Belfast attractions

Belfast attractions

Our recommendations for Belfast's sights are primarily aimed at cruise ship passengers. Their stay in Belfast lasts a maximum of one day. Ships dock three kilometers from the city center. In the new Cruise Terminal, which was built in 2019, day guests receive all the information and assistance they need. This is useful: there is a lot to see in Belfast.

Belfast - the first impression

Belfast, a city of 342.000, is a modern, cosmopolitan city. Many representative buildings in the city center bear witness to the former prosperity of their residents. The palette of architectural styles ranges from Edwardian to Victorian and Art Deco styles. House walls decorated with sculptures represent the Edwardian style. The main building of Queen's University or the Custom House belong to the Victorian period. The Cathedral Quarter is home to the oldest buildings in Belfast. Buildings worth seeing are marked and described in detail on the spot by information boards in English.

Belfast - Commercial buildings on Royal Ave
Belfast - the Merchant Hotel on Waring St
Belfast - Robinson's Lounge on Great Victoria St
Belfast - the Causeway Building

Belfast attractions - our favorites

One thing is certain: because of the abundance of attractions, Belfast does not open up to visitors in a day. If there is only one day of stay, the following attractions are worth visiting.

Historical and public buildings

Belfast Castle

Belfast Castle is 120 meters high on the slopes of Cavehill Country Park. From the height, visitors enjoy unrestricted views of the city. The castle goes back to a castle complex built by the Normans in the 12th century. This was originally in the vicinity of today's city center. After a fire in 1708, a new building was built elsewhere. Overall, the construction time lasted 59 years. In 1870 the completion of the construction work was announced. Belfast Castle is currently used for events, conferences and festivities.

Belfast City Hall

Construction work on Belfast City Hall lasted eight years, from 1898 to 1906. The mighty and splendidly furnished building is an expression of the city's status achieved in 1888. The dome towering over the building is 53 meters high. Public tours in the building area are offered.

City Hall - Belfast's City Hall

City Hall - Belfast's City Hall

Location: Donegall Square

Custom house

The architect of the two-storey Custom House based his design on Italian palazzi. The building was originally built in the mid-19th century as the headquarters of the customs administration. It is considered the most beautiful neoclassical building in the city and symbolizes the strength of the British Empire under Queen Victoria and the economic expansion of Belfast.

Belfast - Custom House

Belfast - Custom House

In the past, the wide stairs of the Custom House were regularly used as “speaker's corner” for rallies on political, religious and social issues. At the foot of the stairs there is a life-size bronze figure of a “speaker”.

Belfast - Custom House - the bronze figure of the speaker

Belfast - Custom House - the bronze figure of the speaker

Location: between the Cathedral Quarter and Donegall Quay in Custom House Square.

Royal Courts of Justice

The Royal Courts of Justice, built in the style of neoclassicism, are currently the seat of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Court of Appeal, Northern Ireland High Court and Northern Ireland Crown Court all operate under one roof.

Location: Chichester Street

Houses of worship

Belfast Cathedral

The Church of Ireland Cathedral is centrally located in the Cathedral Quarter. It is dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary. The cornerstone of the church was laid in 1899. The bright, light building was completed in 1904. Since then, some structural changes have followed.

Belfast - St Anne's Cathedral
Belfast - St Anne's Cathedral - nave

The cathedral lacks a towering tower. Instead of a tower it has "The Spire of Hope". This is a 40 meter high steel sculpture protruding from the roof of the cathedral. It speaks of Christian hope for the city, the island of Ireland and the world. The steel point was inaugurated on September 11, 2007, six years after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

Location: Donegall Street

St Mary's Church 

St Mary's Church is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Belfast. The previous building of the current church was consecrated in 1784. After the increase in the Catholic population, the church was enlarged in the Romanesque style in 1868. Since 1954 she has had a cave dedicated to "Our Lady of Lourdes".

Belfast - St Mary's Church

Belfast - St Mary's Church

Location: Chapel Lane / Smithfield

The Spiers Shopping Center and Presbyterian Assembly Rooms

The Presbyterian Church built a feudal-looking meeting place in central Belfast in 1905. The building is reminiscent of a Scottish castle. Landmarks of the building, which was built in Gothic style, are a 40-meter-high bell tower and a bell consisting of twelve bells. In 1992, after renovation, the building was converted into a classy shopping center with an attached exhibition and conference area.

Belfast - the bell tower of the Presbyterian Assembly Building
Belfast - Side facade of the Presbyterian Assembly Building

Location: the beautiful building is in the city center on Fisherwick Place.

Memorials and monuments

Albert Memorial Clock Tower

The 34 meter high, sandstone clock tower was built in honor of Prince Albert. He was Queen Victoria's Prince Consort, who died in 1861. The west side of the tower is decorated with a statue of the prince. At first glance, the clock tower looks like “Big Ben” in London, but cannot keep up with its height. The memorial is slightly inclined due to the unstable subsurface. The deviation from the vertical is 1,25 meters.

Belfast - the Albert Memorial Clock Tower

Belfast - the Albert Memorial Clock Tower

Location: at the end of High Street behind Custom House 



City Hall green area

Belfast City Hall is surrounded by a large green area. Part of the park, the Titanic Memorial Gardens, honors the victims of the Titanic disaster. The Belfast Cenotaph occupies another area of ​​the complex. The memorial is dedicated to the fallen of the First World War. The 9,50 meter high war memorial is surrounded by a rounded row of columns.

The Belfast Cenotaph War Memorial

The Belfast Cenotaph War Memorial

Location: City Hall

Street Art

In the western part of the city a wall separates the residential areas of the Catholics and the Protestants. Like every wall, the Peace Line invited to murals called murals. The wall paintings mocked the respective opponents and exposed them. These murals are presented and interpreted to visitors on city tours.

Murals in the Cathedral Quarter
Murals in the Cathedral Quarter
Murals in the Cathedral quarter
Murals in the Cathedral Quarter

Diverse street art is also offered to visitors in the hip Cathedral Quarter. The area used to be the location of the warehouses. In the meantime, pubs, restaurants and galleries have moved into the quarter. With them came the large-format murals. Not everyone has to like them, they are interesting. And some are really well done.

Culture and science

Grand Opera House

The theater, built in the most beautiful confectionery style and decorated with oriental elements, was opened in December 1895. During the Northern Ireland Troubles, it was repeatedly targeted by bomb attacks. Restoration work has restored the old shine. The Grand Opera House serves as a music and dance theater as well as a speaking stage.

Belfast - the Grand Opera House

Belfast - the Grand Opera House

Location: The theater is on Great Victoria Street next to the Europa Hotel. The hotel was originally intended for the bombing of the Northern Ireland conflict.

Linen Hall Library

The library, founded in 1788, was incorporated as the Belfast Reading Society. It is Belfast's and Northern Ireland's oldest public library. Its spectrum is divided into several subject areas: information about Ireland, interesting facts about the fight of the IRA and information about the peace process in Northern Ireland. Linen Hall Library also has an extensive theater archive.

Belfast - the Linen Hall Library

Belfast - the Linen Hall Library

Location: 17 Donegall Square

Queen's university

Belfast University was founded as Queen's College in 1845. It became a university with its own legal status in 1908. It has received numerous national awards. 25.000 students and 3.500 university employees come together under the umbrella of the university.

Location: Queen's Quarter on University Road.

Important museums

Titanic Museum

The museum was built in the Titanic Quarter, a new part of Belfast, near the port. It is dedicated to the memory of the RMS Titanic and its victims. It was opened at the end of March 2012. The aluminum-clad facade of the Titanic Museum symbolizes a ship's bow.

Belfast - the Titanic Museum
Belfast - the Titanic Museum

The museum concept first presents its visitors with interesting facts about Belfast. Subsequently, the construction of the ship, the launch and the equipment are discussed. This is followed by information about the maiden voyage, the night of the accident, the aftermath and investigations and the rediscovery of the wreck. Interactive concepts give an impression of what is happening. The banquet hall, the suites and the reception desks of the world's largest passenger ship at the time were reproduced in the museum.

Ulster Museum

The Ulster Museum is located in the Botanical Gardens. The largest museum in Northern Ireland is part of the National Museum Northern Ireland complex. The modern concrete building is mainly an exhibition space for objects of the fine and applied arts, archeology and ethnology. The museum has a collection of paintings and sculptures. It also shows treasures from the Spanish Armada that were recovered from the coast of Northern Ireland after the Spanish galeas “La Girona” capsized.

Location: Botanic Gardens 

Most of the attractions featured are in a confined space in Belfast's city center. You can find our tour at: A day in Belfast

Attractions outside Belfast

We recommend Giant's Causeway and Hillsborough Castle to visitors to Belfast who know the city.

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway, the "dam of the giants", is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The formation of almost 40.000 basalt columns, some of them gigantic, is 80 kilometers north of Belfast on a stretch of coast in County Antrim. Organized tours are offered to visit the coastal formation.

Mount Steward House, Garden and Temple of the Winds

The gardens, operated by the British National Trust, are located on the natural harbor of Stranford Lough, 30 kilometers from Belfast. Garden lovers will like the magical grounds. Due to their relative proximity to Belfast, the gardens are also ideal for day trippers. 

Update June 2020



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