Things to Do Outside in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Take in sweeping views of Belfast atop Cave Hill Country Park
Take in sweeping views of Belfast atop Cave Hill Country Park | © scenicireland.com / Christopher Hill Photographic / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kim Gregory
8 July 2020

Belfast boasts a wonderful mixture of history, nature and thrilling activities – all of which are best experienced outside. Wandering the cobbled streets to view the monuments and landmarks makes for a fabulous afternoon of history and culture, while the parks are beautiful and unusual, perfect for a picnic. Here are Culture Trip’s favourite things to do outside in Northern Ireland’s capital city.

Hit the park

Botanical Garden, Park
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The Palm House at the Botanic Gardens, Belfast. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.
© david soulsby / Alamy Stock Photo
Spend a few hours in one of Belfast’s unusual parks. A favourite is the Botanic Gardens, with its 1840s greenhouse filled with tropical plants and birds of paradise. Any trip to Northern Ireland should also include a visit to Cave Hill Country Park, which begins at Belfast Castle. You can enjoy afternoon tea in its gardens, and then hike the trail through Cave Hill to its peak for unrivalled views of the city. Cave Hill is situated in Newtownabbey, a short car or bus ride out of town.

Tour the monuments and landmarks

Building, Memorial
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The Prince Albert memorial clock at Barnstaple, Devon, England.
© Craig Joiner Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Belfast is rich in history and culture, and the monuments and landmarks scattered throughout the city reflect this. The stunning architecture dates back centuries, and you’ll be amazed at buildings such as the Belfast City Hall and Queen’s University. Monuments, including the beloved Albert Memorial Clock and Knockagh Monument, nod to the city’s historical grounding. All are within walking distance of each other, so grab a tourist map and set your own trail. Read about the backgrounds of each with our handy summaries.

Dine al fresco

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Belfast is known for its excellent restaurants and produce. Some may even argue that food is always better when it’s enjoyed outside, in the sunshine, with lovely views and a buzzing atmosphere. Try Cutters Wharf on the River Lagan for waterside dining, Deanes at Queens for fabulous vistas of the city’s architecture (such as Queen’s University) or the Perch Rooftop Bar for high-up chilled vibes.

Sail on a boat

Natural Feature
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River Lagan Belfast, departure point of Titanic Boat Tours Belfast - boat tours around Belfast Harbour passing The Titanic Building and other sights.
© David Hunter / Alamy Stock Photo

With the highly recommended Lagan Boat Company, you can hop on board to experience the world’s only guided Titanic boat tour. Learn about the city’s maritime heritage, industry and port, as well as the story of the famously sunken RMS Titanic, built here in Belfast. Sail through the docklands by the Titanic Museum and Quarter as you soak up some history and fabulous views. Tours take one hour and cost £12 per adult. Private tours are available. Book through its website.

Get sporty

Sports Center
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If you’re looking for a rip-roaring afternoon outside, join Northern Ireland’s leading providers of outdoor adventure activities, Bryson LaganSports. Experienced instructors will take you on a thrill ride, on land or water. It offers wilderness survival experiences, battlezone archery (the first of its kind in Northern Ireland), kayaking and canoeing, dragon boating and even water zorbing. Yes, that’s rolling through the water in a giant inflatable bubble. All activities are just £29 per adult, but the wilderness survival experience ranges in price from £49 to £100 depending on the package.

Take a bike tour

Cathedral, Church, Historical Landmark
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Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK. 24 July 2017. UK weather: Visitors on a walking tour on the Slipway in Titanic Quarter enjoy sunshine and a temperature of 24C.  The cruise liner Celebrity Silhouette can be seen in the background. Credit J Orr/Alamy Live Ne
© Jim Orr / Alamy Stock Photo
This activity is more fun than taxing, as it’s a guided tour on two wheels. It’s £30 per person for a 3hr loop of Belfast’s top attractions, such as St Anne’s Cathedral, the Titanic’s Dock and the famous Queen’s University. For more daring souls, pay £50 per person for a 4hr tour starting at the main city sights, going through the Lagan riverside and Lagan Valley Regional Park and finishing at award-winning Hilden Brewing Company. Here, you’ll sample craft beers and take a leisurely lunch, all included in the ticket price.
These recommendations were updated on July 8, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.