If you’re searching for the ultimate guide around Belfast then I’m here to help you out. This blog is dedicated to everything Belfast related. Anything you could possibly want to know about the city will be here. In this Belfast travel guide blog, I’ll share with you all the best tips and advice about travelling around Belfast.
Along with all the unmissable sites and hidden gems that you won’t want to miss out on while visiting Northern Ireland’s Capital City. We will explore things you should know about Belfast, why you need to visit, things to do, places to stay and eat and much more.
What’s unique about this travel guide to Belfast it that its all told by a local. I’ve lived in Belfast my whole life, so I can give you a unique perspective on the city I call home.
Belfast Travel Blog Guide
Belfast was once only known for its turbulent past that might have kept people away from visiting the city. But today Belfast is a very welcoming and vibrant city that has grown to become a real hit with tourists around the world. In 2018 the city was voted by Lonely Planet as the best place to visit.
Belfast has now started to make a name for itself for all the right reasons. The city is exciting, full of life with a booming tourist appeal with the likes of the Titanic Museum that bring people to the city.
There is also an appeal to visit Belfast for its past, as people are interested to learn more about how it came to where it is today. You will find many attractions in the city dedicated to its unforgettable history. There is history found in every corner of Belfast from its murals to well-preserved architecture.
But unknown to many Belfast has an incredible food scene, a variety of great hotels and has become a world-renown hub for film and TV Production. It isn’t a place you should overlook when planning your next city break.
This is your one-stop guide to everything Belfast travel related. Hoping this guide will help you plan the most amazing trip to Northern Ireland Capital City and get the best out of the place.
Why Visit Belfast? Belfast Travel Guide
If Belfast isn’t already on your bucket list of cities you should visit then I’m going to give you all the reason why it should be. Here are some of my favourite reasons why should visit Belfast in the future.
It’s a known fact around the world that Irish people provided the best hospitality and will welcome you with open arms. Well, that fact still rings true about Belfast. The majority of people here are very friendly and helpful. Most importantly of all Belfast people are fun and like to have a laugh. We are a city that’s good at not taking ourselves too seriously.
No matter where you go in the city you’ll most likely make a few new friends. We have this unique gift of being able to chat about anything and everything. One thing to be aware of is that the Belfast accent can be quite strong and we talk a mile-a-minute so don’t be afraid to ask us to repeat something.
2. Diverse Range of Accommodation
The great thing about Belfast is that is has a brilliant range of places for you to stay that will suit different tastes and budgets. Most of the hotels are pretty central which makes it easier to get around the city.
Also, the hotels in Belfast aren’t overly expensive so it means you can really afford to enjoy a quality stay somewhere in the city.
3. Amazing Food Scene
When people think of Belfast they might not expect much of its food scene since its a pretty small city. But you will be greatly surprised as the city is bursting with an amazing food scene that will delight every visitor’s taste.
We offer an impressive variety of street markets and food, Michelin Awarded restaurants and fine dining. As well as cheap eateries that will still provide delicious food. Belfast is home to world-class chefs and restaurant that will leave you wanting more of the incredible food you’ll be introduced to while you are here. The food scene alone is enough to make someone want to come back to the city for a second and third visit.
4. The Nightlife
Another thing you’ll be pleasantly surprised about Belfast is that it offers an exciting nightlife. It’s no denying that the people of Belfast love a drink or two and there is a great range of bars and clubs to do this in.
There is plenty of choices when it comes a night out in Belfast from that always buzzing Cathedral Quarter that is filled with bars and people to historic places of interest such as the Crown Bar. You’ll always be sure to have a good time in Belfast with its unique bars and fun locals making it a worthy place to visit for a good time.
5. The Murals
Belfast has never forgotten its past, the people are proud of the history and the amazing progress that the city has made. All around the city you will be met with incredible murals that offer a glimpse into the political and historical past of Belfast. As well as murals that celebrate the great exports that have come from the city including sports stars, actors and musicians.
The murals are a special part of the city that reminds us not to forget about our history but also to inspire us to always focusing on creating a better future. You shouldn’t miss checking out the murals when visiting the city.
Belfast is a great city to visit if you enjoy shopping from high street shops to designer shops and boutiques that city has it all. There are two large shopping centres located in the centre of the city, Victoria Square and Castle Court. Victoria Square offers a great mix of shops and restaurants. It also has an amazing viewing dome that provides 360-degree views across the city.
7. The Titanic Quarter
Another great reason to visit Belfast is to explore the Titanic Quarter, where the Titanic Museum plays as its centrepiece. The Titanic Quarter offers much for people to see that is built on a wealth of history.
You can choose to visit the Titanic Musem, the world’s leading tourist attraction. Here you can experience the incredible history of the famous Titanic ship. Or even enjoy a unique overstay experience at the Titanic Hotel. The Titanic Quarter is full of unique treasures that you’ll only ever find in Belfast.
8. It’s Affordable
Many people put off planning trips to new places as they think its too expensive but Belfast is a really affordable place to visit. From the accommodation to the food to the attractions you can do it all without breaking the banks. And you’ll have an amazing time exploring the historical and modern city that is Belfast has become.
Things to Know About Belfast Before Visiting – Belfast Travel Guide
So, before you start planning an unforgettable trip to Belfast, I thought I’d share some helpful tips about the city. Such as how to get to Belfast, the best way to get around the city, the best times to visit and more.
How to Get to Belfast
There are two airports in Belfast, the George Best City Airport named after a famous Belfast born footballer and Belfast International Airport. There are many flights that come and go from Belfast no matter where you are. You can fly directly to Belfast from 20 European cities & many other areas around the world. So it should be pretty easy to actually get yourself to the city
You can also get to Belfast by sea from Scotland, England and the Isle of Man. If you are coming from other parts of Ireland to the city we have a great rail and bus services that will get you here.
Best Way to Get Around Belfast – Belfast Travel Guide
The great thing about Belfast is the city is very compact and you can pretty much walk from one attraction to the next. There is no need to worry about hiring a car if you don’t plan to go outside Belfast as you can easily reach everywhere by foot.
If you wish you can hire a bike as we have plenty of docking stations located around the city. Hiring a bike for the day can be a fun way of exploring the city. Also if you do plan on going outside of Belfast take advantage of our public transport system and bus tours to attractions. I highly recommend investing in a Belfast Vistors Pass that can save you time and money on public transport.
How Long to Visit Belfast
Belfast is pretty small so you could easily spend a weekend here and see all the popular attractions. The city offers the perfect weekend getaway break but you could also stay for longer to really explore the city and find its hidden gems. At the most, I’d say five days spent in the city would be a worthwhile time.
When to Visit Belfast and the Weather
Belfast is an amazing city to visit anytime during the year as most of the attractions are open yearly. There are always great things happening in the city throughout the year so when you do visit you’ll not be short of things to see and do.
Around Christmas time is always a lovely time to visit when the annual Christmas market is in town. The city is lively and festive during the Christmas period but you might not get the best weather. If you want to visit when the weather is at its best I would suggest visiting around May and June. But you can never really be certain of the Irish weather.
Another great time you should think about visiting Belfast is around mid-September when Culture night takes place. It is the biggest event in the city’s cultural calendar offering loads to see and do. Its a really exciting time to be in Belfast during culture night that you don’t want to miss.
The Currency in Belfast
Belfast is located in Northern Ireland and the main currency used here is Pounds Sterling which is also used in England, Scotland and Wales. Although if you do plan to head to the Republic of Ireland the currency changes to euro’s like everywhere else in Europe. Most big stores in Northern Ireland and Belfast will sometimes accept Euros.
Is Belfast a Safe Place to Visit?
Despite its history, in today’s modern world, Belfast is one of the safest cities to visit and stay in the United Kingdom. You shouldn’t have any concerns when coming to Belfast, the people are friendly and will always help you if you have any concerns.
Most Popular Attractions in Belfast – Belfast Travel Guide
You’ll want to check all the popular attractions while in Belfast as you would when visiting any other city or town. Belfast has some world-class tourist attractions that make it an exciting place to explore and discover.
First up on the places you should visit while in Belfast is the world renown Titanic visitor experience. It is after all the largest Titanic Museum in the world and nowhere tells the story better than Belfast. Belfast is the home to where the Titanic was first built and launched back in 1912. It’s one of the must-see experiences in Belfast that you won’t want to pass up.
At the Titanic Museum, you’ll uncover all about the fascinating history and the tragic story of the Titanic ship. Through the nine interactive galleries, you’ll learn about the stories, construction, and history of the Titanic and Belfast’s role in creating the iconic ship. The museum is full of history but done in a way that’s innovative and engaging that everyone will enjoy.
Black Taxi Tours and Peace Walls
One thing that is very unique about Belfast is their Black Taxi Tours that takes visitors around historical and cultural attractions in the city. The great thing about these private tours is that it’s told by locals taxi drivers, giving you a personal insight into the history of Belfast.
These tours are great for those who have never visited Belfast before and want to get a deeper insight into the city. The main feature in the black taxi tours is exploring the historical Peace Walls located all around the city.
Biggest Free Attraction in Belfast
The Peace Walls as the biggest free attraction in the city. It’s a huge attraction especially with tourists as they seem to be really fascinated by the history here.
For those who don’t know the Peace Walls are a series of barriers that were put in place during 1969 ‘Troubles’; a time of violence between the Catholic and Protestant communities.
Over 30 years later, many of the walls are still in place but the violence has ended. The walls carry a huge part of the history and represent a time when peace began to take place in Northern Ireland. Recently, visiting areas where historical conflicts have taken place has become more and more popular with tourists, especially in Northern Ireland.
Many local artists have put their artwork on the walls, making them more appealing. It has now become a thing that when you visit the walls to have to leave your own positive message of hope for others to read.
Read our dedicated blog on the Peace Walls to find out more about their history and role in the city.
Belfast is home to another great museum that doesn’t shy away from exploring the city’s troubled past at the Ulster Museum. It offers something for everyone from history buffs to art lovers to the curious. The Museum explores the unique history of this part of Ireland and with collections from around the globe.
The art collections you’ll find here is one of my favourites that contains one of the finest collections of Irish Art to be found in the world. The History galleries are also fascinating and engaging, exploring the arrival of the first people in Ireland to today’s modern times. If you’re a fan of Games of Thrones you’ll want to check out the amazing Game of Thrones Tapestry located here.
The best thing about this museum is that it’s completely free, and it has an incredible variety of things for you to learn and discover in a very interactive and fun environment.
Belfast Sight-Seeing Tour
To see the best of Belfast, especially if you’ve never been to the city before I recommend hopping on the city bus tour. The tour takes you around Belfast City, exploring all the famous sites and attractions and giving you insight into the interesting history of this unique place. The 90-minute tour will take you to some of Belfast much loved landmarks including St. Georges Market and Titanic Museum.
What’s great about this tour is that you can get off and explore the different areas around the city and then hop on the next bus and continue with the tour. The only company that provides the open top bus tours is Belfast Sightseeing Tours.
When the weathers nice the only place you’ll want to head to is Botanic Gardens and enjoy a lovely walk through the beautiful surroundings. Like most places in Belfast, Botanic Gardens has a long history that dates back to 1828 when it was first established. It offers an important insight into the Victorian heritage of Belfast.
It has also become a popular meeting place for both locals and tourist alike. The gardens are filled with beauty from colourful flower beds to the Palm House’s Tropical plants and birds of Paradise. Botanic Garden has also become an important place for events, activities and concerts taking place in the city. Perfect place to relax and have a picnic while in Belfast.
St. Georges Market
Another one of my favourite places to visit in Belfast is one of the best indoor markets around the country, St.Georges Market. The market which has been around since 1896 is the only surviving Victorian market in Belfast. It’s the oldest attraction in the city and you won’t want to pass up on a trip to it.
There are three different things to check out here the Friday Variety Market, the City Food and Craft Market on Saturdays and the Sunday Market. A visit to St. Georges Market is worthwhile to enjoy an authentic taste of Belfast. The market offers over 200 stalls for you to explore, enjoy great food, crafts and find some treasures. Not only can you try some great local food but speciality food from all around the globe. The atmosphere is always great too with live music being played as you wander around the place.
Crumlin Road Gaol
If you want to explore a spooky prison that has an unforgettable history then Crumlin Road Gaol is a must-see. Back in the day, it was thought to be one of the most advanced prisons of its times that could hold up to 500 inmates but during the troubles, it saw more than 900 being held here. Today it has now been turned into a tourist attraction, wedding venue, conference centre and has a great bar and restaurant.
There are a variety of tours you can take part in such as Daily Guided Tours, Paranormal Tours, Ghost Tours and Historical and Victorian Tours. Each tour offers you something different to be discovered.
The Daily Guided Tour walks you through 150 years of prison history and a unique opportunity for you to step back in time to see what it was like for the inmates once here. The tour allows you to get an insight into the lives of the Prisoners and Guards, the history of the gaol including the executions that took place.
This is one of the best attractions in Belfast and the tours are brilliantly put together, very informative and engaging, definitely not to be missed.
Belfast Castle and Cave Hill
Another popular attraction to visit in Belfast is the stunning location of Belfast Castle and the surrounding Cave Hill area. Belfast Castle offers some incredible views across the city of Belfast, perfect for photo opportunities. If you enjoy hiking make sure to take a walk to the top of Cave Hill where you’ll be met with more panoramic views of the city that you won’t get anywhere else.
It’s one of the most famous landmarks in the city that has been around for a long time since the 1860s. There is so much to explore at the castle from touring the castle itself, the archaeological sites, playground and different walking routes. There are gorgeous landscapes gardens and mixed woodland throughout the estate.
Cave Hill takes over the landscape of Belfast, the only time you can’t see it when you’re standing on top of it. A trip here is one that you will not quickly forget.
Belfast City Hall
You can’t plan a trip to Belfast and not stop to explore one of the most famous buildings in the city. Belfast City Hall first opened its doors in 1906 and is located in the heart of the city. It has a long and interesting history that you can explore through free guided tours of the building.
There is so much to see at this attraction from the beautiful architecture both inside and out. One of its prominent features is the Titanic Memorial Garden, along with other memorials and statues throughout the grounds. Inside it takes you back to a different era all together with some incredible features. During the night the building even lights up in different colours so be sure to watch out for that.
Hidden Gems in Belfast- Belfast Travel Guide Tips
There are plenty of hidden gems to be discovered in Belfast that will make your trip here even more special. Sometimes even trying to find these hidden gems is all the fun.
What you might be surprised to know is that a lot of famous legends hail from Belfast such as Van Morrison, George Best and C.S. Lewis. The city has dedicated self-guided tours on them where you can learn about their childhood and how the streets of Belfast shaped their amazing talent.
This is a great opportunity to visit different areas around Belfast and be inspired by the places that inspired these icons. Check out our dedicated blogs on each Van Morrison Trail, George Best Trail and C.S Lewis Trail.
2. Belfast Cookery School
If you enjoy food and cooking then this is one of Belfast’s treasured gems. The Belfast Cookery School is an exciting way to enjoy some of the best food whilst learning something new. The Cookery School was created out of love for good food and their desire to share that experience with others.
The aim of the place is for people to enjoy cooking in a fun and engaging atmosphere that is taught by some of Belfast’s best chefs. They provide classes for all ages and abilities and its one of the fun things to do in Belfast.
3. The Mac
While in Belfast take a trip to our award-winning art centre that is the Mac Theatre located in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter. It is a centre for all things culture and art and since opening in 2012 it has gone from strength to strength.
The Art Centre offers an eclectic range of programmes throughout the year. You can check out visual art exhibitions, theatre dance, family workshops and more. The Mac never fails to impress visitors there is always something exciting happening, a perfect way to spend an evening in Belfast.
4. Cathedral Quarter
Not really a hidden gem but its one of my personal favourite places to spend the evening in Belfast. The Cathedral Quarter is full of a unique range of bars and restaurants, that offer something for everyone.
The area is home to a bustling culture and arts scene, cosy pubs, underground music venues and a host of contemporary restaurants. If you’re searching for a great time in Belfast this is the place to make your way to. You will enjoy the lively atmosphere and the friendly locals who are up for fun.
5. Belfast Food Tours
Those foodie lovers out there will love this award-winning tour, who want to explore the amazing Belfast food scene on offer. If you’re only in the city for a short time then this is the perfect opportunity to get the best food guide around Belfast.
The food tour lasts around four hours bringing you to the best food and drinks spot in Northern Ireland’s Capital City. You’ll get the chance to sample some amazing dishes by world-class restaurants and chefs in Belfast. An authentic tour to Northern Ireland’s much-loved cuisine. This is one of those things you’ll not what to miss while in Belfast.
6. Cabaret Supperclub
If you’re looking for something a bit different and quirky to do in Belfast then book a night to go to the Cabaret Supperclub. At this place, you’ll be transported into a 1920’s jazz bar where you can enjoy a gorgeous dinner and watch their famous burlesque show.
This is a fun night out in Belfast with your friends in a cool Hollywood atmosphere. The show includes a variety of local comedy acts and tribute acts to some iconic people like Frank Sinatra and Amy Winehouse. This place is not to be missed and offers an excuse to get dressed up and just have a great night in the city.
Best Places for Food in Belfast – Belfast Travel Guide
As I have mentioned briefly before you will be happily surprised by the world-class food on offer in Belfast. The food scene in Belfast is quality and I’m not just saying that because it’s my home.
Belfast has become a hub for world-class chefs and restaurants who are producing exciting dishes that will leave you wanting more. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to food in Belfast. Here is my list of places of the best place for food in Belfast.
Made in Belfast
First on the list is Made in Belfast the place to head to for some amazing local food and delicious cocktails. The restaurant came about when traveller Emma Brickhall put different cities names into a hat and whatever city she pulled out would be the next place she would live.
The name she pulled out was, of course, Belfast and that was the beginning of creating one of Belfast much loved restaurants which officially open in 2008. They now have two restaurants located in the city one at Cathedral Quarter and another at City Hall. The style of food is simple but innovative with influences from all around the world. Lovely place with a great atmosphere in a quirky setting.
Located in the Cathedral Quarter you will find Zen, a place that offers amazing East Asian inspired food in Belfast. It’s one of the best places to try some Asian cuisine while in Belfast.
When translated Zen means enlightenment through meditation. That’s exactly the vibe in this restaurant, a relaxing environment and delicious Japanese food that will take you to a place of enlightenment. Zen offers a brilliant variety of dishes from award-winning sushi to simple Chinese cuisine. You’ll want to try a bit of everything here as its all amazing.
The Muddlers Club
This is one of the hidden gems in Belfast when it comes to places to eat, secretly located in the Cathedral Quarter that you could pass by and not even known. The place is run by head chef and owner Gareth McCaughey. He named the place after a secret society that met in the area over 200 years ago.
Since opening in 2015 there has been excitement surrounding the place that has given the place a name for itself. It lives up to the excitement with its open style kitchen that provides a sense of theatre and allows guest to see their dishing being made.
The places offering flavoursome dishes and you can also try their five-course tasting menu with alternative vegan and vegetarian options.
This Michelin-Awarded Restaurant is not to be missed while in Belfast, a place where you can enjoy the best of local ingredients and cooking that is to a high standard. Alex Greene is one of the head chefs here and has worked for the likes of Gordon Ramsey.
He has been working at Deanes EIPIC in Belfast creating subtle dishes that are packed full of flavour and seasoning that are cooked to perfection. The restaurant itself offers an elegant, modern and innovate dining experience in Belfast.
These are just a few of my personal recommendations of a place to try food while in Belfast. But have a wander around the city and discover all the other exciting places to enjoy food in Belfast. After all the city is packed with everything you could possibly want.
Best Bars to Visit in Belfast – Belfast Travel Guide Tips
The great thing about Belfast is that the place is filled with a variety of modern, traditional and unique bars where you can enjoy a drink. Belfast is good at mixing the old with the new and creating something special. Heres my list of the bars you can’t miss out on visiting while in Belfast.
Crown Liquor Bar
A trip to Belfast wouldn’t be right without stopping off at one of the most famous and oldest bars in the city. The Crown Liquor Bar is one of the unique pubs in Belfast that is filled with a fascinating history.
It’s a gem that has been around since the Victorian era that still boasts a lot of its original features. It was also once known as one of the best Victorian Gin Palaces in the city. Great place to visit and indulge yourself in the stories and history of the place.
2. Kelly Cellars
Next is one of the oldest traditional pubs in Belfast that’s still as popular now as it was when it first opened in 1720. Its a hub for some of the best live traditional music hosting some famous Irish acts.
The bar is exactly what you would imagine it to be like if you walked into it 100 years ago. The place serves one of the best pints of Guinness in the city, so you must visit for that along. As well as the great atmosphere and hospitality provided.
3. The Dirty Onion
At this place, you can enjoy a traditional Irish bar experience that offers a modern twist while in Belfast. It is housed in one of Belfast’s oldest buildings adding a unique character and charm to the place.
The Dirty Onion offers one of the biggest beer gardens in Belfast and a cosy fired inside, perfect to visit any time of the year. The place provides entertainment every single night and is great for craft beer and whiskey.
4. Revolucion De Cuba
This is one of the best places to head to in Belfast to try an amazing variety of handcrafted cocktails and Cuban food. It offers a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else in Belfast. The amazing combination of cocktails, lively music and fiesta experience is something you’ll not quickly forget.
5. The Perch Rooftop Bar
This is one of Belfast’s most popular rooftop bars located in the historic Linen Quarter. One of the best places to spend time during the summer, take in the city views and enjoy a cold drink. Even in winter, they provide you with blankets and winter warmers so you can have a nice time here all year round.
These are just a few of my personal recommendations but make sure you also check out The National, Rita’s, Bootleggers, Muriels, and Cuckoo to name a few.
Day Trips From Belfast – Belfast Travel Guide Tips
There some great attractions just outside Belfast that are also worth visiting while you are in Northern Ireland’s Capital City. Here’s my recommendation to best day trips from Belfast guide.
The Giants Causeway and Carrick-a-rede-Bridge
Take a day out to explore the world famous Heritage Site of Giants Causeway on the North Coast followed by a visit impressive Carrick-a-rede Bridge. Where you’ll be in awe of the incredible coastal scenery that surrounds you. These are two of the biggest attractions in Northern Ireland that you have to experience for yourself.
Read our dedicated blog on the Giants Causeway to learn more about the attraction.
Trip to Dublin
Being only two and a half hours away from Belfast you can’t miss the opportunity to visit Ireland’s Capital City. Dublin is an exciting city that offers that perfect day trip full of culture, history and good fun.
Check out our dedicated travel guide to Dublin to find out all about the city and what it can offer you during a visit.
Take the 20-minute drive from Belfast to Carrickfergus and visit one of the best preserved medieval castles in Northern Ireland. The Norman castle has been around for over eight centuries and offers a colourful history to explore. It’s one of the top castles in Ireland and offers an exceptional architecture.
Check out our dedicated blog on Carrickfergus Castle to find out more about this attraction.
Take a day out of Belfast to visit one of Europe’s most dramatic cliff walks at the Gobbins Cliff Path in Larne. A really spectacular location where you can experience nature at its finest along the Causeway Coast.
This attraction is very popular so it’s always a good idea to book in advance so you don’t miss out on the amazing experience.
A great day trip from Belfast would be to visit Northern Ireland’s cultural capital that is Derry. Derry has many great attractions and unique features that you’ll only find here and has become a very tourist destination.
From its cultural attractions to its powerful murals to its unforgettable history there is so much to uncover in Derry. You’ll want to make sure you make time to visit.
Check out our dedicated blog on Derry to find out more on the city’s history and attractions.
The Old Bushmills Distillery
Another worthwhile trip outside of Belfast is to Bushmills to explore the oldest working distillery in Ireland. The working distillery also acts as a visitor attraction where you can uncover the history of whiskey in the area.
The guided tours around the place include seeing how the famous whiskey is made and you are even offered a tasting session. There is also a speciality whiskey shop and a stocked gift shop here.
Your One-Stop Belfast Travel Guide
I hope this Belfast travel guide with help you to plan an incredible trip to Northern Ireland’s Capital City. This is my personal guide to the best places, attractions and things to do for you to add to your Belfast bucket list.
What I haven’t covered here you’ll be sure to find somewhere in our site. There’s not much we haven’t covered when it comes to Belfast and Northern Ireland. If you also want to see amazing videos of places around Belfast, Ireland and further afield make sure to check out our YouTube Channel that’s filled with all that.