30+ Best Things to Do in Belfast, Northern Ireland (+Travel Guide)

belfast northern ireland

 

Visiting Belfast

“Everyone comes to see our disasters”, our taxi driver said, with a bemused grin.

After 3 incredible days in Belfast, we were leaving Northern Ireland and recounting all the great sights and activities we had done with our driver. We paused, awkwardly laughed and didn’t quite know what to say in response..

A second later we pulled up to Belfast Central Station and were off on our way. Still, his parting words stuck with us on the 3 hour ride back to Dublin.

 

 

It’s true – every city has its touristy sights, but nearly all of Belfast’s revolve around troubled times and major conflicts. It’s part of what makes the city quite so fascinating. 

For thirty years, all people knew of Belfast were its Troubles. Images of hunger strikes, bombs and ‘terrorists’ were all that were broadcast to the international media.

Before that, Belfast withstood the rise and fall of the Industrial Revolution, the launch and sinking of the Titanic, the division of Ireland, the global depression of the 30s and the Nazi bomb blitz in the 40s. So the city hasn’t had it easy.. to say the least.

But today, Belfast is booming. Large sections of the city have been re-developed, a burgeoning film industry (notably Game of Thrones) has changed the employment landscape and a swath of (affordable!) hip hotels and colorful bars have encouraged a sharp uptick in tourism numbers.

Personally, we couldn’t believe how interesting and modern the city was. While yes, most of our visits were to districts, museums and areas made famous by Belfast’s difficult past, it is the city’s unique and remarkable history that make it such a compelling place to visit.

Today we’re sharing a travel guide to Belfast, covering the top things to do in Northern Ireland’s capital!

 

Keep reading or save this article for later ⇟ 

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Belfast, Northern Ireland

Belfast has an infectious atmosphere. It feels slightly grittier and more working class than Dublin, with a toughness and vibrancy that make it feel comfortingly similar to New York.

The first thing we noticed upon arrival?

The accents – and how difficult it was for us to understand them! Belfast speech is a unique dialect of English, characterized by two major developments in its history.

First, the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th century where large numbers of Scottish Lowlanders settled in Northern Ireland and Scots Gaelic influenced the vernacular.

Second, the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century when large rural communities from provincial mid-Ulster moved to the city for work and Irish infused the local dialect.

 



 

Belfast Travel Guide

Despite our hearing issues, the people of Belfast are friendly and welcoming, happy to talk about the city’s change and current character. If you’re planning a trip to Belfast, we’ve got you covered. Today’s travel guide will cover everything you need to know about visiting Belfast.

 

Planning a Trip to Belfast

Keep reading for highlights of Belfast’s sights or jump right to a section below to start planning your trip.

 



 

Best Things to Do in Belfast

The city’s tourist sights are concentrated in a small area that make it easy to get around on foot, which I appreciated! No need to rent a car (unless you wish to) so it’s incredibly easy to enjoy the growing number of fantastic places to eat, drink and be entertained in Belfast!

We’ve organized the top sights of the city by Belfast neighborhoods: 

 

The Titanic Quarter


 

1. Visit the Titanic Belfast

There are a couple Titanic museums in the world, but the Titanic Belfast is the world’s largest and the most prestigious (it was named the best tourist attraction in the world in 2016).

Regardless of whether or not you like museums, the Titanic Belfast is worth checking out! Inside, interactive exhibits across 6 floors (there’s even a small amusement park ride) tell the entire story of the ocean liner, from conception to construction, launch to sinking. 

And naturally, the experience ends with an ode to the Titanic story in film, so you walk out with Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ hypnotically replaying in your head for the rest of the day. 

Book tickets in advance and budget ~3 hours or so for the moving experience. 

 

 

2. Have Tea at the Titanic Hotel

The Titanic Belfast is a brand new building, with an exterior design meant to resemble the prow of 4 ships. But the actual site where Titanic and its sister ships were designed, built and launched is next door… at the Titanic Hotel.

The offices of ship manufacturer Harland and Wolff is today a gorgeous hotel. Even if you’re not staying here, stop in for a look. All the decor is ship themed, and the original drawing room where ships were designed is today the hotel bar! 

From the upper floor, ship buyers could watch architects draw the ship plans right on the floorboards (hence the two story space, with huge arched windows to let in light) and the ballroom features a replica of the Titanic grand staircase.

If it’s a rainy day (as Belfast typically is), stop in for afternoon tea. The scones are delicious and gigantic. If it’s later in the day, have a drink!

We also had dinner at the fantastic hotel restaurant and particularly enjoyed the Jack & Rose cocktail, served in two glasses so that the ‘Rose’ drink is out of the water ;)



 

3. Tour the SS Nomadic

Tickets to the Titanic Belfast also include entry to the SS Nomadic, so why not stop in for a look?

Head to Hamilton Dock to see the last remaining White Star Line vessel, which has been fully restored to its original condition. You can step on board the SS Nomadic, walk the decks like a passenger on the Titanic maiden voyage and learn about 100 years of maritime history. 

What we found most interesting was the difference in conditions between the class tickets.

The SS Nomadic was designed and built in Belfast. Its original purpose was to serve as the Titanic’s tender ship, ferrying first and second class passengers from the port of Cherbourg to the massive ocean liner (which was too large to dock in the French port). 

After the fateful sinking, the SS Nomadic was requisitioned in both World Wars and then served as a floating restaurant in Paris in the 80s and 90s.

It was meant for the breaker’s yard until it was rescued in 2006, when it was brought to Belfast!

 Buy Tickets  for the Titanic & SS Nomadic



 

4. Visit the HMS Caroline

If you’re not exhausted of ships, there’s one more maritime attraction in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter: the HMS Caroline.

The United Kingdom’s last surviving Royal Navy Cruiser was painstakingly restored into a floating museum.

It’s got quite the unique story!

The HMS Caroline was the only survivor of the Battle of Jutland, the most significant naval battle in World War I. On board, you can explore the engine room, sick bay, mess deck and officer’s quarters and also watch a film dedicated to the ship’s most famous battles.

 Buy Tickets  for the HMS Caroline



 

5. Spot the Iconic H+W Crane

Once you visit the Titanic Belfast, you’ll understand the significance of Harland and Wolff to the city of Belfast.

The company was one of the world’s greatest shipbuilders and a dominant employer during Belfast’s shipbuilding era. But by the late 1950’s, as demand for massive ocean liners slowed, both the company and the city had fallen on hard times.

So when Harland and Wolff built two yellow gantry cranes in the late 1960’s, it was seen as a sign of faith in the future for Belfast’s residents.

Today Belfast is no longer a shipbuilding city, and its docks have transformed from work sites to museum sights, but the cranes are land marked for posterity and have become iconic symbols of the city. 

Spot the unique landmarks as you walk along Belfast’s waterfront and take a photo of the two sunny cranes, nicknamed Samson and Goliath.



 

6. Stroll the Waterfront & See the Big Fish

Belfast’s waterfront area is a relatively new developed area. 

Walk along the waterfront on a sunny day to enjoy the view and stop by for a look at the Big Fish. The ceramic sculpture nearly 10 meters long was created by John Kindness.

From a distance, it looks like a giant blue fish, but up close, you’ll find that it’s actually made from individual ceramic tiles… decorated with text and images that illustrate the history of Belfast!

See if you can spot the Ulster Fry, the hearty and classic Belfast breakfast of choice :)

 

 

Belfast City Centre


 

7. Take a Walking Tour of Belfast

So, as we mentioned, one of the great things about Belfast is that the city sights are compact and the city is very walkable.

You can join a guided tour, use the hop-on, hop-off bus, or simply take your own walking tour of the city! Start at Belfast City Hall, which runs free public tours and is a great source of pride for the people of Belfast.

With beautiful stained glass windows and lots of interactive exhibits, we thought it was a great introduction to the history of the city.

Also right across the street is the tourism office, where you pick up brochures, book day trips + tours, or get some directions and advice. 

From Belfast City Hall, you can visit the Titanic Memorial Garden outside and spot the first Glass of Thrones, which depicts Jon Snow.

 Buy Tickets  for the Hop On, Hop Off bus



 

8. Albert Memorial

From City Hall, make your way to the Cathedral Quarter and use Albert Memorial Clock to guide your direction.

Located on Queens Square, on the left bank of the River Lagan, the clock tower was built in the late 1860s in memory of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert.

It was Queen Victoria who granted Belfast city status.



 

9. Find the City’s Wall Art

As you walk around Belfast, you’ll find a TON of colorful murals.

Some are pure art, others are marketing for beer and restaurants…and many are political.

From para military images to glory slogans, you’ll find every type of wall art imaginable. In Belfast city center, most of the wall art is colorful and lighthearted.

If you’re interested in seeing more political messages, you’ll typically find those in local neighborhoods a bit outside town.

It’s a bit too far to walk to them, so the best way to see Belfast’s political murals is through a Black Taxi tour.

 Book a  Black Taxi Tour of Belfast

 

 

The Troubles


 

10. Join a Black Taxi Tour

Although it’s less obvious today, it’s simply inescapable that Belfast is a divided city. 

As Rick Steves put it, only in Northern Ireland is a marriage between a Catholic and Protestant referred to as a ‘mixed marriage‘.

To better understand the political turmoil and past conflict, you’ll definitely want to join a Black Taxi tour. The cab drivers double as tour guides, and are a wealth of knowledge as they have first hand experiences of living through The Troubles.

On our tour, we were treated to a history of the city center, then drove out to Falls Road, Shankill Road and the most politically charged subsections of town.

 Buy Tickets  for a Black Taxi tour



 

11. Sign the Peace Wall

During the height of the troubles, the city erected Peace Lines – huge walled barricades to shut off Loyalist (Protestant) and Republican (Catholic) communities from each other. At night, the walls would be locked shut, in an effort to contain the violence.

Although the Good Friday Agreement brought an end to the Troubles in 1998, the Peace Lines never came down.

There are over 60 of these walls all around Belfast, stretching 34 kilometers long. It’s crazy to see them in person – they’re incredibly thick and tall brick walls, with barbed gates on top.

Graffiti-ed over, the Peace Lines now have visitor wishes etched on to them, in addition to political murals. On our Black Taxi tour we saw the barriers up close and couldn’t believe how isolating they were.

Supposedly, the Peace Walls are meant to come down (eventually), but in reality, who knows? Now that they’re a tourist attraction, they may never be dismantled.



 

12. Learn About Crumlin Road Gaol

Crumlin Road Gaol was a notorious jail in Belfast, originally built in 1850 to convey prisoners from the courthouse across the street…to behind bars and eventually the execution chamber.

But the old Victorian jail is most famous for housing Unionist and Republican terrorists. The prison cells have an incredibly fascinating history, with various escape attempts, 17 executions and even a Provisional IRA bombing which took place. 

After 150 years, the prison closed in 1996 and today is mostly a museum. Oddly enough, it also doubles as a concert and wedding venue.

For regular tours, definitely book tickets in advance, as Crumlin Gaol is unexpectedly one of the most popular sights in Belfast (as voted by TripAdvisor reviews)!

If you’re feeling brave, you can book a Paranormal tour to see the spookiest sections and execution chamber. Crumlin Road Gaol is said to be one of the most haunted places in Belfast! 

 Buy Tickets  to Crumlin Road Gaol



 

13. Explore C.S. Lewis Square

Did you know CS Lewis, the author of Narnia, was born in Belfast?

In fact, the Northern Ireland countryside inspired many of the places in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The city created CS Lewis Square in East Belfast in commemoration, and there’s even a self guided trail you can take to find all the places which inspired the author.

We stopped by C.S. Lewis Square, which has 7 Narnia inspired sculptures, including Aslan the lion. 

Don’t forget to stop by JACK Coffee Bar for an afternoon espresso – CS Lewis was known as ‘Jack’ to his friends and family.

 

 

Game of Thrones


 

14. Geek Out at the GOT Exhibition

“Game of Thrones…is basically Belfast,” said Isaac Hempstead Wright, the actor who plays Bran.

While the show has been filmed in exotic locations all over the world, one of the longest serving places has been Belfast and Northern Ireland, thanks to its rugged coast, historic castles and thick forests.

Almost anyone you meet in Belfast can recount either personal experience working with the show, or a friend who has worked on the show, so Belfast and Game of Thrones are inextricably linked.

If you love GOT, stop in to the Touring Exhibition which is open from April to September of 2019. It’s a moving pop up space that re-creates the amazing set of Westeros and Essos, displaying costumes, props and exhibits from filming. The sets are huge and there’s lots of interactive exhibits and photo opps too!

We really enjoyed checking out the Touring Exhibition – you can see a snippet of the exhibits on my Instagram stories under the Ireland highlight, if you want a peek inside.

 Buy Tickets  to the GOT Touring Exhibition



 

15. Find the Glass of Thrones

To commemorate the epic fantasy series, Belfast created 6 giant stained glass windows, one for each episode of the last season.

Each installation is spaced out throughout Belfast, creating a Game of Thrones trail if you will. Take a walking tour to see the city, and make sure to take a selfie in front of each window!

It’s incredible seeing the glass stained windows up close – they’re vividly colored masterpieces, created by local artisans from Northern Ireland.

Each window depicts key moments from the show that relate to House Stark, House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Targaryen and the White Walkers.



 

16. Drink to the Game of Thrones Doors

The famous Kingsroad is a real life road of trees in Northern Ireland, locally called the Dark Hedges.

After the show aired, tourists and massive buses descended upon the road, weakening the trees’ roots. Storm Gertrude hit the coast and 2 of the massive trees actually blew over.

What did the country do with the felled wood?

They created a series of 10 beautifully intricate doors to celebrate the show! Each door was carved to show a piece of Season 6 and the doors were given to local businesses where the cast had spent significant time.

Go on a Journey to find all Game of Thrones doors – they’re spaced out across Northern Ireland near iconic filming locations, and found inside local pubs, cafes and inns, so why not take the chance to do a pub crawl while you’re at it?

Die hard fans can even pick up a passport book and at each Door location, the owners will happily stamp your book. It makes for a nice souvenir!



 

17. Visit Castle Ward aka Winterfell

One of the highlights in visiting Belfast is to take a Game of Thrones day trip to see the gothic mansion that was used as the set of Winterfell in the early seasons of the show.

The castle dates back to the 18th century and is set on a rolling hill in County Down, near the tranquil waters of Strangford Lough. It’s incredibly lush and beautiful to see in person. Walk through the Victorian Sunken Garden, canoe on the Lough or have afternoon tea on the grounds!

Game of Thrones fans can book a tour here to see the set of Winterfell in full glory. Not only do you get to dress up in Stark costumes, but each tour is led by an actor who was an extra on the Game of Thrones set. 

You can also book extra activities, like archery and axe throwing. They even offer events, where actors will dress up as the White Walkers or bring the direwolves! 

 Book a Tour  to Castle Ward, aka Winterfell



 

18. Day Trip to the Iron Islands

I told you Game of Thrones was big in Northern Ireland.

Ballintoy Harbor, on the northwest, was the set for the Iron Islands. Another optional tour from the same Game of Thrones tour company is this option, which combines local sights with GOT geekdom.

We took this all day tour and had a blast, visiting the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge and rocky beaches of Ballintoy!

While you can also take a do-it-yourself approach to visiting each of these locations, Game of Thrones fans should book the tour. Like with the Winterfell tour, this tour is led by guides who appeared as extras on the show. The guides have the inside scoop about what it’s like to be a part of the huge HBO franchise and how everyday locations were utterly transformed for the show.

We even had the chance to dress up as House Greyjoy members, with Yara and Theon costumes. It was a highlight of our time in Belfast and definitely a tour that we recommend.

 Book a Tour  to Ballintoy, aka the Iron Islands

 

 

The Cathedral Quarter


 

19. Do a Pub Crawl

Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is basically synomyous with nightlife. 

The bars here are both fun and historic. Stop in to Duke for some live music and a pint of Guinness, or just to check out the Game of Throne door inside. Local Belfast band Snow Patrol used to play some of their early gigs here!

Explore the cobbled alleys and colorful murals along Commercial Street to find Muriels, a fabulous Gin bar that’s named after a woman who was originally a prostitute. The drinks are incredible and the decor is interesting to say the least! 

If you want a meal before a night out, stop in to Coppi for an excellent Italian meal. They have great dishes like seafood pizza, goat pappardelle and of course, incredible wine and tiramisu. 



 

20. Visit St Anne’s Cathedral

The most famous church in Belfast is St Anne’s Cathedral.

Built in stages on top of an older parish church, the current cathedral is a neo-Romanesque masterpiece. You can pay a fee to wander freely, or simply peek in to a cordoned off section for a free glance.

St Anne’s is atypical as it serves two separate dioceses and has the seats of two bishops: the Bishop of Connor and the Bishop of Down & Dromore.



 

21. See a Performance at the MAC

Right next to St Anne’s square is the Metropolitan Arts Centre of Belfast. 

This theater has three galleries with a rotating program of free exhibitions, including dramas, music, art, dance…and everything in between! Sometimes you’ll even find roller disco and mind reading shows!

Culture lovers will definitely want to check out this wacky, weird and wonderful art center. 

 

 

22. Buy Whiskey at The Friend at Hand

In the early 1900s, Belfast was a heavy industrial city – known for producing rope, ships, linen, tobacco…and whiskey.

At the height of the whiskey making boom, 10 of the largest distilleries were based around the city. While ship building and linen have largely disappeared, whiskey is kept alive at The Friend at Hand. 

The whiskey shop doubles as a whiskey museum, with old whiskey paraphernalia, historic bottles of 100+ year old vintages…and over 200 whiskeys for sale!

The owners also sell their own label, a 13 year old single malt that’s only available at the store. The Irish Whiskey comes in 8 unique bottles, each with a pun-y name that references Belfast’s past (for example, Reconciliation and Pride Not Prejudice)

If you’re looking for a fantastic souvenir, this is the place to get one!

 



 

23. Have Dinner at the Merchant Hotel

One of the best restaurants in town is at the luxury Merchant Hotel.

We definitely recommend staying at the hotel, but if you only have time for a meal, pop in to the Great Room for an experience of a life time.

The restaurant is set in an old bank, with a giant dome, crystal chandelier and luxurious plush red couches. Both the food and cocktail menu here is extensive and delicious, and well worth treating yourself to.

In particular, we think the tasting menu is a good deal. 7 courses featuring dishes like seared scallops, halibut and beef, for 90 pounds.

It’s also an iconic spot for afternoon tea!

 

 

Queens Quarter


 

24. Experience the Ulster Museum

The Ulster Museum is perfect for any families visiting Belfast.

It’s got a kooky mix of everything inside – a history of Belfast’s industrial past, a real life Egyptian mummy, tons of artwork and even a ship from the Spanish Armada!

If you have kids, take them to see the dinosaur exhibit, which holds the only dinosaur bones that were ever found on the Emerald Isle.

On the top floor is a Game of Thrones tapestry, a huge long and intricate piece of fabric that illustrates key moments from the show. 

Best of all, the Ulster Museum is free!



 

25. Spend an Afternoon in the Botanic Gardens

The Queen’s Quarter area is named after the gorgeous university.

Right in between the school building and the Ulster Museum is the peaceful Botanic Gardens. Originally built as a private park, it’s since been opened to the public and is definitely worth a walk through!

Right inside the main gate is a statue of Lord Kelvin, a Belfast born scientist who invented the Kelvin scale! Keep walking along the path and you’ll find the Palm House, a gorgeous glasshouse with exotic specimens.

There’s also a pretty gorgeous Rose Garden, bowling alley and Tropical Ravine, a huge brick greenhouse that holds a sunken garden, exotic plants and even tropical birds! 

On sunny days, the Botanic Garden is the perfect place to spend an afternoon.



 

26. Take a Food Tour of St George’s Market

St. George’s Market is a local institution.

Built in 1896, the Victorian building is Ireland’s longest running market. It opens each week from Friday to Sunday, with antiques, books and clothes being sold on Friday.

On Saturdays, the vendors change to local food and drink producers. On Sundays, it’s a bit of a mix of both, with a variety of clothes, food and handmade crafts. 

We opted to visit on Saturday, and booked the local Belfast Food Tour! It was a fantastic 4 hour tour where we discovered some of the best stalls and restaurants in Belfast. We tried Irish tea and coffee, fresh bread, beef and sausages from Armagh and then headed into the Cathedral Quarter for even more eats!

Skip breakfast and lunch, and book this tour instead. You’ll get a mix of 25 different local food and drink establishments, some incredibly popular spots and some off the beaten track! 



 

27. Have a Drink at The Crown

Stop in at The Crown for a drink or two! This Victorian gin palace dates back to the late 1800s and is one of the most beautiful bars in the city. 

Not only is the exterior ornate, but the interior is even better! There are wood carvings on the ceiling, colorful plaster work along the bar, and vintage booths with gas lamps inside.

The Crown Liquor Saloon was built by Italian craftsmen – coincidentally, the same workers who also built many of the city’s churches! 

The bar is such an architectural masterpiece that Harry and Meghan visited it when they came to Belfast. Finally, the Crown is officially owned by Northern Ireland’s National Trust. So a drink here is basically equivalent to visiting a cultural institution… :)



 

Those are our top recommendations for sights and attractions in Belfast! If you have more time, here are a couple other things to do that came recommended.

 

28. Explore Cave hill Country Park

 

29. Visit Belfast Castle

 

30. Spend a Day at Belfast Zoo

 

31. See an Opera at the Grand House Opera

 

32. Explore the Ulster Folk Musuem

 



 

Getting In to Belfast

By Flight

Belfast has two airports, the International terminal 19 miles from the city center, and George Best city airport, 3 miles from the city center. Check flight routes and set fare alerts here.

 

By Ferry

Belfast is connected to Liverpool and Cairnryan by the ferry company Stena Line. Or, you can take the train from Belfast to Larne and then take one of the P&O ferries

 

By Train

Belfast has 2 train stations. Rail service connects Belfast to the major cities of Dublin, Larne and Londonderry, with some regional stops in between. Check routes and book train tickets here.

 



 

Belfast to Dublin Train

Taking the train sounded easiest to us, so that’s what we did! The comfortable ride took approximately 3 hours and dropped us into Belfast’s Central Station, which was a short 10 minute cab ride from our hotel, the Europa.

 

Here are a couple tips for taking the train from Dublin to Belfast

  • Buy online in advance to save as fares go up with time. Round trip train fare ran us about 40 euro in spring 2019. 
  • Hold on to your ticket since you will need the same piece of paper for each leg of the trip.
  • If you book in advance you can reserve seats. Most train cars have seats of 4 that face each other with a table in between and a smattering of seats of 2 without a table.
  • There’s a luggage rack at one end that will fit even the largest suitcases and at the other end of the car, some empty space where you can also store bags.
  • A snack cart will ride through offering drinks and small food bites for sale. There’s even free wifi on board and plenty of electrical outlets!

If you self drive, the route will be faster, but overall the train is a great comfortable and affordable ride for those who don’t wish to rent a car. You definitely don’t need a car for exploring Belfast, but it can come in handy if you plan to drive the Antrim Coast and see other sights in Northern Ireland.

 



 

Getting Around

If you choose a hotel in the city center, you can easily get around to most sights in Belfast on foot. Or, you can hail a cab and even pre-arrange for a drive.

We took advantage of Uber on rainy days and spent one afternoon on a Black Cab tour of the city which was fantastic.

 

Currency

The Emerald Isle is split in two, with the south recognized as the independent Republic of Ireland. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. Like England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland uses the £ sterling so make sure to bring pounds to Belfast! 

The city does not use the Euro and you’ll find few stores willing to accept it. You can use credit cards however – bring Mastercard or Visa.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Rick Steves’ Ireland guide for your trip. I found his guidebook to be quite helpful for visiting Ireland!

 



 

Where to Stay in Belfast

Choose a hotel in the City Center, to be within walking distance of all the main sites. For a breakdown of Belfast’s different neighborhoods, read our guide to the city’s best hotels here. Or, check last minute hotel deals here.

We recommend spending at least 2 nights in Belfast. If you want to explore some of the popular day trips outside the city, like exploring the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Bridge and Dunluce castle, then opt for 3 nights. 

 

We stayed at The Europa, perhaps the most historic hotel in town. The luxury hotel has hosted various American presidents and world leaders…and also has the unique distinction of being the most bombed hotel in the world, during the time of the Troubles. Rooms are comfortable, spacious and affordable. Breakfast is included and there’s free wifi! 

Book: Hotels.com, Booking.com

Check prices: TripAdvisor

 Read more:  The Best Hotels in Belfast (+ Neighborhood Guide)

 



 

Day Trips from Belfast

We did a couple day trips from Belfast and LOVED them, so hopefully you have time to do the same! The Antrim coastline of Northern Ireland is incredibly scenic, with gorgeous beaches, romantic castle ruins and epic basalt cliffs.

There’s also the town of Derry, or Londonderry, one of the walled cities of Northern Ireland, and the Causeway Coastal Route for those who want to take a road trip.

Don’t have a car? No worries!

We didn’t either and instead booked a couple day trips to see the highlights. Here are the ones we recommend:

 

Giant’s Causeway & Game of Thrones

This incredibly popular tour is for Game of Thrones fans who also want to see the local sights. Think of it as part fandom, part ‘best of’ Northern Ireland.

On an exhaustive all day trip, it drives to all the top sights of the Antrim coast: Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce Castle and the Dark Hedges! We loved it and felt like it checked all the highlights in a short amount of time!

Check availability here.

 

Belfast to Derry Day Trip

This phenomenal day trip is for those who are interested in The Troubles. Like Belfast, Londonderry was a city divided.

Take a day trip to learn about Bloody Sunday, see the old town walls and learn about both sides of the political conflict. Derry is also a very cute, compact city to explore!

Check availability here.

 

Northern Ireland Highlights Tour

If you want to see as much as possible in 1 day, book this excellent tour of the Antrim Coast. Unlike the more popular tours, this one is a private small group option, so you can see the scenic beauty of the coast…all to yourself.

Visit Carrickfergus Castle, Glenarm Castle, Carnlough Library, Glenariff Forest Park (which inspired CS Lewis to create Narnia) and more.

If we were to revisit Northern Ireland, we’d opt for this tour! It includes a ton of local sights that are off the beaten path, which most don’t see.

Check availability here.

 

Game of Thrones Iron Islands

For die hard Game of Thrones fans, you won’t want to skip this tour. Led by guides who were extras on the series, it takes you on an inside look at the production of the show.

It’s an all-day tour, and includes filming locations like the Iron Islands – where you can even dress up in Greyjoy costumes!

Check availability here.

 

Game of Thrones Winterfell

So many places throughout Northern Ireland were used as filming locations on the show. If you head west, you can see the Iron Islands, but if you head southeast, you’ll visit Castle Ward, the location used as Winterfell in the early seasons of the show.

On this tour, you also get to dress up (but in Stark costumes), meet the dire wolves and hear about filming from guides who were extras on the series.

Check availability here.

 



 

And that’s our guide to Belfast! What are you most looking forward to doing?

 

Visiting Northern Ireland – Travel Checklist

Belfast is located in Northern Ireland, and part of the United Kingdom. Although there’s no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, they do have different governments and use different currencies.

If you’re in Europe, you could easily fly into Belfast. Set a fare alert and check flight routes here.

If you’re already in Ireland or the UK, the train is a great option! We didn’t feel like renting a car for this trip, so we took advantage of the comfortable and convenient 3 hour train from Dublin to Belfast. Just book train tickets ahead of time to save.

Lastly, be sure to visit Ireland with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, your phone gets stolen, or a flight delay leaves you with nothing but the clothes on your back, travel insurance will help when you need it most.

The Emerald Isle is prone to storms – Hurricane Ophelia hit on our first trip to Ireland and Storm Hannah on our second trip so pack solid rain gear and get travel insurance. You can get a quote for your trip here.

 

 You Might Also Enjoy: 

 

Northern Ireland Vacation Planning Articles

Best Things to Do in Belfast

Where to Stay in Belfast

What to Wear in Ireland

 

Northern Ireland Tours & Day Trips from Belfast

Taking the Infamous Black Cab Tour of Belfast

A Guide to Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland

Visiting the Game of Thrones Exhibition

A Day at the Titanic Belfast

 

Republic of Ireland

What to Know Before Visiting Ireland (+Travel Tips)

The Perfect Ireland Itinerary + Road Trip

The Most Beautiful Places in Ireland

How to Master Driving in Ireland (as a tourist!)

7 Useful Tips for Renting a Car in Ireland

Where to Stay: 10 Enchanting Irish Castle Hotels

For Foodies: All the Best Food We Ate in Ireland

 

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[…] could spend a week in Belfast and find yourself with plenty to do. The compact capital of Northern Ireland has great bars and […]

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