Below are some of our top travel tips for visitors to Belfast, including information on public holidays, where to leave your left luggage, shop opening hours and tipping in restaurants and bars.

What to See and Where to Stay

Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall

Best Time to Visit

The summer months attract the largest number of visitors but you can visit Belfast at any time of the year. Spring and autumn are great for festivals, and the city is full of festive joy from mid-November in the run up to Christmas.

What's On in Belfast

Best Areas to Stay

Belfast is a compact city which is quick and easy to navigate. The city is divided into quarters, each with its own history and character. From budget hostels to 5-star luxury, Belfast has a great range of accommodation to choose from.

Accommodation

Top Visitor Attractions

Belfast's most popular visitor attractions include Titanic Belfast, Ulster Museum, Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast City Hall, Belfast Zoo and Belfast Castle. See our Top 10 Visitor Attractions blog post for more inspiration.

Top 10 Attractions

Communications

Internet and WiFi

Internet and WiFi access is widely available throughout the city, including in the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre.

If you require PC and printing facilities, your hotel may provide this service for free or for a small charge. Belfast Central Library can also provide PC and printing facilities for a small charge.

Phone Calls

The international dialling code for Northern Ireland is 00 44 28. The local code for Belfast is 90.

Directory enquiries can be contacted on 118 500 or dial 0 from a public telephone for operator assistance.

Post Offices

Most post offices are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5.30pm and some are also open on Saturday mornings. The main post office is located on Bridge Street in Belfast City Centre and is open 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday.

Special Holidays

Public and Bank Holidays

Northern Ireland's 2018 public and bank holidays are below:

  • New Year's Day - 1 January
  • St Patrick's Day - 17 March
  • Good Friday - 3 March
  • Easter Monday - 2 April
  • Early May Bank Holiday - 7 May
  • Spring Bank Holiday - 28 May
  • Battle of the Boyne / Orangemen's Day - 12 July
  • Summer Bank Holiday - 27 August
  • Christmas Day - 25 December
  • Boxing Day - 26 December.

Money

Currency

In Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, the currency is pound sterling (£). One pound is equal to 100 pence. Notes are available as £5, £10, £15, £20, £50 and £100. Coins are available as 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2.

Some shops and visitor attractions may also accept Euro - which is the official currency used in the Republic of Ireland and elsewhere in Europe - but this is not guaranteed.

Banks and Bureau de Change

Most banks are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and some are also open on Saturdays.

There are foreign money exchange facilities in the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre and various retail outlets across the city.

Credit Cards

Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted throughout Northern Ireland; American Express is accepted in some places but not all.

Shopping

Shop Opening Hours

Many shops in Belfast City Centre are open:

  • Monday: 9am - 6pm
  • Tuesday: 9am - 6pm
  • Wednesday: 9am - 6pm (Victoria Square shopping centre is open to 9pm)
  • Thursday: 9am - 9pm
  • Friday: 9am - 6pm (Victoria Square shopping centre is open to 9pm)
  • Saturday: 9am - 6pm
  • Sunday: 1pm - 6pm

Opening hours for smaller shops may vary. Opening hours are subject to change on Bank Holidays. Shops usually extend their opening hours in the run-up to Christmas.

The award-winning St George's Market is open Friday (6am - 3pm), Saturday (9am - 3pm) and Sunday (10am - 4pm).

Shops in Belfast

Carrier Bag Levy

Northern Ireland retailers must charge at least 5p for new carrier bags. The main aim is to protect the environment by greatly cutting the number of carrier bags used. Reusing carrier bags saves natural resources and reduces the need for landfill. Find out more about the Carrier Bag Levy.

Tax Free Shopping

All visitors from outside the European Union are able to avail of tax free shopping in the UK when they purchase eligible goods from participating retailers. The scheme is entirely voluntary so look out for the Tax Free Shopping logo before you purchase.

Driving in Northern Ireland

Rhino Car Hire
Rhino Car Hire

Driving Laws and Road Safety

Driving in Northern Ireland is on the left-hand side of the road and all passengers are required to wear seat belts at all times. For those riding motorcycles, both motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets. Northern Ireland's laws on drink driving are strict. Those drivers found to be contravening the laws will be heavily penalised. Use of mobile/cell phones while driving is strictly prohibited.

Roads in Northern Ireland are prefixed with an M for motorway, and an A and a B for primary and non-primary roads.

Signposts and speeds are in miles and miles per hour, as in the rest of the UK.

For more information on driving laws, road safety, insurance and licences, visit www.nidirect.gov.uk.

Car Hire

Helpful Tips

Smoking

Belfast has been a smoke free city since 2006. It is against the law to smoke in bars, restaurants, cafés, hotels, offices, factories and other places of work.

The majority of hotels in Belfast no longer offer smoking rooms – please check this when booking your accommodation.

Many bars and restaurants have installed outdoor smoking areas for those who choose to smoke.

Tipping

Most restaurants add a discretionary service charge to the bill for groups of six people or more.

If this charge is added to your bill, tipping is not necessary.

If a service charge is not included, a discretionary tip of 10-15% is customary.

Stay Safe

Belfast is one of the safest cities in Europe, and Northern Ireland has the second lowest crime rate in Europe.

However, it is always wise to be sensible and follow good advice when exploring a new destination. As with all travel, follow general safety tips such as leave money and valuables in a safe place and lock valuables out of sight.

Emergencies

The number for emergency services is 999.

This will connect you to the fire brigade, police, ambulance, lifeboat and mountain rescue services.

For non-urgent crimes, contact the police by calling 101.

Visas

The UK's visa requirements vary depending on your citizenship. Check whether you need a visa to visit Northern Ireland

Citizens of the EEA member states (the 27 countries of the European Union EU, together with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and many other countries including USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand do not require visas to gain entry to Northern Ireland.

Citizens of all other countries should contact their local British Embassy/High Commission or Consular Office prior to traveling to Northern Ireland.

Left Luggage Facilities

The Visit Belfast Welcome Centre, located opposite Belfast City Hall in Belfast City Centre, has a luggage storage facility so visitors can securely store their luggage while exploring the city.

This is charged at £3.50 for a half day or £5 for a full day (per bag).

Public Toilets

Belfast city centre is well serviced with clean, accessible public toilets which are managed by Belfast City Council.

Electrical Adapters

Plugs in Northern Ireland are three-pronged and the electricity supply is 240v.

Drinking Tap Water

Tap water in Northern Ireland is safe to drink.

Weather in Northern Ireland

Seasons

The weather in Northern Ireland can be unpredictable, and we talk about it quite a lot! We don’t have the extreme temperatures of other countries, with relatively mild winters and cool summers.

Below are the average maximum temperatures during the seasons:

  • February - April: 8 - 12°C
  • May - July: 18 - 20°C
  • August - November: 14 - 18°C
  • December - January: 8°C

As our weather can be changeable, we suggest wearing layers of clothing that you can then put on or take off as the temperature changes. Pack a rain coat and umbrella for those rainy days, and don't forget the sun cream during the warmer summer days.

And if it does rain, there are plenty of indoor attractions, cosy pubs and tasty restaurants to enjoy!

Ask Us
Ask Us

We're here to help, so if you can't find the info you're after, or you just want to ask a really odd question, then we're here for you.

Ask A Question
arrow_upwardBack To Top