12 Best Things To Do in Belfast

 

Types of Girl about the Globe – City & Sightseeing GatG, Maritime GatG 

Belfast has redefined itself from the past. After spending 5 nights in this Irish city, I've put together a solo guide to Belfast. Discover 12 of the best things to do in Belfast, where to stay in Belfast, how to get around and from the airport and recommended Belfast tours. I hope this inspires you to visit. 

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Things To Do in Belfast

Contents

Things to do in Belfast

Belfast is a great place for solos to visit

Belfast

Belfast has come a long way since the days of political violence. Having grown up with news reports of the IRA, I must admit that this Northern Irish capital was never really on my bucket list. But after interviewing Sarah Arnold who had grown up in Northern Ireland, I was inspired by the things to do in Belfast and had to visit for myself. 

It took me less than 48 hours in Belfast to notice how far this nation had come. Todays' Belfast is worlds apart from the Belfast in the '80s. Yes, there were still isolated cases of violence but they were minimal and barely even made it to the international press.

It seemed that Northern Ireland was now in the media for all the right reasons – the biggest one being the Game of Thrones. If you’re not a fan (which I’m in the minority of people who aren’t), then you can still enjoy touring around the stunning landscapes chosen for this popular Netflix series. Just seeing the beautiful Irish coastline is worth a visit in itself.

Things to do in Belfast

The Titanic Museum has to be top of your list when you visit Belfast

Things To Do in Belfast

1. Visit The Titanic Belfast Museum

Everyone has heard of the Titanic but if you are like me, you may not have realised that the Titanic was actually built in Belfast. You may not know that the Titanic was just one of three superliners to have been built at the same period. And you may not know that one of its sister ships came to the rescue of the lifeboats and saved the survivors.

There's a reason that the Titanic Museum was voted the Worlds Leading Tourist Attraction in 2016. That's because it is! It's not just a museum, it's a complete experience of the world's most famous shipwreck. It is really interactive and even if you're not really into ships, it takes you back in time to Belfast when this capital's industry was booming.

There's a short rollercoaster ride that takes you through the working shipyard where you can see the virtual workers and listen to the sounds. You can even try your hand at morse code. There are over nine interactive galleries here but my favourite has to be the underwater discovery room, where you can see the projected image of the Titanic as it is today, under the depths of the water.

Don’t think that it’s just for kids either as it provides an education for everyone. I stayed for lunch in the cafe afterwards just to squeeze the most out of my Titanic experience. And even if the world's most famous shipwreck isn't really your thing, it’s still worth visiting.

Things to do in Belfast

You can visit the SS Nomadic Belfast on your Titanic Museum ticket

2. SS Nomadic Belfast

Your ticket also allows you onto SS Nomadic, one of the Titanic’s tender ships (a ship that carries you from the port to the ship). This ship was used to transport passengers to the Titanic. Inside its champagne bar and opulent interior gave the excited passengers a taste of first-class before experiencing the real thing.

What makes this attraction so good is its use of virtual characters which are projected on the walls. You can watch how they used to shovel coal into the engines and listen to the coal worker telling you his story. It only takes about 30 minutes to walk around the whole ship but it adds an extra dimension to the Titanic tale.

  • Find it at: Hamilton Dock, Queens Rd (right near the Titanic Museum)
  • Time needed: One hour maximum
  • Opens at: 10am – 5:30pm every day
  • Costs: Included within the Titanic Museum ticket
Things to do in Belfast

St George's Market is a great place to try a traditional Irish fry up

3. Go To St George’s Market

St George's Market is only open from Friday to Mondays and the stalls vary depending on the days. If you love fish visit on a Friday for more than 20 fish stalls. Saturday and Sundays are more for arts and crafts where local craftspeople sell their creations.

Having visited a few markets in my time, I honestly had no expectations of the city’s award-winning market. But this last surviving Victorian covered market surprised me. 

Once inside, the dulcet tones of a live musician singing a rendition of a U2 classic blew me away. In fact, the musician was so good that I came back to get some food and soak up more of the atmosphere later that day whilst enjoying an Ulster fry. If you haven’t yet tried the Irish soda bread or potato cake, this market is a great opportunity to do it. It is a great hub for people to come, eat and enjoy the music but there really is so much more to this market which is one of Belfast's oldest attractions. 

You can buy beautiful framed photographs of the Irish coast, crystals at the holistic stands or pick up an Irish antique. You’ll also find other cuisines such as smoked fish chowder and Thai curries but as they say, when in Ireland…

  • Find it at: 12-20 East Bridge St
  • Time needed: One to three hours (depending on whether you stay for food)
  • Opens at: Friday – Sunday 9am-3pm
  • Costs: Free!
Things to do in Belfast

HMS Caroline is the only surviving battleship from The Battle of Jutland in World War One

4. Explore HMS Caroline

Near the Titanic Museum sits the only surviving battleship from The Battle of Jutland in World War One. Once a vessel of war, HMS Caroline is now a floating museum that tells the tale of the battle. 

Having never heard of The Battle of Jutland, I knew nothing about HMS Caroline and the role that it played in the battle that apparently changed the course of the First World War.

Luckily the exhibition begins with a short movie cleverly projected onto the gallery walls. The Battle of Jutland was fought over 36 hours and was known as one of the largest surface battles in naval history because of the numbers of vessels involved. The battle took place in the North Sea against the German Navy.

After the short film, you explore the rest of the ship, or like me, you go to the gift shop and ask them if that is the end of the tour without realising that there is a lower deck and engine room to discover! You can even climb to the bridge and touch the steering wheel, before wandering through all the cabins below to see the sleeping and eating quarters during the crew’s time at sea.

Each area is self-guided and interactive. All you have to do is aim your torpedo-shaped audio stick at the interactive points to listen to each chapter in your headphones. You discover the stories of the crew as well as how they used to communicate at sea. It’s such a good attraction if you like exploring different rooms and corridors. I even found my way down to the engine room. The torpedo room was definitely a first for me.

For someone who doesn’t hold much of an interest in anything naval, exploring a real-time life battleship and one which played such an important role in our history was so interesting. 

  • Find it at: Alexandra Dock, Queens Rd (15 minutes walk from the Titanic Museum)
  • Time needed: 90 minutes to 3 hours (there's a cafe inside too)
  • Opens at: Wednesday to Sunday 10am – 4:30pm.
  • Costs: £11.00 for a self-guided tour. 
  • Book tickets for HMS Caroline Self Guided Tour
Things to do in Belfast

Learn more about Bobby Sands on a Belfast Political tour

5. Take a Belfast Political Tour

I personally couldn’t come to Belfast and not learn more about its political history. Having grown up watching the news about the IRA, I wanted to understand more about this conflict that they called ‘The Troubles.’ And taking a political tour with ex-prisoners who had first-hand accounts of the conflict was the perfect way to do it.

The three-hour walking tour begins at legendary Falls Road, where The Troubles began more than 30 years ago. Back then, barely any of the residents were unaffected by the conflict and many fought for their beliefs.

You see the area where fifteen hundred houses were set on fire, bullet holes in the walls in Falls Road and the garden where Republicans are remembered (or known as a ‘shrine to terrorism’ depending on which side you were on).  

Passing through gates to a mainly Protestant area you hear both accounts of the conflict from the Loyalist and Republican sides and the effects that the conflict has left.

Your guide then explains the political messages behind the colourful murals, before you have the opportunity to sign the Peace Wall. A mural of Bobby Sands, one of the most famous members of the Irish Republican Army who died on hunger strike adorns one of the walls, amongst pictures of Republican women and faces which periled during The Troubles. 

The mural that most stands out is the 1916 – 2016 picture of guns and a harp; the message ‘From bullet to ballot: the evolution of our revolution,' sums up the three-hour tour.  This tour really gives you an insight into the history of Belfast and how far it has come today. Read my review here or click the link below for tours.

Things to do in Belfast

The marina in Belfast is a lovely place to walk along on a sunny day

6. Take Yourself On a Self-Guided Tour

Belfast is a fabulous city to walk around. The city isn’t that large so it’s easily walkable. The walk back into the city from the Titanic Museum is a really calming walk that takes you along the marina past yachts. It's a great place to sit and enjoy a coffee whilst soaking up modern-day Belfast next to The Lagan River. Cross the bridge to see the quirky Big Fish statue.

As well as The Docklands, make sure you see the Botanic Garden, the Albert Clock, and some of the city's best architecture, such as the Belfast City Hall. At night, head to Cathedral Quarter Belfast which attracts the party dwellers.

If you don't want to walk and prefer to sightsee by bus on your solo trip Belfast, instead take the city sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus tour.

  • Find it at: Start from anywhere in the city if you walk or take the bus from over 31 stops
  • Time needed: As long as you like. A bus ticket lasts for 72 hours
  • Opens at: If you walk – anytime. The first bus starts at 10am.
  • Costs: From £20.
  • Check pricing: Belfast City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Bus Ticket
Things to do in Belfast

See Belfast Castle on your visit

7. Visit Belfast Castle

Belfast Castle is only 20 minutes from Belfast city centre, and although it’s often missed in many travellers’ itineraries, it is worth adding. Perched atop Cave Hill, Belfast Castle boasts panoramic views of the city and beyond. Steeped in history, this Scottish Baronial-style mansion offers a majestic setting.

This 19th-century castle is full of history that dates back to the Normans' time. Explore its beautifully decorated rooms, learn about its history and wander its manicured gardens with breathtaking views of the city. Walking on the castle woods also gives you the opportunity to spot wildlife like owls and sparrowhawks.

  • Find it at:  Antrim Road, Belfast
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Opens at: 9 am – 6 pm every day
  • Costs: Free
Things To Do in Belfast

Belfast has some interesting architecture

8. Attend an Event at Grand Opera House

One of the best things to do in Belfast alone is to see a live performance at the Grand Opera House. Belfast's Grand Opera House is a magnificent Victorian gem. With its fancy exterior and lavish interiors, it's like stepping back in time to a more glamorous era. 

This building has a timeless charm and is of cultural importance. It offers a diverse programme of musicals, dance, drama and more. It’s worth checking out their event calendar before your trip to Belfast; you might find an interesting show for you.

Things to do in Belfast

Stormont Park is ideal for nature lovers

9. Spend Some Time at Stormont Estate

Stormont Estate is one of the best places to visit in Belfast for nature lovers. This public park is a sprawling oasis of natural beauty and historical significance. It been awarded a Green Flag and is considered one of the most beautiful and greenest spaces in Northern Ireland.

Home to the iconic Stormont Castle and Parliament Buildings, there are plenty of things to do in Stormont Park – from going on a hiking trail to having a relaxing picnic and visiting the nearby Botanic Gardens.

  • Find it at: Stormont Ct, Belfast
  • Time needed: As much as you want.
  • Costs: Free
Things To Do in Belfast

See the giant fish along the waters edge in Belfast

10. Enjoy The Best Views From Victoria Square Dome

If you love a city's panoramic view, you must visit Victoria Square Dome, offering 360 views of Belfast. Its glass structure gracefully crowns the luxurious shopping centre, inviting you to marvel at the panoramic vistas below. With its blend of modern design and historical charm, the Dome is a must-see attraction.

Free and private tours are available, but regardless of the tour you choose, you will certainly enjoy the breathtaking views of the Belfast skyline. And you can also spot amazing sights like the Albert Clock.

Apart from the views, Victoria Square is perfect for a shopping afternoon or having a meal.

  • Find it at: 1 Victoria Square, Belfast 
  • Time needed: 1 hour or more if you want to go shopping
  • Opens: Monday to Wednesday from 9:30  am to 6 pm, Thursday and Friday from 9:30 am to 9 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 6 pm
  • Costs: Free
Things to do in Belfast

Crumlin Road Gaol provides an interesting historical insight

11. Discover Crumlin Road Gaol

When it comes to unusual things to do in Belfast, discovering Crumlin Road Gaol is one of them. If you are a fan of dark tourism, you can’t leave Belfast without visiting this prison. It was closed in 1996 but became a tourist attraction in 2012 when the chains fell off, and the prison was reformed. 

Nowadays, you can take a guided tour to hear the stories of prisoners and why this famous prison closed down, go through the underground tunnels that were connected to Crumlin Road Courthouse and more.

  • Find it at: 53-55 Crumlin Road, Belfast 
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Opens: Every day from 10:30 am to 3 pm
  • Costs: £14.50
  • Book Crumlin Road Gaol Tour
 
Things To Do in Belfast

There is street art everywhere in Belfast

12. Take a Self-Guided Street Art Walking Tour

There are many interesting things to see in Belfast, and one of them is street art. Did you know the city is famous for street art?

Belfast is home to incredible painted walls by local artists, and every street art will amaze you. You can either go on a self-guided tour and discover them at your own pace or join a private tour to learn more about the stories behind each painting.

  • Find it at: several locations across Belfast city centre.
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours

I hope this list has inspired you for ideas of places to see when you visit Belfast. If you have time, other things to do in Belfast include visiting the Ulster Museum and Lady Dixon Park.

Things to do in Belfast

Belfast is ideal to walk around

Where To Stay in Belfast

I stayed at an Airbnb Belfast which was a 20-minute walk into the city. Staying in a local's house meant that I didn't meet anyone during my stay so you may prefer to stay in a hostel to meet others to explore the city with.

All of the accommodation below have been recommended by solo female travellers from our Girls about the Globe community and come with a Solo Female Friendly endorsement. For all other accommodation in Belfast, click the link below. 

* To book, check prices or availability for all accommodation in Belfast

Belfast International Youth Hostel – £

The Belfast International Youth Hostel is a popular choice. It's close to bars and restaurants and just a short walk from the Botanic Garden. There's a cafe on site which serves breakfast and a kitchen to prepare your own meals. The location is central, and the hostel attracts international guests so you'll definitely meet other travellers here. Rooms are either 4 bed mixed dormitories or you can opt for your own twin room.

The Flint – £££

If you prefer to stay in a studio apartment, the Flint is a 4-star property close to St. George’s Market with large, comfortable rooms. Studios have either a city view or landmark view and come with a dishwasher and an oven so you can cook your own meals. There’s also a streaming service for entertainment in the evenings. The staff are really helpful and there’s the option of checking in and out online for ease.

Things To Do in Belfast

How To Get Around Belfast

Belfast is a walkable city. I walked around the city and didn't use any public transport except for the airport bus. If you prefer to cycle your way around, you can take a Belfast bike situated around Belfast city centre. Translink is the city's bus provider. You just pay for a ticket in cash when you get on the bus. Check here for routes and timetables.

If you prefer the freedom of the open road, consider hiring a motorhome and driving yourself around Northern Ireland, stopping in Belfast on the way. As a solo traveller, you’ll have plenty of space for your accommodation as well as cooking gear and a fridge/freezer to prepare your meals. Spaceship Rentals offers a Voyager campervan from £50 per day. * Book a campervan with Spaceship Rentals

Things to do in Belfast

From Belfast Airport

Belfast City Airport – Some low-cost airlines fly into George Best Belfast City Airport which is really close to the city (hence the name). A taxi costs approx £15 and takes about 10 minutes. The buses from the airport are line number 600 and run every 20 minutes during peak times into Europa Buscentre. The cost is £3 for a single ticket. From Belfast City Airport you can also reach Derry (known as Londonderry), by Airporter which goes from outside the airport. 

Belfast International Airport – The international airport is 18 miles outside of Belfast. The Airport Express 300 bus runs from opposite the terminal exit into the Europa Buscentre, Templepatrick, and Royal Avenue. It takes up to 45 minutes and costs from £12 one way. If you are travelling onto Londonderry or Lisburn there is a Ulsterbus and Airporter bus to both places. Taxis are available from outside the airport exit and costs approx £50 into the city.

Things to do in Belfast

Belfast Tours

Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated day tours and activities in Belfast. Choose from a Titanic Experience with SS Nomadic visit, a Crumlin Road Gaol experience, or a Game of Thrones and Giant’s Causeway day tour. There are plenty to choose from including a Belfast City centre beer bike tour, and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online. Read my Get Your Guide review or click the link below for all their tours.

Check all Get Your Guide tours, prices and availability

Viator – Viator is similar to Get Your Guide. They are an American company and a tour platform with more than 345,000 tours and worldwide activities. They offer plenty of GOT tours including a Games of Thrones Winterfell trek from Belfast, as well as mountain walks in the beautiful mountains of Mourne. Although some of their tours have a minimum of 2 people, there are several tours to join as a solo. Read my Viator review or click the link for all their tours.

Check all Viator tours, prices and availability

Things To Do in Belfast

Frequently Asked Questions About Belfast

  • When is the best time to visit Belfast? The best time to visit Belfast is anytime between May to October. These months are drier and warmer.
  • How long should I stay in Belfast? You need at least 48 hours in Belfast so you can visit the main attractions.
  • How to get from Dublin to Belfast? The easiest way to get from Dublin to Belfast is by train. The train journey takes approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a bus.
  • What can you do in Belfast for free? Some of the best free things to do in Belfast are visiting the Ulster Museum, going on a self-guided street art walking tour and visiting Belfast Botanic Gardens. 

My Verdict

How good is Belfast for solos? Belfast still has the Irish charm without the tourist vibe and expense of Dublin. The locals are friendly and I felt really safe. I definitely recommend visiting.

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Things to do in Belfast

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