Belfast Telegraph

Seven Wonders of Northern Ireland: A city surrounded by stunning views

Our series on what makes the province so special continues with a paean to Belfast with Ian McElhinney, renowned actor

The location of Belfast, bordered by lush green hills and the waters of the lough, is something that never fails to delight actor Ian McElhinney

For me, the scenic geography of Belfast is what makes it unique. With people throwing bombs and the city’s dereliction over the past 30 years, it has been easy to ignore the city’s setting.

Yet there is not another major city in the whole of these islands to match it.

We have the beautiful lough shore on both sides leading to the Donaghadee lighthouse in one direction and Carrickfergus on the other, and the whole city is surrounded by hills.

Belfast has good transport links, shops, clubs, restaurants and theatres.

Yet within 15 to 20 minutes, there is beautiful countryside — you can hit the Glens along the wonderful coast road, or head towards the Ards peninsula.

There are also half-a-dozen stately homes, such as Castle Ward, within easy reach.

When I walk the dog, I have a choice of two parks near where I live, Ormeau Park and the Ulidia playing fields. There’s also Belvoir Park, one of the most beautiful urban parklands in the UK or Ireland.

My favourite road into Belfast takes in Lambeg Church where my father was a minister, then leads you down a winding, leafy road across the bridge towards Drumbeg Lychgate Church, then past Malone Park and Lady Dixon’s into Belfast. It is stunning and remains my preferred route.

Ian McElhinney is one of Northern Ireland’s best known stage and TV actors with many credits including Hornblower. He is currently appearing in Singlehanded (ITV). He lives in Belfast.

How you can shape the Seven Wonders

So what do you, the reader, think makes Northern Ireland special?

As our series runs every day over the next month we invite readers to vote on which landmark or aspect of life here as detailed by our celebrity contributors that they most agree with.

At the conclusion of the series this will enable us to draw up a list of the Seven Wonders of Northern Ireland — the things that really make Northern Ireland great.

Your choices can be sent to Belfast Telegraph, 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB or alternatively send an email to

Belfast Telegraph


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