A quick trip from the city centre will take you to the Cregagh Estate, an area not renowned for much. However here you will find the Home of George Best, the greatest footballer in the worl ever. There is a mural in dedication to George and gives you a chance to experience the rel side to Belfast in a local area. If you do make the trip head to the Rossetta Bar on the South of the estate, here youl see any football match thats on , you can play pool and foods bigger and cheaper then the city centre.
Why not take a trip around east belfast? The cregagh road, newtownards road and belmont road are all littered with shops restaurants and of course, bars and clubs! Get the 6A metro bus from the city centre to reach the cregagh.
Belfast has a great cycle path which runs from Lisburn through the city centre and along the South East coast of Antrim for around 20 miles. The network was voted the best urban cycle path in the United Kingdom in 2006. Should you not have your own bike then hire one at Hazelbank park, some 4 miles along the north foreshore.
Join the cycle path in Belfast City Centre at the Queen Elizabeth bridge which crosses the Lagan near Musgrave Street. Proceed in an easterly direction past the Seacat terminal through Clarendon dock. Have a look at the dry dock and enjoy views across the lagan towards the Odyssey and the Titanic quarter. Have a pint (of water) in Pat's bar and then head along Duncrue Street / Dargan Crescent. This will take you to the North Shore cycle path. Bring your camera for some great shots of the local bird life and Cavehill. Continue along the picturesque path until you come to Whiteabbey and onwards to Jordanstown University.
For the more adventurous travel another 4 miles to Carrickfergus and its castle. Some 5 miles past this you can continue to Whitehead. There is a magnificent coastal path here which you should really experience.
This park is just outside Bangor on the south side of Belfast Lough. There are some great walks around the park or you could take the coastal path back to Bangor. There is ample car parking and several picnic areas that are popular at weekends with most folk bringing their own BBQ. There is a cafe and visitors centre with toilet facilities. I used to enjoy heading here with a good book to relax and enjoy the view across the sea to Scotland.
On a slightly more serious note Belvoir (Pronounced 'Beaver') Forest is one of Belfast?s best kept secret. Just 6 km from the City Centre Belvoir Park forest is a working forest within a city. It is ideally placed to offer city dwellers and those from further a field a vibrant forest teaming with wildlife and many fine tree specimens within easy reach of Belfast's outer ring. It covers 94 hectares and runs along the south bank of the River Lagan.
There are a number of historic sites to be found within the forest, for example the Norman motte dates back to the 12th century and the ruined graveyard was recorded in 14th century documents. The estate itself was enclosed by the Hill's, a plantation family, around the 1740's. They built a house where the car park is now and the existing buildings, which date from the same era, were farm buildings belonging to the estate. The Ice House, built into the side of the motte also dates from this time.
All in all a great way to spend an afternoon, especially if you are blessed with a glint of sunshine.
Officially the last wolf in Ireland was shot in 1786. Rumors still abound however. Visit the part at dusk, close your eyes, strain your ears and sometimes in the distance...
Strange but true.
The north Antrim coast has some of the best beaches in Europe, with a total of 6 having Blue Flag status.
Here our intrepid explorer Maaaarii is found braving the elements on Portstewart strand. One of our finest examples. She assures me that the woman swimming is from Latvia. Apparently they are even more insane than Estonians :-)
You may also notice that Maaaari had to change after the unfortunate incident at the Bushmills Distillery
Due to the booming safari trade in the early 1970’s most of the indigenous and more exotic wild life has become extinct, due to over hunting. Lions, tigers, zebras and wildebeest have all but vanished. On vary rare occasions you can still catch a glimpse something special.
It is however fairly certain that you will see quite a bit of ‘the big four.’ Sheep, cows, rabbits and giraffes. Rabbits however are becoming less common.
The highest mountains in Northern Ireland are the Mournes. Situated about 70km from Belfast they are well worth a visit and provide an excellent day out for a gentle walk or some serious climbing for the more adventurous.
Slieve (Irish for mountain) Donard is the highest peak. At just under 3000 feet it is smaller than Everest, so oxygen is seldom required. However yaks and sherpas are available for hire in the general area. Be sure to establish a price before setting off on the trek and it is wise to check that you are actually being rented a yak, as opposed to a large dog disguised in a fur coat with horns sellotaped to it’s head. Caveat emptor, I believe is the expression. You have been warned…