Belfast is an historic city with grand buildings, cobbled streets and interesting focal points at every turn, so it’s no surprise the Northern Irish capital has lots of great landmarks to visit. Grab your comfiest pair of shoes and take a stroll through this beautiful city to see what’s on offer.
It looks like something from Downton Abbey – only bigger and grander. Belfast Castle, just outside the city, was built in 1870 and housed Sir Arthur Chichester, former Lord Deputy of Ireland. Tour the endless rooms and winding staircases inside. There’s a visitor’s centre to learn more, a shop for souvenirs and an outdoor café for afternoon tea with fabulous city views. Keep walking up and you’ll reach Cave Hill mountain walk with its five mysterious caves. It’s said Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels was based on this magical place.
Belfast’s cultural scene is top-notch, so it’s only right we included this iconic venue. Past musical performers include Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash and The Who. It still hosts famous and local talent. The 1859 building on Bedford Street (near City Hall) is Grade A listed. It was used during World War II as a dance hall to entertain American troops, was visited by the Dalai Lama and held significant political Irish Home Rule rallies. The architectural and cultural history make Ulster Hall a must-see.
This beautiful 1899 Catholic church stands proudly in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, named so because of St Anne’s. As if the outside isn’t impressive enough with its Celtic Cross and ‘Spire of Hope’, wander in and you’ll find stained glass windows, sculptures, floor and ceiling mosaics, and art and tapestries that depict the story of the building. There’s also a shrine of Edward Carson, leader of the Unionist movement during Ireland’s historic partition. After visiting, enjoy the quarter’s cobbled streets filled with great places to eat and drink.
Visit South Belfast to see this historic campus established in 1845 – the ninth oldest university in the UK. It’s open to the public, so you can walk within the prestigious walls and galleries. In the Black and White Hall, touch the foot of Galileo to bring everlasting luck. If you’re really keen, you can even request to visit the Great Hall and its collection of portraits of former chancellors and alumni. It’s worth a trip just to see the building, which is extra special when lit up at night.
Add a touch of spooky to your itinerary by visiting the only remaining Victorian prison in Northern Ireland. It historically held notorious prisoners and political activists from the Irish Revolution and the Belfast Troubles, since its opening in 1845. There were even some escapees! Visit the dark dungeons, eerie corridors and tunnels to the courthouse. Tours will tell you more about the prisoners and executions, too. It’s heavy stuff.
Belfast has a history of shipbuilding, most famously the Titanic. In memory of the historical sinking, the Titanic Museum shares stories of passengers and provides tours about the tragedy. There are nine interactive galleries, and it even has Titanic’s actual tender ship the SS Nomadic – the last remaining White Star Line ship in the world – for you to walk through. Find the museum in the Titanic Quarter (the place the ship was built) a short walk northeast of the city centre.