Belfast isn’t usually top of the list for Irish destinations but this is a gross oversight. Just 1, 2, or 3 days in Belfast can offer you a world of insight into the island’s captivating history but also delivers tons of unexpected gems in and around the city. A typical Belfast itinerary is actually a speedy affair on a bus from Dublin but do yourself a favour and stay a few days to really get down to business. Here is a look at all the fabulous things that await you in Belfast.
How Many Days in Belfast?
Belfast has many faces and the question of how many days to spend in Belfast should be determined by what you want to gain from the experience.
To even begin to explore the many threads of the political and historical tapestry here, you will need at least 1 day in Belfast, but compressing 400 years of history won’t be an easy task.
With 2 days in Belfast, you can fill up on an Ulster fry, visit a few pubs, and do all things Titanic related.
Outside the city are also several must-see stops and you will need at least 3 days in Belfast if you want to see major attractions like the Dark Hedges and Giant’s Causeway on a day trip.
Between all the historical sights and day trips, you need another whole day on your Belfast itinerary to just appreciate the city for what it is.
Getting To & Around Belfast
Belfast is easily accessible by a variety of transportation options. If you’re arriving by air, you can fly into Belfast International Airport or George Best Belfast City Airport, both of which offer flights to major cities across Europe and the UK.
If you prefer to get to Belfast by train, the city has two main train stations: Great Victoria Street and Belfast Central. Both stations have regular services to Dublin, as well as other cities across Northern Ireland and the UK.
One major thing to remember is to hold on tight to your train ticket if you booked a return trip. You cannot be reissued a ticket and you will have to buy a new one if seats are available. Save yourself the headache and guard it with your life!
Additionally, Belfast is well-connected by bus, with services to Dublin and other nearby cities. You can view bus schedules here.
You can also drive from Dublin to Belfast in about 2 hours and there are also many interesting stops to make along the way. If you need to rent a car for your trip, you can browse Rentalcars.com to compare options.
Once you arrive in Belfast, getting around the city is relatively easy. The Belfast city centre is compact and walkable, so it’s easy to explore on foot.
If you prefer to use public transportation, Belfast has an extensive bus network that covers most of the city. There is also a city bike-share scheme, which allows you to rent bikes from various locations around the city.
Overall, getting to and around Belfast is straightforward and convenient, with plenty of transportation options to suit different preferences and budgets.
1, 2 or 3 Days in Belfast Itinerary
Day 1 – Belfast Historic Highlights
The tumultuous history of Belfast and Northern Ireland in general has been well documented and you should spend 1 day in Belfast getting to know both sides of the story.
Black Cab Tour
Taking a black cab tour of Belfast is one of the best ways to learn about the troubles. Your driver cum guide is a local who was personally involved or affected by the unrest that has plagued the country.
They will take you to see the Peace Walls and drive to the famous murals in the residential areas including the famous painting of Bobby Sands.
These tours give you sobering insight into the strife of unionists and loyalists and you will visit the often-overlooked Irish Republican History Museum which delivers a poignant retelling of the civil war. You can book your tour here.
City Hall Tour
Belfast City Hall sits in the centre of Belfast on Donegall Square. One of the best ways to experience this impressive building is through a free guided tour, which offers an insight into the history, architecture, and cultural significance of City Hall.
The tour takes visitors through the various rooms and spaces of the building, including the impressive Great Hall, the Council Chamber, and the elegant Reception Room.
Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of the city, the role of City Hall in local government, and the various events and ceremonies that take place here throughout the year.
Crumlin Road Gaol
Every major city across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has a historic prison to visit. In Belfast, you can go to Crumlin Road Gaol.
The prison was in operation for over 150 years and was the site of many important events in Northern Ireland’s troubled history.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the prison, which includes the old cells and the execution chamber, and learn about the prison’s history and the lives of the inmates who were held there.
Parliament Building Tour
If you’re interested in politics and history, a tour of the Northern Ireland Parliament Building is a fascinating experience. Located in the Stormont Estate on the outskirts of Belfast, the building is home to the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
During the tour, you’ll learn about the history of the building and the role it plays in the political and cultural life of Northern Ireland.
You’ll visit the impressive Senate Chamber and Assembly Hall, where the country’s politicians debate and make decisions, and see the beautiful artworks and artefacts that decorate the building.
While you are there, pop into the café to enjoy a deliciously warm scone as you drink in the views from the top of the hill.
Day 2 – Titanic, Markets & More!
If you have 2 days in Belfast, spend this time sinking your teeth into classic tourist attractions and getting to know the best local haunts.
The Titanic Belfast
This is one of the main attractions and a top place to visit that pulls people to Belfast and it is worth every ounce of its tourist trap glory.
The impressive iceberg-shaped building sits on the very site where the iconic boat was built and takes you on the journey from conception to construction, its launch, and ultimately to its final resting place at the bottom of the ocean.
This is one of those museums where you are constantly impressed by how much they could have created with only a little.
We all know the story of the Titanic (sans Jack and Rose) but this experience takes you on an immersive journey through the shipyard and there are recreations of the cabins and lifeboats as well as a glass floor projection of the shipwreck that will have you reaching for your seasickness meds. You can pre-book tickets here.
St. George’s Market
St. George’s Market is one of the oldest and most popular attractions in Belfast. This historic indoor market has been a fixture of the city since the 19th century, and it’s still a vibrant hub of activity today.
Visitors can explore the market’s stalls, which sell everything from fresh produce and seafood to handmade crafts and souvenirs.
There’s also a food court where visitors can sample a range of local and international cuisines, making this an excellent lunch stop. If you’re interested in learning more about the food in Belfast, you can take a food tour.
The Victoria Square Dome
The Victoria Square Dome is a striking modern landmark that dominates Belfast’s skyline. This glass dome is part of the Victoria Square shopping centre and it is a quick and free thing to do in Belfast.
Take a lift to the top of the dome to be rewarded with panoramic views of Belfast and the surrounding countryside.
C.S. Lewis Square
C.S. Lewis Square is a charming public space that’s dedicated to the life and work of the famous author and theologian. The square is located in East Belfast and features a range of sculptures and installations that celebrate Lewis’s most famous works, including The Chronicles of Narnia.
Visitors can explore the square’s gardens and take in the sculptures, which include a life-sized depiction of Aslan the Lion.
Head to the pub
No visit to Belfast would be complete without a proper visit to a pub. Bittles Bar is one of the best pubs in Belfast to visit. It is intimate, colourful, and historic and you will be surrounded by paintings of famous figures from local history.
This is one of many fantastic pubs you can find on your trip to Belfast and there are countless that are great options. You’re sure to find some great, cosy vibes and a cool pint of Guinness wherever you choose to visit.
Day 3 – Causeway Coast
There is a popular circular route from Belfast that takes you north, through the Glens of Antrim, along the coast, and back through the countryside.
You can visit these locations independently if you rent a car, which will give you the flexibility to skip some stops, spend more time at others or even visit Belfast Castle on your way out.
Otherwise, you can book a day tour such as this full-day tour or this full-day tour for a cost-effective and comprehensive experience that will quickly fill the third day in the Northern Irish capital.
Regardless of the option you choose, his day trip is perfect if you’re spending more than just a weekend in Belfast.
Samuel Johnson famously said that this natural wonder was “worth seeing, yes; but not worth going to see.” Oh, how wrong he was.
The Giant’s Causeway is a collection of hexagonal basalt columns paving a fabled path into the stormy Atlantic. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but it is surprisingly not too overrun with tourists (not all the time anyway).
You can pay to enter through the visitor’s centre, however, it is actually free to visit the Causeway itself if you don’t park at or access the visitor’s centre.
There is a shuttle bus available, too but the walk down to the Causeway is lovely and downhill so save your money for the ride back up. Keep in mind that there are numerous longer walking trails at the Giant’s Causeway and you can easily spend a few hours here enjoying all it has to offer – especially if you like to hike around and get spectacular views.
Don’t just clammer around and take a few selfies. Grab a seat on one of the stones away from the crowd and take a second to soak it in.
Dunluce Castle is a medieval ruin perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This historic site offers stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding countryside, as well as a glimpse into Northern Ireland’s rich history.
Visitors can explore the castle’s ruins and learn about its colourful past, which includes sieges, battles, and legends of ghosts and smugglers.
Ballintoy is a picturesque harbour village on the North Coast of Northern Ireland that was also used as a filming location for Game of Thrones.
Visitors can explore the village’s quaint streets and colourful buildings, or take a walk along the harbour wall to enjoy views of the ocean and surrounding cliffs. The nearby Ballintoy Church is as cute as it gets, and the village is also home to several historic buildings and ruins.
Bushmills Distillery is one of the oldest whiskey distilleries in Ireland, and it’s located in the town of Bushmills, just south of the Giant’s Causeway.
The distillery has been producing its famous Irish whiskey for over 400 years, using traditional methods that have been passed down through generations of master distillers.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the distillery, learn about the history and craft of whiskey production, and sample some of the distillery’s award-winning whiskeys. The tour takes you through the various stages of the whiskey-making process, from the malting of barley to the ageing of the spirit in oak casks.
If you are strapped for time, simply pop into the cosy tasting room and sample some of their finest malts, the perfect way to cap off a day of exploring.
The Dark Hedges is another popular day trip destination that could be ruined by Instagrammers but if you time it just right it could be showstopping.
This beautiful avenue of beech trees has become famous in recent years due to its appearance in the hit TV series Game of Thrones and even if you aren’t familiar with the show, the eerie beauty of the avenue is undeniable.
Take a leisurely stroll along the avenue, admiring the stunning natural arches created by the intertwined branches. It is beautiful in all seasons and transforms from a lush leafy lane in the summer to the haunting, almost skeletal-looking King’s Road that was depicted in the series.
The Dark Hedges is located near the town of Ballymoney, and it’s easily accessible by car or bus from Belfast.
Where to Stay in Belfast
Harpers Boutique B&B – This boutique bed and breakfast located in the Queen’s Quarter of Belfast is a great choice if you want a clean and comfy place to stay. They have a number of stylish and comfortable rooms on offer and a great breakfast included in the price each morning. Click here to see their availability
The Warren Belfast – This centrally-located hotel is the perfect choice if you’re after a luxurious stay while exploring Belfast. Situated in the heart of the Queen’s Quarter, there are countless plush rooms available, great amenities, and a filling breakfast included in the room rate. Click here to see their availability
Central Belfast Apartments: Citygate – If you’d like your own self-catering accommodation while visiting Belfast, then these apartments are an excellent option. They have a range of fully-furnished flats to choose from, a central location and there is also free on-site parking for guests to use. Click here to see their availability
Vagabonds – The perfect choice for budget and solo travellers, this centrally-located hostel is the perfect base in Belfast. They have both dorm beds and private rooms available, clean facilities and excellent common areas to meet other, like-minded travellers. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Belfast hotels!
Whether you only have 1 day in Belfast or a few to spare, there is more than enough to do in town to fill your time. Strike a balance between historic sightseeing and fantastical attractions on your Belfast itinerary to fully appreciate all the city has to offer.
Are you planning to visit Belfast? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!