15 Best Things to Do in Belfast Northern Ireland
If you’re planning a visit to this vibrant city, you’re in for a treat. Belfast is incredible. The rich history and culture along with the breathtaking landscapes and warm hospitality make Belfast one of the best cities you can visit in the UK and Europe. It’s extremely underrated.
There’s something for everyone as there are endless things to do in Belfast. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, a nature lover, or just looking for some good old-fashioned craic, Belfast has plenty of things to see and do that will make your trip unforgettable.
Let’s dive in and explore all the best things you can do in Belfast, from a local.
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15 Fun Activities in Belfast Northern Ireland
1. Visit Titanic Museum Belfast
The first thing to do in Belfast is to dive into the captivating history of the world’s most famous ship at the Titanic Museum Belfast. It’s one of the city’s top attractions.
Here you will learn about the Titanic’s construction and its tragic maiden voyage. Visitors can also hear some fascinating stories of the passengers and crew.
It’s a very modern museum with interactive exhibits, stunning visuals, and immersive experiences. This museum is a must-visit for all history buffs and Titanic enthusiasts. People come to Belfast from all over the world because of the Titanic, so why not head straight to the museum?
2. Take a Black Cab Tour
There are lots of Belfast tours to choose from like the open-top bus tours or the locally famous beer bikes, but one of the best and most popular for tourists is the black cab tours.
A traditional black cab tour takes you down the dark path of Belfast’s rich history and culture. Local guides, in this case, taxi drivers, will take you on a journey through the city’s troubled past.
They will share the city’s iconic murals, tell stories of Belfast’s political landscape, and provide an insight into the city’s unique identity and heritage. There’s no better way to learn about the history of Belfast.
3. Visit Crumlin Road Gaol
Continue learning about the history of Belfast by stepping back in time and exploring the dark and intriguing past of Crumlin Road Gaol, a former prison, now a museum.
The chilling stories of the inmates and the eerie underground tunnel create a mysterious ambience. For obvious reasons, this is a popular attraction amongst Belfast locals at Halloween.
With its haunting atmosphere and gripping tales, Crumlin Road Gaol is a must-visit for both history enthusiasts and thrill-seekers.
4. Enjoy a walk through the Botanic Gardens
Belfast can be quite “hectic” or “mental”, so taking some time to relax and enjoy a nice walk is one of the best things to do in Belfast.
The picturesque Botanic Gardens offer the perfect location with colorful flower displays, a duck pond, and a beautiful Palm House- a Victorian glasshouse filled with exotic plants.
The Botanic Gardens are perfect for a peaceful escape and make for a lovely spot for a picnic or a quiet afternoon walk.
5. Learn even more Northern Irish history at the Ulster Museum
As I mentioned, Belfast has an abundance of history to learn about, and it’s fascinating too. If you’re a history buff craving more knowledge, the Ulster Museum is a must-visit.
Like any museum, it features exhibitions about previous centuries, archaeology and other typical museum stuff, but Ulster Museum has exceptional exhibitions on the history of Northern Ireland too. (Side note: the museum does have a real-life mummy which is pretty cool).
You can learn so much about the country and Belfast in particular, right from the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921 up until the end of “The Troubles” in 1998 and beyond.
6. Head to the Giant’s Causeway
One of the reasons tourists visit Northern Ireland is the Giant’s Causeway, and it’s not too far away from Belfast. Northern Ireland is so small that anywhere is only an hour or so away from Belfast.
The Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is made up of mysterious hexagonal basalt columns formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago.
Or, you can let your imagination run wild with tales of giants and folklore about how the Causeway was once a bridge to Scotland. The whole of the Causeway Coast is beautiful, it’s one of the most Instagrammable places in Northern Ireland.
7. See the Harland and Wolff cranes
One of the things to do in Belfast that is exclusive to the city is to see the H&W cranes. The iconic Harland and Wolff cranes, known locally as Samson and Goliath, are a staple in the history of Belfast and a must-see when in the city.
These towering yellow cranes are a symbol of Belfast’s maritime heritage and its historic shipbuilding industry. A stroll along the docks allows you to marvel at the impressive size and scale of these engineering marvels, which have become a beloved landmark in Belfast.
8. Step back in time at the Ulster Folk Museum
Ever wanted what Ireland was like in centuries previous? Take a trip to the Ulster Folk Museum, an open-air museum showcasing traditional village life from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
There are historic buildings, costumed interpreters, and demonstrations of traditional crafts. It offers unique insight into Northern Ireland’s rural heritage, but of course, Ireland was all one country back then so Northern Ireland technically didn’t exist. Nonetheless, it’s a fun and educational day out for everyone.
9. See Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall is another iconic landmark in the heart of the city. The stunning architecture of this grand building, with its impressive domes and ornate details, deserves to be admired.
The gardens of the City Hall are also a very popular place amongst locals for relaxation and picnics in the summer months. In the winter, the City Hall is marvelous with incredible Christmas Markets, not to be missed if you are spending Christmas in Belfast.
10. Have a pint at the Crown Bar
If you enjoy a drink, one of the best things to do in Belfast is to do exactly that: enjoy a drink. Step into the Crown Bar, a legendary pub with an old-world charm that’s hard to resist. It’s Belfast’s equivalent of Dublin’s Temple Bar.
The exquisite Victorian decor, with its stained glass windows, mosaic tiles, and cozy snugs make the pub the perfect spot for a pint. So pull up a stool and savour a pint of local beer, soaking in the unique atmosphere of this iconic watering hole.
11. Watch a show at the Grand Opera House
Treat yourself to a night of entertainment at the historic Grand Opera House. Catch a show, a concert, or a ballet performance in this beautifully restored Victorian theatre.
Admire the opulent interior, with its lavish red and gold decor, and soak in the grandeur of the surroundings.
From drama to comedy to musicals, the Grand Opera House offers a diverse range of performances that are sure to captivate and entertain. Again, if you are visiting at Christmas, be sure to go to the Pantomime. May McFettridge, a local legend, is hilarious!
12. Go axe throwing
Looking for a unique and adventurous experience and a thing to do in Belfast like no other? Head to Black Axe Throwing Co just outside the centre of Belfast and channel your inner lumberjack with some axe-throwing fun.
Test your skills at this popular indoor activity, where you’ll learn how to throw axes and hit targets like a pro. With friendly instructors and a fun, competitive atmosphere, axe throwing is a memorable and exciting activity. It’s perfect for groups or couples seeking an adventurous outing.
13. Enjoy a night out in the Cathedral Quarter
Belfast has been voted as the best night out in the UK before. It’s also incredibly cheap! Get ready to experience Belfast’s vibrant nightlife in the trendy Cathedral Quarter.
This hip and happening area is packed with lively pubs, bars, and clubs that cater to all tastes. The energetic atmosphere of this buzzing neighbourhood is second to none and creates the perfect opportunity to mingle with locals and dance the night away in one of Belfast’s coolest districts. It’s worth saying that the people of Belfast are so so friendly and welcoming- you’ll fit right in!
14. Shop at St. George’s Market
If you’re a shopaholic, then St. George’s Market is a must-visit destination. This historic market is not just a shopping hub, but also a cultural experience. There are few places like it!
The stalls sell everything from fresh produce to unique crafts to vintage treasures. You can find pretty much anything! Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth a visit just to soak in the lively atmosphere of this bustling market. It’s yet another opportunity to step back in time, as the market is almost exactly as it was in centuries past.
15. Visit Belfast Zoo
Last but by no means least of these things to do in Belfast is to visit Belfast Zoo. About twenty minutes outside the city center, it’s a must-visit. A trip to Belfast wouldn’t be complete without visiting Belfast Zoo.
Home to over 1,200 animals from around the world, the award-winning zoo offers the chance to get up close and personal with majestic lions, playful monkeys, mischievous penguins, and many more fascinating animals. And of course, it wouldn’t be Belfast without a bit of history. Make sure to learn about Sheila the Elephant who had an iconic story from WW2.
Things to do in Belfast: Conclusion
And there you have it. These are fifteen of the best things to do in Belfast. In conclusion, Belfast has something for everyone, from history buffs to foodies to nightlife enthusiasts.
Belfast is a city that will capture your heart and leave you with unforgettable memories. There truly is no shortage of things to do.
So pack your bags, book your trip, and get ready for an adventure-packed getaway in beautiful Belfast! Enjoy 🙂
About the author: Josh Band is the creator behind A Backpacker’s World. From Southeast Asia to Europe, and everything in between, Josh loves to explore and write about his travels.