Belfast Travel Guide
Our ultimate Belfast travel guide - where to go, what to eat and how to make the most of your money.
What you'll find in this guide:
Some facts about Belfast
Getting to Belfast
Getting around Belfast
Things to do in Belfast
Where to stay in Belfast
Where to eat in Belfast
Type G (same as UK)
Avg 1hr 25 mins
Some facts about Belfast
Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland and is also the most populated, with some 270,000 residents in the inner city rising to 600,000 across its wider metropolitan area.
Belfast is culturally and politically part of the UK, and shares a similar climate with nearby cities like Liverpool and Blackpool.
Built on proud industrial roots, the city is a hub of culture and art, weaving heritage and trendy, contemporary attitudes.
Belfast tends to be a little bit cooler than much of the UK. July is the warmest month with an average temperature of 15°C and the coldest is January at 4°C (39°F). The wettest month is October with an average of 90mm of rain, but as with all British weather, it's worth packing a brolly whenever you're travelling!Top
Getting to Belfast
Depending on where you're travelling from, it may be easier to fly or catch the ferry to Belfast.
Flying to Belfast from London takes about an hour and a half. The main airport, Belfast International, is about 20 miles from Belfast city centre. Depending on traffic, it takes about 30 minutes to reach the centre by bus.
Alternatively, you can catch the ferry from Liverpool to Belfast via Stena Line. Make sure to download a few TV series before you go, as a one way trip can take up to 8 hours, but you can travel with your car, making exploring further afield much easier.
Getting around Belfast
Like most city destinations, we recommend getting around on foot. Belfast city centre is compact, which means that if you're staying in the centre you'll be able to walk to pretty much everything.
If you'd prefer to use public transport, Belfast has a well connected bus network managed by Translink.
The buses follow 12 different routes, and the Translink website has a journey planner to help you find the best travel options.
A one-way ticket usually costs £2.10, but if you're planning on using the buses regularly during your stay, a travel pass might be the cheaper option.
Some options for tickets include:
- Metro City Zone (one journey): £2.10
- Metro Daylink (for unlimited day travel): £3 off-peak / £3.50 peak
- Weekly and monthly passes are available too
You can buy single tickets on board, but make sure to bring cash as not all buses will accept cards. If you prefer to buy tickets ahead of time or want to get a travel card, the best places to buy these are the Metro Kiosk in Donegall Square West or at Visit Belfast Centre in Donegall Square North.
Most of the buses in Northern Ireland are accessible, but Translink provides a full accessibility guide to assist you in planning your trip.Top
Top things to do in Belfast
Quite possibly Belfast's most popular visitor attraction, the Titanic Belfast is a museum dedicated to the ill-fated passenger ship. You'll find it beside the Titanic Slipways, the Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices and Hamilton Graving Dock, the very place where Titanic was designed, built and launched in 1912.
Inside, you'll be whisked on a multi-sensory journey back in time, as you discover more about the building of the ship, the excitement of launch day and the legacy it's left on the city.
There's plenty of interactivity, including a ride that uses special effects, animations and full-scale reconstructions to recreate the reality of shipbuilding in the early 1900s.
A ticket also grants you entry aboard SS Nomadic, the Titanic's original tender ship. It's the closest you'll get to experiencing what it'd be like to walk through the Titanic's opulent interior.
CS Lewis Square
A public space commemorating the Belfast-born author, CS Lewis, this is a great place to unwind after a day of hitting up the shops and attractions. Featuring seven bronze sculptures from 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe', including Aslan, The White Witch, Mr Tumnus, The Beavers, The Robin and The Stone Table, it also hosts the JACK Coffee Bar. Named after CS Lewis' affectionate nickname, expect locally sourced produce and products from local artists.
CS Lewis Square is at the intersection of the Connswater and Comber Greenways, beside the EastSide Visitor Centre, where you can access information on the city's attractions from interactive screens.
The space is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is fully illuminated.
Part gallery, part performance venue, the MAC is the cultural hub in Belfast.
The large complex boasts two theatres (a 350 seater and a 120 seater), three art galleries, one rehearsal space, one dance studio, three education and workshop rooms, four offices for resident art groups, one restaurant and bar, one artist-in-residence studio and one permanent artwork (The Permanent Present).
The MAC is constantly evolving, with brand new exhibitions and shows constantly being announced. Visit the MAC's website for the latest listings.
If you're looking for a dash of greenery in your city break, a trip to Barnett Demesne is a must. A sprawling park in south Belfast, comprised of marshland, meadows and woodland, you can enjoy its arboretum, daffodil garden, ecotrail, orienteering routes and a children's playground. If you're feeling adventurous, there are also bike trails and jump parks to fuel your adrenaline.
You can also expect to find lots of wildlife including rabbits, badgers and grey and red squirrels, and more than 70 species of wildflower grow in the meadows during the summer months.
Best places to stay in Belfast
Hastings Culloden Hotel
Nestled among the rural setting of the city's outskirts, the Hastings Culloden offers a luxurious escape from the hustle and bustle.
Originally built as an official palace for the Bishops of Down, guests can enjoy five-star dining options, cosy lounges to curl up with a book in front of the fire, and their world-class ESPA spa.
Best of all, it's a short 15-minute drive from the city centre, making it an ideal base to explore from.
Jurys Inn Belfast
Right in the centre of the city, Jurys Inn Belfast is a convenient, affordable choice for travellers looking to stay in the heart of the action.
Although you'll find plenty of choice throughout Belfast, we particularly like the Jurys Inn as it's a member of the Green Tourism Business Scheme. This means they're committed to reducing their environmental impact throughout their operations.
The Merchant Hotel
If you're looking for a luxurious experience in the heart of Belfast's most trendy district, look no further than the Merchant Hotel. In the city's historic Cathedral Quarter, the original Grade A listed building is complemented by an elegant art deco inspired wing and all the amenities you'd expect from a 5-star hotel.
With a luxury spa, rooftop gym with panoramic city views, a jazz bar, cosy pub and gourmet restaurants, you could easily enjoy a decadent weekend without ever leaving the building!
Where to eat in Belfast
The Muddlers Club
A real hidden gem nestled between Waring Street and Exchange Place in Cathedral Quarter, The Muddlers Club (named after a secret society) is worth seeking out. With a delectable, inclusive menu featuring succulent lamb, fish of the day and a five-course tasting menu, you'll also find vegetarian and vegan options.
Opened in 2015, The Muddlers Clubs has a lot of buzz surrounding it, and we definitely recommend booking ahead of your visit to avoid disappointment.
Filling the boots of locals and visitors for over 100 years, John Long's is Belfast's most famous (and we think best) fish and chip shop. Whether eating in or taking away, you can enjoy fresh fish, burgers, chicken, and other traditional chip shop favourites.
If you're looking for somewhere quick, good value and most importantly, an authentic taste of Belfast, look no further.
The Barking Dog
A rustic gastro-pub with a modern twist, The Barking Dog is a great pick for local, hearty grub. Expect warming dishes like ham hock terrine and smoked haddock, plus pasta and veggie choices, all against an exposed brick backdrop.
On warmer days, the terrace offers a great spot to unwind with a pint (or two) under the evening sun.
Accessibility in Belfast
Belfast is welcoming to everyone who wants to visit. The city prioritises removing any barriers that might prevent everyone from enjoying a holiday there to the fullest.
The airport provides free assistance and this courtesy is often extended to facilities, attractions, restaurants and bars throughout the city.
Public transport is accessible, and there are plenty of adapted taxis and transfers, as well as hire cars if you want to explore independently.
Belfast for LGBTQ+ travellers
Like the rest of the UK, Belfast is welcoming and safe for LGBTQ+ travellers.
Belfast's best gay bars and clubs are in the city's Smithfield and Union Quarter area, north of the city centre on the edge of the Cathedral Quarter.
Sustainable tourism in Belfast
Belfast is committed to sustainable tourism, and is one of the top cities in the UK for green attractions. The city's tourism board has a handy list of the most environmentally conscious things to do, places to stay and business to support.
Take a look at our guides on sustainable tourism or on how to reduce your travel footprint if you want to know more. There really are a lot of little things you can do to make your trip as green as possible.
Is it worth going to Belfast?
Absolutely! If you're looking for an easily accessible city break with easy access to the Irish countryside, Belfast is the perfect hub for your next adventure.
How safe is Belfast?
Belfast is quite a safe and welcoming for city of all walks of life – you shouldn't fear prejudice or discrimination while you're there.
However, historic tension remains between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Although you should be safe, be sure to be mindful of the cultural and religious culture of the city.
Do I need a visa to visit Belfast?
No. If you're travelling from within the UK you won't need to provide any visas, but you may need to show your passport if you're flying.