Walking The Golden Mile | Belfast, Northern Ireland

Exploring interesting streets of Belfast

Updated On: April 19, 2024 by   Maha YassinMaha Yassin

Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is a city steeped in history, culture, and a rich tapestry of traditions. One of the best ways to immerse yourself in this vibrant city’s heart is to stroll along the famous Golden Mile. This iconic stretch of road is a bustling hub of activity, boasting many attractions, restaurants, pubs, and shops, making it a must-visit destination for tourists and locals alike. This article will delve deep into the history and highlights of Belfast’s Golden Mile, providing you with a comprehensive guide for your next visit.

The Origin of the Golden Mile

The Golden Mile is a term coined to describe a section of Belfast’s main thoroughfare, Great Victoria Street, which stretches from the iconic Grand Opera House to the historic Queen’s University. This name was inspired by the vibrant nightlife and the many entertainment venues gracing the street during the city’s heyday in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a golden era, and the name has since stuck, even though the nature of the businesses along the Mile has evolved.

A Walk Through Time

Walking The Golden Mile | Belfast,  Northern Ireland
Grand Opera House

To truly appreciate the significance of the Golden Mile, it’s essential to understand its historical context. The Victorian era saw Belfast rise as an industrial powerhouse fueled by shipbuilding, linen manufacturing, and trade. As the city flourished, Great Victoria Street became its beating heart, lined with elegant buildings and entertainment establishments that catered to the city’s burgeoning population.

One of the most notable landmarks along the Golden Mile is the Grand Opera House. Built in 1895, this stunning venue has entertained audiences for over a century. Its iconic façade is a testament to the city’s architectural heritage, and visiting the theatre is a fantastic way to kick off your Golden Mile adventure.

Continuing down the Mile, you’ll find yourself at the Europa Hotel, which holds the distinction of being one of the most bombed hotels in Europe during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Despite this dark history, the Europa has been meticulously restored and is now a symbol of Belfast’s resilience and progress.

As you walk further, you’ll reach the Crown Liquor Saloon, a true gem of Victorian architecture. This opulent pub, known for its intricate tiling, ornate woodwork, and stained glass, is not just a place to enjoy a pint but a living museum of Belfast’s history.

Culinary Delights

The Golden Mile is a food lover’s paradise, offering diverse dining experiences to suit all tastes and budgets. You’ll find it all here whether you’re in the mood for traditional Irish fare, international cuisine, or trendy fusion dishes.

For a taste of authentic Northern Irish cuisine, consider dining at Robinson’s or Mourne Seafood Bar. Both establishments are known for using locally sourced ingredients and classic dishes like traditional Irish stew, Ulster fry, and fresh seafood.

If you prefer international flavours, you can explore the numerous Indian, Chinese, Italian, and Mexican restaurants that line the Mile. From spicy curries to gourmet pizzas, there’s something to satisfy every palate.

For a more upscale experience, Deanes EIPIC offers an exquisite tasting menu showcasing the best Northern Irish produce. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a testament to Belfast’s growing reputation as a culinary destination.

Retail Therapy

The Golden Mile is also a shopper’s paradise, with many boutiques and stores to explore. Whether you are looking for high-end fashion, unique souvenirs, or locally made crafts, you will find something that catches your eye.

Victoria Square Shopping Centre, located at the top of the Mile, is a modern retail complex that houses a variety of well-known brands and designer boutiques. The dome-shaped glass roof provides stunning city views and adds to the shopping experience.

For a more eclectic and vintage shopping experience, venture into the Cathedral Quarter, a short walk from the Golden Mile. Here, you’ll discover an array of independent shops, art galleries, and quirky boutiques.

The Arts and Culture Scene

Belfast’s Golden Mile is synonymous with culture, and it’s home to some of the city’s most prominent cultural institutions. The Ulster Museum, located in the nearby Botanic Gardens, is a must-visit for history buffs and art enthusiasts. It boasts an extensive collection of Irish art, archaeology, and natural history exhibits.

Queen’s University Belfast, at the southern end of the Golden Mile, is a hub of learning and culture. The university’s historic Lanyon Building, with its stunning architecture, is a testament to the city’s commitment to education and research.

The Lyric Theatre, situated on Ridgeway Street just off the Golden Mile, is renowned for its world-class productions. It annually offers an eclectic mix of drama, comedy, and musical performances.


The Golden Mile comes alive with a thriving nightlife scene as the sun sets. The Mile has a reputation for its vibrant pubs, bars, and clubs, making it an excellent destination for a night out on the town.
Kelly’s Cellars, one of Belfast’s oldest traditional pubs, offers a cosy atmosphere and live formal music sessions. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy a pint of Guinness and soak up the local culture.

For those seeking a more contemporary ambience, The Perch Rooftop Bar offers panoramic views of the city skyline, craft cocktails, and a stylish setting. It’s an ideal place to unwind after a day of exploration.
Limelight Belfast is a beloved nightclub and live music venue that attracts local and international acts. Whether you’re into rock, electronic, or indie music, this venue has something for everyone.

The Best Time to Visit Belfast

The best time to visit Belfast largely depends on your preferences and what kind of experience you’re seeking. The summer months, from June to August, are famous for tourists due to milder weather, longer daylight hours, and a vibrant festival and events calendar.

This period is ideal for outdoor activities, exploring the city’s parks and gardens, and enjoying the lively atmosphere. However, if you prefer fewer crowds and lower accommodation prices, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November). These months still offer pleasant weather and a chance to witness the city’s stunning landscapes as they change with the seasons.

Winters (December to February) are generally quieter, and you can experience the city’s festive charm during the Christmas season, but be prepared for colder and wetter weather. Ultimately, the best time to visit Belfast depends on your preferences and what you hope to experience during your trip.

Exploring Beyond the Golden Mile: Nearby Belfast Attractions

The Golden Mile in Belfast is a vibrant area with numerous attractions, and its central location makes it a great starting point for further exploring the city. Here are some notable attractions nearby:

  1. Botanic Gardens: Just a short walk from the Golden Mile, the Botanic Gardens are a tranquil oasis featuring beautifully landscaped gardens, exotic plant collections, and the iconic Palm House. It’s an ideal place for a stroll and a visit to the nearby Ulster Museum.
  2. Ulster Museum: Located within the Botanic Gardens, the Ulster Museum houses an extensive collection of art, history, and natural science exhibits. It’s a great place to delve into Northern Ireland’s cultural and historical heritage.
  3. Queen’s University Belfast: As mentioned earlier, Queen’s University is at the southern end of the Golden Mile. The campus is known for its stunning architecture, including the Lanyon Building, and offers a pleasant environment for a walk.
  4. Cathedral Quarter: A short distance from the Golden Mile, it is a trendy and artistic district known for its cobbled streets, street art, independent boutiques, galleries, and a thriving cultural scene. It’s a must-visit for art and music enthusiasts.
  5. St. Anne’s Cathedral: Located in the Cathedral Quarter, St. Anne’s Cathedral is a stunning example of modern architecture. Visitors can explore its impressive interior and even take an elevator ride to the rooftop for panoramic views of Belfast.
  6. Titanic Quarter: A bit further from the Golden Mile but still easily accessible, the Titanic Quarter is home to the Titanic Belfast museum, where you can learn about the ill-fated ship’s history. The area also features the SS Nomadic, Titanic’s tender ship, and various maritime-themed attractions.
  7. Crumlin Road Gaol: This historic prison, which operated for over 150 years, offers guided tours that provide insight into Belfast’s troubled past. It’s a short drive or a leisurely walk from the Golden Mile.
  8. Belfast Castle: Nestled on Cave Hill, Belfast Castle offers panoramic views of the city and Belfast Lough. It’s a picturesque spot for a day trip and a stroll in the surrounding parkland.
  9. St. George’s Market: This vibrant indoor market is open on weekends in the city centre. You can explore stalls selling local produce, crafts, antiques, and gourmet foods.
  10. SS Nomadic: Adjacent to Titanic Belfast, SS Nomadic is a beautifully restored ship that served as the Titanic’s tender. Visitors can explore its interior and learn about its history.

These attractions, in addition to the Golden Mile’s offerings, provide a well-rounded experience for anyone exploring Belfast, whether you’re interested in history, culture, art, or simply enjoying the city’s unique atmosphere.


Walking the Golden Mile in Belfast is an enriching experience that offers a glimpse into the city’s history, culture, and vibrant present. The Golden Mile has something for every traveller, from its historic landmarks and culinary delights to its thriving arts scene and nightlife. It’s a testament to Belfast’s resilience and evolution, and a visit here is a journey through time and culture that you won’t soon forget. So, put on your walking shoes, explore this iconic stretch, and immerse yourself in the heart of Belfast, Northern Ireland.