Northern Ireland

Things to do in Belfast

Belfast is Northern Ireland’s capital city and is home to the world’s biggest shipyard, arguably most well-known as the birthplace of the RMS Titanic, one of the most famous ships in history.

Belfast is considered to be one of the safest cities in the United Kingdom, despite the political turmoil it suffered in the 1970s-1980s. Today it is a contemporary centre for the arts, celebrated by the annual Belfast International Arts Festival which aims to create a community-focused event of contemporary arts and ideas of international appeal and stature.

This Northern Irish city has established itself as the perfect destination for a mini-break thanks to its range of things to do in Belfast and the beautiful surrounding area, and friendly residents. 

With regular P&O Ferries services taking two hours from Cairnryan to Larne, you will land in Northern Ireland half an hour down the road from Belfast.

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Big Fish Art in Belfast

Things to do in Belfast

Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens

The Ulster Museum is one of our top things to do in Belfast. To discover even more of Belfast’s unique history, heading south to the Queen’s Quarter to visit the Ulster Museum is a must, with its exhibitions dedicated to documenting the human stories of Northern Ireland as well as presenting a variety of global cultural displays. From Dale Chihuly’s Glass Sculpture for art lovers, to the ancient Egyptian mummy Takabuti for history buffs, to Peter the Polar Bear for excited children, there’s something for everyone to be found here.

The museum is ideally located at the main entrance to the beautiful Botanic Gardens, which spread an impressive 28 acres of the city and is another great spot to spend time in as a family. The park has been open to the public since 1895 and are a key feature of Belfast’s Victorian history. The Palm House conservatory is one of the world’s earliest examples of a curvilinear cast-iron glasshouse, and consists of a cool wing and a tropical wing showcasing a beautiful range of plants and flowers which bloom year-round.

The gardens’ other greenhouse, the Tropical Ravine House, is unique in its design of two raised balconies either end of a sunken ravine running the length of the building. Outside in the gardens there is also a stunning rose garden which was built more recently in 1932 and various species of tree, including the rare hornbeam-oak. This spot is perfect for a bit of rest and relaxation and a nice chance for children to have a run around away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

Botanic Gardens in Belfast

Cairnryan-Larne Titanic Museum Belfast

Titanic Belfast

You won’t be able to miss the impressive metal structure that forms the Titantic Belfast, constructed to mimic the shape of a ship’s hull, located in the former dockyard area of Belfast. Famous for being the birthplace of the RMS Titanic during Belfast’s industrial boom at the turn of the 20th century, the visitor attraction which opened in 2012 signals a positive era of regeneration for the city.

In the centre you can learn all about the history and innovation of the industrial boom that led to the creation of the RMS Titanic, through nine interactive galleries, with many different features. This centre is perfect for a family visit, with its multiple areas of the exhibition which bring together special effects, rides, reconstructions, and lots of interactive features. Here, in the city where it all began, you can explore the shipyard, travel to the depths of the ocean, and uncover the true legend of one of the world’s most famous ships.

Explore the Cathedral Quarter

Full of fantastic restaurants, bustling bars, and lots of the famous Irish craic, Belfast’s cultural quarter is the perfect place for a relaxing meal after a long day sight-seeing or a night out on the town. At the heart of the district is St Anne’s Cathedral, for which the area is named, and the surrounding narrow cobbled streets steeped in history provide a perfect setting to wander around and get lost in.

Feel free to branch out and try an eclectic range of cuisines; from Spanish tapas at 2Taps to contemporary Chinese food at the House of Zen, there’s something here to suit everyone’s taste. If its drinks you’re after, look no further than The Dirty Onion, located in Belfast’s oldest building, for a modern take on a traditional Irish pub – don’t forget to get yourself a pint of Guinness to truly experience local drinking culture. 

Belfast Cathedral

Belfast Castle

Escape to Cave Hill Country Park

If the busy city is all getting a bit much then why not escape to the beautiful countryside surrounding Belfast? Overlooking the city, Cave Hill Country Park offers unrivalled, panoramic views of Belfast, including great things to do such as archaeological sites and caves, a visitor centre, Adventure Playground, hillside walks, and vast areas of green space to enjoy.

Belfast Castle, built in the 1860s, resides on these hills overlooking the city and is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. The castle estate contains landscaped gardens and woodland and offers superb views of the city from a many different vantage points. The estate and surrounding area is home to many different species of wildlife, including long-eared owls, sparrow hawks, and Belfast's rarest plant, perfect for anyone interested in nature.

This Northern Irish city has established itself as the perfect destination for a mini-break thanks to its range of things to do

Featured Blog Post Getting from Larne Harbour to Belfast

Travelling via Larne Harbour? Check out our guide for details of how to get to Belfast.

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