Belfast is the largest city in Northern Ireland and along its size comes with a rich historical and political background. It is also best known for a lot of things like the Titanic and CS Lewis. All these events gave birth to a lot of Belfast tourist attractions that first-time or frequent visitors will surely don’t want to miss. Today, there are a lot of museums and landmarks that you would want to include in your Instagram feed if you’re paying a visit. So if you’re planning to visit Belfast anytime soon, here are 35 fun things to do in Belfast City to check out.
- 35 Fun Things To Do In Belfast City
- Take a sightseeing bus or walking tour
- Visit St. Anne’s Cathedral
- Stroll around St. George’s Market
- Watch a musical in the Grand Opera House
- Watch exhibits in North Ireland War Memorial Museum
- Shop until you drop in Victoria Square Shopping Center
- Learn the history of Titanic in the Titanic Belfast Museum
- Experience the Titanic Walkway
- Check out Belfast’s Evening entertainments
- Try Belfast’s local drinks
- Appreciate Irish food
- Step into the world of Narnia in CS Lewis Square
- Relax in the Botanic Gardens
- Visit the Queen’s University
- Spend an afternoon in Belfast Zoo
- Tour around Cave Hill Country Park
- Stop by the Belfast Castle
- Listen to the story of the Irish in Ulster Folk Museum
- Learn the transportation history in the Transport Museum
- Go hiking in Minnowburn
- Visit the Museum of Orange Heritage
- Scribble a message or two in the Peace Wall
- Take a long walk at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park
- Learn the history of the Republicans in Eileen Hickey Irish Republican History Museum
- Face your fear in Crumlin Road Gaol paranormal tour
- Learn more of the Titanic in Titanic Dock and Pump House
- Spot the Samson and Goliath cranes
- Explore the Waterfront Area
- Book a table in Crown Liquor Saloon
- Snap a pic or two of the Albert Memorial Clock
- Visit Belfast’s largest museum– Ulster Museum
- Watch contemporary exhibits in Metropolitan Arts Center
- Tour the city with Belfast Black Cab tours
- Learn about the Belfast government in Belfast city hall
- Learn about the history of HMS Caroline
35 Fun Things To Do In Belfast City
Take a sightseeing bus or walking tour
For first time visitors, a sightseeing tour is always a good idea to know about the city you’re traveling to. There are different kinds of sightseeing tours in Belfast. The first kind is the walking tour which usually starts at the city center. This kind of tour focuses on a certain topic and the destinations are usually nearby. There is also the sightseeing bus tour which is hosted by bus companies. Advanced booking is usually needed for this. Belfast also has a boat sightseeing tour.
Also known as the Belfast Cathedral, St. Anne’s Cathedral is one of the best known Belfast attractions. This cathedral has a deep history along with its numerous renovations and expansions. In 2007, a steel spire became one of the most interesting additions to this cathedral because it lights beautifully at night. Aside from the steel spire, there are also other interesting elements you can find inside the cathedral-like Good Samaritan Windows and mosaics.
Stroll around St. George’s Market
St. George’s Market is one of the oldest Belfast attractions. This weekly market has been implemented since 1604 and until the present day, it still sells various fresh and local produce. Aside from this foodstuff, ornaments, souvenirs, trinkets, and other memorabilia are also sold in this market. Ready-to-eat foods like sandwiches and coffees are also available for visitors who need a quick snack. If you’re craving for some fresh seafood, you can also get some here. A stroll around St. George’s Market is best to cure a boring weekend in Belfast City. Live local artists and bands are also entertaining the shoppers.
Watch a musical in the Grand Opera House
Grand Opera House is the remaining Victorian theater in Northern Ireland in present times. This theater has become one of Belfast popular landmarks and is popular for its beautiful interior. From 2500 seats to 1000 seats, the theater still hosts various performance acts like ballet, theatrical plays, musicals, operas, pantomime, family shows, and educational talks. A self-guided tour is also available for those who want to know the history of the theater.
In 2020, the theater is expected to undergo a large restoration project.
Watch exhibits in North Ireland War Memorial Museum
This small museum holds a large history of North Ireland’s involvement in World War II. Here, you’ll get information regarding the Belfast Blitz, the Ulster Home Guard, the presence of the American forces in the era, and the role of women in the war. Visitors can also listen to recordings done by notable people during the war. Located near St. Anne’s Cathedral, the museum is free admission but donations are highly appreciated since it is only managed by local volunteers.
Shop until you drop in Victoria Square Shopping Center
You might also want to add shopping in Victoria Square Shopping Center in your top things to do in Belfast. This 4-story shopping center has a number of shops, spas, salons, and restaurants you can enjoy. You can also get a good panoramic view of the city from the mall’s central glass dome.
Learn the history of Titanic in the Titanic Belfast Museum
The Titanic Belfast Museum is one of the top places to see in Belfast. This huge museum offers self-guided tours for visitors who want to walk through the history of the RMS Titanic. The tour starts with a piece of information on the history of Belfast in the 20th century followed by the shipbuilding industry in Belfast which includes the building of RMS Titanic by a local shipbuilding firm, Harland and Wolff. Series of galleries then shows the launching of the Titanic, its voyage and the great tragedy. Artifacts and replica interiors of the Titanic are also inside the museum. To enhance the experience, there are also interactive activities. The tour ends with photographs and video footages of the sunken Titanic.
Experience the Titanic Walkway
This 500-meter walkway in Victoria Wharf was built to make the popular attractions in the Titanic Quarter accessible to visitors. Along the path, you can easily spot the Belfast Titanic museum, Titanic and Olympic Slipways, Thompson Dock, Mew Light, the HMS Caroline, Titanic Exhibition Center, Titanic Studios, and the Samson and Goliath cranes. The walk starts outside the Belfast Titanic Museum and heads towards the Olympic Slipways. The HMS Caroline is located northeast from this spot.
Check out Belfast’s Evening entertainments
Wondering what to do in Belfast at night? Well, evening entertainment in this city is not to miss. There is always something to do in Belfast at night whether its a play, an art exhibit, a local band, or a stand-up comedy act. Details of these events are usually available in the Visitor Center, the local newspaper, or social media accounts. For concerts, plays, or comedy shows, the Ulster Hall, Waterfront Hall, and Grand Opera House are the best places to check. Local pubs are the best places to check out live bands and local artists in Belfast.
Try Belfast’s local drinks
Gin, whiskey, and beer– these drinks are three of the most popular drinks in Belfast. If you’re interested to try craft beers, Hilden, Sheelin, Farmageddon, Hercules Brewing, and Whitewater are some of the best brewery names to remember. For North Irish gins, Copeland, Jawbox, and Shortcross. Bushmills, one of the best whiskey brands, is also worth a try.
Appreciate Irish food
Sampling Irish local foods will always complete a trip. If it’s your first time to visit Ireland, you should never miss their popular foods like the Ulster fry, Irish stew, bangers and mash, fish and chips, and Sunday roasts. Irish also love their potatoes so you’ll easily find a lot of dishes made with potatoes. If you want to try locally grown produce, markets like St. George’s Market are the best places to find these treats for a low price.
Step into the world of Narnia in CS Lewis Square
Awaken the inner Narnia fan in you by visiting CS Lewis Square in East Belfast— just 20 minutes away from the city center. This tourist destination is dedicated to the popular author of The Chronicles of Narnia. A walk in the square will bring you to this fictional kingdom with the large bronze sculptures of Azlan, The White Witch, The Beaver, and some other characters of this film.
Relax in the Botanic Gardens
Once a private park in 1828, the Botanic Garden is now a public park located in the South of Belfast. If you’re visiting the Queen’s University, you can easily do a side trip here or perhaps take a break from traveling. The two highlights of the garden are the Palm House conservatory and the Tropical Ravine House. The Palm House is a curvilinear Victorian glasshouse filled with a variety of tropical plants. The Tropical Ravine, on the other hand, features a sunken ravine and a number of oldest seed plants, bananas, cinnamon, and orchids. The Botanic Garden is not only perfect for walking and sightseeing but a lot of concerts, plays, and performances are also happening here once in a while.
Visit the Queen’s University
The Queen’s University is just a few walks away from the Botanic Garden. This university was established to encourage Catholic and Presbyterian students to get a university education. Aside from this wholesome mission, the university is also visited a lot because of its architecture. Beautiful buildings like the Lanyon building are inside the university’s premises. Coffee shops, independent retail stores, entertainment venues, and the Ulster Museum are also located inside.
Spend an afternoon in Belfast Zoo
Spending an afternoon in Belfast Zoo is one of the things to do in Belfast with kids. This 55 acres of land is home to over 1000 animals from over 100 species. The zoo was opened in 1934 and it has been one of the most income generating tourist attraction in Belfast despite the fact that is is located in the outskirts of Belfast. There are daily zookeeper talks, feeding times, and various activities to do in the Zoo. There’s also a playground for children called “Adventure’s learning center”. The zoo has a cafe for visitors who want to grab hot food while on tour.
Tour around Cave Hill Country Park
Cave Hill Country Park is popular for its caves, rock formations, ring fort remains, and hiking trails. The Belfast zoo and Belfast Castle are also located within its vicinity. The hiking trails start from easy to strenuous. Depending on what you can do, you can choose from any of these trails which will surely take you to the popular spots in the park like the Belfast Castle, Belfast Zoo, Napoleon’s nose, McArt’s fort, Devil’s Punchbowl, Volunteer’s Well stream, and other caves.
Stop by the Belfast Castle
Built-in Scottish baronial style, the Belfast Castle is perfect for a quick stop before hiking in Cave Hill or visiting the Belfast Zoo. Visitors can only tour a portion of the castle though because most of the space is used for events like weddings and conferences. There are also offices and dining venues here.
The tour shows different exhibits of the history of Belfast Castle. Cafe and restaurant are also available.
Listen to the story of the Irish in Ulster Folk Museum
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The Ulster Folk Museum is located 7 miles east of Belfast specifically in the town of Cultra. From farmhouses, schools, cottages, shops, churches, and mills, this museum has over 20 buildings which resemble a traditional Irish village. Some of these are actual dwellings since the early 1900s while some of these structures are only replicas. Each of these buildings tells the story of the Irish people which makes the place more interesting. Aside from sightseeing, visitors can also do activities like needlework, craft demonstrations, weaving, and open heat cooking.
The museum can be reached by bus for 30 to 40 minutes. An on-site cafe serves drinks and snacks for guests.
Learn the transportation history in the Transport Museum
Sitting adjacent to the Ulster Folk Museum, the Transport Museum is another sight to see in Belfast. The museum is focused on telling the history of transportation in Belfast from the oldest period to the modern era. The museum also contains the largest railway collection in Ireland where you can see a large number of memorabilia like steam locomotives and passenger carriages. Pogo sticks, a DeLorean DMC-12 car, a vertical take-off plane, and the Titanic are also included in the exhibits.
Go hiking in Minnowburn
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Looking forward to a relaxing adventure in Belfast? Go hiking in Minnowburn. This meadow and woodland around the Lagan River are perfect for solo, couple, or group travelers. Whether you’re up for a picnic, or a quick hike, Minnowburn has the perfect ambiance as it has several spots for a certain type of activity. If you want to enjoy a picnic overlooking the breathtaking Lagan Valley scenery, Terrace Hill is the best spot. At the top, you can find a garden built by Frederick Russell. For those who are looking for a nice hike, the Giant’s Ring trail is an easy 2.2-mile circular trail
Visit the Museum of Orange Heritage
The exhibits in the museum of Orange Heritage is one of the most interesting things to see in Belfast. Located in the Castlereagh area in Belfast, it holds information about the controversial Protestant fraternal organization known as the Orange Order. This is the perfect place to visit in Ireland if you’re interested to know more about this organization. However, be warned ahead that this museum is going to be a pro-Loyalist bias.
Scribble a message or two in the Peace Wall
What was once protection from the varying religious beliefs in Ireland has now become one of the most interesting spots in the country. This long stretch of peace walls in Belfast was built in 1969 during the constant riots in the city. These walls are later on decorated with political murals where tourists nowadays would find an “Instagram-worthy” spot. You can also write your own messages in these walls or spot the handwriting of the famous icons like Dalai Lama who have signed these Peace Walls.
Most black cab tours include this in their list of activities to do in Belfast.
Take a long walk at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park
Owned by Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon, this house and park in South Belfast is currently maintained by the Belfast City Council. Although this 128 acres park has a lot of sights to see, the main highlight here is the formal rose garden which usually attracts thousands of tourists yearly. The Japanese garden is also a good spot here along with the walled garden and the woodland.
Every year, the park hosts a week-long event called the Rose Week where there are flower shows, concerts, puppet shows, food stalls, and other exciting activities.
Learn the history of the Republicans in Eileen Hickey Irish Republican History Museum
The Eileen Hickey Irish Republican History Museum is a small museum in West Belfast where you can learn more information about the history of the Republicans in Ireland since the 1960s. This museum can be a good opposition to the Museum of Orange Heritage. The museum exhibits artifacts which support the history of the Republicans most especially during the Troubles. It was named after Eileen Hickey, a woman who was imprisoned in Armagh in the 1970s and the one who collected most of the artifacts in the museum.
The museum is located in Conway Mill Complex, a few blocks away from the Peace Wall.
Face your fear in Crumlin Road Gaol paranormal tour
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Taking the Crumlin Road Gaol paranormal tour is one of the best things to do in Belfast at night. The Crumlin Road Gaol is the only surviving Victorian-era prison in Ireland. It came with a long history before it became a tourist attraction in 2012. This prison which was designed to hold 500 prisoners is now hosting scheduled tours for visitors who want to know the history and significance of the place. Guides are also mandatory for these tours as they take you to the major parts of the prison such as a visit to the cell blocks, a walk through the tunnel which connects the prison to the courthouse and the execution chamber. The tour lasts for 70 to 90 minutes which is enough to gather information about the history of the prison, the architecture and stories of some notable prisoners.
If you’re planning to visit the Gaol, be sure to book the tickets in advance as there are days when tickets are easily sold out.
Learn more of the Titanic in Titanic Dock and Pump House
Can’t get enough of Titanic’s historical events? Get to know a bit more of this famous ocean liner in the Titanic Dock and Pump House where it sat in dry dock before going on a voyage in April 1912. Walking through the Titanic Dock will give you a better sense of how massive the Titanic was. You can also find placards which contain information about the Titanic’s construction and fitting out. It also includes the lives of the dock workers and how the pump house works.
If you’re planning to visit, tickets to the Titanic Dock and Pump House are sold at Cafe 1404. Visitors can do a self-guided tour or a guided tour. The dock is located 10 minutes away from the Titanic Museum and a minute away from HMS Caroline.
Spot the Samson and Goliath cranes
Named after the Biblical figures, the Samson and Goliath cranes are dominant features in the Belfast skyline. It is located close to the Titanic Museum even though it doesn’t have any significant contribution to the creation of this famous ship. Visitors can’t get too close to the cranes though since it is still located in an active industrial area but these are easy to spot from afar.
Explore the Waterfront Area
The Waterfront Area is located in River Lagan where you can find sculptures, bridges, the Waterfront Hall, the old Customs House, and the Barge Museum. Apart from these, the Salmon of Knowledge and the Beacon of Hope are also favorite spots here.
The Salmon of Knowledge is a big sculpture of a salmon along the waterfront where River Farset and River Lagan, Belfast’s major rivers, meet. You can also find the Salmon of Knowledge in Irish mythology. On the other hand, the Beacon of Hope is a large stainless steel and bronze sculpture of a lady which can be found sitting within the Thanksgiving Square. The lady holds a ring which is said to symbolize Thanksgiving. The globe at her feet symbolizes peace and harmony.
Book a table in Crown Liquor Saloon
The Crown Liquor Saloon is Belfast’s most popular pub as it belongs to the world’s list of most beautiful Victorian-era gin palaces. The pub opened in 1826 known as The Railway Tavern but it was renovated and renamed in 1885 into Crown Liquor Saloon. Amidst countless renovations, the pub still retains some of its original decorations and fixtures which includes the mosaic tiles, gas lamp features, stained glass, granite bar top, heated footrests behind bars, snugs, and carved wooden ceilings. Crown Liquor Saloon has been receiving a lot of attention from tourists and popular celebrities.
The bar is the perfect place for dining lunch or dinner. However, if you wish to dine here, you might want to book in advance due to the popularity of the pub.
Snap a pic or two of the Albert Memorial Clock
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Stop by the Albert Memorial Clock if you don’t have the stuff to do in Belfast during your free time. This sandstone clock tower was built as a memorial to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, and is located at the Queen’s Square in the heart of Belfast. The Albert Memorial Clock stands as one of the most popular landmarks in Belfast since its completion in 1869. In fact, it is also known as the “leaning tower of Pisa” in Belfast.
Visit Belfast’s largest museum– Ulster Museum
If you have an eye for arts, science, and history, the Ulster Museum is the perfect place for you. It is located near the entrance of the Botanic Garden and contains over a million objects from dinosaur bones to jewels. The museum has permanent exhibits all year long but there are also interesting seasonal exhibits to look forward.
The museum is free admission but donations are highly appreciated.
Watch contemporary exhibits in Metropolitan Arts Center
The Metropolitan Arts Center is hosts three major art galleries in Belfast since 2012. The main theme of these galleries is contemporary art and experimental performances. While there are free exhibits in this art center, there are also paid exhibits that are worth checking on. Aside from these exhibits, there are also workshops and art classes conducted in MAC.
Tour the city with Belfast Black Cab tours
If you’re going to Belfast for the first time, you might want to check the Belfast Black Cab Tours. The history of these black cabs draws us back during the Troubles and it is pretty interesting. The focus of these Black Cab tours are usually on Belfast’s political history but you can also request for general history and culture tours.
Learn about the Belfast government in Belfast city hall
Sitting in Donegall Square, the Belfast City Hall is a great centerpiece in Belfast as well as a functioning government building. Inside the city hall, visitors can walk through an enormous exhibit which tells about Belfast’s history, government, people, famous events, and industries. The city hall also has grand rooms where visitors can visit through the free guided tours. Different statues and building also surround the city hall which is worth checking out. This includes the 11-foot statue of Queen Victoria. If you’re wondering what to do in Belfast, the Belfast City Hall is worth a trip.
Learn about the history of HMS Caroline
The HMS Caroline served a lot in Belfast’s history. Today, there is a self-guided tour where interested visitors can learn about the construction, history, and the living and working conditions of HMS Caroline through different exhibits. The tour starts in the Dockside Museum.
HMS Caroline can be found in the dock next to the Titanic Pump House. It is also 15 minutes away from the Titanic Belfast museum.
If these are not enough, you can check out these day trips from Belfast.