Whatever you think you know about Belfast – forget it. A real tourist trap with a plethora of fascinating attractions to rival Dublin, there’s much more to the Irish city than ‘The Troubles’, the Titanic and Game of Thrones. Filled to the brim with great drinking holes, gritty historical attractions and plenty of entertainment options, Belfast has long been a popular destination for weekend breaks, romantic getaways and holidays with friends. If you and your fellow wanderers prefer taking the road less travelled, you’re in luck as there are many unique attractions to discover in this diverse city:
Discover Narnia at CS Lewis Square
If you’re visiting Belfast with kids (or you’re still a big kid at heart), a turn around the newly opened CS Lewis Square is a magical way to spend an afternoon. Designed as part of a huge regeneration project of Belfast’s Connswater Greenway, the square is a touching tribute to the author who spent some of his early childhood in the city. From the mighty Aslan to the kind Mr Tumnus, see if you can spot all seven sculptures of characters from beloved classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Pucker up for a photo with the Big Fish
For a visual way of learning about the basics of Belfast’s history, head down to Donegall Quay to admire the city’s iconic salmon sculpture. Unmissable due to its size and bright blue tiles, the Big Fish has been a fixture there since 1999 and, as well as being wonderfully colourful, details the story of Belfast through writing and images engraved on it. Stock up on some great facts or just take a photo next to it for fun on your way to the nearby Titanic Quarter.
Drink and ride on a cycle pub crawl
We don’t recommend cycling whilst intoxicated, however a fun alternative tour of Belfast’s best sights and drinking holes by bike does let you soak up some culture while getting in some exercise. Counteract those extra calories by taking to the streets with a Belfast City Bike Tour which merges sightseeing with a stop at Hilden Brewery, or hire your own bike and map out a route of some of the city’s top pubs.
Run with the wolves at Belvoir Forest Park
Okay, a wolf hasn’t been spotted here for centuries, but you’d be forgiven for thinking you might stumble across one on your stroll round the park. Eerily tranquil, this forest about 6km out of the city centre is not just blessed with stunning panoramic views but is also home to several historical sites too. From a medieval graveyard and ancient oak trees to the ruins of a Norman motte, combine fresh air with sightseeing on a turn around this picturesque corner of Belfast. Keep an eye out for some wonderful wildlife too, including rare red squirrels and over 30 types of bird.
Catch a show at the Belfast Empire Music Hall
You’ll undoubtedly be spoilt for choice with the range of entertainment in Belfast, but none offer up quite the same atmosphere as the Empire Music Hall. Whether it’s the stunning classic saloon bar-style interiors, it’s location in a converted church, or the musical and comedic talent who regularly grace the stage, this is truly a venue for all occasions. Whether you want to try an authentic local meal, sample some craft beers, have a laugh or dance the night away to live music in the basement bar, the Belfast Empire Music Hall is a guaranteed good time.
Have a bite at Made in Belfast
A unique addition to the city’s culinary scene, Made in Belfast opened its doors in 2008 on Wellington Street and fast became a locally loved place to enjoy a heart-warming meal. Nearly ten years on, there are now three locations around Belfast which all sell the eatery’s wide mix of rustic yet high quality dishes created from sustainably sourced meat and fish. With its eclectic mismatched décor and friendly vibe, Made in Belfast isn’t just a great place to sample some Irish classics and global staples- it’s also the perfect place to recover from that cycling pub crawl too.