Top attractions 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- English, Irish Gaelic, and Ulster Scots
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- 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.
Things to Do in Belfast
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What people are saying about Belfast
Rocky did the Republican side and Jake did the Loyalist side. Coming from Dublin I have an innate understanding of the nationalist / republican side, but the first-hand accounts from an ex IRA volunteer were to say the least eye-opening. I knew what happened in a dry almost academic sense but had no idea of the stories nor of the effect of the Troubles on both communities. I thoroughly enjoyed Jake's account and he effectively countered the Republican narrative about the troubles. In effect the "troubles" were in large measure a civil war between loyalists and republicans with the loyalists attacking republicans and those perceived as supporting them. Both men said they do not want to see the troubles re-occur, and that was heartening. Both admitted that more innocent people were killed during the troubles than combatants. As an Irish person, I am convinced that we must make an agreed Ireland (whatever that may be) a warm house for the likes of Jake, Rocky and all of us.
Both Eugene and Mark, our two opposing tour guides, did wonderfully well in putting both sides of this terrible divide. They explained some of the history that got them and us to this impasse. They tried and mostly achieved unbiased explanations, creating and describing the two separated areas of Belfast. I would recommend the tour to anyone seeking an insight into “The Troubles”. This story has some time to run before a solution is worked through. Thank you to Eugene and Mark in sharing their stories. Also loved the earpieces.
I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, the conversations and the guides sense of humour was a bonus. I could have done with a little more pause (less talking) to enable me take in the information shared and the beauty of the scenery as we journeyed from one place to another. Enough time given. Didn't enjoy the lunch at Fullers at all. Would book the tour again and recommend it. Great value too.
It was very interesting to learn about the conflict from people who actually lived it. We learned a lot about the complexity of the situation and the consequences of the conflict in the daily life of people in Belfast. We were far from imagining this. However better to have a very good English level as the Irish accent is not easy to understand when you are not used to it.
Incredibly lucky were we to have a sunny day trip, so the landscape is particularly beautiful and marvelous. Just wish we could have stayed longer at Giant's causeway! Because if you join the exclusive special tour (it's optional) there, you almost have no time for photography.