Top 10 Things to Do in Belfast, Northern Ireland

| September 19, 2013 | Comments

All in all Belfast has a lot to offer and this is merely just a few of the top 10 things to Do in Belfast. It’s an up and coming city, which also happens to be the capital of Northern Ireland.

Top 10 things to do in Belfast

Top 10 Things to Do in Belfast

1. Belfast City Hall

This is arguably the most spectacular building in Belfast. With its green domes, prominent location and outdoor gardens, this is a building that the Belfast people are proud of. It dates back to 1906 and even the City Hall in Durban, South Africa was modelled on the Belfast one.

2. The Crown Liquor Saloon

A National Trust owned bar, a bar that claimed to be the first bar in the world to have a 24 hour webcam and a bar whose interior will have you staring all around you in awe. It’s like a step back in time when you visit the Crown. Great hearty food is served along with your classic Irish beers such as Guinness, Smithwicks and Harp. Here’s a good overview of the Crown Bar in Belfast.

Top 10 things to do in Belfast

3. The Titanic Quarter

To “celebrate” the 100 year launch of the Titanic, a brand new Titanic Centre was opened in Belfast in 2012. Not only is the centre itself completely worth a visit, but you can visit the dry docks where the Titanic was built and get a feel for the shipbuilding industry that Belfast has boasted down the years. The nearest railways station has now also been renamed “The Titanic Quarter”.

4. The Odyssey Centre

Back in the dark days of the 1980s and 1990s, it would have been hard to imagine such a centre as the Odyssey in Belfast. That’s all changed now and this massive complex houses regular ice hockey (local team the Belfast Giants are a top side), a science centre (W5 is worth a visit), bars and restaurants and a massive concert hall. This has played hosts to bands like Oasis and Bruce Springsteen down the years as well as hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards.

Top 10 things to do in Belfast

Top 10 things to do in Belfast

5. Stormont/Parliament Buildings

Northern Ireland’s elegant parliament buildings are reflective of the country’s troubled past. Despite the formation of the country in 1921, the spectacular parliament at Stormont has been somewhat under used. While a statue of Unionist Edward Carson (himself a Dubliner) stands tall and proud, locals and foreigners alike will know that there isn’t really a togetherness here when it comes to politics.

6. Wall Murals

Belfast has been through a lot of bad times too, and the wall murals in parts of the city help you get a feel for the local culture here. In Protestant areas, wall murals are British, pro-Union, they have pictures of the Queen and of British soldiers as well as promoting the loyalist terror groups such as the UVF, UDA and UFF. Contrast this to the Catholic side which has pro Irish murals with Irish tricolour flags and sings the praise of Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army. The best examples of the Catholic murals are in the Falls Road area. While the best Protestant murals can be found in East Belfast and the Shankill Road area. Sandy Row and The Village area near the city centre also contain a lot of pro-British murals.

Top 10 things to do in Belfast

7. The Peace Line

Following on from visiting the wall murals, the “peace line” gives an indication of just how bad things really have been over the years in Belfast. This line separates a staunch Protestant area from a staunch Catholic area. Barbed wire and fencing is needed to keep the two sides apart in an area of West Belfast where violence was nightly for a long period.

8. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

At the Holywood Arches in East Belfast sits a replica of a wardrobe with a statue of a man opening it. That man is Belfast born author C.S.Lewis who received global attention and recognition for The Chronicles of Narnia, most notably “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.

9. Cavehill and Belfast Zoo

Being the capital of Northern Ireland, the thought of having a zoo here sounds somewhat unrealistic but that’s where Belfast surprises you. Belfast Zoo is set in a prime location at Cavehill with an amazing view down over the city. While you’re not going to see pandas or kangaroos here, the zoo does contain over 1,000 animals and 150 species. That’s quite remarkable. While you’re there you’re also nearby Belfast Castle – an old mansion which again has great views over the city and lough.

10. The Victoria Square

You could argue I should have put the Victoria Centre at the top of my list as it’s the most popular free tourist attraction in Belfast. It’s basically a viewpoint over the whole city which offers 360 degrees of views. Head up on the lift and admire the city from a height. On a good day you can see all the way to Scrabo Tower in Newtownards and take in the changing Belfast skyline.

Have you been to Northern Ireland before? What are your top 10 things to Do in Belfast?

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Jonny Blair is a wandering Northern Irishman who has been travelling the world for 10 years, working in over 50 jobs along the way and visiting 80 countries and over 500 cities. His travel blog Don't Stop Living contains over a thousand posts with stories, tips and inspiration to get you living your travel dreams. You can also connect to Jonny on his Don't Stop Living Twitter and Facebook pages.

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