24 Hour Guide to Exploring Belfast

24 Hour Guide to Belfast City - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

We’ve been enjoying getting out and about a lot more of late, and one place we really enjoy spending time in is our nations capital, Belfast.  We were recently invited along to The Stormont Hotel to join the hotel in their 50th Anniversary meal (you can read about that here).  We stayed the night and took some time the following day to explore Belfast a little more.  If you’re planning a trip to Belfast anytime soon, or even just looking for a few things to do during a day in the city, here’s our list of must see attractions.

Top things to see in Belfast:

St George’s Market

First on the list is St George’s Market, a personal favourite of ours.  The market is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions and is open Friday – Sunday (bad news if you’re looking to visit during the week).  Friday is a variety market with some 200+ stalls, while Saturday and Sunday see a mix of food, arts and crafts stalls set up for the day.  There’s also live music played at certain stages across the weekend.

St Georges Market Belfast - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

If you live in Northern Ireland and have never been to St George’s Market, we highly recommend visiting it as you won’t be disappointed.  As big foodie fans, our favourite day is Saturday, and one of the first stalls we visit is the Cuban Sandwich Stall, although with so much choice of food available, we suggest skipping breakfast before your trip to Belfast.

Titanic Quarter and Titanic Belfast

The Titanic Quarter has become one of the most popular parts of Belfast thanks to venues like The Odyssey Arena, Titanic Belfast and T13.  Indeed, Titanic Belfast is the second most visited tourist attraction in Northern Ireland after The Giant’s Causeway.  With tickets to The Titanic Belfast Experience available online from £12.50, take time getting to know a little bit more about the world’s most famous ship, and its fatal voyage.

Titanic Belfast - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

While at the Titanic Quarter, take some time to explore SS Nomadic, the sister ship of Titanic and the last remaining White Star Line ship in the world, which now resides permanently at Hamilton Dock having been restored to its original glory.  With adult tickets from £7, and kids going free, hope on board SS Nomadic and learn more about this famous ship.

Grand Opera House

Belfast’s oldest theatre, The Grand Opera House is one of Belfast’s most iconic buildings and attracts famous shows across the year.  If you’re staying the night in Belfast, be sure to pencil in a date at Grand Opera House and enjoy one of the many shows that are on throughout the year.  With a mix of West End musicals, satirical plays, family shows and locally produced plays, there’s plenty of choice to ensure you have a great time at Grand Opera House.  Some of the shows coming up over the next 6 months include Ghost, Sister Act, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Chicago.

Grand Opera House Belfast - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

Botanic Gardens and Ulster Museum

Take yourself out of the city centre and head for the Botanic Gardens and Ulster Museum, located near the iconic Queen’s University.  Enjoy a leisurely stroll through Botanic Gardens before heading for the Ulster Museum, a free to enter museum that is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Northern Ireland. As mentioned, the museum is free to enter although there are many opportunities to donate as you explore the museum.

Botanic Gardens Belfast - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

Ulster Museum Belfast - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

Give yourself a good hour to get around everything, with some of the current highlights including ‘Remembering 1916’, the story of Takabuti and the ‘Elements’ section.  With an outstanding collection of art, human history and natural sciences, as well as getting the chance to look back on the troubles and other key times in Irish history, the Ulster Museum should be on any ‘must do’ list when visiting Belfast.

Shops, food and drink in Belfast

Belfast is a fairly compact city and getting about on foot will allow you to see most of the main tourist attractions in the city centre.  Hop on one of the city bus tours (which can be arranged in the Belfast Visitor Centre opposite the city hall) and enjoy the attractions above, and many more.  For shops, Victoria Square and Castle Court are the two big shopping centres in the city attracting thousands of visitors throughout the week.  If you’re in Victoria Square, be sure to head straight to the top of the dome and enjoy the unrivaled panoramic views of the city.

Shopping at Victoria Square - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

A stroll down Royal Avenue will also give you ample opportunity to stop in at some of the best shops in the city centre.  For a different shopping experience, the boutique shops on Lisburn Road are well worth checking out as well.

When it comes to eating out and drinking in Belfast, there’s so many great places to choose from.  Indeed, Belfast is currently going through a bit of a culinary renaissance with the city now boosting two Michelin star restaurants (Epic by Deanes and OX), while James Street South was recently named best restaurant in Ireland.  There are some great restaurants doted throughout the city centre, including venues like Home, Tedfords, Deanes at Queens and Made in Belfast.  St Anne’s Square also boosts a great selection of restaurants including two of our favourites, Coppi and House of Zen, and it’s also the location of The Mac, another popular theatre and arts building in the city.

Places to eat and drink in Belfast - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

For drinks, head straight to the Cathedral Quarter area of the city and enjoy the atmosphere of some of the most popular bars in the city.  Personal favourites include The National, The Dirty Onion, Aether & Echo, The Duke of York and Harp Bar, while no trip to Belfast would be complete without stopping by the famous Crown Bar on Great Victoria Street.

Finish by taking a trip to Stormont

Finally, make the short trip from the city centre out to parliament buildings at Stormont and enjoy a stroll through the gardens of this impressive building.  Take a walk to the top of the hill and enjoy a panoramic view of the city like no other.  Stormont is one of the more popular routes on the Belfast bus tours, and on a good day it’s well worth heading out to see.

Stormont Buildings and Grounds - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

Explore Belfast in 2 minutes

We shot a short video during our trip around Belfast and you can watch it below to get an idea of what lies ahead.

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Welcome to Pikalily, an award-winning food, travel and lifestyle blog. We are Nial and Helen, a happily married couple from Northern Ireland, who share a passion for food and travel among many things. We became parents to our beautiful boy Lewis in 2017. Follow our adventures through the blog.

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