Weekend in Belfast Guide
Make the most of your weekend city break in Belfast with our 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 café, restaurant and entertainment scene that can rival any city in Europe.
Belfast is quick and easy to get to, it's just 2 hours from Dublin by car, bus or train. Or if you're flying from Great Britain, you can travel to Belfast from around 20 different airports, with the London to Belfast flight taking just 1 hour and 20 minutes. Travel to Belfast >>
After settling into 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 our famous Belfast hospitality.
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.
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.
Start your morning with breakfast in the grand surroundings at The Bobbin in Belfast City Hall. Order anything from a mini Ulster fry to granola and yoghurt to go alongside your morning coffee.
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!
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.
Titanic Belfast is a must-see on any visit to Belfast. It's the World's Leading Tourist Attraction, with nine interactive galleries telling the tragic story of the world's most famous ship. 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 (allow 2-3 hours to fully experience this attraction). Book online to avoid the queues and don't forget, your ticket includes entry to SS Nomadic, Titanic Belfast's little sister ship and the last remaining White Star Line vessel. Self-guided tours take around 45 minutes.
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.
Heading back to the city centre, cross the Queen’s Bridge where you’ll spot Nuala with the Hoola, a sculpture officially known as the Beacon of Hope. 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.
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.
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!
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 is situated in an old building with an exposed wooden frame and has live music seven nights a week.
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, vintage clothes, fresh ingredients and antiques.
A ten 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. On Sundays, tours are available at 12pm, 2pm and 3pm, taking 50 minutes (registration is available 10-15 minutes before the tour starts).
Or explore HMS Caroline, Belfast's very own floating museum at Alexandra Dock, and last surviving vessel from the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Having undergone extensive restoration, the new visitor experience in the Titanic Quarter allows visitors to discover a range of historic spaces including Captain Crookes' Cabin, the engine room, sick bay and galley kitchen.
Hop on a sightseeing bus or take a taxi tour to discover the hidden parts of the city. Tour tickets and advice are available from the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre, just opposite Belfast City Hall. Explore the 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 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. Tours last approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Before saying farewell to Belfast, sit down to some of the most delicious seafood available at one of our speciality fish restaurants. Love Fish on Howard Street has a fresh seaside feel and a small plate menu so you can try the very finest prawns from Portavogie and mussels from Dundrum. Or opt for Mourne Seafood, a restaurant in the heart of the city, which harvests the shellfish from their very own shellfish beds.
Visiting Belfast in October or November?
If you're visiting Belfast during October and November, check out our Belfast Festival Season Guide for tasty mix of music, art, theatre and festivals including Ireland's leading international arts festival.