Looking for the best things to do in Belfast for a weekend break?
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. Located in the Emerald isles and part of the United Kingdom.
It has been a popular destination for all the visitors that wish to see and experience the beauty and British cultural heritage around the British Isles. Due to the exceptional natural beauty of Northern Ireland, it has been a popular filming location of various Hollywood movies and series like the Game of Thrones.
Belfast as the gateway and the main heart of this small nation. The city is filled with historical points of interests, landmarks and attractions as well as the upbeat streets of the modern part of the capital.
- The history of Belfast
- Here are the top 10 things to do in Belfast for an amazing weekend break in the city:
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The history of Belfast
As a settlement, Belfast has a rich history, which can be traced back to Iron Age. In the 18th century, it had earned the status as a leading urban centre. Currently, Belfast is Northern Ireland’s capital.
It is an industrial centre and commercial hub in its modern history. However, it had seen the downfall of traditional industries in the late 20th century, especially shipbuilding.
It also had a turbulent history of a brutal battle between the Protestants and Catholics. This battle led to the separation of most working-class areas into Protestant and Catholic areas.
Read More: Best UK Travel Itinerary for 2 Weeks
Here are the top 10 things to do in Belfast for an amazing weekend break in the city:
1. Visit the Titanic Belfast
The most popular ocean liner in the world, Titanic was assembled in the Wolff shipyard and old Harland docks of Belfast. After the downfall of shipbuilding, this area of Belfast Lough had been in ruins for more than 10 years. Titanic Belfast has been revamped completely since the 2000s and is also called as the Titanic Quarter.
The bold and cutting-edge design of Titanic Museum Belfast looks like four ship bows. Established in the year 2012, the multisensory technology is an icing on a cake of this Titanic exhibition Belfast that will take you back in the 1910s in Belfast when Titanic, along with its sister ships Britannic and Olympic was launched and assembled.
Elements have been reproduced well in this Belfast museum from the interiors of Titanic and you can learn the important details of how the ship was sinking at the Titanic experience Belfast. You can also learn amazing facts of the ship, see a recreation of cabins, and even taste delicious champagne teas when recreating the well-known grand staircase from this ship.
2. Have fun in Belfast Zoo
When it comes to visitors’ traffic, Belfast Zoo is one of the best Belfast tourist attractions in Northern Ireland. It is spread over 22 green hectares towards the north of Belfast Castle. You can check here for Belfast zoo ticket prices.
There are up to 130 species in the park, including all-time favourites like zebras, giraffes, lions, tigers, and Asian elephants, and a huge range of primates.
Some of these are Venezuelan red howler macaques, Western lowland gorillas, cotton-top tamarins, moloch gibbons, red titi monkeys, and Francois’ langurs. The zoo also offers talk and feeding sessions so you can learn about the gorillas, chimpanzees, meerkats, California sea lions, Gentoo Penguins, Andean bears, and different amphibians and reptiles. They’re also opportunities for children to befriend and feed Tamworth pigs, Shetland ponies, African pygmy goats, and mini donkeys. Surely this is one of the best places to visit in Belfast with kids.
3. Ulster Museum
On the northwest of Botanic Gardens in Belfast, the Ulster Museum Belfast exhibits traces of everything, i.e. from Jacob Jordaens masterpieces to Egyptian Mummy and dinosaur fossils. It is one of the best Belfast tourist attractions for history lovers.
If you love decorative items, you can find a range of ceramics, glassware, textiles, jewellery, costumes, and metalwork. You can find the polished Neolithic axes from the distant past, jewellery pieces, as well as the mummy of a noblewoman from Thebes, Takabuti, dated back to the 25th Dynasty of Egypt.
Seeing the jewellery from Spanish Armada wreck, slice from the meteorite and Mairead Corrigan awarded Nobel Peace Prize is one of the best things to do in Belfast. She was the witness of her three nephews and nieces being killed by shooting of IRA member in a road accident and reacted by rallies known for reconciliation and peace.
4. Relax in Botanic Gardens
Established in 1828 as a private park, Botanic Gardens Belfast was opened for the public around 70 years ago. The Palm House is one of the best Belfast attractions built in the 1840s and it is one of the initial curvilinear glasshouses in the world at the turn.
Richard Turner, the Irish iron founder, who would go to build serene glasshouses at Glasnevin and Kew, built the building. You can look for a few of the specimens in the Palm House are 11m long globe spear lily and a 4-century’s old Xanthorrhoea. The Tropical Ravine is another architectural wonder built in the 19th century. It has tropical fauna and indoor sunken garden. It also houses the birds of paradise along with the viewing galleries.
5. St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast
St. Anne’s Cathedral Belfast was built at the beginning of 20th century in stages on the site of the ancient parish church of St. Anne dating back to 1776. It has neo-Romanesque architecture, which has plenty of things similar to the High Medieval churches. Some of the best examples are carved capitals in the nave, tympanums on west entrance, and apse with an ambulatory.
In the nave, those 10 capitals are usually the arts of Morris Harding, and each of them has a unique theme. Also, look for Good Samaritan window in the sanctuary, the only surviving aspect dated back to the 18th century. A fun fact is that St. Anne’s is not actually a cathedral. It is because it is not the diocese seat, although it is the main church for both Dromore and Down, as well as Connor dioceses.
6. Belfast Castle
Belfast Castle is styled in Scottish Baronial architecture at the south of Cave Hill Country Park. It was built by the 3rd Marquess of Donegall, George Chichester in the 19th century. The building is named after the Norman Belfast Castle at the centre of the city.
Later on, the stronghold was set on fire at the beginning of the 18th century. The Chichester who were the owners moved to this address in suburbs. The Scottish Baronial style has the blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles and house is beautifully endowed with false machicolations, stepped gables, and turrets. You can soak in the views of Belfast afar from the ground. There is an antique shop, visitor centre and restaurant inside.
Cave Hill is actually a range of basalt cliffs puzzled with five caves over the northern suburbs of Belfast. These were basically the bomb shelters and ancient iron mines during the period of World War II. As the name suggests, Cave Hill is embedded in meadows, heaths, and moorland, peppered with serene archaeological attractions and are blessed with panoramic views of the city, along with the Scottish coast, Mourne Mountains, Belfast Lough, and Carrickfergus.
A heavy basal outcrop, Napoleon’s Nose is the most amazing natural attraction and one of the best places to visit in Belfast Ireland. It might be an inspiration behind Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift in the 18th century. The rock here seems to be a sleeping giant. Mc. Art’s Fort was fortified during the early Neolithic period atop the Napoleon’s Nose. It is now a scenic attraction to spot kestrels and peregrine falcons.
8. Admire the beauty of Albert Memorial Clock
Albert Memorial Clock is a neo-Gothic Victorian monument stands at only 35m. It is a cool way finder on Queens Square, located by the left bank of Lagan River. The square is located on the land which was reclaimed from the river. In the late 1860s, the clock tower was built as a tribute to the prince consort of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert.
The clock is located upriver from docks and it would have been a vital vantage part to witness the launch of Titanic in 1911. However, it is closed for the public these days. The marshy ground beneath the tower has left tower with a lean of 1.3m. It was worse at the beginning of the 2000s until it got a preservation project.
9. Crumlin Road Gaol
This Grade-A complex was once HMP Belfast and it is the only Victorian cellar survived in Northern Ireland. Founded in 1846, the Crumlin Road Gaol housed suffragists, murderers, and both Republican and Unionist terrorists for the next 150 years. It was associated with the courthouse that can be reached by a tunnel to traverse on the tour.
In this jail, around 17 executions were held and the last one was held in 1961 and you can also see where it happened inside the cell. Well, you can also get to know more about these walls. For example, 1866’s escape attempts and 1991’s bombings by Provisional IRA. The jail remained vacant for around 15 years. In 2010, it was renovated and became the function hall for weddings and dinners and a live music venue.
10. Visit the Lewis Square
Walk along the CS Lewis Square and relive the charm of The Chronicles of Narnia. It is a public space, which pays tribute to C.S. Lewis, an author born in Belfast. It features 7 bronze sculptures including The White Witch, Aslan, The Beavers, Mr Tumnus, The Stone Table and The Robin, which belonged to ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’. It is a beautiful display of art for the public.
CS Lewis Square is located where the Comber Greenways and Connswater intersect, along with the EastSide Visitor Centre, which can be accessed from innovative screens, wall map, and interpretative panels, which connect people to the popular faces of EastSide. It also consists of a coffee bar, which is named after CS Lewis, JACK Coffee Bar. It presents products from food makers and local artists.
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I hope that helped you with planning what to do in Belfast for your weekend break! These various things on what to do in Belfast and various attractions will definitely make your trip super fun!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published on Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Lonely Planet and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British – Filipina). Join her on travelling around the globe with a mission to share the best of the world.