Belfast’s colorful past makes it all the more intriguing to visit today. Once a hotbed of political tension, Northern Ireland’s dynamic capital is now one of the top destinations to explore in the United Kingdom.
Famed as the birthplace of the Titanic, Belfast boasts a rich maritime and cultural heritage. The pubs are legendary, as are the museums and nearby castles.
Check out our carefully curated list of all the best things to do in Belfast – which will you include on your trip?
1 – Feel the weight of the past at Titanic Belfast
The world’s most famous liner was built here in Belfast before she set sail on that fateful 1912 voyage. Understand why this ship was so iconic as you explore the Titanic’s Dock and Pump House.
Visit the Titanic Belfast museum and learn about the construction and the passengers who were on board that day. It’s poignant and thrilling in equal measures.
2 – Photograph the Dark Hedges
Calling all “Game of Thrones” fans, this one’s for you! The Dark Hedges are an hour from Belfast, with visits often combined with trips to the Giant’s Causeway.
This beech tree avenue was planted in 1775 to impress travelers heading to Gracehill House. Today it’s a filming location and one of the most photographed sites in Northern Island. Go strike your pose, you know you want to!
3 – Get spooked at Crumlin Road Gaol
Feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end as you creep around Belfast’s infamous Victorian prison.
Crumlin Road Gaol was home to an eclectic rabble, with suffragettes and murderers sharing cells with loyalists and thieves. The unfortunate ones went to the execution chamber, and some say their spirits linger in the graveyard. Who will you meet during our tour?
4 – Step on board the SS Nomadic
Stroll around the decks of SS Nomadic – the White Star Line’s last remaining ship. Now fully restored to her former glory, the vessel was once used to ferry passengers out to the Titanic.
Take a self-guided tour into the heart of this historic ship. Can you imagine the feeling of excitement among the passengers who were about to embark on their journey?
5 – Tour Hillsborough Castle
Just 12 miles from Belfast, this stately Georgian house sits in 100 acres of landscaped gardens. Today, Hillsborough Castle is the official Northern Ireland residence of the Queen.
See for yourself what it’s like to live in such splendor as you take a tour around the residence and grounds. Highlights include the elegant State Rooms, the Throne Room, and the Anteroom where visiting dignitaries are received.
6 – Visit Belfast City Hall
Exploring the City Hall is one of the unmissable things to do in Belfast. Your guided tour will put the historical “Troubles” in Northern Ireland into perspective.
Have a privileged glimpse into areas not usually accessible to the public and admire the stunning Baroque decoration. Walk up the grand staircase, pop into the paneled Council Chamber, and don’t miss the marble Rotunda with its historic paintings.
7 – Explore Dunluce Castle
Out on the wild Antrim coast, the medieval Dunluce Castle stands proudly looking out to sea. It’s one of the most picturesque fortress settings in Northern Ireland and was used in the filming of “Game of Thrones”.
Dating to the 13th century, Dunluce Castle was inhabited by feuding clans. Today you can explore the ruins, using a drawbridge for access, just like the old days!
8 – Wander around Belfast Cathedral
Belfast Cathedral, also known as St. Anne’s Cathedral, has loomed over the city center for over a century. It’s relatively modern, with a Romanesque style from the early 20th century.
Check out the Spire of Hope and the rather spectacular stained-glass windows. Then take a moment to reflect at the Titanic Pall, which represents the lives lost on the fated ship.
9 – Breathe fresh sea air at Ballintoy Harbour
If you want to include a pretty seaside cove on your itinerary, Ballintoy Harbour ticks all the boxes. As you meander down the steep mountain road you’ll have your first glimpse of the rugged coastline surrounding the village.
There are sea stacks, rock pools, and deserted beaches waiting to be discovered. Take a picnic and watch boats bobbing about on the water.
10 – Talk politics of the past on a walking tour
To truly understand Belfast, you need to delve into its turbulent political past. So, join a walking tour and explore the city’s most infamous neighborhoods.
In political conflict tours, you’ll be chatting to ex-political prisoners and strolling along the notorious Falls Road. Stop by the giant murals painted as beacons of hope for the future, before signing your name on the Peace Wall.
11 – See the Belfast Peace Walls
History buffs will love wandering along the famous Belfast Peace Walls. They’re among the top historical sights in the city and give a fascinating insight into the conflict that one ruled the streets.
Spend time at the Falls Road and Shankill Road sites, where the walls are painted with colorful murals. Don’t miss the one featuring IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.
12 – See where “Game of Thrones” was filmed
Relive key moments from “Game of Thrones” on a filming location tour – it’s one of the most popular things to do in Belfast.
Walk in the footsteps of Jon Snow and Arya as you trek to Winterfell Castle and explore Robb Stark’s Riverlands camp. Pose for photos with props at Inch Abbey and discover where the Night Watch first encountered the White Walkers.
13 – Go sightseeing on a hop-on hop-off bus tour
Seeing the major landmarks in a single day is a piece of cake when you’re on a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Take your seats on the top deck and enjoy the commentary as you cruise around the Belfast streets.
Jump off at the attractions that pique your interest, with St George’s Market, Titanic Dock, and the Botanic Gardens all at your fingertips.
14 – Visit Belfast Castle
Landmark-baggers should make a beeline for the Belfast Castle Estate. It’s located in the beautiful Cave Hill area and has been a city icon since it was built in 1860. The castle itself boasts a superb restaurant offering dining in the cellar.
Hit the hiking trails that wind their way through the parkland, visiting archaeological sites and adventure playgrounds along the way. The views from here are jaw-dropping.
15 – Take a day trip to the Giant’s Causeway
If there’s one landmark that says “Northern Ireland”, it’s the Giant’s Causeway. This famous natural site is made of 40,000 basalt columns paving an unusual slipway into the sea.
Each rock is hexagonal, fitting neatly against its counterparts. Surrounded by dramatic cliffs it’s a phenomenal site, and you really can imagine a giant strolling down to bathe in the ocean.
16 – Enjoy a night out at the Grand Opera House
Take your seats at Northern Ireland’s premier theater and wait in anticipation for the curtain to rise. Whether you’re into musicals or comedy, there’s always something entertaining on at the Grand Opera House.
The auditorium itself almost steals the show, with its majestic Victorian décor and luxurious red furnishings. Treat yourself to a drink at the bar before the performance.
17 – Travel back in time at Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Castle sits overlooking the northern shores of Belfast Lough. It’s Norman in design, with a towering keep and high walls to keep marauders at bay.
It’s one of the best-preserved medieval buildings in the country and was in use as a military stronghold until 1928. You can take a guided tour of the ruins and admire the 17th-century cannons on display.
18 – Photograph the Customs House
Another architectural style was introduced to Belfast with the building of the Customs House. This Neoclassical landmark was designed with the High Italian Renaissance in mind and looks rather like a palace.
Symbolizing the power of the British Empire, the Customs House was previously used as governmental offices. Wander around the outside and admire the detail – see if you can spot the figure of Britannia.
19 – Walk across the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Day trips to the Giant’s Causeway often include a visit to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and it’s well worth the short detour.
Wobbling precariously between two cliffs up on the Antrim boast, the traditional rope bridge links the mainland with the tiny island of Carrickarede. Don’t look down as you teeter across and pose for selfies in the middle if you dare.
20 – Check out the Ulster Museum
Of all the cultural things to do in Belfast, visiting the Ulster Museum is the most intriguing. Hidden in the Botanic Gardens, the museum features some rather eclectic collections.
One minute you could be admiring fine art, and the next you might be ogling treasures from the Spanish Armada. Over in the zoology exhibition, you’ll find specimens of every mammal living in Northern Ireland.
21 – Visit the Parliament Buildings at Stormont
Old world majesty and contemporary elegance combine to create a striking masterpiece fit for any government at Stormont’s prized Parliament Buildings.
Home to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the house can be visited during the week, with free guided tours in summer.
Step inside the Great Hall and the historic Senate Chamber. Can you imagine the debates that take place behind closed doors?
22 – Go on a boozy bike tour
Enjoy a cycling tour with a difference as you roll around the streets of Belfast on this unique beer tour. You’ll be zooming past historical sights in the Cathedral Quarter as your group navigates the route on an enormous beer bike.
Pedaling is thirsty work, so stop at iconic pubs for a bit of hydration, and discover hidden spots known only to locals.
23 – Sample sweet treats at St. George’s Market
Everyone loves a market, but this one’s a bit special. St George’s Market is the last remaining covered Victorian venue in Belfast, with stalls selling fresh produce from local providers.
There’s a market here every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so pop by if you’re in town. Taste local specialties and chat with traders or pick up souvenirs and relax with a coffee.
24 – Meet “Mr. Tumnus” at CS Lewis Square
This quirky literary plaza commemorates the works of Belfast-born writer, CS Lewis, with powerful displays of public art. As you stroll through CS Lewis Square, you’ll encounter several characters from his famous books.
Enter the world of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” where Mr. Tumnus and Aslan take center stage. Come at night to see the statues illuminated.
25 – Explore the Shankill neighborhood
Dive into the city’s violent past with a tour around the infamous Shankill. Decked out with loyalist murals, this district hasn’t forgotten the part it played during “The Troubles.”
You’ll see the Peace Wall that separates Shankill from Falls Road, keeping the warring communities apart. Your guide will have lived through the conflict and can give a real insight into what went on at ground level.
26 – Visit the unspoiled village of Cushendun
Tucked away in the Glens of Antrim, Cushendun is a tiny seaside village that has withstood the tests of time. It wouldn’t look out of place in Cornwall, with its pretty houses and windswept coast.
Take a stroll around the charming harbor and follow the trails snaking along the river and through the settlement. Then it’s time for a picnic on the beach!
27 – Feed the animals at Streamvale Farm
Have a fun-packed family day out at Streamvale Open Farm. Kids love cuddling the fluffy rabbits and stroking the chicks that run riot in the hen house.
Get hands-on at feeding time as you coax tiny lambs to take the bottle. Then it’s all aboard for a tractor ride around the farm, stopping to give the red deer their lunch along the way.
28 – Tour Belfast by black taxi
Black taxi tours are one of the most iconic things to do in Belfast. You’ll be cruising the streets in style, with your knowledgeable guide spilling the beans about the hidden side of the city.
Stop at major sights like the murals and the Peace Walls, as well as Titanic Belfast and Crumlin Road Gaol. Keep an eye out for the Belfast Cranes too.
29 – Discover HMS Caroline
HMS Caroline’s claim to fame is that she was the last survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland. She now resides in Belfast, and you can step onboard to see what life was like during wartime.
Explore below decks and imagine being a sailor on the high seas. You’ll see the captain’s cabin and the officer’s mess, before descending deep into the engine room.
30 – Taste whiskey at the Old Bushmills Distillery
Irish whiskey is legendary, so seeing where the amber nectar is made can be a real highlight of your Belfast vacation.
Take a tour of the Old Bushmills Distillery and discover the secret ingredients that make it so scrumptious. Then get down to some tasting and see if you can identify the unique flavors. Buy a bottle or two to take home!
31 – Take in a show at the SSE Arena Belfast
Treat yourself to a rip-roaring evening out at the world-class SSE Arena Belfast.
One of Europe’s standout entertainment venues, the arena has hosted everyone from Beyoncé to Shania Twain. Get your timings right and you might catch Riverdance in action too.
Sports fans can see the Belfast Giants ice hockey team in action or watch the Premier League Darts championships.
32 – Hike in Belvoir Park Forest
It’s not often you find a forest inside a city, but Belfast is full of surprises. Belvoir Park Forest is a wildlife haven with several walking trails to explore along the south bank of the River Lagan.
See if you can find the 12th-century Norman motte and the 1740s icehouse as you ramble through the woods. You might be joined by red squirrels.
33 – Enjoy a street art tour
Searching for quirky things to do in Belfast? Street art tours are all the rage, and nowhere more poignant than here in Northern Ireland’s tempestuous capital.
On this insightful walking tour, you’ll visit some of the most famous street artworks in town, including the Peace Wall. Of course, the political murals are the stars of the show, each one telling its own story.
34 – Visit the tropics at Belfast Botanic Gardens
Escape the urban grind and enjoy a slice of nature as you amble around the flower beds at the Botanic Gardens.
The Palm House and the Tropical Ravine welcome you into a world of rainforests and deserts. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled overseas as you walk beneath exotic trees and spot plants more used to warmer climes.
35 – Ascend Divis and the Black Mountain
Climb to the summit of Divis and the Black Mountain for far-reaching views out over Belfast and beyond. On a clear day, you can even see over to Scotland.
These rich heathlands are full of wildlife and several trails entice you into the heart of nature. The circular route to the top is of moderate difficulty and takes about an hour.
36 – Experiment with science at W5
Interact with robots and watch your skeleton ride a bike at Belfast’s interactive discovery center – W5. Fun for kids of all ages, this award-winning science attraction has 250 hands-on exhibits to get those brain cells whirring.
Watch live demonstrations then explore space or have a go at being a weather presenter. Then loosen up those vocal cords and take on the music studio.
37 – Tour Queen’s University Belfast
Peek behind the scenes on a guided walking tour around the Queen’s University Belfast. You’ll be exploring the main campus facilities for a taste of life behind these hallowed doors.
Explore the Lanyon building which is one of Northern Ireland’s most famous landmarks thanks to its striking architecture. Then step through the Narnia wardrobe to find a secret CS Lewis study room in the library.
38 – Go wild at Belfast Zoo
Meet your furry favorites at Belfast Zoo, where endangered animals put on a really wild show. Laugh at the antics of Andean bears and watch in awe as the bearded dragon stalks his prey.
Be transported to Africa as you encounter meerkats, chimpanzees, and giraffes. Don’t miss the daily talks and feedings, where cheeky sea lions and agile spider monkeys are the star performers.
39 – Soak up the vibe in the Titanic Quarter
Exploring the Titanic Quarter is one of the most atmospheric things to do in Belfast. This grand waterfront regeneration scheme has been a huge success, and today the district is buzzing with restaurants, shops and hotels.
You’ll be discovering Belfast’s maritime history, and of course, visiting the Titanic exhibition. Afterward, watch boats in the marina over a steaming mug of coffee.
40 – See the Albert Memorial Clock
Often compared to Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Albert Memorial Clock has a distinct slant. This Gothic-style timepiece was built in the 1860s to commemorate Prince Albert.
Look closely and you’ll see a statue of the prince keeping watch over the city, beside a motley collection of carved lions, angels, and gargoyles. You can’t climb it, but the view outside is impressive enough.
41 – Stroll around Victoria Park
This leafy urban garden is a haven of peace away from the bustle of Belfast’s city center. The landscaped grounds and vibrant flower beds of Victoria Park set the scene for a relaxing lakeside walk.
There are a couple of trails to explore, as well as a playground and BMX track for kids to burn off some energy. Pack a picnic and enjoy the fresh air.
42 – Admire the Big Fish sculpture
Have you ever seen a 32-foot salmon? If not, head to Lagan Lookout near the Customs House and check out the Big Fish Sculpture.
It’s an icon of Belfast, with shiny scales made of blue ceramic tiles. Look closely and you’ll notice scenes depicting the city’s heritage on some of the pieces. Take a selfie to celebrate seeing this unusual bit of public art.
43 – Visit the Eileen Hickey Irish Republican History Museum
Named after a prominent activist, the Eileen Hickey Irish Republican History Museum is home to a dazzling array of exhibits. The artifacts chart the Republican struggles from 1798 to the present day.
Check out the haunting photos and newspaper articles that tell the stories of those involved. There’s a replica cell too like the one Hickey spent time in at Armagh Gaol.
44 – Explore the Stormont Estate
Home to the Parliament Buildings, Stormont Estate is also a great place to stretch those legs. This public park boasts beautifully manicured gardens, with walking trails taking you on a tranquil green journey.
There’s also a fitness path and an outdoor gym to work off those Irish-cooked breakfast calories. Meanwhile, kids can dangle from climbing frames and zoom down slides in the playground.
45 – Lark about at Pickie Fun Park
Looking for some family thrills? Then check out Pickie Fun Park and spend the day outdoors. Start off at the adventure playground, before chugging around the park on a narrow-gauge railway.
Next up is pedaling giant swans and disco ducks around the lagoon or enjoying a round of mini-golf on the green. Finish up with ice cream from the Candy Shack.
46 – Slumber in Helen’s Tower
Calling all Rapunzels and heroic knights, this is your chance to live out all your fairytale fantasies. Hidden deep in the County Down forests, Helen’s Tower is an enchanting place to stay.
After an evening by the fire, it’s time to climb those spiral stone stairs up to the sleeping chamber. Dream of queens and kings, before enjoying your morning coffee up on the roof terrace.
47 – Discover Antrim Castle Gardens
The 400-year-old Antrim Castle Gardens are a favorite with history and nature lovers alike. Take your time as you ramble through the park, stopping to admire the Yew Tree Pond and Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden.
At the center, you’ll discover the regal-looking Clotworthy House. Here you can learn about the heritage of the gardens and the family who once lived here.
48 – Go hiking in Cave Hill County Park
As the name suggests, Cave Hill Country Park is home to several secret caverns. Thought to be early iron mines, the caves are hewn into the Belfast Cliffs, overlooking the city.
There are heaps of trails, orienteering routes, and archaeological sites to discover as you explore this wildlife-rich park. See if you can find the ancient fort as you explore the woods.
49 – Play a round of golf
If you’re looking for sporty things to do in Belfast, start with the golf courses. They’re among the finest in the world, with something for both beginners and pros.
For a spectacular mountain backdrop and classic greens, head to the Royal County Down Golf Club. Meanwhile, Royal Dunluce sits in the shadow of the ancient castle with sweeping sea views to distract your aim.
50 – Get a hole in one at Lost City Adventure Golf
For something a bit more lighthearted, practice your putting skills at Lost City Adventure Golf. This indoor venue has two courses that take you on explorations deep into the jungle world.
You’ll be surrounded by crumbling ruins, exotic animals, and eerie special effects as you play among the palms. Will you make it to the finishing line?
51 – Party in the Cathedral Quarter
Boogie the night away in the heart of Belfast’s fizzing Cathedral Quarter, where you’ll find some of the best bars in town.
Start by sampling craft beer at The Woodworkers, then move on to The Dirty Onion and sing along to pumping tunes. Anyone still upright should continue to The Spaniard where the quirky décor goes hand in hand with large tots of rum.
52 – Indulge in some retail therapy at Victoria Square
With everything from personal shopping and cinemas to restaurants and boutiques, Victoria Square is a destination in itself.
Browse the big-name retailers and pick up some new outfits, then rest your weary feet while watching the latest movie release. Why not treat yourself to noodles or fried chicken before leaving with your new stash in tow?
53 – Relax in Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park
If you’re in Belfast in July, pop over to Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park for Rose Week. The blooms are breathtaking and draw visitors in from across the country.
Delve deeper and you’ll come across a traditional walled garden, herbaceous borders, and several photogenic gate lodges. It’s spectacular all year round and has a playground for kids to enjoy.
54 – Have a blast at Colin Glen Adventure Park
Your little explorers will love the attractions at Colin Glen Adventure Park. This forested pleasure haven has everything from laser tag to Alpine coasteering to keep you on your toes.
Test your balance on the high-ropes course and aim true as you have a go at archery. Got nerves of steel? Then take on Ireland’s longest zip line if you dare.
55 – Drink at the Crown Liquor Saloon
One of Belfast’s most famous pubs, the Crown Liquor Saloon is stuck in a delightful time warp. Formerly a Victorian gin palace, today the bar is a fun place to wet your whistle.
The original wooden booths, decorated glass, and old gas lamps just make everything taste even better. Tuck into hearty pub grub along with a pint or two of real ale.
56 – Visit the Templetown Mausoleum
Constructed in 1789 for the Rt. Hon. Arthur Upton, the Templetown Mausoleum was designed in the Neoclassical style by architect Robert Adam. If you’re in Templepatrick, it’s well worth a detour.
You’ll find this masterpiece in the Castle Upton graveyard, identifiable by its striking triumphal arch entrance. Take a moment to reflect in this peaceful setting, and appreciate the skill involved in crafting the circular reliefs.
57 – Pay your respects at the Titanic Memorial Gardens
Of all the things to do in Belfast, this is perhaps the most moving. The Titanic Memorial Gardens can be found on the lawns surrounding City Hall, alongside the Cenotaph.
All 1512 victims of the Titanic disaster are listed on a nine-meter-long plinth beneath the memorial. This is the first time that all the names have been recorded in a single place.
58 – Get active in Ormeau Park
Work up a sweat as you jog around the trails of Ormeau Park. There’s orienteering too if you want to slow the pace down a little.
Children can let off steam in the playground, while just around the corner you’ll find soccer pitches, bowling greens, and a basketball court. If all that sounds a bit too energetic, just enjoy a gentle walk around the grounds.
59 – Go skating at Dundonald International Ice Bowl
Wrap up warm and practice your pirouettes as you glide around this Olympic-sized ice rink. It might be chilly, but Dundonald Ice Bowl is heaps of fun!
For something warmer, compete against your friends at the state-of-the-art bowling center. There are glow-in-the-dark sessions for added thrills!
Younger fun-seekers can crawl through hidden tunnels and swing over rope bridges at Indiana Land.
60 – Get theatrical at The MAC Belfast
Enjoy an evening of entertainment at The MAC Belfast, where comedy and live theater sit side by side with art exhibitions and musical performances.
It’s a bit of a cultural hub, with an eclectic program that appeals to curious visitors of all ages. Check the schedule to see if there are any creative family workshops during your stay.
61 – Visit the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum
Discover Northern Ireland’s role in World War II as you explore the exhibits at this must-see attraction.
The War Memorial Museum takes you back in time to the Belfast Blitz of 1941, with features on the Ulster Home Guard taking pride of place.
You’ll discover how women played their part during the conflict, and see the memorial dedicated to the blitz victims.
62 – Dine in style at Belfast’s Michelin-starred restaurants
For a truly decadent evening out, make a reservation at one of the city’s top restaurants and indulge in top-notch cuisine.
Want something more traditional? Then you’ll love the hearty beef stews and sweet potato pie at the Ginger Bistro.
63 – Sleep in history
It’s never just a room for the night, so when you’re booking your Belfast hotel check out these beauties.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, there are lots of hotels in Belfast to choose from. Just make sure you make your reservations in advance as rooms do fill up fast.
Arriving by plane? Then you might like to consider booking airport transfers online for the best deals.
Well done for making it to the end of this mega list of epic things to do in Belfast. Have fun putting together your itinerary!