A major port since the early 19th century, the vibrant city of Northern Ireland is a popular destination for a short or longer escape. There are a lot of things to do in Belfast, which comes as no surprise since it is the largest and capital city of Northern Ireland.
When talking about Belfast, most people think of the place where the Titanic was constructed. This city is also known for suffering and violence during The Troubles in the past. Some portions of Belfast are still divided along political and religious lines.
However, the city has experienced a resurrection after decades of division and conflict. It is now a totally different place with excellent museums, fun pubs, and lively streets in the historic city centre.
Today, Belfast is not only one of the most desirable places to live in this area but also one of the top tourist destinations in Ireland. While this Northern Ireland’s city isn’t as popular as Dublin with international tourists, it still offers so many things to do and sights to see.
Aside from the remarkable Titanic Quarter, Belfast features street murals, green spaces, beautiful gardens, friendly locals, as well as tons of places to drink, eat, and have fun.
In this guide, we’re showing you around some of the best things to do in Belfast and the city’s must-sees that you shouldn’t miss. You’ll also find useful travel information and day trip suggestions. Let’s get started!
1. Visit Titanic Belfast
Undoubtedly, Titanic Belfast is the top attraction in the city, so make sure you check it out early on your trip. A monument to the city’s maritime heritage, Titanic Belfast is built on the site where the RMS Titanic was constructed.
Visiting Titanic Belfast is a unique experience and a great opportunity to learn more about the Titanic’s history. In addition to the ship itself, you can find out more about the travellers who were on board and the people who were involved in building the Titanic.
This Belfast Lough’s nook has been forsaken for decades. Since the 2000s, it has been fully regenerated and it’s now one of the top attractions in Northern Ireland. Titanic Quarter has opened a few years ago on Belfast’s Maritime Mile in the place of the former shipyard.
There are photo opportunities and selfie spots all over the place. After taking photos and exploring the waterfront, you should visit the Titanic Belfast Museum. This architectural masterpiece is a must-see for every visitor.
Follow paths that will take you through 9 galleries. These marvellous galleries draw together dark rides, special effects, large-scale reconstructions, as well as a wide variety of interactive exhibits. You will come across many photographs, models, artefacts, informational panels, and a Titanic replica.
DayTrip4U Suggestion: Titanic Experience and Giant's Causeway Tour from Belfast
2. Eat at St George’s Market
Belfast is home to one of the oldest and prettiest markets in Ireland and the UK. St George’s Market is housed in a gorgeous Victorian building which was refurbished in 1997.
Today, the market is open from Friday through Sunday. Check the latest hours here. Free shuttle buses run every twenty minutes (from 11 am to 3 pm).
Interestingly enough, a Friday market has been taking place here since 1604. Traders from all over the country regularly come here every week and sell a wide range of products at nearly 250 stalls.
While it is best known as a retail fish market, you can also buy clothes, books, jewellery, souvenirs, antiques, and so on. The vendors offer everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to shark meat, coffee, sandwiches, snacks, and prepared food.
You will hear an approving stomach growling as different aromas waft over you. St George’s Market brings together traders, seafood vendors, artists, and musicians. It’s a lively and popular place to visit on weekends.
People go there to enjoy fantastic vibes while trying local food and soaking up a friendly local atmosphere. It is the perfect place to mingle with locals and nibble on delicious food while listening to some of the best local musicians perform for free! This is definitely one of the best things to do in Belfast.
3. Take a Photo of Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. It is one of those impressive constructions your camera will absolutely love. Taking photos of Belfast City Hall is actually one of the top things to do in Belfast.
This magnificent construction came about in 1888 when Belfast was granted city status by Queen Victoria. It first opened the doors several years later in the early 20th century when it was completed.
Belfast City Hall was constructed from fine Portland stone. The building was designed in the Neo-Baroque Style by Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas, a famous English architect. It is located in the heart of Donegall Square, which makes it easy to reach from different parts of the city.
Don’t miss the opportunity to learn everything about the history behind Belfast City Hall by joining one of the public tours. Free tours conducted by experienced guides are available here from Monday to Saturday.
4. Learn the Secrets of SS Nomadic
The SS Nomadic was built at the Harland & Wolff dockyard in order to tender for the legendary Titanic. It is the lastest remaining WSL (White Star Line) that has withstood the test of time.
On April 10, 1912, the SS Nomadic transported 247 passengers from the port to the Titanic, which was anchored in deeper waters nearby. Sadly, that was the first and last time the ship served as the Titanic’s tender.
This wonderful ship swept for carried troops and mines during the World Wars when it doubled as a troop transport and minesweeper ship. After getting retired from service, it spent nearly 30 years as a floating restaurant ship berthed near the Eiffel Tower.
In 2006, the SS Nomadic was brought back to Belfast after being bought by the Northern Ireland government. It has been turned into a local ship museum and gone through an extensive restoration. The wooden original panelling has been completely refitted. In June 2013, the ship was opened to visitors.
Nowadays, visitors can get on board and tour the restored ship. This a great chance to learn everything about Belfast’s long maritime history as well as people — soldiers, aristocrats, diners, etc — who have walked the decks. As a visitor, you can go vintage by dressing up in period clothing, climb to the harbour bridge, and view the 1st and 2nd class lounges.
5. Take a Day Trip to the Giant’s Causeway (one of the most exciting things to do in Belfast)
The Giant’s Causeway is a beyond words beautiful and impressive natural landscape. What’s more, it is the only UNESCO world heritage site in Northern Ireland.
You might be wondering what makes this place special. The Giant’s Causeway comprises about 40,000 basalt hexagonal columns. These interlocking columns form a stairway-like path that rises out to the ocean.
This famous natural attraction is situated just a bit more than an hour’s drive from Belfast, so there’s absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t visit it on a day trip. It takes about 70 minutes to reach it from Belfast by car.
Alternatively, you can get there by taking public transit or joining a day tour from Belfast. There are numerous private and group tours to choose from. National Trust members can take advantage of free access.
Keep in mind that you will have to pay a fee and/or ticket in order to explore the exhibition centre, take a shuttle bus, park a car, and get the audio guide. There are various visitor services, including a cafe, gift shop, exhibition centre, and parking.
DayTrip4U Suggestion: Giant's Causeway and Game of Thrones Location Tour from Dublin
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Belfast. With so many places to stay, historical sites, and beautiful buildings, the capital of Northern Ireland is worth visiting.
We have included the major Belfast attractions in this article. In addition, we also recommend:
Heading for a hike at awe-inspiring Cave Hill
Soaking up the buzz in the busy Cathedral Quarter
Taking a Black Cab tour
Having a wander around Belfast Cathedral
Grabbing a breathtaking view on the Divis Summit trail
Did we miss something? Please don’t mind if we left out some attractions in our guide as this city offers so many things to do and see.
Nevertheless, the things covered here are quite enough for those who will visit Belfast once. Be sure to include them in your perfect Ireland itinerary!