Located in Northern Ireland, Belfast is currently a booming tourist destination. So we’ve taken the time to develop the best things to do in Belfast Ireland, more accurately, Northern Ireland. Most would agree that this is a welcomed development. Previously, the entire country was plagued with violence and conflicts within its borders – known as The Troubles.
That’s what you’ll hear some locals and tour guides talk about now and then.
Protestant. Catholic. Peace. War. Separate. Unite.
A story told in part by the many murals and works of graffiti art found around the city. Belfast reminds me of Berlin as a city with a troubled past that is on the path of rebuilding. A place where the only people that visited were journalists.
Today, the country has found peace, and its beauty has shone through. When it comes to things to do, Belfast has plenty to offer. Let’s dive into this guide for the ultimate vacation in the Northern Irish city.
With cranes in the sky as a sign of growth and TV series like HBO’s Game of Thrones filming about 80% of its scenes in Northern Ireland, people are now visiting for the right reasons!
What To Do In Belfast
If the goal is to visit all of the main tourist attractions in Belfast, Ireland, this list will help you along.
Grand Opera House
First opened in 1895, this is a truly historic landmark in Belfast. Guided tours are offered here if you book in advance and provide information about the theatre and its history. Or book a seat at one of the many musicals, concerts, or comedic performances that take place here.
Belfast City Hall
Guarded by a statue of Queen Victoria, this Beautiful copper-domed building was built to symbolize Belfast’s new city status in 1906. The City Hall is open to the public seven days a week, and 45-minute tours are offered throughout the day.
St. George Market
This is no ordinary market. Located in East Bridge St, this is one of the oldest and best markets in Belfast – perhaps even the whole of Northern Ireland. The market is open Friday to Sunday and offers stalls with local produce, gifts, and delicious ready-made food.
Home to the Victoria Square Dome and the Odeon cinema, this is an absolute must-visit in Belfast. There are plenty of brilliant restaurants and shops to discover here. It’s a great place to spend a few hours and really feel modern Belfast’s energy.
Crumlin Road Gaol
Once a prison that held 500+ prisoners – before and during The Troubles – this is now a major tourist attraction in Belfast. To see the old prison, you have to pre-book a guided tour which will provide a look around the chambers, cells, and underground tunnel leading to the old courthouse.
Saint Anne’s Cathedral
If you’re after a deeper look into Belfast’s history, this ±100-year-old cathedral is the place to go. Not only does it boast stunning features, and decades of history in its walls, but it’s also home to the tomb of Lord Carson of Duncairn.
There is a small charge to enter the cathedral, which you can do around service times.
Titanic Quarter and Titanic Museum
One of the most popular places to visit in Belfast, this is the birthplace of the Titanic – yes, the very same ship that sank in 1912. The cruise ship was built here before setting sail and the museum shows this history, the people who were involved in construction, and the actual tragic voyage.
There is plenty else to see in the Quarter, which spans 185 acres. Including Titanic Studios (for GoT TV show fans) and the Dock Market.
Ulster Museum & Botanic Gardens
This museum is home to some of Belfast’s most impressive art, history, and natural science exhibitions. It is located inside the Botanic Gardens, and both are completely free to enter and explore. The gardens are, of course, gorgeous and filled with plant and exotic tree species.
Queen’s University & Naughton Gallery
Prestigious in its educational offerings, and striking in its architectural beauty, Queen’s University is one of Belfast’s most splendid attractions. It’s a great place to visit and admire the Gothic building and gardens, or book a tour and enjoy more insights into how this university was born and built.
The gallery is located inside the Lanyon Building on campus and is home to diverse and excellent visual arts exhibitions.
Belfast Tourist Attractions to See
There are a number of spots throughout the city that can only really be appreciated when seen with your own eyes.
Here are some of the top things to see in Belfast:
- The Big Fish, The Salmon of Knowledge – Found in Donegall Quay.
- Albert Memorial Clock – 17 Queens Square.
- The Courtyard Murals Square – 7-11 Commercial Ct.
- Peace Wall Belfast – 15 Cupar Way.
- SS Nomadic – Titanic Quarter.
Best Belfast Places to Visit for Food & Drink
Whether you’re in need of a full meal, a sundowner drink, or just a boost of caffeine, here are my top choices in Belfast:
- Established Coffee – For some of the best java in the city, perfect to start the day.
- Maggie Mays Belfast Cafe – A family-run chain of cafes that offer anything and everything. Stop in at any mealtime, or just a milkshake and sweet treat along the way.
- The Dock Cafe – Choose what you pay here, with an honesty box instead of a menu and prices. You can get hot soup, scones, coffee, and tea – as well as free Wi-Fi and friendly service.
- Gin Tasting Tour of Belfast – There are several distilleries making their own gin in Belfast. If this is up your alley, book a tour to discover them all.
- Dinner at Kelly’s Cellars – Very much a traditional Irish bar, you can fill up on Irish stew and Guinness pints among the laughter of locals and travellers alike.
- Duke of York – This old-timey whiskey bar offers a traditional Belfast atmosphere and live music to enjoy.
- Manny’s Traditional Fish & Chips
Where to Stay in Belfast
Finding a comfy, clean, and convenient accommodation in the city is not that hard, but here are a few places I’d recommend you check out first:
- Jurys Inn Belfast – Convenient location in the city centre, comfy beds, and a choice of room types are all on offer here.
- Hampton by Hilton Belfast City Centre – Enjoy a friendly atmosphere and modern design, along with a cozy room and many dining options at this hotel right in the heart of Belfast.
- Peartree Hill – A short drive from the bustling city centre, this is pure luxury in the countryside offering homely meals and disability-accessible room options.
Summary: Belfast Things To Do
There is no doubt that Irish shores are some of the most gorgeous. Steeped in natural beauty, deep history, and fascinating culture, Ireland calls to many.
But while cities like Dublin and Galway get a lot of tourist attention, you’d be wise to set your sights on Belfast. This city has so much to offer and you’d be surprised at just how magnificent Belfast attractions are.