When you’re visiting Ireland, consider adding Belfast to your itinerary. This vibrant, fun city has a lot of history, including being the birthplace of the Titanic. This city in Northern Ireland is small but offers a lot to do. You can stay here for two or three nights and have a packed itinerary full of history, culture, food, and fun.
Here are the top eight things to do when you visit Belfast.
1. Explore Titanic Belfast
If you come to Belfast, you absolutely have to visit the Titanic Belfast center. Belfast is a famous ship-building town, and it built and launched the infamous Titanic. Shipwreck lovers and history buffs will love exploring the Titanic memorial center in Belfast. On this tour, you can walk the decks of the SS Nomadic, the last remaining White Star Line vessel in the world. You can also explore the nine galleries of interactive exhibitions, including a dark ride, underwater exploration theater, and recreations of the Titanic’s cabins.
2. Tour St. George’s Market
A piece of Belfast history is the St. George’s Market. The market is believed to have been built sometime between 1890 and 1896, but the tradition of a local Friday market in this location dates back to 1604.
One of the oldest attractions in Belfast, this market is located close to the River Lagan. You can spend several hours here as you take in the 300 vendors of artists, musicians, traders, and food vendors. As you walk around the market, you can stop and enjoy some authentic Irish food, listen to free music from performers, purchase locally-made souvenirs, and chat with the vendors. Make sure your travel dates line up because the market is only open from Fridays to Sundays.
3. Have afternoon tea at the Belfast Castle
Belfast Castle is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic landmarks. The castle has been built over and over throughout history. The first castle was built in the 12th century, with a second castle constructed on the same site in 1611. After the second castle burned down, a third version was built in 1862.
Set on the slopes of Cave Hill Country Park, this castle gives unobstructed views of the city and the nearby lough. After exploring the area, you can stop for some afternoon tea at the outdoor cafe on site. It’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon exploring Belfast’s history and natural beauty.
4. Hike Cave Hill
If you want to see Belfast from above, we strongly suggest hiking to the peak of Cave Hill. This renowned landmark is named after the five caves located on the side of the cliffs. Additionally, the most famous feature in Cave Hill, known as Napoleon’s Nose, is thought to be the inspiration for author Jonathan Swift’s novel, Gulliver’s Travels. Getting to the peak isn’t too challenging and it offers panoramic views of the entire city.
5. Take an authentic Irish pub crawl
There’s a high chance that you’ve come to Ireland to indulge in a bit of beer and drinking. If that’s the case, consider taking an authentic, proper Irish pub crawl through Belfast. This small city has plenty of bars to choose from and you can DIY a pub crawl by committing to visiting as many as possible in one night. We suggest visiting Madden’s, Bittles, Bar, the Duke of York, Kelly’s Cellars, the Dirty Onion, and White’s Tavern. Make sure a pint of Guinness, some Irish whiskey, and some pub food are all on your game plan for the evening.
6. Explore Cathedral Quarter
The Cathedral Quarter is the cultural and creative heartbeat of Belfast, with more than 50 cultural organizations and galleries. You’ll want to dedicate at least half a day to exploring this Quarter with its historic buildings, fantastic food, wine bars, and art scene. Whether you’re looking for a fine dining experience or a casual pub, you’ll find what you need here.
7. Visit Crumlin Road Gaol
Crumlin Road Gaol is a former prison turned into a museum. The prison initially opened in 1846, housing men, women, and children until it finally closed in 1996. Today, you can tour the prison, visiting areas like the Condemned Cell, the Hangman’s Cell, and the tunnels that led to the courthouse. This is a dark tour, but if you love history and a bit of horror, it’s a stop you won’t want to miss!
8. Stop at CS Lewis Square
Author CS Lewis, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, was born in Belfast. And today, his hometown pays homage to him with the CS Lewis Square. If you’re a fan of this book, you’ll want to visit this site and see the seven bronze sculptures honoring “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.” For those who grew up loving this children’s tale, this will feel like a walk down memory lane.
Don’t let your trip to Ireland happen without a stop in Belfast. Even a few days here is absolutely worth it and can give you a handful of special memories.