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.
Other Sightseeing Options in Belfast
Want to discover all there is to do in Belfast? Click here for a full list.
What people are saying about Belfast
A great way to see the sights and sounds of Belfast. There was a large march of bands which was a sight to behold. Excellent commentary from the driver, driving along the Falls Road was very thought-provoking and I'm old enough to remember the history. The open top bus was a delight in the summer heat.Good value for money and ability to hop on hop off makes for a very interesting day all round.
This tour was such a great experience. With the three hour tour we heard from a former IRA member as well as a former British Army soldier. We got two very different perspectives on the same history. We walked through a Republican neighborhood and a unionist neighborhood and saw the 45 foot wall that divides them. An exceedingly educational and moving experience.
The tour guide Anthony was knowledgeable and funny and kept everyone thoroughly entertained with facts and one or two tall tales about giants. The tour bus was bang on time and we packed in as much as possible without rushing. It was a truly memorable (and sunny!) day. Our grown up kids had a fantastic day, it was the highlight of our holiday. Many thanks!
My friend and I took the bus Saturday afternoon and it was AMAZING. The driver (and our guide) was very informative, and very very funny, my face still hurts from the laughter. I learnt so much about the history that I went on to buy a book to find out more in detail. Great experience, do not miss it for anything.....
Not too busy and a very enjoyable experience, went to a place call bootleggers in the city about a 10min walk great food and rounded off a great day