Want to explore and experience Belfast as a local? Explore the nooks and creaks of Belfast? Then we have created the perfect list for you! Listed down is your ready-to-go itinerary of the top 40 things to do in Belfast that promises you the best time of your life.
There are many things to do in Belfast and many are conveniently located within central Belfast. We are roughly categorizing central Belfast as encompassing the areas that are often referred to as Belfast City Centre, the Cathedral Quarter, and the Linen Quarter. Once here, you can reach anything within this general area within a 20 minute walk or less. From the best restaurants to eat at and jazzy bars with music to shimmy at, we got your back!
Best restaurants in Belfast
1. Bao Bun
Staff at Bao Bun said students love their popcorn chicken with dipping sauce, which they are offering this week for £3.95 with a free side of spiced fries. Bao Buns start at £6.45, come in twos, and can be customised with a protein and combo. Kimchi, Poutine, and Katsu Curry Fries are all £4.95.
The burrito bar, Boojum, is extremely popular among students. They do not offer a student discount, but their famously massive portions start at just £6.60. The fully customizable menu, which includes burritor and burrito bowls, nachos, tacos, salad bowls, and churros, can be altered to suit all tastes and spice tolerances.
3. Made in Belfast
Another name, another guarantee: Made in Belfast was one of the first restaurants to offer cuisine that is both attentive to local ingredients and innovative and open to outside influences. The unique decor and the room that resembles a speakeasy make Made in Belfast an unmissable destination, where the food is simple but well prepared.
4. The Grapevine
The Grapevine, tucked away in one of Belfast's oldest (and narrowest) thoroughfares, has been a locally hidden favourite for the last ten years. The Grapevine serves a freshly prepared rustic menu that includes our own homemade bread, classic seafood gumbo, quesadillas, and daily specials.
5. The Ginger Bistro
We can only recommend The Ginger Bistro if you want a relaxed atmosphere and good Irish food without pretensions but of the highest quality. The decor is extravagant and does not resemble an Irish restaurant at all, but the cuisine is traditional and regional. The Ginger Bistro has been voted Northern Ireland's best restaurant. Dinner reservations are strongly advised.
6. Morne Seafood Bar
Morne Seafood Bar is a must-visit if you enjoy seafood. It is connected to the well-known Kelly's Cellars and serves local mussels, oysters, scampi, and other types of fish from the nearby ports of Annalong and Kilkeel. To accompany the wine, you can order both cooked and raw dishes.
OX is one of Northern Ireland's two Michelin-starred restaurants. OX has always been known for its laid-back atmosphere and locally sourced dishes that pay close attention to the ingredients. Despite the emphasis on meat and fish, the concept of vegetables as a side dish is challenged at OX: plants are always treated as main courses, which is why this restaurant is also popular with vegetarians.
8. The Morning Star
The Morning Star, one of Belfast's oldest pubs, is housed in a historic building and serves a traditional pub menu. Lamb is the main course because the pub's owners raise local meat, but don't miss the meals that include Armagh county apples and cheese made exclusively in Northern Ireland.
9. The Fish City
Traditional fish and chips fans, rejoice: only local fish, carefully selected and in season, is battered and fried in the most traditional way possible and served as it was in the old days. After trying Fish City's tartar sauce, it's difficult to like others.
Zen in Belfast is a must-visit if you enjoy Asian cuisine as much as we do. We are not discussing traditional Asian cuisine, but rather fusion cuisine inspired primarily by Japan and "mixed" with more western cuisine.
Best bars in Belfast
11. Crown Liquor Saloon
The Crown Liquor Saloon, once known as The Liquor Saloon on Great Victoria Street, is still an example of classic Victorian architecture; it dates back to 1826 and is now owned by the National Trust. You can eat pub food, but we recommend going for the atmosphere and for a pint, especially in the afternoon.
12. Duke of York
The Duke of York, one of Belfast's most well-known taverns, is a must-visit location for a pint or two. The Duke of York, located in a narrow alley in the historic Half Bap neighbourhood, is a classic pub with beer and an incredible selection of Irish whiskeys and there will be live music from Thursday to Sunday.
13. Kelly’s Cellars
Kelly's Cellars, one of Belfast's oldest traditional Irish pubs, features live traditional music and is famous for its Guinness served with an excellent meat stew. Kelly's Cellars, which was built in 1720, has changed very little over the years, which adds to its charm. Every day of the week, traditional music is played.
Margot is a collection of three different rooms in one that is open from lunch until late at night to offer something for everyone. Famous for its cocktails, particularly the Irish Coffee.
Rita's is part of the Linenhouse Complex, which also includes The Perch Rooftop Bar, Sweet Afton, and Tutti Frutti. Everything, from the decor to the cocktails, harkens back to the 1940s. The selection of gin and cocktails changes seasonally, which makes this bar unique.
16. Babel Rooftop Bar & Garden
The Bullitt Hotel's rooftop bar, the Babel Rooftop Bar and Garden, is one of our favourite places in Belfast. We eat and drink at Babel, and we recommend it for this second reason: the walls, where the owners of this bar grow the plants used in cocktails.
17. The Tipsy Bird
The Tipsy Bird & Brewers Yard on Ann Street has those quirky concoctions and vibrant interiors. Explore the extensive cocktail menu, sipping on everything from a Sour Bake made of whiskey, lemon, whites, and sugar to a expressing passionfruit margarita. Yum.
18. Union Street Bar
Union Street Bar has some seriously cool and quirky nights out on the menu. It's one of the best Cathedral Quarter bars, with regular quizzes, pride parties, and the hilarious 'Cabargay.' Visit this LGBTQ+ institution for one-of-a-kind events and an extensive collection of classic cocktails.
Belfast's oldest family-owned bar is also one of the most unusual in the city. Laverys not only has Ireland's largest pool room, but they'll keep you coming back for the beer garden, comedy nights, and a fantastic food menu, with pints of Guinness costing just five pounds.
20. The Dirty Onion and Yardbird
The Dirty Onion and Yardbird is a cool Belfast bar that combines a pub and a rotisserie restaurant into one unique bar. Every night of the week, stop by for entertainment, washed down with a large selection of beer and whiskey and delicious chicken dinners.
Place to visit in Belfast
21. Belfast City Hall
Belfast's City Hall was constructed following Queen Victoria's grant of city status to Belfast in 1888 to reflect the city's growth in terms of population, economy, and industry. You can visit a free public exhibition space inside the building. The exhibition was much larger than we anticipated, and it now includes 16 different rooms! It explores the city's government, people, famous events, industries, diversity, festivities, and much more as it tells the history of Belfast through information, photos, and artefacts.
22. St. Anne’s Cathedral
St Anne's Cathedral, also known as Belfast Cathedral, is an Episcopal (Anglican) cathedral and one of Belfast's most well-known churches. If you decide to explore the church, there are a number of elements you can look at. The Good Samaritan Window (the only surviving piece of the 1776 St. Anne's Church), mosaics on the roof of the baptistery and Chapel of the Holy Spirit, and the Titanic funeral pall are a few among them.
23. St. George’s Market
St. George's Market is one of Belfast's oldest attractions, with a weekly market held in this location since 1604. Fresh produce and food items, arts and crafts, souvenirs, spices, clothing, books, jewellery, and other items are available from market vendors. On most days, there is live music from local artists and bands, and it is a popular and lively weekend destination.
24. Grand Opera House
The Grand Opera House has become a city landmark, and its beautiful interior is well-known. It is Northern Ireland's only remaining Victorian theatre. The Grand Opera House is still in use as a theatre today, though it only seats 1,000 people. Musicals, plays, dances, family shows, recitals, ballets, pantomimes, operas, and educational talks are among the current offerings.
25. Albert Memorial Clock
The Albert Memorial Clock is a sandstone clock tower built in 1869 as a memorial to Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert. The clock tower stands 113 feet tall and features numerous intricate carvings. Because it was built on reclaimed marshy land, it is Belfast's own "leaning tower of Pisa."
26. Metropolitan Arts Centre
The Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC), Belfast's Metropolitan Arts Centre, opened in 2012 and is a public art centre with three major art galleries. The exhibitions change throughout the year, and the majority are free to attend, though some do charge a fee. The art focuses on modern, contemporary, and experimental pieces and performances.
27. Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum
The Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum is a small museum dedicated to Northern Ireland's participation in World War II. Listening to some of the recordings made by people who lived during the war, the beautiful stained glass window, and learning more about the 1941 Belfast Blitz are all highlights.
28. Ulster Museum
This wonderful museum with amazing exhibits is located in the Botanic Gardens next to Queens University. The age range and variety of exhibits are astounding, implying that it should appeal to everyone, with special sections just for children (and bigger kids at heart!). Everything is well organised and labelled, and all floors are easily accessible.
29. City Hall
City Hall, the civic headquarters of Belfast City Council, stands proudly in the centre of Donegall Square. 7 days a week, City Hall is open to the public. It is a multi-purpose venue that hosts a variety of events in its large function rooms or on the beautiful lawns.
30. Belfast Castle
Belfast Castle is located on the lower slopes of Cave Hill Country Park, about a 20-minute drive from Belfast City Centre. The ground and first floor rooms inside the grand front door have retained their original features. However, the castle's exterior is even more impressive. The estate, which is surrounded by well-kept gardens and woodland, provides dramatic views of Belfast Lough.
Fun things to do in Belfast
31. Titanic Belfast Museum
The Titanic Museum is the first thing on the list of things to do in Belfast. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Belfast, making it a must-see during your visit. The museum is right next to the slipways where the RMS Titanic was built and launched. The museum is self-guided and takes visitors through interactive exhibits that teach them about the Titanic's history.
32. W5 Science & Discovery Centre
W5 is located in the SSE arena, formerly known as the Odyssey. The Odyssey is a great place to visit because it has a fantastic bowling alley that is reasonably priced. On Tuesdays, games cost around £3, and there is always some sort of discount deal going on.
33. Head out Axe Throwing
If you don't want to worry about breaking anything for a day, try axe throwing at Black Axe Throwing. It's not only fun, unique, and requires some skill, but it's also a great form of couples therapy ;) No prior throwing experience is required; their expert team of instructors will teach you how to be an axe throwing master.
34. Take an Antrim Coastal Road Drive
If you enjoy car rides and long peaceful road trips, this is the video for you. Nothing beats your own personal Northern Irish road trip up the Antrim Coast. Take a day to enjoy the smooth roads and breathtaking views.
35. Take a city bus tour and visit the murals
Belfast has a fascinating and tragic history. It's a significant history that, despite best efforts, has not been fully resolved. Take an open-top bus tour or a black taxi cab to see all of the murals dotted around Belfast.
36. Enjoy a picnic at the Botanic Gardens
When the sun shines in Belfast, you'll hear the term "botanic garden." People flock to these lovely gardens to play football, sunbathe, picnic, or even have a drink in the park. It's spacious, with walking paths and, of course, beautiful flowers, and you shouldn't miss it if you're looking for things to do in Belfast.
37. Visit the animals at Belfast Zoo
The Belfast Zoo is well-kept, and the animals have plenty of space. It is also perched on the hills, so visiting requires a lot of steep walking. It's easy to spend an entire morning and afternoon here.
38. Explore the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
When looking for things to do in Belfast, this rope bridge is another must-see attraction. If the weather is particularly bad, they may close it. The rope bridge is free to visit, but crossing it costs money. It's a shaky rope bridge, but it's not very long, so I wouldn't be concerned.
39. Walk the Cave Hill Country Park
Are you a nature lover who enjoys going for a walk? If so, you should put the Cave Hill Country Park on your list of best things to do in Belfast. This hiking trail, which runs along basalt cliffs and contains five caves, is ideal for taking in the cityscape from above.
40. Visit Game of Thrones Sites
When looking for things to do in Belfast city, GOT fans just cannot miss this. Northern Ireland is a key filming location for the hit TV show Game of Thrones (which you MUST watch if you haven't already!) and many of the locations are open to public, so go on a stroll in your own Westeros.
Go on now! With this 40 things to do in Belfast itinerary, explore the city of Belfast with your friends and let us know your favourite place and activity out of them all. Be back again to learn more about more such fun things to do in any city you wish to visit! Also watch our Ultimate Student City Guide to Belfast and do not forget to check out other amazing cities too!
Are you planning to move to Belfast? Check out our student accommodation options that have raised the bar of convivence and comfortability! You can also check out our blog on the Cost of Living in Belfast as a student.