The Belfast Botanic Gardens is among the most colorful and lively sites in the city. The River Lagan runs through the eastern side of this large park, which also contains a museum and a sports complex. Marvel at the tropical specimens you might not expect to find in the cool climate of Northern Ireland.
Spend a sunny afternoon exploring the 28 acres (11 hectares) of picturesque terrain that stretches from Queen’s University Belfast on its northern frontier to the Lyric Theater at its southern base. Enter Palm House to see exotic vegetation and hanging baskets. Learn about the intriguing building design, as it was among the first glasshouses of its kind in the early 19th century.
Visit the Tropical Ravine to see banana, cinnamon and orchid plants. Learn about how advances in technology enabled the cultivation of these exotic species. Flowering vines and tree ferns decorate the greenhouse. View the tropical flowers from one of the balconies. Spot the highlight of the show, the dombeya, a pink flower that blossoms in February.
Be sure to visit the rose garden, the alpine garden and the sections for sculptures and mature trees. The park is particularly popular among vacationers and students from the neighboring university. Attend one of the concerts and festivals that take place here frequently.
Near the northern entrance is the Ulster Museum, which is one of the largest in the country. Enter the complex for its vast collections of art, archeology, botany and many other themes.
The gardens first opened privately in 1828, before members of the public were finally welcomed in 1895. Arrive at the park any day between morning and evening, when visiting hours end. Closing time is a little earlier in winter. Admission is free.
Walk south of the center of Belfast for about 30 minutes to reach the Belfast Botanic Gardens. The site lies less than 2 miles (3 kilometers) south of the Belfast Waterfront. It is near the Crescent Arts Centre, Ormeau Park and the City Hospital. Ride the city’s railway system to Botanic Station beside the gardens.