Come face to face with dinosaurs, meet an ancient Egyptian mummy and see modern masterpieces with a visit to the Ulster Museum. As Northern Ireland’s treasure house of the past and the present, the Ulster Museum is home to a rich collection of art, history and natural sciences and entry is completely free to all visitors.
Next to Ulster Museum you’ll find the beautiful Botanic Gardens: a public park popular with locals that has been awarded a Green Flag as one of the UK’s best open spaces. Stroll along the walking routes, enjoy the horticulture or relax on the manicured lawns. With its iconic Palm House, Botanic Gardens are also an important part of Belfast’s Victorian heritage.
Tropical Ravine at Botanic Gardens
Escape to the rainforest in this two-storey labyrinth of tropical plants, flowers and trees. The Tropical Ravine at Botanic Gardens is a must-visit for botany-lovers and completely free to enter. Discover rare species and visit the lily pond and waterfall, all housed in a stunningly restored Victorian building.
Belfast City Hall
One of Belfast’s most iconic buildings, Belfast City Hall first opened its doors in August 1906 and is Belfast’s civic building. You can take a free tour inside, with tours running up to four times per day on a first come first served basis. Or simply stroll in the manicured grounds, see the Titanic Memorial Garden and take in the building’s exquisite architecture, which is often illuminated in different colours after dark.
Dome at Victoria Square
Rising high above the city’s skyline, the Dome at Victoria Square boasts 360 degree views across Belfast. Ascend to its viewing platform for free and spot the city’s landmarks including the famous Harland & Wolff Cranes, Belfast City Hall, Stormont Buildings and Cave Hill. An in-house guide is on hand to point out local attractions and points of interest, too.
Visit Belfast’s iconic Big Fish (also known as the Salmon of Knowledge) near the historic Custom House Square. This 10m (32ft) salmon was commissioned in 1999 to celebrate the regeneration of the River Lagan and the historic importance of the site. Notice its beautiful blue scales, which are made up of ceramic tiles describing different scenes from the city’s history. Legend has it, if you kiss the fish you will gain its wisdom!
Belfast Castle Estate and Cave Hill
Belfast Castle is located on Cave Hill in north Belfast and both offer beautiful walks and spectacular views of the city. Stroll in the manicured gardens the 19th century Scottish Baronial style castle or venture to the top of Cave Hill, a natural landmark synonymous with Belfast that was named for the five caves located on the side of its cliff.
Immerse yourself in Belfast’s maritime history on the Titanic Trail: a free, self-guided walk from the Titanic Memorial Gardens at Belfast City Hall to the Titanic Quarter. You’ll journey past Titanic’s tender ship the SS Nomadic; the breathtaking Titanic Belfast visitor attraction building; the slipways where Titanic stood before embarking and WW2 battle-ship HMS Caroline. Pick up a map in the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre, or download it here. The Titanic Trail is marked in orange on page two.
Discover Ulster Scots
Discover your Ulster-Scots roots at this free genealogy research point. The centre is open daily to visitors and offers a range of free literature and information displays. Find out which heritage trails will lead you down the path to your ancestors and how the Ulster-Scots emigrated around the world to become some of the important world leaders and entrepreneurs in history.
Northern Ireland War Memorial
A must see for anyone with an interest in Northern Ireland’s role in the Second World War, this free museum in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter tells the story of the Belfast Blitz in 1941, the Ulster Home Guard, the role played by women in the war and the presence of US Forces. A memorial screen recalls the names of over 1000 people who lost their lives in the Belfast Blitz.
Belfast Free Walking Tour
Take a walking tour and explore the history of the city and its people for free! Belfast Free Walking Tours run every day at 11am and 2.30pm leaving from Belfast City Hall. This local, independent free tour company offers a glimpse into Belfast’s history, languages, culture, legends, folklore and more.
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
Trace your family tree at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the official archive of public records in Northern Ireland. The facility is free to use and holds archives dating largely from c.1600 to the present day (with the oldest dating back to 1219).
Linen Hall Library
Founded in 1788, Linen Hall Library is the oldest library in Belfast and the last subscribing library in Ireland. It is renowned for its unparalleled Irish and Local Studies Collection, ranging from comprehensive holdings of Early Belfast and Ulster printed books to the 250,000 items in the Northern Ireland Political Collection, the definitive archive of the recent ‘Troubles’. Admission to the library is free, but donations from visitors are appreciated to support the library’s work.
NI Music Exhibition at Oh Yeah Music Centre
The NI Music Exhibition in the Oh Yeah Music Centre contains storyboards plotting the history of Northern Ireland music, from folk to Snow Patrol. A ‘Legends’ series of wall displays hail the great achievers in Northern Ireland music while exhibition cases showcase some unique rock and roll memorabilia, including the Fender guitar that Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol used to write ‘Run’ and ‘Chasing Cars’.
MAC Art Gallery in Foyer
Wander into the MAC and discover work by local artists in the art gallery in the foyer. Displays include a sculptural piece by Irish artist Mark Garry consisting of 400 metal wires that create a spectrum of colour. The installation reflects the futility of violence as well as the hopes and aspirations of the young people.
Glass of Thrones Trail
To celebrate 10 years of filming in Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland created six giant, stained glass windows depicting some of the most iconic scenes from Game of Thrones. Find all six of Belfast’s Game of Thrones® stained glass windows and follow the trail from the city centre to the very place the show was filmed at Titanic Studios.
Dillon Gallery at Culturlann McAdam Ó Fiaich
Cultúrlann arts centre produces a vibrant arts programme that promotes Irish language and culture. The centre’s dramatic curved extension includes the Gerard Dillon art gallery, a must see for art lovers.
Golden Thread Gallery
Golden Thread Gallery is Northern Ireland’s leading international contemporary visual arts organisation. The gallery prides itself on offering a friendly, open space where everyone is welcome. Visit for free, and enjoy a free gallery tour too.
CS Lewis Square
Rediscover The Chronicles of Narnia with a walk through CS Lewis Square, a public space commemorating the Belfast-born author, CS Lewis. Featuring seven bronze sculptures from ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’, including Aslan, The White Witch, Mr Tumnus, The Beavers, The Robin and The Stone Table, it is a stunning display of public art.
Free Things to Do in Lisburn and Castlereagh
Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum
Learn about the history of Ireland’s linen industry at the Irish Linen Centre in Lisburn. Wander through interactive displays, watch weaving demonstrations and enjoy temporary exhibitions on local history, art and textiles. The museum is free to enter, though donations are welcome.
Wallace Park Lisburn
Wallace Park is ideal for families, with an excellent children’s play area and a variety of gentle walks. During the summer there are a number of free entry family fun events in Wallace Park with crafts, dance, theatre, music and arts on offer. Join a Park Run or visit the outdoor gym.
Free Things to Do in Ards and North Down
North Down Museum
North Down Museum reveals the role of nearby Bangor Abbey in early Christian Ireland through fascinating displays and a mini cinema dome. Discover how the monks met their fate at the hands of the Vikings and visit the full-sized Monk’s Cell and Viking Long-house. The museum is free to enter and hosts a regular line-up of events for the whole family.
Bangor Castle Walled Garden
Bangor Castle Walled Garden, located in the tranquil grounds of Castle Park, is popular with visitors of all ages. Dating back to the 1840s it maintains a quintessential Victorian feel and boasts beautiful horticulture, walking paths and unique sculptures celebrating Bangor’s maritime heritage. The gardens are generally open from the end of March to the end of October.