Belfast Castle, Co Antrim, Belfast, Ireland

Getty Images/Perspectives

Belfast Castle


Built in 1870 for the third Marquess of Donegall, in the Scottish Baronial style made fashionable by Queen Victoria's Balmoral, multiturreted Belfast Castle commands the southeastern slopes of Cave Hill. It was presented to the City of Belfast in 1934 and is now used mostly for weddings and other functions. Downstairs there's a small exhibition on the folklore and history of the park and the Cellar Restaurant; most of the castle is closed to the public.

Legend has it that the castle's residents will experience good fortune only as long as a white cat lives there, a tale commemorated in the beautiful formal gardens by nine portrayals of cats in mosaic, painting, sculpture and topiary – a good game for kids is getting them to find all nine.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Belfast attractions

1. Cave Hill Country Park

0.37 MILES

The view from the summit of Cave Hill (368m) takes in the whole sprawl of the city, the docks, Belfast Lough and the Mourne Mountains – on a clear day you…

2. Belfast Zoo

0.92 MILES

Home to 120 species, Belfast Zoo has spacious enclosures set on an attractive, sloping site; the sea lion and penguin pool with its underwater viewing is…

3. Crumlin Road Gaol

2.32 MILES

Guided tours of Belfast's notorious Crumlin Road Gaol take you from the tunnel beneath Crumlin Rd, built in 1850 to convey prisoners from the courthouse…

4. Clifton House

2.53 MILES

Belfast's finest surviving Georgian building is Clifton House, built in 1774 by Robert Joy (Henry Joy McCracken’s uncle) as a poorhouse. It is now used as…

5. Titanic's Dock & Pump House

2.54 MILES

At the far end of Queen's Rd is an impressive monument to the days of the great liners – the vast Thompson Dry Dock where the Titanic was fitted out.

6. Great Light

2.54 MILES

This light is one of the largest optics of its kind. It was used in Tory Island lighthouse from 1887 to 1924 and then on Mew Island until 2014. It is…

7. HMS Caroline

2.57 MILES

The UK's last surviving WWI Royal Navy cruiser has been converted into a floating museum, docked in Titanic Quarter. Audio tours take in the captain's…

8. Titanic Studios

2.66 MILES

Just northeast of Titanic Belfast you'll see the huge paint hall where ship component parts were painted in a climate-controlled environment. Today it's…