile route while the Meadows Trail is 2 miles of steps, gullies and paths with a moderate gradient.

3. Redburn Country Park

 

  • Distance: 3.9 miles
  • Walk type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate or challenging along hilly or grassy terrain 
  • Duration: at least one hour

With superb views over Belfast Lough and the South Antrim Hills, Redburn Country Park is just off the A2 near Holywood. It offers a choice of country walks all starting at the car park.

Whether you’re a serious rambler, a runner or a weekend stroller this country park has something to suit including bridle paths for horse riders.

4. Lagan Valley Regional Park

Lagan Valley walks
Photo via Lagan Valley Regional Park on Facebook
  • Distance: 8 miles (each way)
  • Walk type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: up to 3 hours each way, depending on the route

Walks along the Lagan Valley follow the canal towpath as an off-road link midway between Lisburn and Belfast. It provides tranquil traffic-free walks just off the M1/A55 in an area steeped in history.

The mixed use path is perfect for families and those wanting to escape city stress. The Lagan Valley Regional Park is in an Area of Outstanding Natural beauty (AONB) with river, woodland and meadow walks, so take your pick!

There are few Belfast walks that can go toe-to-toe with Lagan Valley. This is well worth doing if you visit the city.

5. Ormeau Park

Ormeau Park
Photo via Google Maps
  • Distance: 1.3 miles
  • Walk type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy on tarmac paths with gradual inclines, Suitable for those with limited mobility
  • Duration: 30-45 minutes

Ormeau Park is a historic parkland overlooking the River Lagan with pleasant walks around the area. Walks start from the car park next to the Recreation Centre (toilets and refreshment stop here!) and sports pitches.

The route goes through mature woodland, formal gardens and a wildflower meadow, passing the Superintendent’s House and former walled garden on the way.

Family-friendly walks in Belfast

If you’re looking for things to do in Belfast with kids, but you want to get them outdoors, you’re in luck – there’s plenty of Belfast walks that are perfect for families.

Below, you’ll find a mix of walks in Belfast, like the Connswater Greenway and the Botanic Gardens, that offer leisurely strolls.

1. Connswater Greenway

Connswater Greenway
Photo by Gerry McNally (Shutterstock)
  • Distance: 5.5 miles (each way)
  • Walk type: Linear walk 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Duration: 3+ hours

Connswater Community Greenway has over 9 miles of walking and cycling trails including the 5.5 mile Linear Park Walk.

The Greenway follows the course of the Connswater, Knock and Loop Rivers, connecting a series of green open spaces and providing plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, walks and events in C.S.Lewis Square.

Explore the wildlife corridor on this Linear Walk connecting Belfast Lough with the Castlereagh Hills.

2. The Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens walks
Photos by Serg Zastavkin (Shutterstock)
  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Walk type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: 20 minutes, but you’ll probably want to linger!

The Botanic Gardens is a historic city park with stunning buildings and botanical collections. Take the walk that runs around the perimeter of the park on tarmac paths with some steps.

Start from one of the seven entrances and you’ll pass the Statue of Lord Kelvin near the Main Gate, the Ulster Museum and the Tropical Ravine.

Enjoy the fragrant Rose Garden, pass the bowling green, rockery and take a detour into the magnificent Palm House, the prototype for Kew Gardens Palm House.

There is on-street parking and cafés nearby. This is one of the more popular walks in Belfast for good reason!

3. The Gruffalo Trail (Colin Glen Park)

Gruffalo Trail
Photos via Colin Glen Forest Park on Facebook
  • Distance: 0.6 miles (each way)
  • Walk type: Linear walk
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: 20 minutes (or however long it takes for the under 9’s to explore!!)

A walk for kids! The Gruffalo Trail in Colin Glen Park is a magical route following the fictional footsteps of the award-winning storybook The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. The trail includes animal sculptures from the story.

The trail starts at the car park with the Gruffalo Archway and follows the path beside the Colin River. Bring the book and read it in the café at the Visitor Centre to complete this magical child-friendly walk.

4. Stormont Woodland

Stormont Woodland
Photo by Gerry McNally (Shutterstock)
  • Distance:  2.5 miles
  • Walk type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Duration: Under an hour

This refreshing woodland walk at Stormont Park has many interesting features including the Parliament Buildings, a grand avenue of trees and many squirrels, birds and wildlife.

The Long Woodland Walk starts at the car park and orange arrows indicate the route through woods and open parkland.

It includes some hills that can be a challenge for those with poor fitness levels. While this is one of the more overlooked Belfast walks, it’s well worth doing.

What walks near Belfast have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant Belfast walks from the guide above.

If you know of any walks in the city or of any walks near Belfast (within reasonable driving distance), let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

FAQs about the best Belfast walks

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what Belfast walks boast the best views to which are the most challenging.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What are the best walks in Belfast?

In our opinion, the best Belfast walks are Black Mountain, Cave Hill and the leisurely ramble through Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park.

What Belfast walks have the best views?

It really is hard to beat the view from up Cave Hill, however, the Divis and Black Mountain walk mentioned above has great views, too.

What are the best family-friendly walks in Belfast?

Stormont Woodland, The Gruffalo Trail (Colin Glen Park), The Botanic Gardens and the Connswater Greenway.

Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.

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