Visit Belfast once and you’ll fall in love for life. This wonderful city is the capital of Northern Ireland and sits on the coast where the river Laglan meets the sea. From its historic landmarks to its welcoming pubs and fascinating museums, Belfast is oozing with Irish charm and has so much to offer its guests. The list of reasons to visit Belfast could go on and on. Not only that, but Belfast is a great base from which to explore some of Ireland’s other top attractions. Whether you’re planning a trip or if you’ve got a visit to Belfast in the calendar already, here are some of the top things to know before you go.
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If you’re planning to visit Belfast, it’s easy to get there by plane, train, ferry or car. The city has good connections with England and the rest of Ireland, making it easy to include it as a stop on a grand tour of Britain.
There are four main train stations in Belfast. These are City Hospital, Botanic, Great Victoria Street and Lanyon Place. Lanyon Place is commonly referred to as Belfast Central as it’s the closest train station to Belfast city centre.
Taking the train is a quick way to visit Belfast and it’s one of the more environmentally responsible ways to travel. If you’re travelling from outside of Ireland, combine your train journey with a ferry to visit Belfast.
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:
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.
It’s pretty straightforward to drive into Belfast from many areas in Ireland.
The best time to visit Belfast is arguably between June and September as you’ll have the least chance of rain. However, we’d say that there is no best time to visit Belfast. 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.
Between fascinating museums, remarkable architecture and spectacular hidden gems, Belfast has more amazing things to do than you can shake a stick at. Here are some of our top recommendations for places to visit in 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 boats in the world. We recommend booking this tourist attraction in advance to avoid missing out.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 award-winning Ginger Bistro is a favourite of many who visit Belfast. Serving quality food in a relaxed environment you can feel truly welcome here.
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.
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.
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 into the best local produce at Deanes at Queens.
For a meal with views almost as good as the food, you must try Holohan’s at the Barge. Found in a converted barge, stunning views across the sea accompany tasty and well-executed Irish cuisine.
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. Check out our new tours from Belfast. Here are four of our favourite holidays 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 much more. It’s easy to visit Belfast and Derry in one trip as they are only about 70 miles apart from each other. We head here on our 3-day Causeway Coast, Derry & Fermanagh Lakelands tour and our 6-day The Wild Coasts of the North tour from Belfast.
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. Seeing this amazing site is easy on a holiday from Belfast.
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.
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.
Visiting Belfast could be just the beginning of your adventure. The United Kingdom is a treasure trove of sites and Rabbie’s are making it easier than ever to explore them all. We offer small group tours around England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and beyond. Take a look at our new tours from Belfast.
Hop aboard and let our driver-guides wow you with some of the stories, legends and history this land has to offer. Book a tour now or sign up to our newsletter to hear the latest updates about new tours and departure points.