Located in the town of Antrim in Northern Ireland, Antrim Castle Gardens is a historical gem and a great place for a walk when the sun is out.
Developed around Antrim Castle in the 17th-century, Antrim Castle Gardens is one of three Anglo-Dutch water gardens in Ireland and Britain.
While the castle itself was destroyed in a fire in 1922, the gardens remain largely intact and provide the perfect place to go for a relaxing stroll.
Having recently undergone a huge renovation programme to restore many of the features that date back to the 17th-century, visitors to Antrim Castle Gardens can today explore all the beauty they have to offer.
When to visit – beautiful on a sunny day
Open all year round, except for 1 January, 12 July, and 25-26 December, the gardens are a great place to get some fresh air any time of year. However, the beautiful gardens truly come to life with blooming flowers on a sunny day.
As an urban retreat in the town centre, Antrim Castle Gardens can become extremely busy on weekends and school holidays – especially if the sun is out. So be aware of this if you hope to avoid crowds.
The opening times vary depending on the day. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the gardens are open from 9:30 am to 5 pm, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 am to 5 pm.
What to see – historic features
Walking through the gardens, make sure to check out the many beautiful restored features, including the Large Parterre, Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden, and Yew Tree Pond.
At the heart of the gardens is the refurbished Clotworthy House, where you can check out the Garden Heritage Exhibition and learn about the garden’s history.
It is also worth checking out the impressive Oriel Gallery, which plays host to a number of exhibitions throughout the year.
Things to know – insider info
You can avail of free on-site parking at Antrim Castle Gardens. However, the car park can fill up quickly on particularly busy days.
There is a picnic area in the heart of the gardens, so you can bring a basket and relax with some great food in beautiful surroundings. Guided tours are also available if you wish to learn more about the gardens.
There are also toilets, baby-changing facilities, and a tea-room and café on site.
What to see nearby – what else is in the area
Take the Six Mile Water River Path from Antrim Castle Gardens that will bring you to Antrim Lough Shore, home to a playpark, jetty, and caravan park on the shores of Lough Neagh.
For a slice of history, check out the ruins of Shane’s Castle, which was destroyed by a fire in 1816. Built in 1345 by a member of the Clandeboy O’Neill dynasty, the ruins of Shane’s Castle have a fascinating history and have been used in the HBO series Game of Thrones.
If you fancy some shopping, head to Junction One, a discount shopping complex, which is home to stores such as Nike, Next, and Regatta, as well as an Omniplex Cinema and lots of cafés and restaurants.
Where to eat – delicious food
There is a café and tearoom in Antrim Castle Gardens, where you can grab a coffee and a quick bite to eat. However, if you fancy something more substantial, there are plenty of great options nearby.
The Boathouse on Antrim Lough Shore serves a range of tasty options, including pizza and fish and chips, as well as some great dessert options like ice cream and bubble waffles.
In Antrim town centre, check out Top of the Town bar and grill, which serves a range of delicious food, as well as tasty cocktails and a lively local atmosphere.
Where to stay – cosy accommodation
If you’re staying on a budget, check in to the nearby Holiday Inn Express at Junction One. The cosy hotel offers complimentary Wifi and breakfast, plus a casual restaurant and bar.
For a self-catering option, check out the Stable Court Apartments, a development of luxury serviced apartments and houses set in a private courtyard and just minutes from Antrim Town Centre.
For a luxurious stay, book into the Dunadry Hotel, a four-star hotel on the banks of the Six Mile River. The hotel is surrounded by beautiful gardens and fitted with luxurious health and leisure facilities, including a spa and fitness suite.