Activity Ideas For A Weekend Break In Belfast
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Looking to spend a weekend break in Belfast? The tourism scene of the Northern Irish capital has gone from strength-to-strength over the past few years, not least in part due to the 2012 opening of Titanic Belfast, and the city's now cemented status as the home of HBO's Game of Thrones.
Adding to this burgeoning cultural clout is Belfast's relatively compact size and its proximity to one of the world's most stunning coastlines.
Below you'll find a list of some of our favourite things to see and do in Belfast, alongside an occasional recommendation from our partners at Irish Tour Tickets. Pick and choose the ones that interest you most and piece together an ideal weekend break.
1) City Sightseeing Belfast:
The City Sightseeing Belfast tour offers a handy means of transport around the city for new and returning visitors alike. It's staffed by a friendly team of locals who can relate the city's history and attractions, as well as provide helpful advice. In all, the service features over 20 'hop-on hop-off bus' stops. Hop-on/off means that travellers are free to leave and rejoin the tour at any point.
If a particular landmark grabs your attention simply disembark and explore on-foot. Popular stop-offs include: Titanic Belfast, HMS Caroline, University Road and Crumlin Road Gaol. For most of the year the City Sightseeing Belfast tour operates daily from 10:00 to 16:30, every 15-30 minutes.
Because its 48-hour tickets are geared towards weekend travellers, we've made references to the tour throughout this list, mainly on occasions where an attraction can be easily accessed by the buses.
See Belfast in a weekend with City Sightseeing Belfast.
2) Wee Toast Tours:
We haven't found a guided pub crawl quite like this one anywhere else in the world. Belfast's Wee Toast Tour is led by a passionate team of locals who operate what we can only describe as a sort of 'cycle float'. Their contraption has 15 seats, 10 with pedals and 5 without, along with a driver and an onboard barista who serves as guide.
So long as at least eight eager pub connoisseurs in good physical shape are available to put their legs to work the group can enjoy an unforgettable night on the town. Grab a seat and meet new people at the weekend, discover local favourites, and experience a bit of healthy teamwork.
Group of friends doing the Belfast Wee Toast Tour.
3) Belfast Food Tours:
If you're not much of a drinker and prefer to discover a city through its gastronomy then a Belfast Food Tour is just the ticket. Walks led by a knowledgeable local depart every Saturday, along with occasional Fridays and Sundays, and cover 8 delectable city centre destinations over 4 hours. Famous spots such as St George’s Market feature along the route, so be sure to work up an appetite beforehand.
Belfast Food Tour Pictures © Loreen Katherine.
4) The Wee Tram:
From wee toasts to a wee tram, hop-off at stop 4 on the City Sightseeing Belfast tour (Titanic's Dock & Pump House) and await this quirky little mode of transportation. The red carriage trains are modelled after the old tram system that used to ferry dockworkers around the shipyards. While they might be smaller nowadays and lacking any rails their function is still very much the same - transport people around the docks.
Jump aboard and experience the best of Belfast's maritime heritage at the Pump House Visitor Centre, SS Nomadic museum ship, and the world-famous Titanic Belfast exhibition. The Wee Tram is a hop-on hop-off service, so come and go as much as you please across 2 days.
The quirky Wee Tram is ideal for weekend visits with the family.
5) Titanic Belfast:
This attraction is a must during any weekend trip. Find out the details here and note that you can arrive outside the front door by riding the bus tour to stop 4. Combo tickets are also available that include both the bus tour and Titanic Belfast entry. These allow to save £7.50, and can be viewed here.
Discover the life and legacy of the world's most famous ship.
6) Game Of Thrones Film Locations Day Tour:
Since its first TV adaptation in 2011 George R. R. Martin's epic 'A Song of Ice and Fire' has grown to become one of the most recognisable fantasy series in history. With most of the elements of a Games of Thrones having been produced and filmed in Northern Ireland it goes without saying that fans visiting Belfast for the weekend should immerse themselves in the real world Westeros.
Join one of Irish Tour Tickets daily departures from 10 Great Victoria Street for an exciting full day journey featuring The Dark Hedges (Kings Road), Ballycastle (used as the native home of Lady Catelyn Stark and Varys); Larrybane, where Renly swears he will avenge Ned’s death, and much more.
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The Game of Thrones day tour departs at weekends and other days throughout the week.
7) Giant's Causeway Day Tour:
If you're interested in visiting Northern Ireland's most famous World Heritage Site then there's plenty of means by which to reach it from Belfast. The most straightforward of these is a coach tour that departs the city centre. These tours often include more than just the volcanic columns themselves, they also incorporate stops at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, Bushmills Distillery and more.
Visitors clambering on the basalt columns of Giant's Causeway.
8) River Lagan Boat Tour:
If the wee trams show visitors the Titanic Docks by land then the Lagan Boat Company has the sights of the harbour covered. Join them each day from 12:30 to 15:30 and sail the waters that birthed some of recent history's greatest seafaring icons. You'll also venture out into the Musgrave channel for views of the seal colony.
Sunny weekend boat trip on the River Lagan.
9) Belfast Black Cab Tour:
Even in modern day Belfast it's impossible to escape the legacy of The Troubles, so why not spend part of your weekend break getting to understand this dark chapter in Northern Ireland's history?
Black Cab tours are led by former members of the factions involved in the unrest, but who have now dedicated themselves to offering unbiased accounts of the era. Tours last about 1 hour 30 minutes and depart every day from Jurys Inn on Great Victoria Street at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 16:00.
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Black Cab tour group at the Bobby Sands mural.
10) Belfast Castle & Cave Hill Visitor Centre:
Not only is it one of the most scenic spots around Belfast, but this lofty estate holds a wealth of great attractions and amenities. Explore the Cave Hill Visitor Centre museum located in the castle basement and dine in the Cellar Restaurant. The grounds are perfect for an afternoon stroll, with their views over Belfast Lough and city. Be sure to take a walk over to Napoleon's Nose, a distinctive rocky outcrop that's said to have inspired the novel Gulliver's Travels.
11) Ulster Museum:
Belfast's largest museum is guaranteed to have something new on offer each time you visit. You can reach it by hopping off at stop 15 on the city bus tour. If it's your first visit then find out about its best permanent exhibitions here.
Northern Irish history at the Ulster Museum.
12) Belfast Zoo:
Belfast Zoo is easily reached by taking city bus tour services 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 1F, 1G or 2A from Upper Queen Street to Antrim Road. Travel along a scenic road overlooking Belfast Lough and meet thousands of animals including Rothchild's giraffes, lions, sloths and tropical birds.
Sun bear lounging at Belfast Zoo.
13) W5 Science Centre:
The W5 in Belfast's Odyssey Pavilion is replete with fun activities for all ages. It boasts around 250 exhibitions spread out across 4 unique zones. Stop 3 on the city bus tour is the best value means by which the centre.
Weekend activities at W5 Belfast are fun for the whole family.
14) St George's Market:
It's a highlight location on the Belfast Food Tour that you can reach yourself via stop 6 on the city bus. Head along from Friday to Sunday to immerse yourself in a wonderland of food and craft stalls. Saturdays also feature a garden market while Sundays see the weekly antique market. Expect more than just crafts and produce at St George's, as it's a popular venue for weekend relaxation ans live music.
St George's Sunday Market in Belfast.
15) Crumlin Road Gaol:
Dating back to 1845, this infamous prison finally closed its doors to inmates in 1996. After extensive renovations it later re-opened as a leading tourist attraction and conference centre. Head along and join a 70-minute guided tour during which you'll hear tales of well-known incarcerations and about the political segregation between Republican and Loyalist prisoners. Crumlin Road Gaol is ideally located at stop 8 on the city bus route.
Recreated prisoner cell in Crumlin Road Gaol.
Crumlin Road Gaol Executioner's Room.
16) Belfast Cathedral:
We'd recommend checking out the Cathedral Church of St. Anne for its vast collection of ecclesiastical artworks and other motifs relating to the history of Belfast. Pay a visit during your weekend break and receive an audio guide at the entrance. The cathedral is located right next to stop 7 on bus tour route.
Outside view of the Cathedral Church of St. Anne.