things to do in belfast northern ireland

Last Updated on: 14th June 2024, 05:14 am

If you’re looking for a vibrant city with a rich history and plenty of culture, look no further than Belfast, Ireland. Located in Northern Ireland, Belfast is a city like no other, with a unique blend of tradition and modernity. Whether you’re interested in exploring historic landmarks, enjoying the arts and culture scene, or experiencing the natural beauty of the outdoors, there’s something for everyone in Belfast.

With so many things to do in Belfast, Northern Ireland, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why I’ve put together this guide to the top fun things to do in the city. From historic sites and museums to outdoor adventures and family-friendly activities, there’s something to suit every interest. So, come and discover the best things to do in Belfast, Ireland, and make the most of your time in this vibrant city.

Things to do in Belfast

1. Historic Sites and Landmarks

Are you a history enthusiast? Visiting Belfast’s historic sites and landmarks is a must-do on your travel itinerary.

Begin your journey at Belfast City Hall, an impressive masterpiece of Portland stone. Take a free tour of this iconic Grade A Listed building and appreciate its incredible architecture and history.

Another popular attraction is the Titanic Belfast, a monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage. Located in the heart of the Titanic Quarter, this six-story building houses interactive exhibitions and galleries that explore the Titanic’s story and its relationship with the city.

Falls Road and Shankill Road Murals

For a deeper insight into Belfast’s history, visit the murals of Falls Road and Shankill Road. These murals depict significant events and people from Belfast’s past and present, including the political troubles in the 20th century.

“The murals on the Shankill and Falls Road are a reflection of the communities that created them.”

The murals are located in different areas of the city, so it’s recommended to take a taxi or guided tour. It’s an eye-opening experience to learn about Belfast’s complex history through the artwork on the walls.

The Giant’s Ring

Another historic site worth exploring is The Giant’s Ring, located just south of Belfast. This ancient henge monument dates back to the Neolithic period and is believed to have been a site for rituals and ceremonies.

Enjoy a leisurely walk around the site, and explore the beautiful surrounding countryside. It’s a fantastic opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and appreciate the natural beauty of the Northern Irish countryside.

In Summary

Experience Belfast’s rich history and culture by visiting its prominent historic sites and landmarks. From City Hall to the Titanic Belfast, Falls Road and Shankill Road murals, and The Giant’s Ring, Belfast’s history comes to life through these incredible sites. Don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in Belfast’s fascinating past.

2. Museums and Galleries

As a lover of arts and culture, I highly recommend exploring the museums and galleries found in Belfast. From the Titanic Belfast, which provides an interactive and educational experience about the famous ship’s ill-fated voyage, to the Ulster Museum, which showcases contemporary art and exhibitions about Northern Ireland’s history, there are plenty of fascinating cultural attractions to suit all interests.

One must-see gallery is the Belfast Exposed Photography, which is one of the top photography galleries in Ireland and showcases thought-provoking pieces by established and emerging artists alike. Another prominent spot to visit is the Golden Thread Gallery, a contemporary arts organization that regularly exhibits thought-provoking works that ignite conversations about current social, political, and cultural issues in Belfast and beyond.

Museum/Gallery Description
Titanic Belfast This museum is a must-see in Belfast, providing a poignant and immersive experience of the Titanic’s tragic voyage.
Ulster Museum This museum showcases contemporary art and exhibitions that showcase Northern Ireland’s fascinating history.
Belfast Exposed Photography This renowned photography gallery features stimulating works by established and emerging international photographers.
Golden Thread Gallery This contemporary gallery displays art forms that ignite conversations about current social, political and cultural issues in Belfast and beyond.

3. Outdoor Activities

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Belfast. From scenic nature walks to picturesque parks, there’s something for every nature lover.

Nature Walks in Belfast

One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Belfast is by taking a peaceful nature walk. With trails like the Lagan Towpath, Cave Hill Country Park and the Divis and Black Mountain walk, you can enjoy a relaxing stroll with stunning views and fresh air in abundance.

Parks in Belfast

If you’re looking to take in the parks and green spaces, make sure to visit the picturesque Botanic Gardens. This Victorian garden features exotic plant species from every corner of the world, and it’s the perfect place for a picnic on a sunny day. Alternatively, you can explore the expansive Ormeau Park, covering 159 acres and boasting a wide range of recreational activities from tennis to adventure playgrounds.

Outdoor Adventure

For thrill-seekers, Belfast offers a plethora of outdoor adventures. You can kayak along the River Lagan, hike the rugged terrain of Cave Hill, or take off on a zipline adventure through the colourful Belfast Activity Centre.

No matter what you choose, getting outside to experience the natural beauty of Belfast is a must-do. With so many outdoor activities to choose from, it’s easy to make the most of your time in Northern Ireland.

4. Food and Drink

One of the best things about Belfast is its diverse selection of food and drink options. Indulge in Belfast’s delicious Belfast cuisine by sampling the many traditional dishes that are available. Why not try an Ulster Fry, a hearty breakfast that includes bacon, sausages, eggs, black pudding, and fried soda bread? Belfast has a range of restaurants in Belfast offering international cuisine. You can savor the tastes of Italy, India, and China, right here in the city. Alternatively, visit one of the many traditional Irish pubs Belfast for a pint of Guinness and some live music.

Belfast cuisine restaurants traditional Irish pubs

Traditional Irish Pubs in Belfast

What better way to experience the traditional side of Belfast than by visiting one of its many authentic Irish pubs? From the Crown Liquor Saloon, known for its ornate Victorian decor, to the Duke of York, a beloved pub with a great selection of whiskey, there’s a pub to suit every taste. In addition to their exceptional drinks, these pubs often serve delicious home-cooked meals, making them the perfect place to unwind and enjoy some hearty Irish hospitality.

Restaurants in Belfast

If you prefer a more formal dining experience, Belfast has many restaurants that offer an array of cuisines. Visit the Michelin-starred Ox for a seasonal menu made from locally-sourced ingredients, or the Mourne Seafood Bar for fresh and delicious seafood. For a taste of the exotic, try Jumon, an Asian-inspired fusion restaurant, or The Muddler’s Club, which specializes in modern European cuisine.

Belfast Cuisine

Belfast’s cuisine draws on its Irish heritage, incorporating traditional dishes and local produce. Head to the St. George’s Market to sample some of Belfast’s fresh produce, such as soda bread or a boxty potato cake. For a truly unique experience, try The Barking Dog, where their menu is based around seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms.

5. Shopping and Markets

As someone who loves to shop, Belfast has been a dream destination for me. From local boutiques to bustling markets, this city offers a unique shopping experience that I can’t find anywhere else.

High street stores like Primark, Topshop, and River Island offer the latest fashion trends for affordable prices. But if you’re looking for something truly unique, I recommend checking out the local boutiques. Some of my favorites include:

  • The Edit – located on Lisburn Road, this boutique has an array of trendy clothing, accessories, and homeware.
  • Blush Boutique – this chic store in Queen’s Arcade has a great selection of dresses and occasion wear.
  • Studio Souk – a collective of over 30 local artists and makers, this store has a variety of handmade gifts and crafts.

But shopping in Belfast doesn’t just mean hitting the boutiques. The city also has several bustling markets where you can find everything from fresh produce to unique souvenirs. Some of my favorite markets include:

Market Location Specialty
St. George’s Market Belfast City Centre Food, Crafts, Antiques
Lisburn Road Market South Belfast Organic Produce, Local Crafts
Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum Market Lisburn Linen Products

And of course, you can’t leave Belfast without picking up some souvenirs. Whether you’re looking for traditional Irish items like Claddagh rings or modern gifts like locally made ceramics, there are plenty of shops to choose from. Some of my favorite spots for souvenirs include the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre and the Ulster Museum gift shop.

6. Live Music and Entertainment

Looking for a lively evening out? Belfast is the perfect destination for those seeking live music, vibrant nightlife, and entertainment venues galore. Catch a live music performance at one of the city’s many pubs and clubs, or dance the night away at one of Belfast’s top nightclubs.

Whether you’re into traditional Irish music, indie gigs, or DJ sets, Belfast has something to offer. Some of the top entertainment venues in the city include:

Venue Type of Entertainment
The SSE Arena, Belfast Concerts, Comedy Shows, Sporting Events
The Limelight Live Music, Club Nights
The Empire Music Hall Live Music, Comedy Shows
The Harp Bar Live Music, Traditional Irish Sessions

Need a break from the music scene? Why not check out some of Belfast’s other entertainment options, such as:

  • Movie Theatres
  • Comedy Clubs
  • Theatres and Performing Arts Centres

live music Belfast

Whatever your fancy, Belfast is sure to have something that will leave you entertained and buzzing with energy. So let loose and enjoy all the nightlife and entertainment that this city has to offer!

7. Day Trips from Belfast

While there’s plenty to see in Belfast, you’d be remiss not to take advantage of its central location and explore the surrounding areas. There are many top-rated day trips from Belfast that are worth checking out. Here are a few of the best:

The Giant’s Causeway

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway, is a natural wonder that should be on your list. There are several tours available to take you from Belfast to this geological marvel, and the journey itself is scenic and picturesque. The rock formations are a result of an ancient volcanic eruption and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s certainly a must-visit attraction for anyone traveling to Northern Ireland.

The Dark Hedges

Northern Ireland toursLocated about an hour’s drive from Belfast, the Dark Hedges is a tunnel of beech trees that creates a surreal and magical atmosphere. The stunning trees were also featured in the Game of Thrones series. A day trip to this location would make for an excellent adventure for any fans of the show or for those who love nature’s beauty.

The Glens of Antrim

The Glens of Antrim offer some of the most beautiful scenery in Northern Ireland. With lush forests, rolling hills, and charming villages, it’s the perfect place for nature lovers. You can visit the Glenariff Forest Park, stop by the lovely village of Cushendun, or take in the scenery from Torr Head. A tour of the area would be a memorable experience you’ll treasure for years to come.

These are just a sample of the many day trips from Belfast that are worth exploring. Whether you want to take a tour of historic castles, trek through the great outdoors, or simply experience the charm of small-town life, there’s something for every kind of traveler.

8. Family-Friendly Activities

If you’re looking for fun activities in Belfast, you’re in luck! There are plenty of options to keep both kids and adults entertained.

W5 Interactive Discovery Centre

The W5 Interactive Discovery Centre is a must-see attraction for families in Belfast. With over 250 amazing interactive exhibits and activities across eight themed areas, this award-winning science and discovery centre is packed with fun educational experiences for all ages. From launching a rocket to exploring the depths of the ocean, the W5 Centre is sure to inspire your little ones’ imaginations.

Belfast Zoo

Another great family-friendly attraction is the Belfast Zoo. Located in north Belfast, this popular zoo is home to over 1,200 animals across 140 species, including tigers, elephants, and chimpanzees. Kids will love the daily feeding times and animal talks, and you can even book an animal encounter experience for an extra-special treat.

Children's attractions Belfast

Traditional Red Bus Sightseeing Tour

If you’re looking for a unique and memorable way to see the city, why not take a traditional red bus sightseeing tour? This hop-on hop-off tour takes you to all the top sights in Belfast, from the Titanic Belfast museum to the historic Crumlin Road Gaol. Kids will love the open-top bus ride and entertaining live commentary, and you’ll get to sit back and enjoy the sights in comfort.

9. Sporting Events and Outdoor Adventures

If you’re a sports enthusiast, Belfast offers a range of opportunities to experience the thrill of live sporting events. Cheer on local football teams at Windsor Park or catch a rugby or cricket match at the newly refurbished Ravenhill Stadium. Whether you’re a fan of football, rugby, or cricket, there’s always a match to catch.

For more adventurous types, outdoor activities in Northern Ireland are a must-try. Take a hike in the stunning Mourne Mountains and marvel at the natural beauty of the Irish countryside. Cycle along Lagan Towpath or explore the idyllic forests of Castlewellan and Tollymore. Belfast is also known for its spectacular golf courses, including the Royal Belfast Golf Club and the Dunmurry Golf Club.

Sporting Events

Sporting Event Location Date
Football: Linfield vs. Glentoran Windsor Park September 4, 2021
Rugby: Ulster vs. Glasgow Warriors Ravenhill Stadium September 17, 2021
Cricket: Ireland vs. Zimbabwe Stormont August 26, 2021

For those seeking adventure, consider embarking on a hiking journey through the Mourne Mountains. The range is known for its majestic beauty and offers challenging treks to experienced hikers. Alternatively, you can take a leisurely bike ride along Lagan Towpath and enjoy the fresh Northern Ireland air. Golf enthusiasts can also tee off at some of the best courses in the country.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I highly recommend visiting Belfast, Northern Ireland, for its diverse range of attractions and activities. From exploring the city’s fascinating history and culture to indulging in its culinary delights, there’s something for everyone. The natural beauty of Belfast can be explored through outdoor activities and day trips to nearby attractions. Families with children can enjoy a variety of kid-friendly attractions, and sports and adventure enthusiasts will not be disappointed.

Overall, Belfast is a vibrant city with a welcoming atmosphere, and I guarantee that you’ll enjoy your time here. So, pack your bags and start planning your visit to discover all the wonderful things to do in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

FAQ

What are some top fun things to do in Belfast, Northern Ireland?

There are plenty of exciting activities to enjoy in Belfast, Northern Ireland. You can explore historic sites and landmarks, visit museums and galleries, engage in outdoor activities, savor delicious food and drink, go shopping in unique markets, experience live music and entertainment, take day trips to nearby attractions, enjoy family-friendly activities, and participate in sporting events and outdoor adventures.

Can you recommend some historic sites and landmarks to visit in Belfast?

Absolutely! Belfast is rich in history and offers several must-visit landmarks. Some notable sites include Belfast City Hall, the murals of Falls Road and Shankill Road, Crumlin Road Gaol, Stormont Estate, and the Peace Walls. Each of these places offers unique insights into Belfast’s heritage and cultural significance.

What museums and galleries can I explore in Belfast?

Belfast is home to a diverse range of museums and galleries. You can visit the interactive Titanic Belfast museum, delve into art at the Ulster Museum, explore maritime history at the SS Nomadic, discover Irish history at the Museum of Orange Heritage, and enjoy contemporary art at the MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre).

Are there any outdoor activities to enjoy in Belfast?

Yes, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Belfast. You can explore the beautiful Botanic Gardens, take a leisurely stroll along the River Lagan, visit the stunning Cave Hill for panoramic views of the city, or even go hiking and cycling in the nearby Belfast Hills. Nature lovers will definitely find something to suit their interests.

Where can I try some authentic Belfast cuisine and experience the local food scene?

Belfast offers a range of culinary delights for food enthusiasts. You can visit traditional Irish pubs that serve hearty meals, try local delicacies such as soda bread and Ulster fry, or explore trendy restaurants that offer international cuisine. The city’s vibrant food scene caters to a variety of tastes and preferences.

Can you recommend any good shopping spots or markets in Belfast?

Definitely! Belfast is a great place for shopping and exploring markets. You can browse through unique boutiques, visit high street stores, or head to bustling markets like St. George’s Market for a taste of local produce and crafts. Don’t forget to pick up some Belfast souvenirs to remember your trip!

Is there a vibrant live music and entertainment scene in Belfast?

Absolutely! Belfast has a lively entertainment scene with a wide range of live music performances, pubs, clubs, and theaters. You can enjoy traditional Irish music in atmospheric pubs, catch a live gig by local or international artists, or immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant nightlife. There’s always something happening in Belfast.

What are some popular day trips from Belfast?

Belfast’s central location makes it an ideal base for day trips to nearby attractions. You can visit the iconic Giant’s Causeway, explore the picturesque Glens of Antrim, take a tour of the breathtaking Causeway Coastal Route, or discover the historical sites of Derry/Londonderry. The possibilities are endless!

Are there any family-friendly activities in Belfast?

Absolutely! Belfast has several family-friendly attractions and activities. You can visit W5 Interactive Discovery Centre, which offers interactive exhibits and educational experiences, explore Belfast Zoo, or take a sightseeing tour on a traditional red bus. There’s something to keep everyone in the family entertained.

Can you recommend any sporting events or outdoor adventures in Belfast?

Sports enthusiasts and adventure seekers won’t be disappointed in Belfast. You can cheer on local teams at Windsor Park, experience the thrill of a rugby match at Kingspan Stadium, or venture into the surrounding countryside for outdoor adventures like hiking in the Mourne Mountains or cycling along the coast. Belfast offers a range of exciting sporting and outdoor activities.