Must See Belfast: An Insider’s Guide to the Best of Belfast

Must See Belfast

Updated On: May 05, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Our ‘Must See Belfast’ guide goes beyond the destinations you’ll find in plain sight to give a local guide to some essential experiences.

We asked a placement member of the ConnollyCove team, Belfast native Daire Cullen, to pass on some expert advice about Northern Ireland’s award-winning and celebrated city.

Places to See in Belfast | Queen’s University Belfast | Belfast | Visit Belfast | Things to Do

Hidden Gems in Belfast

This guide is perfect for people who want to get the most out of their stay in Belfast and explore the city with places hidden away from the general public, an ideal escape from the crowds and masses in the city.

Or if you want to experience some genuinely good food, plenty of restaurants are never *too* full of people.

This means you’ll find some events and gigs with bands that many other people won’t be there to experience. This is the perfect guide if you’re looking for unique experiences. We can promise you Belfast is full of them.

I won’t give the precise locations of the shops; that’s for you to find out, which makes it more fun to explore. Belfast may be vast, but a short Google search will give you the road to any location here.

So, look at the list and see what hidden part of the city you can experience.

Chocolate Lock-Ins – Hotel Chocolat

Must See Belfast

Now, the shop itself isn’t hidden. However, few people know about this activity in the shop, so ask the staff to learn more. This shop is the best place to get chocolate-related anything in Belfast. The chocolate here is of high quality, so you should remember that it has a high price (not high enough to be considered ridiculous, mind you). But the cost is worth it because I can guarantee their delicious hot chocolates.

Cuban Sandwich Factory

The Cuban sandwich factory is truly a gem hidden in plain sight. With it being in the back of a local shop, many people may turn a blind eye to it; if you ask a local, they’ll most likely say to you, “What’s that?”. Well, it’s a place that makes truly delicious sandwiches one must try before they leave Belfast; you might as well go in and get one before you go somewhere so you can walk around and eat it while experiencing the other places Belfast offers.

The Nutmeg

This tiny shop sells mainly organic food. However, in the daily hustle and bustle of Belfast’s city life, it’ll be easy to overlook this place and walk right past it. Now, this shop is perfect for vegans and vegetarians—and even though I’m neither vegan nor a vegetarian, I still think this shop sells some delicious food and some unique stuff you won’t find anywhere else in Belfast.

This one should and will be easy to find as it’s near some notable shops, so keep that in mind when you visit it.

Secret Gigs

Now, these happen only when organised, which isn’t that often. So you should visit some websites around the web, like Sofarsounds, to see if there are any upcoming gigs in Belfast. These aren’t that often, so you should be careful when you visit Belfast so you can show up on time for one of these gigs.

You can organise your holiday to Belfast around these gigs, as there is some time between their announcement and their start, but it’ll involve a bit more planning and time as there’s no guarantee a gig will be announced today or tomorrow.

C.S Lewis Trail

I only recently heard about this, but this trail is a must-see for those who love Narnia—or any other C.S. Lewis series, for that matter. This trail takes you through the life of C.S. Lewis and his history from birth to death. You’ll walk around and see many sculptures based around his magical world of Narnia and the church where he was baptized. There is also a blue plaque that marks where the writer was born.

This trail is widespread; however, it won’t be filled with people so you can experience it in silent solitude if that’s what you want- or you can experience it with family and friends if you have them with you.

The Sagart

The Sagart is a bar and kitchen with a unique twist. It is the smallest bar in Belfast and is next door to St. Mary’s Church. The bar has excellent cocktails and brilliant food that will interest everyone. Ask the bar staff how the Sagart got its name; it’s a fascinating place.

Keats and Chapman Bookshop

Must See Belfast

Keats and Chapman is a cosy bookshop with a wide selection of books that would interest most bookworms and all customers. It has shelves jam-packed with books, and it would take hours to see their entire stock.

This bookshop is challenging to locate, but it is near the chip shop where a Rihanna music video was shot, so you can get some food when you’re done visiting.

Hatch

Hatch is a little cafe that serves amazing coffee and hot drinks. It also sells some truly delicious foods that many people would enjoy. It sells some brilliant vegan courses that many people would also enjoy regardless of whether they’re vegan or not. I visit this place every day, so I can highly recommend it with a very informed opinion.

Hatch will be hard to find, but I think many people will enjoy it because it has some delicious food.

The Secret Cinema

Secret Cinema may not always be in Belfast- the locations are random every time, and no one is allowed to give away the location or film the event. Now, if the event doesn’t happen in Belfast, it’s still something you should experience as the Secret Cinema organises some of the best events in the UK.  However, if it does end up in Belfast, you should go to it as it’ll be one of the most memorable experiences you could have here.

The Secret Cinema will be showing Casino Royale In London by the time I write this article, so you never know; Belfast could be next. Watch out for the Belfast Film Festival, the fantastic little Beanbag Cinema Venue, the independent QFT, and the historic Stand Cinema.

Many restaurants in Belfast have also bought into the cinema scene and plan a movie night as their place, usually included within a deal to get people to come out and enjoy a film. The Treehouse in Belfast is excellent for this as they have a great selection of movies, so if you’re looking for one way to spend your night, this is the perfect ‘night in’.

Pizza Punks

This is a pizza joint with a very unique theme. Typically, pizza places try to be authentically Italian. This restaurant has a rock-and-roll groove, and it is always lively. The restaurant has an anarchist theme, and the pizza is better than the ones in Venice (in my opinion). You can get whatever you want on it… even potato bread if that’s what you’re into.

Pizza Punks is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, as you can get an entirely vegan pizza with vegan cheese that melts well. This is one of Belfast’s hidden gems; whether you’re a pizza lover or not, it’s a must-try.

Timescape

This unique escape room travels back to the late 1800s, so you can find the notorious Jack the Ripper or even make a daring escape from the Titanic in its final hours. You won’t see this experience anywhere else, so you should attend this if possible. However, this place is harder to find than you might think.

This experience is worth it, so don’t let this deter you from joining it. However, ensure you have your wallet or purse, as you will pay a bit.

The Story of Guitar Heroes

This show will celebrate the works of Jimi Hendricks, Eric Clapton, Hank Marvin, Brian May, and Slash in one night. It will be performed by the musician Phil Walker and backed by his other band members to deliver this memorable show.

This event must be booked before you can attend, so make sure you visit the website before you do; otherwise, you’ll be turned away at the door. If this show isn’t playing, watch out for events in the Grand Opera House, SSE Arena, Lyric Theatre, and Waterfront Hall. These are the top places in Belfast to catch a concert, event, or show.

Voodoo

Must See Belfast

The main reason I’m including the most popular of the hidden gems is that many tourists visiting will miss this place, guaranteed. It is also a place that many people will miss due to the fire that happened in Primark (as of 2018, but it is being rebuilt at the moment). The Voodoo holds many gigs that everyone would love, and when the show’s peak comes, you’ll create some truly great memories.

You can easily find this place if you ask around; however, that depends on how far away from it you are.

How to Find YOUR Hidden Belfast

All of these will interest you. They’re the most unique experiences you can have in Belfast—and if you can’t find one or somehow miss a gig, you can always come back to experience something else.

Belfast may look like a city where everything is laid out for people to find whenever they want; however, the places that are worth visiting are the hidden ones that provide quality food or quality service.

It is up to you to find these places, but I can guarantee you’ll leave feeling like you’ve seen it all if you do.

Let us know if you have already discovered some of these hidden gems in Belfast.

Enjoy!

Other worthy reads:

Good Vibrations in Belfast: A Guide to Belfast for Movie Fans| Famous Irish Authors Who Helped Promote Irish Tourism| Stories of Bravery on the RMS Titanic| Belfast Peace Walls: Amazing Murals and History in Belfast|

One comment on “Must See Belfast: An Insider’s Guide to the Best of Belfast

  1. This is great. Do you conduct torus? How can I take the CS Lewis trail or Trad music gigs when we visit in September?

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