Top attractions in Belfast
The 10 best things to do in Belfast
Belfast's quarters brim with a bevy of cultural attractions, revealing bright and troubled years of history amid a spectrum of art and architecture. Its vibrant music scene will also keep your feet tapping into the wee hours, be it at a modern venue or pub.
1. Ulster Museum
This top museum's highlight is the Armada Room, which contains the wreck of Girona from 1588, along with treasures, including gold and personal items, from Spanish Armada ships.
2. Belfast City Hall
This grand Baroque Revival structure is on the site of the city's former 19th-century Linen Exchange. On St Patrick's day and other dates the façade is illuminated with a variety of coloured floodlights.
3. Belfast Castle
Located on Cave Hill, the 3rd Marquess of Donegall commissioned the re-construction of Belfast Castle in the 19th century. Each of the first two castles in the city burned down.
4. St. Anne's Cathedral
Construction began in 1899 and finished in 1981. At 131 feet, the Spire of Hope was an addition in 2006. You'll find splendid mosaics and stained-glass windows inside.
5. Grand Opera House
The refurbished theater, which opened in 1895, hosts operas, concerts, and musicals. During the years of "the Troubles," bomb explosions damaged it in 1991 and 1993.
6. Botanic Gardens
The gardens first opened as a private park in 1828 and then became public in 1895. The Palm House is its most striking feature, due to its cast iron and glass construction.
7. Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park
Lady Dixon dedicated the park to her late husband in 1959. There are 40,000 roses and the famed Rose Week celebration in summer. There's also a Diana, Princess of Wales garden.
8. Waterfront Hall
The main auditorium can host opera and musical performances for up to 2,000 people. The copper, domed roof will ultimately turn green, matching that of City Hall's, among others.
9. The Odyssey
Located in the Titanic Quarter and comprising the SSE Arena, Odyssey Pavilion and W5, it's Northern Ireland's top venue for sports, concerts, and comedy shows.
10. Carrickfergus Castle
Thirty minutes from central Belfast, the Norman castle has stood on the shores of Belfast Lough for 800 years. A tour inside will take you back to medieval times.
Planning Your Visit
How many days to spend in Belfast?
A four-day tour of the city will allow you to see the sights at a leisurely pace and simply enjoy the rhythm of the city. Add a couple extra days if you plan to make day-trips to the surrounding area, such as Carrickfergus Castle or Giant's Causeway.
It's easy to get around the heart of the city and see its top attractions on foot. There is a bus system, called Metro, which runs from 6:00AM - 11:00PM. Donegall Square is the hub of public transport. Taxis are the other option, especially if you miss the last bus.
It's 30 minutes by car to Carrickfergus. There is also rail service from Belfast Central Station, departing on the half hour, and the journey takes just as long.
Where to stay in Belfast
Stay in the city center, for example in Cathedral Quarter, a center of nightlife, restaurants, pubs, and art. Queen's Quarter also has its share of shops, cafes, and bars.
Good to know
- English, Irish Gaelic, and Ulster Scots
- British Pound (£)
- Time Zone
- UTC (+00:00)
- Country Code
- Best time to visit
- The high season is from May to September, when temperatures are warm and fairs, markets, and carnivals are in full swing. Try to visit in May or September if you want the summertime benefits with fewer crowds.
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What people are saying about Belfast
I really enjoyed the game of thrones and giant causeway tour. It was my first time in Belfast and a great way to see some amazing locations. I would definitely recommend this tour even if your not a game of thrones fan as you will still enjoy the awesome scenery. The coach was spotless and hand sanitizer there as you entered and left. Patrick was our guide and he had amazing knowledge of the area and game of thrones. He told us great stories and even showed us scenes from the GOT series on his iPad to remind us of the location we were about to see.
I am writing review of visit that took place on 28th September 2020. The venue was very straightforward to find, even though the pandemic was still in place, the restrictions were lifted to allow for wearing masks and social distanced. This did not affect the enjoyment of the visit. It was less busy which enabled the visitors to enjoy the story, visuals and exhibition all the more. Must see.
Great trip with ample time to explore. Delicious cod and chips from Cod’s way chip shop and Phils commentary and knowledgeable chat kept us entertained. Logan, 13yrs, especially loved the jokes/funny tales. Thanks Phil highlight of the holiday. You obviously enjoy your job, you have a lovely friendly manner.
Even although some of the attractions on the tour weren't open it was still a very enjoyable tour our tour guide was Allan and he was fantastic ,very funny but also a very knowledgeable man about the local and overall history of Ireland. The tour is a must if visiting Belfast
Very good tour, saw a lot, tour guide was very informative and knew a lot of information. No need for headphones as all time was filled with interesting chat! Great timing for all events.