After eight years in Ireland and eternal planning, my mom and I finally went to Belfast. In the article I will melt over the beauty of the Northern Irish metropolis, but it will also be an informative type of an article, because I think that there is not enough tips on TripAdvisor.
Sadly, when I Googled what to see in Belfast, TripAdvisor showed me about only three places and I thought there wasn’t much to see and do in Belfast. So my mom and I went without any plan and we thought we would get off the bus and wander around. So we got off the bus and we were greeted by rain and cold. That made me feel like I’m home. Thanks to our driver, I also found out that I can understand the Dublin and Waterford accents, but I don’t understand anything what Belfast people say. Contradictory to me, mum understood every single person we talked to *mind-blowing*
If you know me irl, you know I only have the best ideas. That’s why my mom and I got up at four in the morning, caught a bus to Dublin, waited there for a connection to Belfast, and left Belfast the same evening.
I don’t know why I always imagined Belfast as an old town with dark houses and lots of smog. Kind of like Mary Poppins. The opposite is true – in Belfast, architecture is blending – the center reminds me of Cork, brick buildings are classic British architecture, and the waterfront around the Titanic Museum is Hamburg. Plus there’s a lot of Street Art, and when the sun shines, it’s really something to look at!
Before I get into a long list of what you can see in Belfast – don’t be fooled – one day is not enough for everything.
From the center, where it teems with different styles, to the waterfront. Every corner has something to look at. We even came across an echt socialist building!
Belfast is, of course, a city full of history. As far as the tourist attractions are – from the Belfast City Hall (opened by Hilary Clinton in 2009 and where guided tours are organized and in winter there are Christmas markets around the building), through the Titanic Museum, SS Nomandic, to St. George’s Market on May Street or Grand Opera House on Great Victoria Street. Plan a bigger break at the Titanic Museum to go and have a look at the local iconic cranes.
Even Google won’t tell you this. Thanks to the Waterford Walls, I knew there should be some street art stuff in Belfast. No matter how hard I Googled, I couldn’t find anything except political scenes. Fortunately, on the way to lunch, we came across a few walls, and then it was just a matter of following them. To make it easier for you – most Street Art is around the public car parks – Kent Street and Winetavern Street. The most important thing is to keep your head up – so you won’t miss a single artwork!
For more info I recommend Instagram @streetgallerybelfast, which not only shows the exact location of the paintings, but also includes the names of the artists.
Maybe architecture, history and street art is not your cup of tea. In that case, don’t unpack your bags yet – Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, and it’s just teeming with shops! Every shopaholic’s paradise!
Maybe you’re not interested in architecture, history, street art and shopping? Then I only have the Game of Thrones trail for you. There are six showcases in the city, each with a different clan from this cult series. Great is that most of them are in the same places as the city’s main tourist attractions – you can do both!
I only have three shots ’cause I’m not a fan of GoT!
Some more tips
Dining protip: There are several vegan businesses in Belfast. We dined at the Havana restaurant, where the name may evoke exotic dishes, but we had mushroom risotto and gnocchi. If you happen to have any allergies, or you are vegetarian or vegan, then I recommend the app Happy Cow. It will show you all the businesses in Belfast and there are plenty of them there.
Visiting protip: everyone is taking pictures in front of the Titanic Museum, but a new artwork “Belfast, you are here” has now appeared in the center – how about changing Instagram standards? This street art can be found on Lower Garfield Street. You can see a photo from this location at the very top of this article.
Castle! Don’t forget the castle! It can be reached using the local bus line. There is a zoo right next to the castle and there’s a nearby viewing point too. But for that I would recommend proper shoes and some snacks in your backpack!
And if you are not a fan of zoos, you may be interested in the local Botanical Garden, located on the other side of the city. You can walk to it within thirty minutes from the center. There is a large Ormeau Park across the river just behind the Botanical Garden, too.
For sports lovers or concerts enthusiasts I recommend keeping an eye on SSE Arena. In winter, there is a professional hockey league, and over a year you can see big foreign stars live. The arena is located just on the way to the Titanic Museum and in front of it is installed one of the Game of Thrones painted windows.
Traveling protip: If you are traveling to Belfast from Dublin, buy a train ticket in advance (usually it is much cheaper and Irish Railways offers different price categories). The train runs along the coast and believe me when I say that it is much more enjoyable than a bus ride on the highway. Unless the Elsa storm is raging outside.
Only after our trip I discovered handy Instagram Visit Belfast, which shares a lot of sights over and over again, but it’s a bit better than TripAdvisor.
Therefore, I also decided to write this article more informatively, to help future visitors. So I hope that if you managed to read the whole article, it inspired you and serves you as a tiny Wiki for Belfast. Let me know in the comments if this article helped you to plan your visit to Belfast!