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30 Things to see and do in Belfast (Northern Ireland)

Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is a city with a fairly recent history of conflict. During the second half of the 20th century, Belfast suffered numerous violent episodes and terrorist bomb attacks due to the conflicts between Ireland and the United Kingdom. Even Belfast had its own "wall" to separate Protestant neighborhoods from Catholic neighborhoods. Today, the wall is still standing and is known as the Peace Line or the wall of peace.


Nowadays, Belfast is a very interesting city and although there are several day trips from Dublin, the ideal is to spend the night here. In this post I will talk about the 30 best things to see and do in Belfast and I will add tips on the best areas to stay.



30 THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN BELFAST


1. Visit the Town Hall, one of the most beautiful buildings to see in Belfast


Belfast City Hall stands out for its beautiful neo-baroque façade. Is awesome! It was built when the city was the most important commercial point in this area. You can visit the interior of the town hall with guided tours every day at 11:14 and 15:00. They are free tours and you do not need to book.


2. Free tour of Belfast


If you want to know the most essential places to see in Belfast, knowing more about its history, you can do it with this free tour.

The tour begins in front of the town hall, continuing through the Albert memorial Clock, the clock tower. The port of Belfast and its history is one of the most important stops on the tour, a port famous in history for the Titanic. Before ending the tour there are stops at the Cathedral of Santa Ana and the sculpture of the Great Fish.




3. Visit the Titanic Belfast


The most popular visit to do in Belfast is related to the Titanic. In the place where the ship was built you will find the most detailed exhibition about its history. The building is beautiful. Its facade has four points that symbolize the bows in real size and also recall the White Star Line company with the shape of a star.

Inside you will find a very complete tour from the construction of the ship, the navigation, the story about the shipwreck and a compilation of many personal stories along the way. The entrance to the museum costs 19 pounds and it is recommended to buy the ticket online.




4. See the ship's footprint at Titanic's Dock


A few meters from the museum you can see the exact place where the Titanic was built. You will be able to see the huge empty Thompson Dock and it will help you to understand the greatness of the ship. This pier is considered to be the physical footprint of the Titanic. You will be able to access the workshops where the same tools used in 1911 are found. The price of admission and the guided tour costs 5 pounds.


5. Don't miss St. George's Market in Belfast


St. George's Market is one of the most interesting places to visit in Belfast. It has different spaces and shops for clothes, second-hand clothes, antiques, sweets and desserts, souvenirs, food stalls and fresh products...

Its building is beautiful, Victorian style and exposed red brick. It is the perfect place to eat something fast and well priced.



6. Discover the history of the SS Nomadic


The SS Nomadic is the only White Star Line company ship to have survived. It began as a ferry for the Titanic, later it survived two world wars in the hands of French owners. In the 1970s, the SS Nomadic was a restaurant ship anchored on the Seine River in Paris. Finally, it has returned to Belfast, its place of origin, to be used as an exhibition, showing its interior and telling its story. Admission is £7 and if you have a Titanic Belfast ticket you can get in for free.


7. Find the Albert Memorial Clock


Belfast will remind you of London on several occasions. The Albet Memorial Clock is one of them and it is quite similar to Big Ben in London.

This clock tower was completed in 1869 in honor of Queen Victoria's husband. Over the years the tower has been leaning a bit, although nothing as remarkable as the Tower of Pisa.


8. Fall in love with Belfast Castle


The original Belfast Castle was built in the late 12th century by the Normans. Originally, the castle was located inside the city of Belfast, but after suffering a fire in 1708, nothing remained. In the reconstruction a new location was assigned to the outskirts of the city.

The current building was built in 1870. It is a beautiful sandstone castle located on the slopes of Cave Hill, about 6.5km from the center of Belfast.


Its new construction was commissioned by the Marquess of Donegal who started with a budget of 11 thousand pounds. As the construction progressed, the costs increased considerably and the castle was left in the middle of construction due to lack of funds. However, thanks to her daughter's husband, Lord Ashley, he helped finance the project and it was completed.




Legend has it that the inhabitants of this castle would only be lucky as long as a white cat lived in the enclosure. For this reason, Belfast Castle is also known as the castle of cats. The legend can be seen in the paintings, the sculptures, in the gardens...

The castle is open every day from 9am to 10pm. And on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.



9. Don't miss the Ulster Museum


One of the most interesting things to do in Belfast is to visit the Ulster Museum. There are different rooms and several exhibitions such as; dinosaur skeletons, Egyptian mummies, fossils, jewelry, ceramics…. Admission is free and the visit will not take more than an hour.


10. Stroll through Victoria Square


If it rains (something common in Ireland) Victoria Square is a good option to escape the rain for a while and walk between shops. It is a modern shopping center in the center of the city. It is also a good option to go to eat. There are all kinds of restaurants. The most interesting thing to do is climb the glass dome. It is free and you will have beautiful views of the city from above.


11. Visit the old Crumlin Road Gaol


The former Crumlin Road Goal Prison was once one of Belfast's most feared prisons. It was in use for 150 years and more than 25,000 high-risk prisoners passed through it. The prison closed its doors in 1996 and can now be visited. You will be able to see the cells, cross the tunnel that connected the jail with the courthouse and even a small cemetery. Admission is £9.



12. Go to Cave Hill Country Park for gorgeous views


Inside Belfast Castle you will find the enclosure named as Cave Hill Country Park. It is a huge park, where you can walk along its paths, have a picnic, disconnect and visit Napoleon's Nose, the most essential place to see in the place. It is a hill with some caves at the base and from where you will have incredible views of the city of Belfast.


13. Visit Carrickfergus Castle


Another of the castles to visit in Belfast is Carrickfergus Castle, one of the best preserved medieval castles in Ireland. The castle was built between 1177 and 1195, originally being a 3-story square tower.

In the year 1210 the second base of the castle was built, raising the keep to its current height and building a second set of walls. Finally, between 1226 and 1242, the walls were extended to surround the entire rock on which the castle stands.

The Castle has had a great military role throughout history. It was raided by land, sea, and air by the English, French, and Scots. Currently it can be visited and the price of admission is 5 pounds.


14. Stroll through the Belfast Botanic Gardens


This beautiful botanical garden began as a private garden. However, since 1895 it became a public park with a wide variety of plants, flowers and trees. It has an area of ​​110,000m2. In addition to the outdoor area, you will find the tropical greenhouse (Tropical Ravine House). You can't miss the Palm House either, a beautiful greenhouse also with tropical plants, orchids of all kinds, even palm trees.




15. Stroll through the Cathedral Quarter, the most beautiful neighborhood in Belfast


The Cathedral Quarter is the most charming neighborhood in Belfast. In it, in addition to the cathedral (which I will tell you about later), you will find a lot of historic buildings, cobbled streets and full of charm. You also cannot miss walking the streets to appreciate the street art and murals that are throughout the neighborhood. It is a good option where to stay in Belfast.


16. Visit the Cathedral of Santa Ana


St. Anne's Cathedral, also known as Belfast Cathedral, is in the Romanesque Revival style. It began to be built in 1899 and today, the construction has not been considered finished. Admission is £5.



17. Free tour of the mysteries and legends of Belfast in Spanish


Northern Ireland is full of legends and chilling historical moments; murders, mythological beings, executions, witches and ghosts. One of the most interesting tours to do in Belfast is the Mysteries and Legends Free Tour. In addition to getting to know some of the most emblematic places in the city, you will learn about the Irish legend of Fionn and Finnegas, among many others.



18. Write a message on the Peace Wall


Belfast is a city that throughout history has suffered many conflicts. It is known as the “Troubles” era. There were IRA bombings and murders between Catholics who consider themselves Irish and Protestants who consider themselves British. For this reason, cement and steel walls were installed separating neighborhoods facing each other due to this conflict, trying to avoid further misfortunes.

The Peace Wall in Belfast is located on Cupar Way and is the longest in the city. Many political and spiritual leaders have passed through there to write a message of peace and hope. And you can do the same!


19. Discover more about the history of Belfast with a political tour


Belfast spent more than 30 years in conflicts that ended the lives of thousands of Irish. It is part of the history of Northern Ireland and the best way to find out more about it is to take a guided tour.

This guided tour consists of a tour with a guide in Spanish and for 2 hours and a half you will get to know some of the most important places in the city. They will also explain to you about the two major political groups; the Anglican Protestants who were loyal to the United Kingdom and the Catholics who were in favor of uniting Belfast with the Republic of Ireland.



20. Get to know the Parliament Buildings


The Northern Ireland Parliament Building is located in Belfast. It is a beautiful palace-like building with well-kept gardens. It is possible to take a free guided tour and it is worth it, the interior will surprise you.



21. Visit the W5 Museum, a perfect place to go with children in Belfast


This museum is the perfect place to go with children (or without them). It is an unconventional science museum. In it you will find a lot of games with which you will learn about science in a dynamic and very fun way. There are table activities, running games, jumping, climbing... New technologies are used in an original way with an educational approach. Admission is £9.80.


22. Know the most bombed hotel in Belfast, the Europa Hotel


This hotel is famous for being the hotel for being the most bombed hotel in Europe, unfortunately. It suffered more than 30 IRA bombings between the years 1970 and 1994. The building was the usual headquarters for journalists covering the conflict in Northern Ireland, as well as diplomats. Even former US President Bill Clinton stayed there, in a suite that now bears his name.

Obviously the hotel has been renovated several times and now you can stay in it if you feel like it, with complete peace of mind.



23. Visit HMS Caroline


In Belfast you can visit the only surviving ship from the Battle of Jutland, during the First World War. HMS Caroline has been restored and is currently an exhibition. You will be able to see the cabins where 300 combatants lived and slept, see the common rooms, even the kitchens and machinery rooms. There is also an exhibition area where you will find navigation maps, objects, the stories of some combatants, crew... The entrance fee is 10.75 pounds.


24. Find “The Big Fish”, an icon to see in Belfast


It is a huge sculpture in the shape of a fish in blue totalities. It is 10 meters long and was created to celebrate the improvements that have been made to and around the River Lagan.

The most interesting thing about the sculpture are its tiles. In them you will find various scenes important to the history of Belfast.




25. Visit the Giant's Causeway


The Giant's Causeway are geological formations made up of 40,000 basaltic rocks and more than 60 million years old. Despite popular belief, not all rocks are hexagonal in shape and there are some rocks with more faces. Geologists agree that the area had intense volcanic activity and this landscape would be the result of the lava expelled by the volcano. When the lava comes out and cools quickly, the lava solidifies, turning into rocks with curious geometric shapes.



The local population has another theory. Legend has it that two giants with a very bad temper lived on the coasts of Ireland and Scotland. Apparently, they were constantly throwing stones at each other and, as a consequence, they created the famous Giant's Causeway. One day the Scottish giant, bigger, decided to go in search of Finn, the Irish giant. Finn's wife decided to dress him as a boy and in this way, the other giant thought that if the boy was like that, the father would be much older. and decided to give up and run away.


From Belfast you have the option of visiting the Giant's Causeway with an organized tour. Some of them include other interesting Northern Ireland destinations to visit. Here are the available options:




26. Visit Lough Neagh, a very quiet area near Belfast


If you go on your own and have a rental car, you cannot leave Belfast without first visiting this lake. It is a very calm lake, close to Belfast, just 26 minutes away. I recommend you go to the town of Antrim, a beautiful town with stone houses.


27. Don't miss the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge


In County Antrim is the famous Carrick-A-Rede suspension bridge. This suspension rope bridge is 30 meters high, surrounded by an incredible natural environment. It is one of the most beautiful places to see in Northern Ireland. I recommend you visit it the same day you visit the Giant's Causeway.


28. Visit Dunluce Castle, a must see in Northern Ireland


If you visit Belfast and have time, one of the essential places to see near the city is Dunluce castle. The ruins of a castle on the edge of a small cliff. It is medieval in style and surrounded by a movie landscape. Head over to Mageracross Overlook for a nice view of White Rocks Beach.




29. Do not miss The Dark Hedges, an incredible place to see in Northern Ireland


One of the places that I liked the most in Northern Ireland and that I would include in the essential route to do in Belfast is this place. It is not in Belfast, but approx 1 hour by car. It is located in County Antrim and rose to fame thanks to Game of Thrones.

It is a magical road with trees on each side. Its trunks have strange formations that make this place even more special. The ideal is to go at dawn or dusk since the light filters through the branches and the effect is beautiful (although in high season, it is a very crowded time).


30. If you are a fan of game of thrones, take the tour to see the most emblematic places


I admit that I have not seen game of thrones. I have it pending, but I never find time to see it. But if you are a fan of the series you cannot miss doing the whole tour. You have the option of doing an excursion that includes a stop at all the scenarios recorded here such as; Braavos, where Arya Stark had a confrontation with the waif.

You can do it on your own or with this tour:




POSTS OF NORTHERN IRELAND THAT MAY INTEREST YOU



PLAN YOUR TRIP STEP BY STEP



I hope you enjoy your trip to Ireland very much and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.


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A hug and see you soon!

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