Belfast City Guide

Northern Ireland's capital is as rich in culture as it is in sweeping scenery and rolling greenery. Belfast is a city steeped in history that is a must visit for historians and adventurers alike. 

Belfast is fast becoming an international hub of creativity and the arts, but it still borrows heavily from its glorious Celtic past. Thanks to its vibrancy, unmatched by most British cities of a similar size, it sees over 7.5 million tourists visiting every year.

Culture in Belfast

The historic Cathedral Quarter surrounding the ornate St Anne's Cathedral, in the heart of the city, plays host to festivals and events the whole year through. The winding streets are enlivened by performers, while the citadel is one of Belfast's oldest and most beautiful. The University of Ulster and Metropolitan Arts Centre campuses situated in the area attract those with a creative flair, making the Cathedral quarter something of a hotbed for the arts. Saint Anne's Square, Custom House Square, Writer's Court, Cotton Court and Cathedral Gardens are just some of the outdoor venues to take in whilst on holiday in Belfast.

The festivities continue further south into Belfast's Queen's Quarter, where Queen's University, the recently re-opened Ulster Museum and the Botanic Gardens can be explored.

Enjoy Belfast

The legendary Golden Mile, which stretches all the way from the University to the beautifully baroque Belfast City Hall, is where the famous Irish party spirit is most present. Some of Belfast's best loved restaurants and bars can be found here, while a trip down Great Victoria Street to the picturesque Crown Liquor Saloon – one of only two pubs owned by the National Trust – is something of a rite of passage while on a trip to Belfast.

For a true taste of Ireland, head west and take a stroll down Falls Road in the iconic Gaeltacht District. Here, the use of the traditional Irish language is encouraged, and its history embraced more than anywhere else in the city. 

For fans of the wildly popular Game of Thrones television series, some of the lush, mountainous terrain of the Giant's Causeway and the imposing Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge may look familiar; the hit show is filmed in the Northern Irish capital, where fans can be transported straight to Westeros on a Game of Thrones location tour.

History in Belfast

The Titanic Museum and surrounding area recalls Belfast's contribution to the building of the legendary vessel over 100 years ago. On this stretch of reclaimed land, the gigantic museum gives insight into the Titanic's construction, while the view over Belfast Harbour and the plethora of riverside entertainment make this waterfront district a firm favourite among visitors to the city.

Belfast's skyline is a perfect microcosm for the city itself, with Edwardian buildings such as the City Hall interspersed with more modern architecture such as Waterfront Hall. It is easy to see why city breaks in Belfast are quickly becoming one of Europe's favourites.

Guide to Exploring Belfast

Belfast Castle

The city of Belfast in Northern Ireland is steeped in history and the impressive Belfast Castle is a significant part of this heritage. Built in the early 19th Century to replace the original Norman fortification that once stood in the centre of the city, Belfast Castle is an opulent structure built in the grandiose Scottish Baronial style.

Giant's Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic and most photographed beauty spots, instantly recognisable the world over. It is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in all of Ireland, having earned this rare distinction back in 1986. Yet only through personally experiencing the many moods and overlooked facets of the wild north-east coast’s ancient volcanic bays, cliffs and beaches is it possible to appreciate their true splendour as wonders of the natural world.

Fortwilliam Golf Club

Formed in 1891, Fortwilliam Golf Club is Belfast’s oldest, and certainly one of its most beloved, golf clubs. Located just off the Antrim Road, easily accessible from the north of the city, the course has a par of 70 spread over around 6,000 yards. Yes, it is a short course, relatively speaking, but it packs plenty of punch. Expect tricky greens and fairways lined with trees that pose substantial hazards to even the most experienced of golfers.

Grand Opera House

Belfast’s majestic Grand Opera House opened its doors in 1895 and since then has played host to some of the biggest names from the world of entertainment. Located in the heart of Belfast’s bustling city centre, this magnificent Victorian building has provided enchanting theatre for over 100 years as well as engaging with the local community and igniting a love of the stage in the city.

Malone Golf Club

Majestically beautiful, with a rich pedigree and proving a challenge for first-timers and old hands alike, it is surprising that Malone Golf Club is still relatively unknown, since this is clearly one of Northern Ireland’s premier parkland courses. Founded back in 1895, the club has actually moved four times since then, arriving in Dunmurry, five miles to the south of Belfast, in the early 1960s. Malone has played host to many amateur and professional competitions over the years - it was here, for instance, that the legendary Tony Jacklin won his first professional victory.

Malone House

Malone House in Belfast is a prime example of what a historic country house should be in the modern day. This 19th century gem of Northern Irish architecture is no dusty museum, but is still regularly used as an events venue. A range of modern sculptures complement its 19th century landscaped gardens and the demesne is commonly used for walking and biking. A mansion steeped in history, Malone House is historically austere but still full of life.

Balmoral Golf Club

Northern Ireland’s lush foliage and rolling hills make this the perfect country for a golfing getaway. However, if you’re visiting Belfast and want to practise your swing without venturing deep into the countryside to do so, why not pay a visit to the historic Balmoral Golf Club?

Queens Film Theatre

An annual audience in excess of 72,000 is testament to the sense of loyalty that has been inspired by this superb Belfast cinema over the past 40 years. Catching a movie here is far from what you’d get at your standard multiplex, with two screens between them seating more than 3,000 people allowing for an intimate film-going experience. The Queen’s Film Theatre shows a healthy mix of recent films and classics from the past, but a refined ambience doesn’t mean it takes itself too seriously - the programme organisers take care to present fun crowd pleasers such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show on a regular basis too.

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