The Top 10 Things to See and Do in Belfast

A hike up Cave Hill is among the best things to do in Belfast, Northern Ireland
A hike up Cave Hill is among the best things to do in Belfast, Northern Ireland | © Radharc Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Callum Davies

Belfast is the cultural epicentre of Northern Ireland and one of the most vibrant, interesting cities in the UK – full stop. From museums to gardens to one-of-a-kind restaurants and bars, there’s far too much to squeeze into one list, but here are 10 of the best things to do and see in Belfast.

1. The HMS Caroline

Museum

Stern view of HMS Caroline, a restored World War 1 battleship moored in Titanic Quarter, Belfast and the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland
© Tom Irvine / Alamy Stock Photo
Visitors to London often take the time to see the HMS Belfast, so why not return the favour? Launched in 1914, the Caroline is the only ship still floating that fought in the Battle of Jutland in World War I. Having been decommissioned, it is now a floating maritime museum, with its cabins and mess hall fully restored. The ship is located at the docks, a 30-minute walk from the centre.

2. Crumlin Road Gaol

Museum

Outside of Crumlin Road Gaol
© Stephen Barnes/Northern Ireland / Alamy Stock Photo
It might seem a little odd to visit a prison during a day out in the city, but the 150-year-old Crumlin Road Gaol is special – it’s the only Victorian jail left in the country. Located near New Lodge, 25 minutes from the centre, it can now be visited and toured. Perhaps best of all, there’s a subterranean tunnel leading to the court house, which you can see during the tour.

3. McHugh’s Bar

Bar, Irish

There are plenty of watering holes around the city. McHugh’s Bar would be a good option in any case, but add the fact that it’s literally the oldest building in Belfast, and you have a proven winner. Originally a private dwelling when it was built in 1711, it is now a very important landmark. As icing on the cake, it serves a wide range of beers and whiskeys and sits in a recently refreshed district (Queen’s Square is nearby), so there are plenty of reasons to stop by.

5. Black Taxi Tour

Architectural Landmark

Black Taxis are a little different in Belfast compared to elsewhere in the UK. You’ll see London-style black cabs roving around the city, but instead of simple A-to-B service, they offer tours that focus on the Troubles. This includes areas of particular significance, peace walls, murals, and more. There are various providers around the city, and they can be booked online.

6. The Botanic Gardens

Botanical Garden, Park

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK. 9 August, 2107. UK weather: People in Botanic Gardens, Belfast enjoying the sunshine and a temperature of 20C. Credit J Orr/Alamy Live News
© Jim Orr / Alamy Stock Photo
If the weather suits, the Botanic Gardens are unmissable. Built in 1828, it ended up becoming a blueprint of sorts for other gardens like Kew. The Palm House is the main attraction, featuring rare plants including one that is 400 years old. There is also a sunken garden that plays host to birds of paradise. The garden is just a 20-minute walk from the centre.

7. The Golden Mile

Building, Memorial

For those really in the mood for a tipple, the Golden Mile is Belfast’s one-stop shop. Running between the City Hall and the university district, it is home to numerous pubs including famous spots like the Crown Liquor Saloon. You can also see a number of old civic buildings and the city’s Grand Opera House along the route.

8. The Titanic Dock and Pump House

Historical Landmark

Titanic Pump-House at Thompson Dock, Belfast
© The Titanic Dock and Pump House

One of the best-known things about Belfast is that it is where the Titanic was built before setting off on its doomed maiden voyage. Whilst the ship itself is still at the bottom of the sea, evidence of it is on display around Belfast, including the spot where it first fuelled up. It takes about 40 minutes to walk there from the centre (or a short drive), but it’s well worth it, as you can take a guided tour 13m down into the ship’s original dry dock.

9. Cave Hill Country Park

Natural Feature, Park

How many cities can you go caving in without leaving the city limits? Can’t be many, but Belfast is one of them. Located on the northern border of the city and most easily accessed by car, it’s a set of basalt cliffs with five different caves dotted around it. Besides this, it provides some excellent walking routes and offers yet another stunning view of the city.

10. Belfast Zoo

Zoo

While it’s not exactly out of the ordinary for a city of Belfast’s size to include a zoo, Belfast Zoo has a great deal to offer. It’s one of Northern Ireland’s most visited attractions for a reason. You can find it 7mi, or a 15-minute drive, outside of the city. Once there, you can meet more than 140 species of animal, including lowland gorillas, Asian elephants and red kangaroos. The zoo is engaged in numerous conservation programmes and has a lot of educational material to offer.
landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article