Whether you seek the silence of stark green hills or flowery Victorian ornamentation at its finest, Ireland’s parks are a sight to behold. Here are nine of our favourites to explore.
1. Phoenix Park, Dublin
Dating back to 1662, Phoenix Park has long been home to some of Dublin and Ireland’s proudest sights. Wild fallow deer roam the 1,750 acres of one of Europe’s largest walled city parks, while Dublin Zoo, Ashtown Castle, Farmleigh House and Áras an Uachtaráin (the president’s residence) are some stand-out stops on any cycle around this magnificent park.
2. Castlewellan Forest Park, Down
For such a place of stillness, Castlewellan Forest Park is an outdoor activity addict’s dream. The mile-long lap of Castewellan Lake is enough to soothe the liveliest mind – and if not, the hedged Peace Maze (one of the world’s largest) will certainly keep you busy. Cycle or ramble to the summit of Slievenaslat to be rewarded with panoramic views of the Mourne Mountains.
3. St Stephen’s Green, Dublin
Via Sinead McCarthy
There’s something special about a pocket of green in the hub of a bustling city. St Stephen’s Green sits snugly in the centre of Dublin, a hop-and-skip away from the main thoroughfare of Grafton Street and numerous landmarks. Adorned with bandstand, duck-filled lake, WB Yeats garden and numerous statues and busts, this is Dublin in beautiful, bite-sized glory.
4. Botanic Gardens, Belfast
As you stroll through these gardens, doff your cap to Sir Charles Lanyon, the architect behind the stunningly ornate Victorian Palm House. Ballooning into the Belfast sky, this cast-iron masterpiece houses a range of tropical plants, birds of paradise and hanging baskets. These lovely gardens are also famous for the Tropical Ravine and its luscious trove of cinnamon and banana trees.