Belfast is the UK city you’re missing out on – it’s cheaper, safer and nearby to some of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful coastal attractions. The city itself has a fantastic range of attractions, eateries and exhibitions – check out our top 20 things to do in Belfast below.
Take a morning walk in the stunning greenery of Victoria Park, one of Belfast’s prominent park outlets. Running along the Lagan River, this park has its own leisure facilities and coffee kiosks – for the perfect nature-embracing traveler.
Victoria Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9065 3779
For a taste of tradition, visit Belfast’s “mini village” for a cold pint or first-class meal in one of the Cathedral Quarter‘s pubs and restaurants. The cobbled street walkway and outdoor seating make for a picturesque landscape –and perfect travel Instagram photos.
Cathedral Quarter, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
St. Anne’s Cathedral
The Cathedral Quarter is named after its majestic resident, St. Anne’s Cathedral. Consecrated in 1904, the cathedral boasts the eye-catching Spire of Hope, added in 2006. Inside are marvellous mosaics, striking sculptures, spectacular stained glass windows and the poignant Titanic Pall, as well as the shrine of Edward Carson, leader of the Unionist movement during the partition of Ireland.
St. Anne’s Cathedral, Donegall St, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9032 8332
Grand Opera House
Dinner-and-a-show travelers should be sure to put the Grand Opera House, Belfast’s beautiful theater venue, on their lists. Since 1895, this venue has held many dramas, musicals, and talented performances within in its Victorian-decorated walls and continues to sell out shows weekly. Check out the 2017 timetable here.
Grand Opera House, 2–4 Great Victoria St, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9024 1919
City Hall tours
City Hall marks the very heart and center of Belfast, and it’s worth a tour of the building and gallery. Around the exterior is a Titanic memorial site and Queen Victoria’s statue – a popular picnic spot in the summer.
Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic
Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic
The very pride and joy of Belfast is Europe’s Best Attraction of 2016: the Titanic Belfast. Inside, visitors will be treated to simulations of the exterior, a tour of the building grounds, and stories from the passengers on board. Be sure to check out the Titanic‘s tender ship, the SS Nomadic, on the way home.
Titanic Belfast, 1 Olympic Way, Queens Rd, Titanic Quarter, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9076 6386
Queen’s University and Naughton Gallery
Just next door to the Botanic Gardens, Queen’s University is a beautiful piece of architecture designed by Charles Lanyon, who accidentally mixed up the plans with a project in Galway – giving Belfast one of the most beautiful campuses in the UK. The Naughton Gallery, located in the Lanyon Building, houses some of the most exquisite art exhibitions anywhere in Northern Ireland.
Naughton Gallery at Queen’s, Queen’s University, University Rd, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9024 5133
Belfast Castle and Cave Hill
Hikers should take a trip up Cave Hill, a rugged mountain walk and believed inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, both for its five mysterious caves and its “Napoleon’s Nose” feature. On the way, visit Belfast Castle for a tour, an estate that housed Sir Arthur Chichester after the original Norman castle was burned down in 1708.
Belfast Castle and Cave Hill, Antrim Rd, Sandymount Green, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9077 6925
Cave Hill is also home to Northern Ireland’s zoological gardens, Belfast Zoo, which has some of the most exotic residents, from safari wildlife to a tropical bird sanctuary. Bring appropriate footwear – this zoo sits on the side of Cave Hill, so it’s an uphill walk to the top!
Belfast Zoo, Antrim Rd, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9077 6277
Divis Ridge Trail
Those planning an extended stay in the city, be sure to travel to the nearby Divis Ridge and Black Mountain for a hiking trail in the famous Mourne Mountains. At approximately 4.5 miles, this walk is accessible to all travelers, and it’s one of the best views of the mountain range and Belfast Lough – on a clear day, Scotland is visible, too.
Divis Ridge and Black Mountain, Divis Road, Hannahstown, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9082 5434
Though many travelers forget to put this one on their list, the Peace Wall is a rare sight to behold. Over 7,000 murals have been documented in Belfast since the conflict that tore the city apart in the 1970s ended, and the best appear on the Peace Wall in West Belfast. Powerful political statements, pleads of peace, and tributes line this district, making it an important and exciting place to visit.
Peace Wall, 15 Cupar Way, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Belfast is a perfect city for cyclists, like many of its European brother and sister cities, and more and more people are swapping their car for a bike. Belfast City Bike Tours offer the best routes in the city, from the cobbled streets of the Cathedral Quarter to the City Centre and the Titanic Harbor – perfect for a short stay. Full safety training and equipment is provided, so there’s no reason to miss out.
Belfast City Bike Tours, Smithfield Marketplace, Winetavern St, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 77 8049 6969
W5 is a brilliant science museum and activity center, fun for kids of all ages. Over three floors, this museum has a magic harp, giant tug-of-war, and tons of hands-on experiments – and a beautiful view of the Titanic Quarter from every floor, too.
W5, The Odyssey Pavillion, The Odyssey, 2 Queens Quay, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK,+44 28 9046 7700