By Caitlin Hornik
Whether you love history, animals, arts, or food (or all of the above!), there's plenty to see and do in Belfast. Here's our 11 favorite things to do in Belfast - because we couldn’t choose just 10!
For the History Lover
Belfast Castle is one of Northern Ireland’s most famous attractions. Originally built in the late 12th century and then rebuilt in the 1800s, the castle has a rich history of being passed from family to family and eventually onto the city of Belfast in 1934. Today, it is a popular wedding destination and includes a restaurant and a visitor centre. Visitors also have the opportunity to explore Cave Hill Country Park and follow one of the many walking trails either on foot or on bicycle. The castle and its attractions are open daily.
Learn more about Belfast Castle
The Titanic Belfast is the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience, where visitors can learn about the Titanic from its inception to its tragic end in the city where it all began. Located in the spot where the Titanic was built, the attraction offers visitors the opportunity to explore through interactive galleries and a guided walking tour. Visitors even have the chance to walk the decks of the last remaining White Star Line vessel: the SS Nomadic. Titanic Belfast also offers a restaurant and a gift shop. The attraction is open year-round, with operating hours changing seasonally.
Learn more about Titanic Belfast
Belfast City Hall
For one hour, follow a guided tour and discover the culture and history of a civic building that has been around since 1906. Belfast City Hall was designed by Alfred Brumwell Thomas and has many connections to the Titanic. Belfast City Hall is host to a handful of monuments and memorials, including the Titanic Memorial Garden. Tours operate three times daily and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tours are free of charge, with donations encouraged to continue the development of the tour service.
Learn more about Belfast City Hall
Giant’s Causeway, a geological formation, is Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site. It has an 11-mile coastal path with gorgeous cliffs and rare flora and fauna for all to enjoy. There are additional walking trails, or a bus available for those who cannot walk on the stones. Legend has it that the site was once home to Finn McCool, a giant who existed around 2,000 years ago. There is science, myth, and legends galore when you visit Giant’s Causeway.
Learn more about Giant's Causeway
For the Animal/Nature Lover
Belfast Zoological Gardens
Home to animal exhibits since 1934, the Belfast Zoo is a top attraction in Northern Ireland. It averages around 300,000 visitors per year and is home to over 1,000 animals. Popular attractions include giraffe, elephant, penguin, and sea lion exhibits. The zoo offers daily talks and feeding times when visitors can learn about and view their favorite animals in a more personal way. There is an emphasis placed on education at the Belfast Zoo, which is owned and operated by Belfast City Council.
Learn more about Belfast Zoological Gardens
Edith, Lady Londonderry's hallmarks were planting and design - both of which are on display at Mount Stewart. The attraction consists of the house of Edith, Lady Londonderry, and the world-class gardens she designed. The house recently underwent a three-year restoration project which resulted in new emphasis on the early 20th-century charm and elegance of the house. There are currently more than 15,000 artifacts and items in the house to peruse! Recently voted one of the top 10 gardens to visit in the world, Mount Stewart boasts a wide variety of plants, flowers, and features. Highlights include the Sunk Garden and the Ireland Garden. There are also walking tours and children’s activities, ensuring fun for all ages. Mount Stewart is open daily, offering 30-minute guided tours beginning at 11am and free-flow tours from 1pm onward.
Learn more about Mount Stewart
Established in 1828, the Botanic Gardens is home to the Palm House and the Tropical Ravine. The Palm House features tropical plants and birds, as well as different seasonal displays. Tropical Ravine features some of the oldest seed plants around, as well as banana, cinnamon, and orchid plants. Botanic Gardens are a point of interest because it shows how technological advances helped gardeners establish rare species in a greenhouse environment. Botanic Gardens is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Learn more about Botanic Gardens
For the Arts/Culture Lover
St. George’s Market
One of Belfast’s oldest attractions, St. George’s Market was built in the 1890s and is known for being one of the best markets in the UK and Ireland. Visitors will enjoy a fine array of fresh, local produce and a jovial atmosphere. Events are held here throughout the year, but weekly events include the Friday Variety Market, the Saturday City Food and Craft Market, and the Sunday Market. The market also features live music from local musicians.
Learn more about St. George's Market
The MAC, or Metropolitan Arts Centre, opened in 2012 and has seen nearly 2 million visitors. It has become a vital part of the regeneration of Belfast. The MAC hosts a variety of events and programs, including theater, dance, visual art, and family workshops. The MAC also offers opportunities for partnerships with schools and communities. Don’t miss your chance to catch a performance or display during your trip!
Learn more about The MAC
Game of Thrones Sightseeing
Did you know Game of Thrones was filmed across Northern Ireland? Diehard fans have the opportunity to live out their GOT fantasies with a variety of guided as well as free-flow tour options and locations. Play with a direwolf or bike through Castle Ward Demesne. Don a cloak and experience Winterfell, or do a guided driving tour of it all! Whatever you choose - Winter is Coming.
Learn more about Game of Thrones Sightseeing
For the Food Lover
Holohan’s at the Barge
Located in the heart of the city on River Lagan, Holohan’s at the Barge is one of the top restaurants in Belfast. Owned and operated by the Holohan family, they pride themselves on the hospitality that has been passed down generation to generation. They emphasize local produce in their meals and locally sourced beers and ciders behind the bar. Their menu is highly stylized, featuring both classic and contemporary options, all with an Irish flair. Holohan’s also offers a Children’s Menu and accepts (and encourages) reservations.
Learn more about Holohan's at the Barge