If you’re in search of walks in Belfast City, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Ormeau Park.
Ormeau Park is the oldest and largest park in Belfast, offering visitors the opportunity to stroll at leisure, take a brisk walk or avail of the exercise options.
A play area to keep the children happy while enjoying the wildlife and gardens is a grand way to while away an hour or two.
Below, you’ll find info on everything from where to park and when it’s open to the nice and handy Ormeau Park walk.
Some quick need-to-knows about Ormeau Park in Belfast
Although a visit to Ormeau Park is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Ormeau Park is located between Ormeau Road, Ormeau Embankment and Ravenhill Road. The Metro bus service will take you to both the Ormeau and Ranvenill entrances. It’s a 15-minute walks from the Botanic Gardens and a 20-minute walk from St. George’s Market.
2. Opening hours
The Ormeau Park opening hours are from 07:30 every morning and has various closing times, depending on daylight hours. It’s open until 10pm in July, and from then until December, it decreases by 30 minutes every month.
3. Belfast’s oldest park
Belfast Corporation bought the park from the Donegall family in 1869. It was opened to the public in 1871, making it the oldest park in Belfast. Belfast City Council own and run the park, not an easy task as it’s not only the oldest but the largest and busiest too.
There’s plenty of parking at the recreation centre off Ormeau Embankment. If you have mobility issues, you can rent an electric mobility scooter, and they are free for Shopmobility members. The car park closes at 11pm.
About Ormeau Park
The Donegall family originally owned the land where Ormeau Park now sits. They sold it to Belfast Corporation in 1869, and they set about turning it into a park for the people.
Timothy Hevey, a young architect, designed the park, and Belfast’s first public park was officially opened in 1871. The opening attracted a huge crowd to parade through Belfast and out to the park, where speeches were made – you can imagine how impatient the gathering was to get those over with so they could go exploring!
The Ormeau name comes from the French word Orme, which was the name used for a person living near an Elm tree. This suggests there were lots of elm trees in the park.
Today, the park is a sanctuary from busy city life with several walks and trails throughout, as well as sports grounds, children’s playground, outdoor gym and orienteering courses. Events such as concerts and other types of performance arts are held during the year.
The Ormeau Park walk
The Ormeau Park walk is short at 1.3 miles, but that doesn’t detract from its enjoyment. Woodland, a walled garden and the bandstand provide lots of interest along the way.
Start from the car park at the Recreation Centre and take the path to the right, passing the all-weather pitches. Stay on the tracks to the right at the next 2 junctions until you reach a crossroads. Continue straight on.
There’s a house and garden on your left – this used to be the Park Superintendent’s house. At the next intersection, take the road to the right, and this will lead you to the walls of the former walled garden.
Keep the wall on your right until you get to the main path, where you’ll turn left. The bandstand is along this path. Keep right, and you’ll reach a wildflower meadow. Another left and a right and you’ll be back at the car park.
Although the walk is suitable for people with mobility issues, watch out for the small, loose stones, potholes and tree roots.
Things to do near Ormeau Park
One of the beauties of Ormeau Park is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Belfast.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Ormeau Park (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Botanic Gardens (25-minute walk)
The first piece of advice is don’t be in a hurry. The gardens are beautiful, with wonders revealed around every corner. The Botanic Gardens have been open to the public since 1895. This free resource is enjoyable all year round—even in winter, you can watch the squirrels playing or visit the Palm House or the Tropical Ravine.
2. St. George’s Market (25-minute walk)
A weekend visit to Belfast wouldn’t be complete without a visit to St George’s Market, and as it’s all indoors, the weather is not an obstacle. In 2019 it was named the UK’s Best Large Indoor Market. There are loads of stalls, with something for everyone. Musicians entertain the shoppers, contributing to the fabulous atmosphere of the market.
3. Belvoir Park Forest (10-minute drive)
The Belvoir Park Forest spreads over 75 hectares alongside the River Lagan, and you can enter via Shaw’s Bridge or the Lockkeeper’s cottage as well as the official entrance from the car park. You can see the remains of a Norman motte (a raised earth mound on which a tower would be built for defense) and the site of an ancient village.
4. Food in the city
Belfast is home to some fine places to eat. You’ll discover everything from great places for brunch in Belfast to excellent vegan restaurants and spots for bottomless brunch. There’s also some great places for coffee in Belfast, too. And, yes, there’s an endless number of lively pubs in Belfast!
FAQs about visiting Ormeau Park
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the opening hours for Ormeau Park to where to park.
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.
Can you park in Ormeau Park?
You can’t park in the park itself, but there’s plenty of parking nearby at the recreation centre off Ormeau Embankment.
How big is Ormeau Park?
The park is a sizable 100 acres in total and it’s a fine spot for a stroll.
When did Ormeau Park open?
The park opened to the public in 1871, making it the oldest park in Belfast.
Norah is a writer and self-publisher of fiction and non-fiction. She adores the excitement of unknown places and together with several locations in Ireland, has, over 21 years, made her home in London, The Hague and New Zealand, returning to Ireland with her Kiwi rescue dog Barney, in tow.