Located on the east coast of Northern Ireland, Belfast is a city of about 340,000 residents that may be most well-known for the sectarian strife that plagued it for much of the 20th century.
It’s also Northern Ireland’s capital and the 12th largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom.
For much of the recent past, the city was known for its industrial output, though these days, it’s also a center for the arts, film, and tourism.
From its abundant cultural and historical attractions to its natural beauty and hip party scene, there’s a little something to interest travelers with a variety of interests.
1. Full-Day Tour with Titanic Experience
Over the centuries, Belfast has been one of the region’s shipbuilding powerhouses, and the famed vessels that have been launched from its shores include the ill-fated Titanic.
This tour focuses on the the city and the famous ship’s history.
Though they’re not what they once were, Belfast’s shipyards are marvels of modern engineering, and they’re just one of the many stops on this value-packed tour.
Other highlights include the Parliament Buildings, Belfast City Hall, and the Ulster Museum.
2. City Center Eclectic Walking Tour
Belfast is a pedestrian-friendly city that’s fun to explore on foot despite its hefty population and all-around bustling nature.
This eclectic walking tour of the city center includes prominent attractions and a few that tend to fall under the radar of other tours.
Guests will follow their guide’s lead through several distinct neighborhoods while they learn about the city’s troubled past, its resilient residents, and its continuous efforts to rebrand itself.
Tours last about three hours, are offered multiple times daily, and include stops at the Titanic Quarter and St. Anne’s Cathedral, to name just a few.
3. Belfast City Centre Beer Bike Tour
What could possibly complement one another more perfectly than beer, bikes, and Belfast?
Not much, according to happy customers who’ve already taken advantage of this unique excursion opportunity.
Prospective participants need not worry about biking safety while imbibing because the bike on this tour is a stable, multi-seat contraption guided by a trained and sober professional.
Tours hit many city hotspots, offer passengers lots of drink options, and usually end up as one of the most memorable experiences of many visitor’s trips.
Guests may also bring their own adult beverages, or call ahead and have the operator pick up special orders.
4. Political Murals, Street Art, and Peace Gate
Even for those looking to put the world’s troubles behind them and just enjoy their vacations, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the dark side of Belfast’s history.
That being said, those dangerous days are mostly a thing of the past, and many of the political murals and works of street art are among the city’s most celebrated attractions.
On this two-hour walking tour, guests will discover some of the city’s historical and contemporary art and murals and learn about the artists who created them as well as their motivations.
Tours last a few hours and are an engaging and educational way for international travelers to get up to speed on the city’s past quickly.
5. Causeway and Antrim Coast Private Tour
The Antrim Coast and Giant’s Causeway are widely regarded as some of the world’s most breathtaking coastal routes, and for those visiting Belfast, they’re just a hop, skip, and jump away.
The Causeway is characterized by fantastic basalt monoliths that, to the untrained eye, look more human-made than natural.
In addition to the area’s stunning natural beauty, tour participants will visit the world’s oldest distillery and sample some of its products, stop for a relaxing lunch at a local café, and explore the historic ruins of Dunluce Castle.
Tours include pickup from your Belfast hotel, last about eight hours, and are available in three morning start times.
6. Belfast with a Local Customized Private Tour
Truth be told, for some visitors, many of Belfast’s most notable attractions tend to fall into the macabre and depressing categories.
Thankfully, for those interested in broadening their horizons, there are other options if you know where to look.
On this customized tour, guests and their passionate local guide will focus on the city’s distinct neighborhoods and hard-working residents. They will, therefore, enjoy a more relaxed and engaging experience than they’d likely have on a more traditional tour.
Tours touch on hidden gems like hip eateries, unique shopping areas, and cultural attractions that are within walking distance of most hotels.
7. History of ‘The Troubles’ Walking Tour
Many visitors from other countries have a hard time understanding all the religious, cultural, and historic elements that led to such tumult in Belfast over the years.
If you fall into that category and are eager to learn, this 2 ½-hour guided tour would be a great way to do it.
Guests and their guide will explore a number of neighborhoods that were home to some of the most tragic events during a nearly four-decade period often referred to as ‘The Troubles.’
Guides pride themselves on presenting unbiased and historically accurate perspectives in an engaging and enlightening way.
8. Derry Girls Filming Locations Coach Tour from Belfast
Derry Girls is a popular English sitcom that was first broadcast in early 2018.
The show is set in Derry, Northern Ireland, in the ‘90s. Since its first airing, the series has taken on a life of its own.
For diehard fans, this filming locations bus tour from Derry is an absolute must.
Tours hit several actual filming locations that fans may recognize. Between stops, participants will watch a few old episodes and benefit from their guide’s insights into obscure tidbits of show trivia.
Tours also include a stop for lunch and a leisurely walking tour around Derry before returning to Belfast.
9. Hillsborough Castle Gardens Entrance Ticket
Guided tours definitely have their place on vacationer’s itineraries, but sometimes, exploring on your own is a great way to spend a few hours on your own terms.
The grounds of Hillsborough Castle are spread over more than 100 acres that were originally cultivated in the late 1700s; they’re home to some of Northern Ireland’s most incredible gardens.
This garden entrance ticket gives guests access to numerous themed gardens, quiet paths, a Quaker burial plot, and a historic ice house.
Along the way, there are ample areas to sit and enjoy the splendor, and plaques to describe just what you’re seeing.
10. Crumlin Road Gaol Historic Guided Tour
Since the Victorian era, the Crumlin Road Gaol has been one of Belfast’s most menacing specters.
It’s rife with sordid tales of political interrogation, unsolved murders, blood-curdling torture, and hunger strikes that ended in death for those intent on giving everything to their cause.
Guests of this poignant 70-minute tour will begin their experience by walking through the intimidating reception area, where rabble-rousers and malcontents of all colors started their new lives on the inside.
The prison also features impressive architecture and goes a long way toward explaining the violence that was the norm for much of the 20th century.
11. Belfast Taxi Mural Tour
Traditional Belfast taxi tours are great ways to see lots of sights quickly without expending much energy.
Though many of the tour’s highlights relate to the city’s violent past, guests and locals tend to find there’s a new spirit in the air that’s definitely a welcome change.
Tours begin at the city center, where participants will get an overview of Belfast’s past while passing a number of prominent murals and historical attractions, like the Peace Line Walls, which were built to separate loyalist Protestants and nationalist Catholics.
Tour guides are local cab drivers from the community, so they know the city inside and out like few others.
12. 3-Day Hop-on Hop-off City Bus Tour with Castle
For cost-conscious do-it-yourselfers, there’s really no better way to take in lots of attractions at your own speed than on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
This three-day city tour offers guests access to dozens of attractions spread over three full days, which means that even those who are perpetually stuck in low gear will have enough time to take most of them in.
The tour’s centerpieces include Belfast Castle, the Titanic Quarter, and a number of impressive political murals.
Guests can choose to hop off and see the things that they’re curious about, or sit tight until something comes along that really sparks their interest.
13. HMS Caroline and 2-Day City Tour Pass
Behind Titanic-related sites like the shipyards, the HMS Caroline is Belfast’s most notable nautical attraction.
The Caroline is a light cruiser that saw its fair share of naval combat during the First World War. This 2-day city pass entitles guests to unfettered access to its batteries, galleys, engine rooms, and sailor’s quarters.
Highlights include first-hand accounts of the seamen who served on the ship, a number of interactive exhibits and detailed models, and historic plaques that detail the ship’s history, from the time it was built to when it was eventually decommissioned.
Once inside, guests can explore at their own pace.
14. Game of Thrones Tour & 3-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Ticket
For serious Game of Thrones fans, exploring filming locations while in the Belfast area usually takes their itinerary’s top spot.
This combo package includes a Game of Thrones tour that is run by the show’s official transportation provider, so missing out on lesser-known locales won’t be a concern.
Tours last a full day and include stops at Carrickfergus Castle, the Antrim Coast, and Carnlough Harbor. Costumes and other props are provided at each location, so guests can don period garb and snap lots of great photographs.
Each guest also gets a complimentary three-day hop-on-hop-off city pass to enjoy later in their trip.
15. Political Conflict 3-Hour Walking Tour
Though most visitors could spend years in Belfast and never fully understand its disturbing past, guests of this 3-hour tour tend to walk away much more informed than they were beforehand.
Walking allows participants and their local guide to get a street-level perspective that those stuck on tour buses just won’t experience.
They’ll visit the Peace Line Walls that separate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, hear tales of families torn apart by the strife, and gaze at some of the country’s most poignant murals and street art.
As with other tours, guests will actually meet Republicans and Loyalists and hear their first-hand accounts of ‘The Troubles.’