Some of the UK’s best days out are here in Belfast. It’s no wonder nearly 10 million tourists come to Belfast each year when there are world-class activities like Titanic Belfast to tick off.
Activities in Belfast
Belfast is home to one of the most famous shipyards on the planet, which sadly was the birthplace of a tragedy. RMS Titanic was built in the Harland & Wolff shipyard, which has now been stunningly transformed into Belfast’s tourist-friendly Titanic Quarter. At its heart is Titanic Belfast, an incredible museum dedicated to the building of the infamous Titanic and its ill-fated maiden voyage.
It has a whopping total of 130,000 square feet spread across nine excellent galleries. You can literally spend all day here, so all-in-all it offers good value for money. Be sure to tie in a visit to the SS Nomadic, the Titanic’s little sister, which is just next door and is free to enter with some Titanic Belfast passes. Then, when you’ve had your fill of maritime history, head back to our Titanic Quarter Hotel, which is just a stone’s throw away.
If you want to see some wildlife while you’re here, visit Belfast Zoo. It sprawls across 55 acres and is home to well over 1,000 animals. It’s been open since the 1930s and ranks among the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland, receiving over 300,000 visitors a year wanting to see the resident elephants, lions, giraffes and sloths. It’s a great day out, especially if you’re visiting Belfast with the kids. Plus, the zoo supports a wide range of conservation projects around the world, so you’ll also have the added bonus of knowing you’re helping do some good for nature.
There’s no better way to find out about the unique history of Belfast than with a visit to the Ulster Museum in the Botanic Gardens. It’s excellent collections vary from fine art and archaeology through to ethnography and sunken treasure from the Spanish Armada. Best of all, entry is absolutely free. It’s easy to explore in a couple of hours and the beautiful botanic gardens are an added bonus and perfect if you want to be outdoors when the sun’s shining and the weather’s warm.
It’s not always on the top of people’s to-do-lists when visiting the city, but Belfast Castle is well worth the journey into the hills. It was built after Belfast’s original Norman Castle – which was located in the city centre – burned down in the 16th century. The Scottish baronial-style home sits 400-feet above sea level and offers sublime views of the city of Belfast, especially the Titanic Quarter. It’s also surrounded by some beautiful gardens, which offer an added reason to visit for horticulturalists.
Crumlin Road Gaol
HMP Belfast, also known as the Crumlin Road Gaol, is the last surviving Victorian-era prison in Northern Ireland. It no longer operates as a high-security prison today. Instead, it’s one of Belfast’s best tourist attractions, with hundreds of thousands of people visiting to see its menacing-yet-magnificent architecture and to delve into the stories behind the nickname, “Europe’s Alcatraz”. The Gaol’s tour guides are excellent at bringing the building’s gruesome history to life, to the point where seeing the prison’s execution chamber can be quite overwhelming. It’s probably not for the faint-hearted, but it is a fascinating day out.
Belfast City Hall
Some of the best places to eat in Belfast are dotted around Belfast City Hall. So there’s no excuse not to visit this resplendent feat of architecture in the heart of Belfast. Free public tours take place around Belfast City Hall every day. They’re a great way to find out about its rich, rich history over the course of around an hour in which you’ll also explore the grounds, including the Titanic Memorial Gardens. It’s up there with the most iconic buildings in Belfast, and at night it comes to life courtesy of coloured light shows which beautifully illuminate the magisterial building.