Belfast – Top things to see and do

Belfast is the vibrant capital of Northern Ireland and the perfect destination for a city break with a host of attractions to keep the entire family happy.

Getting there:

George Best Belfast City Airport
George Best Belfast City Airport

By air: Aer-Lingus, British Airways, KLM, Eastern Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, Jet2 and Wizz Air all operate flights into either George Best City or Belfast International Airport.

By sea: there are regular crossings from both Scotland and England on super fast ferries with journey times from just one hour.  Stena Line (Liverpool and Cairnryan), P&O Irish Sea (travelling from Cairnryan) and Isle of Man Steam Packet Company from the Isle of Man.

Attractions:

Belfast City Hall – a majestic building dominating Donegall Square in the city centre.  Take a one hour free guided tour (when available) and marvel at its beauty.  Located in the grounds is the Titanic Memorial Garden, a quiet area of reflection and a monument to all those who lost their lives on RMS Titanic in April 1912.  Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall

Titanic Belfast – Its nine galleries tell the story of the historic shipyard from boomtown Belfast at the time of the ship’s construction at the beginning of the 20th century to Titanic’s fateful maiden journey.  Take a ride on an indoor cable car with a fascinating journey through the sights, sounds and smells of the Belfast shipyard.  Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast
Titanic Belfast

Belfast Cathedral – also known as the Cathedral Church of St. Anne.  It has been a place of worship in the heart of the city for more than a century.  Step indoors, admire its exquisite baptistry and gaze up through a glass platform to view the Spire of Hope. Belfast Cathedral

St. Anne's Cathedral, Belfast
St. Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast

Crumlin Road Gaol Experience – take a tour of the historic gaol which functioned between 1845 and 1996.  View the gruesome Hanging Cell where a total of 17 executions took place, the last of which was in 1961. Crumlin Road Gaol Experience

Crumlin Road Gaol Experience
Crumlin Road Gaol Experience

Ulster Museum – head over to the Queen’s Quarter to learn about the nation’s history.  Delve into the museum’s impressive Irish collection and come face to face with dinosaurs and an Egyptian mummy. Ulster Museum

Ulster Museum, Belfast
Ulster Museum, Belfast

Botanic Gardens – located just across the road from the Ulster Museum and centred around an exquisite Victorian Palm House.  Don’t miss the Tropical Ravine consisting of a plant filled glen of ferns, flowering vines, bananas, orchids and cinnamon.  Belfast Botanic Gardens

The Palm House, Belfast Botanic Gardens
The Palm House, Belfast Botanic Gardens

Queen’s University – founded by Queen Victoria in 1845.  Take a stroll around the campus and admire its stunning architecture and magnificent quadrangle reminiscent of the great medieval universities.  Queen’s University Belfast

Queen's University, Belfast
Queen’s University, Belfast

The Peace Walls – take a Black Cab tour or simply walk along the Falls and Shankill Roads to view the political murals which portray their own graphic story of Northern Ireland’s troubled history. Touring Around Belfast

Belfast Peace Walls
Belfast Peace Walls

Ulster Transport Museum – located a short train ride away in Cultra and located with the Ulster Folk Museum (below).  View the largest railway collection in Ireland plus many historic trams, buses and cars.  Ulster Transport Museum

The Ulster Transport Museum
The Ulster Transport Museum

Ulster Folk Museum – a short walk from the Transport Museum lies the wonderful folk museum where visitors can step back in time to watch artisans at work.  Visit the village church, shops, post office and farms which have been brought to the museum from other parts of Ireland and painstakingly rebuilt brick by brick.  Ulster Folk Museum

Ulster Folk Museum, Belfast
Ulster Folk Museum, Belfast 

Stormont Estate – view the Parliament buildings which are home to the Northern Ireland assembly.  The estate is approached by a grand avenue of lime trees and is certainly worth a visit.  Stormont Estate

The Stormont parliament building, Belfast
The Stormont parliament building, Belfast

Further afield:

The Giant’s Causeway and Game of Thrones Tour – take a full day coach tour through the nine glens of Antrim along the coastal road.  Explore the natural phenomenon of the 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns and get to see several of the Game of Thrones filming locations including ‘The Dark Hedges’.

The Giant's Causeway, Belfast
The Giant’s Causeway, Belfast

Shopping

For a dose of retail therapy head to the opulent Victorian Queen’s Arcade and the nearby Victoria Square, Belfast’s premier shopping centre and home to numerous designer and luxury brands.  The award winning St. George’s Market on West Bridge Street is open at weekends with many stalls serving locals and tourists alike.  The red brick Victorian market building dates back to the 1890’s.  and offers everything’s from freshly caught fish to handicrafts and Irish whiskey.

Victoria Square, Belfast
Victoria Square, Belfast

Where to eat:

The Crown Liquor Saloon – the only pub to be owned by the National Trust and a marvellous example of the Victorian era.  Dine in an individual snug with its own private door and a bell to ring for service.  Crown Liquor Saloon

The Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast
The Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast

The Dark Horse – a Belfast institution with an array of antique furnishings and historic artefacts adorning its walls.  Sit at a copper polished table and enjoy a delicious lunch whilst soaking up the atmosphere.  Before leaving, don’t forget to take a look in its rear courtyard where you will find some incredible wall murals and pub memorabilia. The Dark Horse

The Dark Horse, Belfast
The Dark Horse Belfast

Shed Bistro – featuring an open kitchen, it’s casual dining at its best in a relaxed atmosphere.  A great little neighbourhood restaurant and a worthy winner of ‘Bistro of the Year’ in both Belfast and Northern Ireland categories 2019. Shed Bistro

The Shed Bistro, Belfast
The Shed Bistro, Belfast

The Barking Dog – located along the leafy Malone Road in the Queen’s Quarter.  Enjoy lunch or a candlelit dinner in this fine dining restaurant.  Their signature fish pie is to die for!  The Barking Dog

The Barking Dog, Belfast
The Barking Dog, Belfast

Drawing Office Two – located in the historic Titanic Hotel and the former headquarters of the Harland & Wolff Shipbuilders.  Enjoy lunch in the same room where many of the world’s most famous liners were designed.  Convivial atmosphere and beautifully presented dishes. Drawing Office Two

Drawing Room Two, Titanic Hotel, Belfast
Drawing Room Two, Titanic Hotel, Belfast

 

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If you use Pinterest please consider sharing and pinning the image below:

Belfast Travel Guide

 

56 thoughts on “Belfast – Top things to see and do

  1. Pingback: Belfast – Top things to see and do – Hifi Maddy

  2. So much to see and do in Belfast and the North. So much more than just the Troubles. Next time we come, will have to visit, as it is so close to where our Irish relatives live. We did see the Giant’s Causeway and the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede and also drove through the Glens. Very pretty countryside. Thanks for sharing Marion. Stay well. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Belfast is absolutely one of our favorite cities! There is so much to see! We took a “black cab” tour and learned so very much about the troubles. After reading your post and recalling how much we loved the city, I can’t wait to return!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Jane for taking an interest in my post on Belfast. It’s great to hear that it’s one of your favourite cities too and that you also took a Black Cab tour. Let’s hope we can all get back there before too long! Hope you have a good weekend. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Belfast is an amazing city to explore and I can’t wait to go back. I was just reading that several companies offer tours to the Titanic wreckage using advanced submersibles, and it costs around 90 thousand pounds! I’d rather go to the Titanic in Belfast, although, I’ve been there twice already, I wouldn’t mind exploring it once more as I love how the museum focuses more on the City of Belfast, the building of the Titanic, and the affiliation between the two. Thanks for sharing and have a nice evening, Marion! Aiva 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How interesting to learn about tours to the Titanic wreckage Aiva but at £90,000 I think I’ll give it a miss and revisit the Belfast museum instead. I’m hoping to get back to Northern Ireland this year as there’s so much more I’d like to see. Thanks so much for your welcome thoughts and I hope you have a lovely weekend. Marion xx

      Liked by 2 people

  5. This post couldn’t have appeared at a better time, Marion! My husband is due to play in a hockey tournament at the end of August, in Belfast, and I am very hopeful that I will be able to accompany him and visit this beautiful city. Assuming all goes to plan, I will be using your Belfast posts to enable me to be a more informed traveller while we are there. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I drove through Belfast when I was in Northern Ireland, but we didn’t really stop anywhere which was so heartbreaking to me. Ever since I’ve been longing to go back and see this beautiful city. Your wonderful guide and other posts about Belfast are the next greatest thing to being there! -Meg

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Being from Belfast it’s lovely to see people showcasing it for what it really is, an amazing city, full of history and culture. A couple of restaurants there that I haven’t been to yet and must try when I return there. Thanks for that 🤗

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Wow, I can now see why you’ve said at the beginning of your post there is something for every family member to see in Belfast! I would love to stroll through the Titanic building and definitely the Transport Museum … oh yes, and all those pubs and beautiful eateries!
    Definitely not the way the media is portraying this beautiful city and worth a visit – thanks Marion.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Belfast doesn’t get all the credit It deserves as it’s a wonderful city with some beautiful buildings, friendly and welcoming locals and lots of nice places to eat and drink. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post and for your welcome thoughts. Marion

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, Belfast’s Palm House does rather look like the one in Liverpool’s Sefton Park and is such a beautiful example of Victorian architecture. Belfast is a splendid city to visit with fine buildings, good selection of museums coupled with lots of excellent places to eat and drink. Hope you manage to get over there one day Leighton! Have a good weekend, Marion.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. This has given me a whole new appreciation for Belfast as a city. Media reports usually center around conflict and one gets the impression of disorder and chaos. What you have presented shows a place of culture well worth the visit. Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

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