Things to do in Belfast

Plan the perfect city break in Belfast

The second-largest city on the island of Ireland, Belfast has since shrugged off the weight of the Troubles to become a dynamic and vibrant city in its own right. What’s more, the Northern Irish capital is just a 2-hour drive up the road from Dublin, making it a top choice for a last-minute city break or weekend adventure.

Experience the city like a local

If you’ve yet to visit yourself or simply want some inspiration for your next trip, you’re in the right place here! As well as a quick overview of top sights, I’ll also be sharing some of my favourite places in the city for bite to eat – and one or two pints! To round it all off you’ll find a selection of some of my most recent hotel deals in Belfast that I’ve come across, so there’ll be nothing in the way of an incredible trip.

Belfast’s famous City Hall in Donegall Square.

Top sights and attractions in Belfast

No city break is complete without a sneaky bit of sightseeing on the side. As luck would have it, Belfast is filled to the brim with things to see and do which stand testament to the city’s long history. Here’s a quick overview of some of the city’s most famous sights and attractions!

The Titanic Quarter

There’s no escaping the fact that shipbuilding was a huge thing in Belfast – in fact one of the city’s most famous exports is none other than the legendary cruise liner RMS Titanic, whose ill-fated voyage is known the world over. The area surrounding the old dry docks has since undergone a massive transformation, with millions of pounds of funding going to create a brand-new district right in the heart of the docklands. The result is the bustling Titanic Quarter, whose futuristic architecture stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Belfast’s shipbuilding heritage. The beautiful Titanic Museum is one of the best things to do in Belfast, offering huge, in-depth exhibitions and galleries that offer unparalleled insights into the doomed voyage. The SS Nomadic, the smaller boat which transferred passengers to the Titanic, is out on display – to really get an idea of how titanic the Titanic was, be sure to take a look around its former dry dock!

Feeling peckish? There’s also a nice selection of cafés and bistros to keep you ticking over – Papercup does a mean coffee and scrumptious treats with some great views to go with them!

 

Major landmarks in Belfast

No matter where you go in the city centre, you’ll be bound to … The striking City Hall stands in Donegall Square right in the middle of town; guided tours last about an hour, and best of all they’re free! Those of you fancying a relaxing stroll should check out Queen’s University – the second-oldest university in Ireland features a gorgeous campus with some lovely gardens all around and you’re in a great location for checking out Belfast’s Botanic Gardens and Ulster Museum. The Northern Ireland Assembly building, Stormont, also has acres and acres of gardens open to the public, but one of my favourite places to enjoy a bit of downtime is the charming Belfast Castle. Built up in the hills of Cavehill Country Park, this castle enjoys some of the best views of the city and you can go for a delicious meal at the restaurant – the perfect reward after climbing that hill!

The best places to eat in Belfast

Belfast has no shortage of seriously amazing places to eat and there’s a huge range of cuisines on offer, ranging from your standard pub grub to fresh seafood, curries and everything in between. Here are a couple of my favourite picks, whether it’s just a quick bite for the road or a proper sit-down feast.

Browsing local produce and specialities at St. George’s Market. Photo: Brian Morrison, Tourism Ireland

The Muddlers Club, one of the city’s best dining experiences. Photo: courtesy of Muddlers Club, Belfast; Tourism NI

Consider yourself a bit of a foodie? When it comes to awesome food, one of the first places you should check out is St. George’s Market. This gorgeous Victorian market is abuzz with countless stalls selling homemade arts and crafts – but more importantly there’s some serious food to be had. Pick up some artisan jams, coffee or sweet treats to bring back with you, or check out street food stalls selling paellas, crêpes and the ubiquitous Belfast bap, to name but a few. Throw in some live music and you’re on to a winner!

Weekly markets at St. George’s:

  • Friday Variety Market
  • Saturday City Food & Craft Market
  • Sunday Market

Even if you’re visiting Belfast on a budget, there are loads of cheap and mid-range eats to be had around the city, especially if you keep your eyes peeled for deals. And you won’t have to skimp on style either, especially at The National, a proper brunch hotspot (come later in the evening and you can try some of their cocktails as well). Made in Belfast is one of my faves with its quirky-but-cool décor – their 2-course pre-theatre menus will set you back less than £20 a head. Fancy dinner with a view? Holohan’s at the Barge is a floating restaurant on the River Lagan that serves some mean boxty, as does their sister restaurant, Holohan’s Pantry. Vegetarians will love the extensive and downright delicious offerings at Jumon.

Gourmets will have plenty to write home about in Belfast, so be sure to treat yourself while you’re up in the city. The Muddlers Club is truly one of the Belfast’s greatest – the 6-course tasting menu is one of the best dining experiences in the city and well worth the larger price tag (starting at £55 a head). As that extra special touch, ask to have a few wines paired up with your courses as well. If it’s a Michelin star you’re after, you’ll find it at Deans EIPIC, whose lush menu also has an extensive selection of wines and its own champagne bar. And one of my personal faves, AMPM, promises a night to remember with its cosy, Bohemian ambience. Think fairy lights, candles and plenty of snug corners to enjoy some cosy moments together. 

Nightlife in Belfast

Tap into Belfast’s buzzing atmosphere with a night out in some of the city’s coolest spots.

No mention of the nightlife in Belfast would be complete without mentioning the Cathedral Quarter, the name given to the former trading district that surrounds St. Anne’s Cathedral. As you go from bar to bar, you’ll come across endless amounts of street art along the way, and there are plenty of courtyards and cobbled side streets that are home to the best bars and pubs in the city. There’s never a dull moment in the The Dirty Onion, which offers live music pretty much every day of the week – just a few doors down you’ll find The Spaniard, another institution in the area. On top of the Bullitt Hotel you’ll find the Babel Rooftop Bar & Garden, offering awesome views, tunes and cocktails. No-frills Sunflower has a great selection of craft ales and still features the original safety cages set up to protect the bar during the Troubles. Fancy a proper pub experience? The Duke of York and Harp Bar will suit you down to the ground.

Those are just a few of the awesome joints in the Cathedral Quarter, but there are some other great places to scope out in other parts of the city, especially in the studenty Queen’s Quarter. The Woodworkers just oozes coolness with its industrial vibes and laid-back atmosphere – you’ll find it just a short onward walk from the Botanic Gardens. Also close to the gardens is Jeggy Nettle, whose friendly staff really help to make your evening one to remember.

Guru tip: while you’re in Belfast, you just have to check out some comedy nights as well with class venues all over the place. Brighten up your Monday night with a trip to The Pavillion, or swing by The Empire Laughs Back for their usual Tuesday sesssions (and some reasonably priced food if you’re feeling peckish!).   

Commercial Court is a popular spot in the lively Cathedral Quarter. Photo: Tourism NI

Guests at the Empire Laughs Back, one of the city’s biggest comedy clubs. Photo: Tourism NI

Start planning your next city break in Belfast

Belfast is ever-changing, and honestly there’s never been a better time to visit. Whether you decide to dedicate a whole weekend or simply use the city as a base for further adventures up north, you’ll soon be falling for the amazing atmosphere in no time.

To help you plan your own trip to Belfast, be sure to have a look at my most recent Belfast hotel deals. From budget breaks to luxury escapes, there’s something for every budget.

Browse all Belfast deals

 

My most recent Belfast deals:

More inspiration from Northern Ireland:

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