Belfast Tourism And Travel Guide
5.9° C / 42.6° F
May to September
3 to 5 Days
Belfast International Airport
Great Victoria Street Station
The city of Belfast is the largest city in Northern Ireland, and also serves as its capital. It has served as a major port through the 19th-century and also played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution. While it has been intensely plagued by a violent and difficult past that constantly kept it in the news, Belfast has managed to rise out of its troubled history and become one of the most interesting cities in Ireland to escape to for a summer vacation.
A busy and modern town, Belfast packs plenty of dining options, a thriving nightlife, and a rich cultural heritage that is evident in its many museums and the splendid arts and crafts scene, making tourism a prime contributor to the economy of the region. Moreover, being the birthplace of the most popular ocean liner in the world – the Titanic – makes Belfast all the more appealing to those interested in its history. Check out our travel guide to know more about Belfast and plan your trip to this fascinating city.
How to Reach
There are two airports in Belfast; the George Best Belfast City Airport is the domestic airport in the city that operates flights within Ireland and the British Isles. International connections are made in Belfast International Airport; however, travelling from India requires connecting flights with a couple of stopovers since there aren’t any direct flights between the two destinations. There are buses and taxis available from both airports to take you to the city.
The Great Victoria Street Station in Belfast has services across four domestic routes – Portadown, Bangor, Larne and Derry. Trains to these regions are operated by the Northern Ireland Railways. Travellers coming in via train from other cities and towns of Ireland are to first catch a train to Dublin and then take another one from Connolly Station in Dublin to Lanyon Station in Belfast. The Enterprise Train runs eight times daily between the two cities and takes just over two hours to cover the journey.
Belfast can be reached via road through both buses and cars. The city is well connected to Northern Ireland through its extensive road network and has motorways and trunk roads making it accessible from all regions across the country. The Ulsterbus service connects Belfast to most cities and towns in Northern Ireland, while all routes between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are operated by Ulsterbus and Bus Eireann. Travellers from the mainland of Great Britain can use the bus services of National Express. Daytrips from Dublin to Belfast are a great way to enjoy a short tour of Belfast before going back to the capital on the same day.
- Stena Line connects the Port of Belfast to Stranraer in Scotland and Larne (accessible from Belfast by bus and train) to Liverpool.
- P&O Irish Sea connects Larne to Troon in Scotland.
- Norfolk Line offers crossings to Birkenhead near Liverpool.
Sail & Rail tickets combine train and ferry tickets and are a much cheaper option to travel. They are available from most railway stations across Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Summer (June – August):
Being the warmest time of the year, summers are one of the best seasons to visit Belfast. The weather remains pleasantly cool even during peak summers, and locals and tourists alike prefer to spend most of their afternoons outdoors. The calendar is usually filled with music events and cultural festivals that make this city even more enjoyable during these months. Be prepared to deal with large crowds of tourists though, along with hiked up rates in hotels and other accommodations.
Autumn (September – November):
Autumn in Belfast features a mild and temperate climate with temperatures that get cooler and days that get cloudier as winters approach. Nonetheless, with vibrant fall colours spread across the city, autumn can be a magical time to spend a short vacation in Belfast. Moreover, most of the tourists have left the city and the hotel rates go down considerably during this time as well.
Winter (November – February):
With intensely cold weather and temperatures that frequently dip below freezing levels, winters aren’t a great time to visit Belfast. Apart from being the wettest time of the year, travellers should be prepared for occasional snowfall as well. Christmas and New Year’s Eve bring joy and festivities to the city during December, and Belfast appears to come back to life in the middle of the bleary winters.
Spring (March – May):
Another great time to visit Belfast, springtime witnesses the city getting blanketed in colourful blooms with weather that becomes pleasantly warm as April arrives. The Spring Fair and the Flower Show are held in April and are known to be a fun event for children to attend. April is also when the Belfast Film Festival takes place, making this the perfect time for movie buffs to plan a trip to the city.
Things to Do
Visit the Historic Ships of Belfast:
Belfast has launched some of the most significant ships in history from the city’s docks. The HMS Caroline was the Royal Navy’s headquarters in the World War and was converted into a floating museum. Tours of the ship take visitors through restored cabins, mess halls, the captain’s quarters etc. Visit the Harland and Wolff shipyard to see the place where the ocean liner Titanic was assembled; don’t forget to visit the Titanic Belfast museum. The SS Nomadic sits in the dry dock next to Titanic Belfast. During the World Wars, it was used for sweeping mines and carrying troops. It returned to Belfast in 2006 and has been open for tours like the HMS Caroline ever since.
Tour of the Peace Lines:
The Peace Lines extend for 34 km and divide Belfast along controversial Republican and Catholic, and Protestant and Loyalist lines. First, put up around the late 1960s, they continued to increase in number after the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. There is a sensitive history attached to the origin of the Peace Lines and attach it to Belfast’s violent past; a guided tour will take you across the hotspots on both sides of the lines.
Explore Belfast’s Gardens:
While there are several parks and gardens in Belfast, some of them deserve a special mention. The Cave Hill Country Park has several way-marked trails that are great for hiking and also an adventure playground. Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is a natural and landscaped park where visitors get to enjoy the Japanese Garden and the Walled Gardens, and also a formal Rose Garden with 40,000 roses. The Botanic Gardens was established in 1828 as a private park and was eventually opened to the public 70 years later; the main highlight of this place is the breath-taking beauty Palm House.
Where to Eat
Molly’s Yard and Made in Belfast are two of the best places in the city to indulge in Irish and European cuisine. Locally sourced fresh ingredients are used in both places, with hearty meals that include seafood as well. For all fish lovers, head to the Mourne Seafood Bar for fresh and traditional seafood dishes.
Among cheap-eats, Maggie Mays is a great spot to enjoy a home-cooked style menu. Boojum is popular for its Mexican-style burritos, whereas COSMOS is an all-you-can-eat buffet with cuisines from around the world. A trip to Belfast is also incomplete without trying Long’s iconic Fish & Chips.
Where to Shop
The Victoria Square Shopping Centre is home to luxury and designer brands where you can find some of the biggest names in the fashion and beauty industry. CastleCourt is also much like Victoria Square and has mostly high-street stores. St George Market is a weekend market with hundreds of stalls that sell a variety of items, especially local goods that will appeal especially to tourists. Sawers and Co Couture are where you’ll find edible purchases that will make great gifts and souvenirs to take back home.