In 1934 this spectacularly baronial castle, built for the Marquis of Donegall in 1865, was passed to the Belfast Corporation. Although the castle functions primarily as a restaurant, it also houses, in the cellar, the Cave Hill Visitor Centre, which provides information about the castle's history and its natural surroundings in Cave Hill Country Park. Tours are self-guided and take in the reception rooms built by the Earls of Shaftesbury. For a fine introduction to the
castle and its park, check out the excellent eight-minute video "Watching over Belfast." In fact, the best reason to visit the castle is to take a stroll in its ornamental gardens and then make the ascent to McArt's Fort. This promontory, at the top of sheer cliffs 1,200 feet above the city, affords an excellent view across Belfast. Take the path uphill from the parking lot, turn right at the next intersection of pathways, and then keep left as you journey up the steep-in-places hill to the fort. After your walk, the Tavern Bar is a great place for drinks, snacks, and meals.
Antrim Rd., 4 km (2½ miles) north of Belfast, Belfast, BT15 5GR, Northern Ireland