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Weekend in Belfast Guide
Make the most of your weekend city break in Belfast with Visit Belfast’s insider’s guide to a great getaway, including the best sights, tours, shops, food and bars.
Experience a Titanic city full of surprises and hidden gems. Soak up the lively atmosphere, stroll along fine Victorian streets, enjoy world-class visitor attractions and indulge in a cafe, restaurant and entertainment scene that can rival any city in Europe.
Northern Ireland is also the Home of Thrones. The popular TV series Game of Thrones® is filmed in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. Our rugged coast lines, historic castles and breathtaking scenery are the perfect setting for this epic story. Get the full experience and explore the filming locations with a Game of Thrones tour.
And with the buzz of the city centre just three miles from George Best Belfast City Airport, you can start exploring straight away. Check out our top tips below for some inspiration for your trip.
2pm – A Belfast Welcome
After settling in to your hotel, dive straight into the city’s night life with a pint at the Crown Liquor Saloon Bar. Dating back to 1826, this glorious Victorian gin palace is a priceless gem with mosaic tiled floors, stained-glass windows and cosy snugs (private seating areas). Enjoy an eclectic range of real ales and a generous helping of Belfast’s famous hospitality.
3pm – Sightseeing Tour
Explore the city’s political murals and peace wall, and see the thousands of names scrawled over every inch of the wall, described by the Independent’s Travel Editor, Simon Calder as the world’s greatest open air gallery.
A hop-on, hop-off bus tour will take around 1 hour and 30 minutes if you don’t get off at any of the stops and tickets are valid for 48 hours.
It’s well worth hopping off the bus at Crumlin Road Gaol, a 19th century prison which witnessed 150 years of imprisonment, conflict and executions before it closed its doors in 1996 and reopened as a visitor attraction. Discover what prison life was like and visit the condemned man’s cell and execution room.
Other hop-on, hop-off bus stops include the historic Belfast Castle, Stormont Parliament Buildings and the Ulster Museum, Northern Ireland’s treasure house of the past and present. All are free entry.
7.30pm – Dinner
Wherever you go in Belfast, you’ll find fabulous food and drink. It’s a short walk from The Crown Bar to the award-winning Bar and Grill at James Street South. Located in an old linen mill, the restaurant takes its inspiration from the great steak houses of New York and French-inspired brasseries, and offers some of the best cooked steaks in the city.
Other options for dinner include Flame Restaurant and Howard Street Restaurant, both of which are located in an area dubbed Belfast’s Linen Quarter. Deanes Meat Locker, as the name suggests, is a meat driven restaurant with a feature charcoal grill. Well worth a visit.
And if Belfast’s fabulous foodie scene is something that you want to experience more of, explore the city through your taste buds with a range of delicious food and drink tours.
9.30pm – Rooftop Bars and Beer Gardens
Follow up with drinks at Sweet Afton, Rita’s or The Perch, a garden inspired rooftop bar reached by an old service elevator. Listen to house music from their resident DJ or cosy up under blankets with a few cocktails. Discover more Belfast beer gardens >>
9am – Breakfast
Start your morning with breakfast in the cool surroundings of La Creperie in Café Parisien, with views over Belfast City Hall. They offer a selection of sweet and savoury crêpes to go alongside your morning coffee. Discover more breakfast and brunch ideas >>
10am – The Big Fish
Make your way to the River Lagan where you’ll discover The Salmon of Knowledge, more commonly referred to as The Big Fish, which is decorated with printed ceramic tiles telling the story of Belfast. A favourite selfie spot, legend says if you kiss The Big Fish you’ll gain all of its knowledge! Discover more public art around the city >>
Cross the Lagan Weir Footbridge to enter the Titanic Quarter. This area is steeped in the rich history and tradition of the city’s shipbuilding heritage. The world’s most famous ship was built in the city over 100 years ago. It took three years and 3,000 men to build RMS Titanic and, at the time of her launch, she was the largest man-made object on the planet.
10.30am – Titanic Belfast
The award-winning Titanic Belfast is a must-see on any visit to Belfast. It features nine interactive galleries telling the tragic story of RMS Titanic. From the history of the city and men who built her, to the tragedy of the ship sinking, you’ll experience it all with original footage and interactive exhibits. Book online to avoid the queues.
Don’t forget, your Titanic Belfast ticket also includes entry to SS Nomadic, Titanic Belfast’s little sister ship and the last remaining White Star Line vessel. Come on board and experience over 100 years of authentic maritime and social history.
1.30pm – Lunch
In between tours, take a stroll over to The Dock Cafe for a bite to eat. It’s the only honesty box cafe in Belfast, meaning that you only pay what you can afford. Find a table, a squashy sofa or a cosy corner to watch the world go by. Browse a huge range of local art and photography and dabble with a range of board games and jigsaws. Or grab a tasty homemade burger, Irish seafood chowder or traditional stew in Cast and Crew, just opposite Titanic Belfast.
3.30pm – Shopping
Heading back to the city centre, cross the Queen’s Bridge where you’ll spot the Beacon of Hope, a sculpture which locals have nicknamed ‘Nuala with the Hula’ and ‘The Thing with the Ring’. Follow Ann Street to Victoria Square, Belfast’s premier shopping centre, where you’ll find four fabulous floors of gorgeous glamour and stunning styles, topped by an iconic dome with panoramic views across the city.
6pm – Cocktails
After a busy day of sightseeing and shopping, treat yourself to a cocktail at The Ivory rooftop terrace, situated at the top of Victoria Square. With an extensive cocktail list, choose a classic with a twist on the old favourites while relaxing on the terrace.
In the mood for something a little different? Indulge in a cocktail at Revolucion de Cuba on Arthur Street, the ultimate Cuban food, cocktail and fiesta experience.
7.30pm – Cathedral Quarter
The buzzing Cathedral Quarter is full of character and one of the most enjoyable places to hang out on a Saturday night, with a mixture of bars, restaurants, theatre and live music.
Tucked away in the historic back streets, The Muddlers Club is named after the secret society that met there over 200 years ago. It serves deceptively simple food, with an extensive cocktail list. Or opt for a tasty range of cichetti (Italian style tapas) at the hugely popular Coppi in St Anne’s Square.
Discover the best of local theatre and art at The MAC, or stroll along the cobbled streets and fairy light lined allies to find a lively bar and settle in for the night!
10pm – Nightlife
A few pub and bar suggestions include The Duke of York, which boasts a memorabilia filled bar where the crowds spill out onto Commercial Court during good weather, and The Dirty Onion which has amazing live traditional Irish music seven nights a week. Discover more pubs and clubs in Belfast >>
10am – Breakfast
After a late night, wake up to a traditional Ulster Fry, an essential taste experience during your visit to Belfast. George’s of the Market serves up a fry made from fresh ingredients from the award-winning St George’s Market, which is on the ground floor below the restaurant. The market is a culinary and cultural adventure, with everything from fresh food to live music. For breakfast on the move, opt for a Belfast Bap filled with local bacon while you dander around the market stalls which are packed with handmade crafts, fresh food and antiques.
11.30am – Belfast City Hall
A five minute walk from St George’s Market, you’ll find the iconic Belfast City Hall. A prominent, copper topped building, it’s hard to miss!
Take a free daily tour to learn about its fascinating history, architecture and surrounding gardens including the Titanic Memorial Garden.
Alternatively, return to the Titanic Quarter and explore HMS Caroline, Belfast’s very own floating museum at Alexandra Dock, and last surviving vessel from the World War One Battle of Jutland in 1916. Having undergone extensive restoration, visitors can discover a range of historic spaces including Captain Crookes’ Cabin, the engine room, sick bay and galley kitchen.
For more great ideas for things to do and places to stay in Belfast and Northern Ireland, check out visitbelfast.com.