Belfast is the ideal location for a short city break. The city is packed with things to do, but its compact size means you can cover it all in just a few days.
Step back in time at Victorian-era tourist attractions, learn about Belfast’s past on a walking tour and dive in to our maritime history in the Titanic Quarter. Or, take a day trip to the Giant’s Causeway Then, get a taste of the local food and drink scene in award-winning independent restaurants and pubs.
You can get to Belfast from around 20 different airports in Great Britain, with most flights taking just over an hour. If you’re coming from Dublin, Belfast is just two hours away by train, bus or car. And the city is full of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Browse our recommended places to stay then kick the weekend off using our 48-hour itinerary.
Breakfast or Brunch
Time to get fuelled up for a busy couple of days! Start your trip with a big breakfast or brunch in the city centre. Go to Grand Café at Grand Central Hotel for eggs Benedict and brioche French toast; or the Great Room restaurant for a traditional Ulster fry in exquisite surroundings. For something more laid-back, the National bar serves a contemporary brunch menu, with mouthwatering pancake stacks and eggs dishes.
Belfast City Hall
Begin your Belfast adventure at the iconic city hall, which dates back to 1906. 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.
Sightseeing tours are one of the best ways to see the city, and with loads of walking, taxi or bus tours on offer you’re spoilt for choice. Grab a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus that will take you to all the major attractions; or learn about Belfast’s history on a guided walking tour. Pop into the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre, opposite Belfast City Hall, to pick up a map for self-guided walking tours of the murals and peace walls, or take a black taxi tour. Want to explore the Causeway Coast? Book a coach tour to see the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dark Hedges and Game of Thrones film locations. These are usually full day tours, so will take up most of your first day in Belfast.
Back in the city centre, there’s time to hit the shops before lunch. With two major shopping centres and plenty of small independent retailers, Belfast is a shopping haven. Find high street brands in CastleCourt, designer labels in Victoria Square and go to Studio Souk for local, handmade gifts and souvenirs.
For lunch, go to the award-winning Fish City restaurant or Margot bar. Both are located in the city centre and serve creative, budget-friendly dishes. If you need a caffeine and sugar fix, stop at Oh Donuts on Upper Arthur Street for artisan espresso coffee and gourmet, handmade donuts.
Crumlin Road Gaol
Crumlin Road Gaol is a 19th century jail that first opened its gates in 1846 and for 150 years was a fully operational prison. During those years it housed murderers, suffragettes and loyalist and republican prisoners. It witnessed births, deaths and marriages and became the home to executions, escapes, hunger-strikes and riots. Take a tour to see the old cells, hospital, underground corridor to the courthouse and even the executioner’s cell.
Head to the Cathedral Quarter for dinner and evening drinks. But first, stop for selfie with the Big Fish. This giant sculpture celebrates the regeneration of the River Lagan and it’s covered in beautiful blue scales made up of ceramic tiles depicting scenes from the city’s history. Walk through Custom House Square, passing the leaning Albert Clock to Cathedral Quarter, the bustling hub of the city’s nightlife.
Dinner and Trad Sessions
For dinner, go to Muddlers Club for fine dining or McHugh’s for Irish pub food. Top Blade specialises in flat iron steak and Buba offers a colourful selection of eastern Mediterranean tapas. Then delve into Belfast’s pub culture and experience some traditional Irish music. The John Hewitt, Kelly’s Cellar, Sunflower and Granny Annies all have regular trad sessions, which are perfectly paired with a pint of Guinness or local craft beer.
St George’s Market
Start the day at St George’s Market (open on weekends), where you can choose breakfast from an array of local and international food vendors. Sink your teeth into a Belfast Bap, an Ulster Fry inside a soft white bap, whilst browsing antique, collectibles and crafts stalls.
Spend most of the day in the city’s Titanic Quarter, where RMS Titanic was built and embarked on her ill-fated journey in 1912. Belfast has an interesting maritime heritage and you can discover it all in these docklands. Go to Titanic Belfast for a self-guided tour of the award-winning exhibition, stand in the footsteps of where the famous ship sat on Titanic Slipways and board Titanic’s tender ship SS Nomadic.
Wander along the maritime mile to HMS Caroline stopping at the Great Light on the way, one of the largest optics of its kind ever built in the world that is around 130 years old. HMS Caroline is a World War One era ship and the lone survivor of the Battle of Jutland, now beautifully restored into a must-see floating museum. Step inside to hear the personal stories of those that served on the ship and see the cabins, deck and interactive exhibits.
Botanic Gardens and Ulster Museum
Spend the afternoon in Queen’s Quarter, the leafy surroundings of Queen’s University where you’ll find a host of restaurants, cafés and pubs. Stroll through the beautiful Botanic Gardens and visit the Victorian Palm House that dates back to 1828 and the contemporary Tropical Ravine. Next to the gardens is the Ulster Museum, Northern Ireland’s treasure trove of past and present where you can see everything from dinosaurs to a real Egyptian mummy! Refuel with a decadent meal in Deanes at Queen’s, hearty Italian in Villa Italia or Irish cuisine at Holohan’s Pantry.