As part of our Ireland trip, we spent a couple of nights in Belfast. The main reason we headed up to Northern Ireland was to tour the Giants Causeway and other sites up that way. But we also got to spend 24 hours in Belfast city, which was really awesome. Despite not being a huge draw for us heading up that way, our day in Belfast was actually one of the highlights.
If you’ve got 24 hours in Belfast, Northern Ireland, here’s your perfect itinerary!
PS: Heading to Dublin for a day? Don’t miss my itinerary for Dublin too!
After breakfast, the first stop you want to make is Titanic Belfast. The famous Titanic ship was built in Belfast so this city holds a lot of history. I’m not a huge Titanic fan by any means, but I really loved this museum. It was so interactive and immersive. There was even a ride in the middle! Like a full on, get into a little car and get lifted around a boiler room, type of ride.
I would advise that you go early. We went practically at opening and we had the place to ourselves. It was awesome to be able to walk around all of the exhibits and not have to deal with any crowds. Bonus: Game of Thrones films in the Titanic Studios right behind Titanic Belfast. You can’t actually see much, but it’s cool to walk over and know that Jon Snow and co are right behind those walls!
For lunch, I’d highly recommend OX Belfast. OX is a Michelin star restaurant and not too far from Titanic Belfast. While OX’s dinner menu and wine list feature some scary high prices, their lunch menu is super reasonable. You can get two courses for £22 or three courses for £28. This was definitely one of the highlights of our Ireland trip and a very nice break from pub food. It was fun to eat at a fancy restaurant, even if we were the most underdressed people there. I would highly recommend the halibut (so delicious!) but would skip the optional spring snacks that set you back £3.50 for two crackers.
After lunch, you can continue walking into the city and stop in at St. George’s Market. On our visit to Belfast, we visited the market before Titanic Belfast, because it technically opens at 6:00am on Fridays. However, not too many stalls were open and selling yet, so I’d recommend you visit a bit later in the day when the market is more alive. And keep in mind, this market is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday with various open and closing times – so check before you head over!
Your 24 hours in Belfast ends with one of my favourite parts of the city: street art! I love street art. I think it’s such a fascinating medium and says a lot about the culture of a city. I’m not really an art gallery girl but I could spend hours walking around admiring street art. And there’s no better place to do that then in Belfast!
The best place for street art would have to be Cathedral Quarter. Check out the umbrellas hanging overhead and all the fun art in the alleyways. There’s also the big fish along the water and Belfast’s famous leaning clock.
When you start to get hungry, I’d recommend The Northern Whig, which is right by the Cathedral Quarter. We stumbled into this place pretty much on accident but I’m so glad we did. The food was delicious, the drinks were tasty and the atmosphere was awesome. Best of all, they had an amazing musician singing acoustic covers of songs. We sat there for a long time after finishing our food just to hear him sing.
If you’re not ready to call it a night yet, head over to the Crown Liquor Saloon. This bar is one of the most well-known in Belfast and is in the style of an old Victorian pub. There are little booths with swinging doors and very cool decor. Beware: this bar is popular. When Colin and I showed up, all of the booths were full and we had to sit at a high top table, which wasn’t nearly as cool. They also have a restaurant upstairs, but it doesn’t have the same atmosphere or decor as the downstairs bar.
The last thing? You’ve got to make it to City Hall in your 24 hours in Belfast. Their city hall is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. It’s like a palace (and prettier than some palaces – looking at you, Buckingham) and is all lit up and beautiful at night. It’s only a 10 minute walk from the Crown Saloon, so would make for a nice late night walk.
Tips, tricks & tidbits for 24 hours in Belfast
- Remember, they use pounds! This is Northern Ireland, part of the UK and technically a separate country from the Republic of Ireland. While there won’t be anyone checking your passport if you’re coming in from Ireland, the currency does change so be aware of that.
- Giants Causeway is an absolute must! If you’re headed to Northern Ireland, you should definitely visit. We did a tour that also included the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and Dark Hedges, which are so awesome.
- We didn’t have time for it, but I’ve heard that doing a Black Cab Tour is really excellent. It’s a great way to learn more about the city of Belfast and history of Northern Ireland. There’s a divide between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and not everyone was so happy about the division. A Black Cab Tour is a great way to learn more about that from a local, get some context for your visit and enjoy a temperature-controlled tour.
- Belfast is a fairly walkable city. It’s not quite as walkable as Dublin, but it still can be walked. I will say that it’s not as pretty as Dublin. There are definitely some quieter areas and the whole city feels more industrial. But for a short 24 hour visit, you could definitely walk it all.
- It’s cold! We visited in April and it was pretty freaking freezing in Belfast. Our entire Ireland trip was cold but Belfast definitely felt much colder being a bit farther up north than the rest.
And that’s your 24 hours in Belfast! What would you add to this Belfast itinerary?