Compact and lively, Northern Ireland’s capital has a complicated past. After a turbulent 30-year period, Belfast is coming into its own, embracing its industrious roots that built the Titanic while celebrating a blossoming food and art scene full of local talent. The city is split into four quarters – City Centre, Cathedral, Titanic, and Queens.
Belfast's currency is the British Pound (£). £1 = €1.19 / $1.30 (as of 2022).
Top 5 things to see
The city's main tourist draw, the Titanic was built in Belfast and left for Southampton where it set sail on its maiden voyage. The metallic, boat-shaped museum stands proudly where the boat was assembled by the dockworkers in the early 1900s. The company who built Titanic, Harland and Wolff, erected 140m-tall yellow cranes in the 1960s and 1970s; to this day they dominate the skyline, symbolising the industrial nature of East Belfast, and the city more widely. Understandably, the Titanic Museum is always busy so book ahead for guaranteed tickets.
Tickets cost £19 for adults, and £8 for children.
Belfast City Hall is the epicentre of the city. The classical Renaissance-style structure was built in 1906 which the city revolves around. It is fronted by statues of the city's icons, such as Queen Victoria who crowned Belfast its city status. It allows free walk-ins - you'll need an hour or two to tour the site and learn about the history of the city. Events throughout the year, such as the Christmas markets, take place on the ground too.
Belfast is renowned for hosting some of the UK's best pub crawls - a casual event where you go from pub to pub in an evening. It can be an intimidating and overwhelming city for drinking, as the locals are experts, but visiting a pub or two on your visit in an absolute must in Belfast. Make sure you experience the legendary live music scene too! We've rounded up our favourite pubs below, as well as in our Top 4 Pubs in Belfast blog post.
Wander south of the city centre to the Botanic Gardens neighbouring Queens University. Since 1928, the stunning public gardens spread with topical plants have provided an oasis to the city. Its Palm House, built in 1832, is like walking into a birdcage and provides a lovely walk.
Free hour-long guides are provided on Tuesdays and Thursday. Book a space by emailing email@example.com.
The Causeway Coast
Winding along the North Atlantic Ocean, the Causeway Coast is 30 miles of stunning ocean views, quaint towns and historic sites. The Causeway Coast is home to the UNESCO-heritage site Giant's Causeway and Old Bushmills Distillery, so whether you choose to pick a tour or rent a car to go your own speed, there will be plenty to see. Game of Thrones fans will recognise multiple scenes - Dark Hedges, Binevenagh Mountain, and the caves behind Cushenden village.
The Belfast Visitor Card offers free travel around zones 1 to 3 as well as travel on the Airport Express 600 service to George Best Airport - however, not valid for Airport Express 300 to Belfast International. The card also offers discounts on museums and sites.
1 day = £6
2 days = £11
3 days = £14.50
Where to eat and drink
Belfast's gastronomy is booming! Chefs across the city are dedicated to celebrating the abundance of fresh produce, meat, and fish sourced locally.
The dining scene has exploded over the last 15 years and one if its greatest assets is its variety for all budgets. St George's Market, open Friday to Sunday, is a fantastic place to start your foodie tour. Visit artisanal food and craft stalls and takeaway international food vendors in Ireland's oldest operating market.
You cannot leave Belfast without having an Ulster Fry (a hearty farmer's breakfast and go-to hangover cure) accompanied by a strong cup of tea or coffee!
The Pocket, with locations in Queens Quarter and the City Centre, is a sweet coffee shop, perfect for brunch or a slice of homemade cake with a speciality coffee.
5A, south of Queens University in the Stranmillis district, is a cosy spot near the River Lagan. Aussie inspired brunch, home made buns, and locally roasted coffee costing £3, have been drawing locals since 2013.
General Merchants is a good alternative along the river too!
Tribal Burger by the Botanic Gardens is a must to satisfy those cravings.
French Village serves tasty sandwiches and salads in a cosy, bright café by the university.
Maggie May's is student classic known for massive lunch portions, an excellent all-day breakfast menu, and vintage Belfast murals hanging over wooden booths.
Eipic, will provide a Michelin starred experience to really make your trip worthwhile.
Meat Locker, in the City Centre, is an excellent, intimate spot for really good food and service for a relatively affordable price. Its pulled pork burger is possibly the best burger we've ever had. Excellent quality and really well worth a visit if you have just one place to go.
Deanes at Queens across from Queens Uni, is Meat Locker's sister pub and has good food in a pretty dining room.
James St South in the City Centre serves modern Irish cooking, focused on fresh seasonal ingredients, in an unpretentious dining room. Book ahead, but if you find yourself waiting for a seat - head to the bar where talented bartenders whip up original and classic cocktails. If you're keen to make food the centre of your trip, James St also runs a cookery school.
On average, a two-course dinner with drinks will cost £50 in the City Centre.
For the adults
Kellys Cellars in the City Centre is one of Belfast's oldest traditional pubs. Kellys is everything you would picture in a classic pub - white-washed walls, uneven floor, open fire, and traditional Irish music three days a week. It's a locals' pub and you're sure to be greeted with a friendly hello.
The Duke of York is a non-negotiable stop on your Cathedral Quarter pub crawl with residents and students spilling onto the pavement during the summer months.
The Harp Bar is another icon to be savoured too, built in a former warehouse with red velvety booths, vintage beer and classic spirit adverts on the wall.
A glass of wine will typically cost £6 in city centre, with a beer costing £4.
Tipping isn't required in pubs. In restaurants, a 12.5% extra will be added onto the bill.
Belfast has moved past its dark history and is much safer than it was 30 years ago. Unless with a tour guide or someone that knows the neighbourhood, it's best to avoid the sectarian areas of the city, particularly in West Belfast, especially at night. Best to check with your hotel/AirBnB for more information.
Two Passports Top Tip: Don't be intimated by the tapas bars!
Many of the city's restaurants offer pre-theatre menus with two or three courses for a special price; some serve tasting menus so you can taste the work of the city's best chefs.
When to Go
Low Season: November to February
Wind and rain likely. Very few tourists, except at Christmas for the markets. Good deals on hotels.
Shoulder Season: March to May, September to November
Still cool but higher chance of sun and mild temperatures. Hotels well-priced but getting busier.
High Season: May to August
Sunnier and warmer. City Centre is packed with tourist, many for Game of Thrones tours.
How to Get There
Belfast International Airport (BFS)
You'll almost certainly be flying into BFS, the city's main hubs for travel, accommodating most European cities, as well as transatlantically. Via public transport, there is only the Airport Express 300 which is a big blue bus directly outside the airport. Taxis will be expensive.
Airport Express 300 - 30-40 minutes for £8.
George Best, Belfast City Airport (BHD)
The city's business-oriented airport, BHD is far smaller and just 6.5km north of the city. It flies UK-domestic and a handful outside of that, however, if you can fly into here then it's a must. Easy access on the train, bus and an affordable taxi into the city.
Train from Sydenham Station to Great Victoria Street - 6 minutes for £2.
Airport Express 600 - 10 minutes for £2.60.
Travelling by train
There are four main train stations in Belfast City Centre – Belfast Lanyon Place, Great Victoria Street, City Hospital, and Botanic – which you can reach by a number of routes from Translink if you’re already in Northern Ireland. If you’re in Dublin, Belfast – Dublin Mainline connects Dublin Connolly station to both Great Victoria Street and Belfast Lanyon Place Station.
Travelling in the city
Belfast doesn't have a metro or tram network. However, it is a completely walkable city. Unless you're going outside the city, or coming back from a night out where you can get a taxi, buses aren't necessary.