Captivating tourists with the charm of Victorian architecture, Belfast is a re-discovered mass tourism destination. It has recently managed to put its tragic history behind it, showing the tourists a new face. Today, Belfast is all about stylish hotels, wild partying and great cuisine. The city changes for the better every day, with new venues being opened and locals trying hard to get their tourism on track. Be it art, food scene or entertainment, everything seems to be changing for the better. From the iconic Titanic Belfast, all the way through the charming Cathedral Quarter, to the vibrant nightlife of in many pubs, clubs, and bars of Belfast, it is guaranteed that your city break to Belfast will be a highly cherished memory. Yet, what entranced us the most in Belfast, is how welcoming the locals are – you can feel their appreciation of you visiting their city at every step, which ensures that everyone feels at home in Belfast.
Top 10 Things to See and Do in Belfast
This unique museum of the Titanic allows you to immerse yourself in the history of the tragic cruise, which had its beginnings in the city of Belfast. There are plenty of reconstructions and special effects, showcasing the construction of the Titanic and its maiden voyage which ended with a catastrophic result.
National Football Stadium
A trip to the National Football Stadium, which is quite freshly developed, will allow you to see some of the Northern Ireland’s most famous football histories. As in most of the United Kingdom, Belfast is also home to a vast number of football fans and has a considerable amount of history dedicated to this sport.
This attraction gives you the chance to see an authentic First World War battle cruiser for yourself. Explore the ship on your own or with a well-educated guide who will tell you the history of the battleship. The ship also has a cafeteria and a canteen on board, where you can eat a meal afterward.
Northern Ireland Highlights Day Trip
Taking a better part of the day, this trip will show you many of the wonders of Northern Ireland, including Giant’s Causeway, Belfast Falls, and Shankill neighbourhood. You will be able to sign the Peace Wall for yourself, walk the unique rope bridge of Carrick-a-Rede – all with organised transport and a guide.
2-hour tour of Downpatrick
The medieval city of Downpatrick is located only thirty-five minutes from the centre of Belfast and holds a permanent exhibition on Ireland's world-known patron – Saint Patrick. The guided tour includes all of the admission fees and entrances to Saint Patrick's Grave, the Cathedral of Down, and the High Cross galleries.
Game of Thrones Tour
This comprehensive tour allows you to see for yourself the filming locations of the award-winning TV series Game of Thrones. A guide will take you to each place, revealing some behind-the-scenes facts, and let you compare the real-life history of the locations to their vivid representation in the series.
Guided Tour of Crumlin Road Gaol
This one-hour-long tour of the Crumlin Road Gaol showcases Belfast’s most notorious prison and provides a lesson on its criminal history. You will not only visit the reception buildings, where new prisoners were held, but also take a trip to the jail itself, where you can see all of its wings from a high point.
Belfast City Church Tour
There are plenty of beautiful churches in Belfast, and what better way to see them all than an organised tour. This walking tour will take you along the most well-renowned churches of Belfast, starting from Saint Malachy’s Church on Alfred Street and finishing at Saint Anne’s Cathedral in the Cathedral Quarter.
Belfast Mural Tour
Travel in a local group across the streets of Belfast while marvelling at its unique form of street art. The graffitis showcase different political and social problems of Northern Ireland and are a way of expression for the locals. See murals painted by both Nationalists and Loyalists and observe their struggle for dominance.
Kildare Village Shopping Trip
This day trip starts in Belfast and will take you to the picturesque village of Kildare, where you can shop around its chic outlet. The trip includes transportation on an air-conditioned bus and provides a range of discounts at high-end brands in Kildare, such as Gucci, Hugo Boss, Coach, and DKNY.
Other Things to See and Do
Stormont Parliament Buildings
Every day of the week you can take a free tour of the Parliament Buildings, just as is the case with the City Hall. Visit the home to the Northern Ireland Assembly, which is the main legislative body for Northern Ireland, and see the gorgeous buildings as well as the green surroundings with numerous flower displays.
The Belfast Castle spans for over a hundred and twenty meters above sea level and provides an unobstructed view of the cityscape of Belfast. The castle was built in the late 12th century by the Normans but was burned down in 1708. After that, it was redesigned and rebuilt from scratch between 1811 and 1870.
Cavehill Country Park
This marvellous park is located around the Belfast Castle and is a must-see when you’re there. Not only does the park provide a lot of green space for you to wander around and relax, but it also hosts some exceptional landmarks. You can also try to find the nine cats hidden in the garden, which is a fun pastime activity.
Divis and Black Mountain
If you're into hiking, this four-mile long trail spanning between Divis and Black Mountain is not only a tough exercise, but it also provides an extensive view of the city and its surroundings. Divis was closed off to the general public for quite some time but is now fully open for both locals and foreign visitors.
Linen Hall Library
Visit the oldest public library in Belfast, which is over two hundred years old. It has one of the largest collections of Robert Burns' literature outside of Scotland, and it also features the earliest books printed in Northern Ireland. It is also the last subscribing library in Northern Ireland and provides a number of annual events.
Established in 1828, the Botanic Gardens showcase a wide variety of local and foreign flowers and plants. The Botanic Gardens were built due to public's interest in horticulture, and now contain exotic tree species, as well as plenty of specimens from the southern hemisphere, especially in the Palm House.
Once a private estate, the Barnett Demesne park was opened to the public in 1951 and retains much of the original state. Barnett Demesne is located in the centre of Belfast, next to the Malone House, and features an arboretum, an extensive eco-trail, a daffodil garden, and even a playground for kids to spend time.
This unusual park recreates the characters from Axel Sheffler’s book – Gruffalo. Each of the characters is gorgeously sculpted by Andrew McIntyre, with all of the recreations set against the backdrop of a lush forest. The park not only features the characters themselves but also sculpted trees and rocks.
Golden Thread Gallery
If you’re into contemporary art, make sure to visit this leading art gallery, which actively commits to enhancing its already huge collection. The open space of the gallery is welcome for everyone to come in, and features rotating exhibitions, so each time you visit it you are sure to see something completely new.
This Georgian-style mansion, which is located a short walk from the city centre of Belfast, is open to the public and offers a variety of walking tours around its premises. You can even come here after a hard day of sightseeing, as the House is surrounded by a majestic parkland, where you can have a picnic with your family.
The Naughton Gallery
This gallery, located inside of the Queen’s University on the first floor of the Lanyon Building, showcases some of Northern Ireland’s best visual arts. The Naughton Gallery has an extensive schedule of rotating contemporary exhibitions and presents a range of work from artists such as Robert Crumb and Adham Faramawy.
While the name of this attraction might seem counterintuitive, it does not have anything to do with space travel. The Space Craft is Belfast’s most renowned place for sale and promotion of locally made craft and art. Take a stroll across the Space Craft, where you can get your own original jewellery and clothes.
The Metropolitan Arts Centre in Belfast is the biggest cultural hub in the city. It was opened in 2012 and is open all year for visitors and locals alike. The MAC features a permanent exhibit of a gorgeous sculpture made by an Irish artist Mark Garry, which consists of four hundred metal wires.
CS Lewis Square
If you have read the Chronicles of Narnia when you were a kid, make sure to pay a visit to the CS Lewis Square in Belfast. It features seven bronze sculptures of the characters from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, including Aslan, The White Witch, Mr Tumnus, The Beavers, The Stone Table and The Robin.
North Down Museum
Located in the city of Bangor, which lies very close to Belfast, you will find this fascinating museum, which is both the most visited museum of Northern Ireland, as well as one of the smaller ones. It is located at the nature trail of Castle Park and hosts a range of displays on the lives of monks in early Christian Ireland.
Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum
This tourist attraction is located in Lisburn, which is quite far from Belfast itself but is still worth seeing. The museum is set in the oldest building of Lisburn, a 17th century Market House, and hosts a display on the history of the Irish linen industry, where you can admire the skills of famous craftsmen and see daily demonstrations of sewing.
The Ulster Way
If a tranquil walk in the afternoon is what you’re after, make sure to visit the Ulster Way walking trail, created by Wilfrid Capper in 1946. The walking trail spans across an astonishing six hundred and twenty-five miles and showcases some of the best scenery in all of Northern Ireland along its path.
Helen’s Bay Beach
There is no better way to spend time on a sunny day than to have a picnic around some gorgeous landscape. Pack a rug and a picnic basket and take a walk to the Helen's Bay Beach, which is rarely crowded. Look out for Grey Point Fort, located along the coast, which is a coastal defense battery worth seeing.
Oh Yeah Music Centre
If the name alone is not enough to interest you to visit this music centre, the legacy of the biggest music stars of Northern Ireland sure will be. The Oh Yeah Music Centre hosts a large collection of exhibits and historical information on stars such as Snow Patrol, Van Morrison and Them, The Undertones and Gary Moore.
Take a walk along the restored slipways where Titanic had its first contact with water. The slipways feature a large number of different exhibitions and displays, all revolving around the maiden journey of Titanic. It holds a life-size replica of the Promenade Deck, inlaid in white stone, which is a marvel to look at.