Best 5 Places to Visit in Belfast
Planning your ultimate trip to Ireland is possible once discovering the best places Belfast has to visit. Situated in Northern Ireland, this city sits on the east coast of the country, where the river Laglan meets the sea. Oozing in Irish charm, it’s easy to see how the multitude of attractions this city has to offer sparks the curiosity of its guests. Not only is it the perfect base in which to explore our top 5 places, Belfast has great transport connections to other Irish cities, allowing you to expand your adventure further afield. So whether your trip is already in your calendar, or you’re in need of booking a holiday, let us share our top 5 places to visit while in the city of Belfast.
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Top 5 Things to Do in Belfast
Between fascinating museums, remarkable architecture, and spectacular hidden gems, Belfast has more amazing things to do than you can shake a stick at. Whether you’re touring solo, or with friends and family for a holiday, here are some of our top recommendations for places to visit in Belfast.
- Titanic Belfast
An absolute must see, you practically can’t visit Belfast without going to the Titanic Museum. Located on the very slipways where the Titanic was built and originally launched in 1911, the museum tells the fascinating story of one of the most famous ships in the world. We recommend booking this tourist attraction in advance to avoid missing out.
- Botanic Gardens
Spend some of your time in Belfast strolling through the picturesque Botanic Gardens. Originally a private park, the beautiful area is now open to the public. Here, you’ll find treasures such as the Palm House (the oldest surviving iron-framed building in Ireland) and the Tropical Ravine (a spectacular glasshouse full of exotic plants from all over the world). If touring in autumn, be sure to look out for their autumn fair, which hosts music, food, and craft stalls.
- Belfast City Hall
Another must-stop spot on a visit to Belfast is Belfast City Hall. Originally completed to celebrate Belfast’s new status as a city in 1906, the building is an icon of the city. You can explore the stunning interiors, spectacular stained glass windows and superb art collection.
- Ulster Museum
Museum lovers will adore the Ulster Museum. Home to a rich collection of artefacts, the exhibitions cover Ireland’s complex history. From ancient meteorites and the dinosaurs up to the Troubles, it’s a truly awe-inspiring experience for visitors of all ages. It would be a shame to visit Belfast and miss it. Open every day 10am - 5pm, bar Mondays, experience the museum's exhibits when in the city.
- The Cathedral Quarter
Once a historic trading centre, the Cathedral Quarter is now the vibrant heart of Belfast. The beautiful cobblestone streets are lined with trendy bars, friendly beer gardens, and colourful street art. It’s a great place to explore and get a real taste of the city. What’s more, we wouldn’t be doing our namesake Rabbie Burns justice if we didn’t recommend spending some of your visit to Belfast exploring the city’s top watering holes.
Best 5 Places to Eat in Belfast
It’s almost worth visiting Belfast just to try some of the incredible food. The city is famed for its superb pub grub and fresh seafood. However, the dining options don’t stop there. Belfast has something to satisfy every craving. Here are five of the best places to eat at in Belfast:
- The Ginger Bistro
The award-winning Ginger Bistro is a favourite of many who visit Belfast. Located in the heart of the city centre, they strive to serve high quality, fresh and local ingredients where possible. Serving quality food in a relaxed environment, you can feel truly welcome here.
- The Muddlers Club
A Michelin-starred eatery tucked away down an unassuming street, the Muddlers Club is a must-visit Belfast restaurant. Offering seasonal menus that showcase the best of local ingredients, every dish is exceptionally good.
- Molly’s Yard
Housed in a restored Victorian stable, Molly’s Yard is not only a wonderful setting for a meal but it’s also home to a microbrewery. This means your delicious meal will be paired with a perfect pint. We couldn’t think of a more atmospheric place to visit while in Belfast.
With multiple restaurants across the city, Deanes is a bit of a Belfast institution. Enjoy fresh fish at Deanes Loves Fish. Savour prime cuts of quality meat at Deanes Meat Locker. Tuck in to the best local produce at Deanes at Queens. With something for everyone to get their teeth into, we’re sure you’ll love these restaurants while visiting Belfast.
Serving up contemporary Italian cooking in the heart of Belfast city centre, Coppi aims to showcase the best of local produce. Whether you crave the succulent homemade pasta or exploring the fresh seafood dishes, this place is well worth a visit when in Belfast.
4 Holiday Locations from Belfast
Some people visit Belfast and never want to leave. We can’t blame them. But there are so many brilliant destinations just a short journey away from the city it would be a shame not to travel further afield. Here are 4 of our favourite holiday locations from Belfast:
Northern Ireland’s second largest city of Derry, or Londonderry, is a great second location if you want to keep your city break going. Derry is Ireland’s only intact historic Walled City and is home to award-winning museums, fantastic independent shopping, and the backdrop to the Bafta winning TV show Derry Girls. It’s easy to visit Belfast and Derry in one trip as they are only about 70 miles apart from each other.
- Giant’s Causeway
Just 60 miles from Belfast, seeing the legendary Giant’s Causeway should be on everybody’s bucket list. A UNESCO world heritage site, this geological wonder is a dramatic landscape like no other. The 40,000 geometrically shaped basalt rocks jutting out of the sea have inspired legends of Giants crossing the water between Ireland and Scotland. If you decide to travel to Ireland following a tour of Scotland, be sure to add this iconic landmark to your itinerary as seeing this amazing site is easy on a holiday from Belfast.
- Castle Ward
The stately 18th-century Castle Ward may be more recognisable to some as Winterfell, the ancestral home of House Stark from Game of Thrones. In fact, parts of the estate were used for a whopping 19 different Game of Thrones filming locations. Not a G.O.T fan? Castle Ward still has plenty for you to admire. From its unique mixture of architectural styles to its formal gardens and estate walks, there’s something for everyone to love.
- Dunluce Castle
On the north coast about 60 miles from Belfast are the magnificent ruins of Dunluce Castle. Perched on a clifftop, the spellbinding views of the ruins against the sea make Dunluce one of the best castles in Ireland to visit. Take in the scenic beauty, learn about the castle’s history at the centre of feuding clans, and marvel at the impressive structure.
How to Get to Belfast
Touring from the city of Belfast could not be easier. With well connected roads, train lines and flight routes, however you decide to grace the Irish city, its hosts are ready to welcome you with open arms. What’s more, with direct ferry routes from England, you can tour Ireland in the comfort of your own car.
But why not take a break for yourself? Joining a small-group tour allows you to soak up the scenery, all in the comfort of a luxury mini-coach, meaning you won’t be fighting over who's driving back from the whisky distilleries.
1. Visit Belfast by Train
There are four main train stations in Belfast. These are:
- City Hospital,
- Great Victoria Street
- Lanyon Place - Lanyon Place is commonly referred to as Belfast Central as it’s the closest train station to Belfast city centre.
Direct Train Times Between Irish Cities to Belfast
- Direct trains between Dublin and Belfast take about 2 hours 15 minutes
- Direct trains between Bangor and Belfast take about 33 minutes
- Direct trains between Derry and Belfast take about 2 hours
Taking the train is a quick way to visit Belfast and see all its top places, while being one of the more environmentally responsible ways to travel. Whether you plan to tour from Dublin and make your way to Belfast, or start in the city and work your way out, Ireland holds magic around each corner. If you’re travelling from outside of Ireland, combine your train journey with a scenic ferry journey to visit Belfast.
2. Visit Belfast by Ferry
Hopping aboard a ferry is one of the easiest and most scenic ways to visit Belfast from the rest of the UK. Once at Belfast Harbour, it’s possible to walk to the city centre or you could speed in on the metro service. Ferries journey between Belfast and:
Being in such close proximity, why visit one country when you can do all four in the United Kingdom? You can be touring the breadth of England and Wales one day, Scotland the next, and finish your visit with a trip to Ireland.
3. Visit Belfast by Plane
Another way to visit Belfast is to fly into Belfast Airport (IATA code: BFS). There are regular flights to and from other major cities in the UK as well overseas to Europe. With flights under two hours between European cities, the convenience of flying works in both directions, promoting tours of Europe to the people of Belfast.
- Direct flights between Belfast and Glasgow take 45 minutes
- Direct flights between Belfast and Edinburgh take 50 minutes
- Direct flights between Belfast and Manchester take 55 minutes
- Direct flights between Belfast and London take 1 hour 20 minutes
- Direct flights between Belfast and Cardiff take 1 hour 20 minutes
- Direct flights between Belfast and Amsterdam take 1 hour 35 minutes
- Direct flights between Belfast and Paris take 1 hour 45 minutes
Private transfers between Belfast airport and the city centre take approximately 30 minutes or you can catch the Airport Express 300 bus line which takes about 40 minutes.
*Airline schedules are subject to change. Whilst the information presented is correct at the time of writing, please check with your preferred airline or route for the latest information.
4. Visit Belfast by Car
It’s pretty straightforward to drive into Belfast from many areas in Ireland.
- From Dublin, driving to Belfast takes about 2 hours
- From Galway, driving to Belfast takes about 3 hours 55 minutes
- From the Dingle Peninsula, driving to Belfast takes about 5 hours 45 minutes
Once you’ve arrived in Belfast there are a handful of parking options such as Little Donegall Street. Before arriving in the city, it may be worth checking what options are available and are close to your travel accommodation.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Belfast?
The best time to visit Belfast is arguably between June and September as you’ll have the least chance of rain. However, this would be considered peak season, so be prepared for crowds. Depending on personal preference, the city is wonderful to explore all year round. In the British winter time, you can enjoy refreshing walks, cosy cafes, and firelit pubs. In summer, you can party at music festivals such as Belsonic or go for picnics on the nearby beaches. And don’t even get us started on the fun you can have celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in spring. With the city offering plenty of places to visit, you won’t be short of finding entertainment in Belfast.
Visit Belfast and Beyond
Visiting Belfast could be just the beginning of your adventure. With a treasure trove of adventures awaiting to be discovered, why stop at Belfast? Discover our other top locations to visit including what you need to know when touring Bristol. To make things easy, when you book our small-group tours you will be in the comfort of our luxury mini-coaches and in the safe hands of our knowledgeable driver-guides. If group excursions are not for you, why not book a private tour? Tailored just for you, you can collect stories from the places that matter the most, while going at your own pace. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear of our seasonal deals and new departure points.