What was once a location consumed by conflict, Belfast has transformed into a history-rich multicultural hub and self-proclaimed party town. Combining its past, future and present the city has lots to offer visitors whether they are couples, friends or families – no matter what age.
There is no better way to navigate your way around the city, it’s top eateries, bars and attractions than to take recommendations from a local. With that being said here is our ultimate Belfast guide:
Where to eat in Belfast
Working closely with their local suppliers and vendors, the special menu at Graze changes daily based on what’s fresh and available. Operating in Ballyhackamore successfully since 2013 and led by chef owner John Moffatt, Graze focuses on serving top quality dishes while being unpretentious. The casual and inviting interiors reaffirm this ethos. You can expect freshly caught fish, meat, poultry and vegetarian dishes with decadent desserts to follow. Families, friends and couples are all suited to a meal at Graze and there is free parking at the restaurant for up to 2-hours.
Self-described as a “Neighbourhood Restaurant” owners Saul McConnell and Pearson Morris bring their wealth of culinary and hospitality experience to the fore at Noble. Their menus change regularly keeping in line with what’s in season and their wine list is ever evolving.
With a choice between an Early Doors set menu or A La Carte menu of small and large sharing plates for dinner, a lunch menu and dessert menu there is something to suit every palate at Noble.
With an aim of serving fantastic food and wine in a relaxed environment, OX restaurant was opened in March 2013 by friends Stephen and Alain who met while developing their Michelin star kitchen experience in Paris. As a result of their incredible experience OX focuses on having a close relationship with their local suppliers and base their menus on ingredients that are in season.On their menu you’ll find high-quality meat, responsibly sourced fish with fresh fruit and vegetables. Alain also channeled his sommelier experience into their extensive drinks selection offering wines and beers from local winemakers and microbreweries.
Flavour is at the forefront of every service in Howard St. The industrial-styled eatery has gained a strong reputation for its South Eastern influences and use of fresh, local ingredients in its dishes.
Their A La Carte menu offers fusion dishes such as Marinated Monkfish Tempura, Crispy Salt & Chilli Beef and Confit Pork Belly and there is a dedicated menu for those with a vegan or vegetarian diet with Crispy Goat’s Cheese Fritters and Roast Cauliflower Massman Curry on offer. Whether you fancy a glass of wine or a cocktail with your dinner you’ll find a suitable option on Howard St.’s drinks menu.
Balloo House is located next to Strangford Lough and is the only pub in Northern Ireland to be awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand – an award that recognises an excellent level of quality cooking available at an affordable price.
Balloo house is best known for its fine selection of fresh local seafood, dry–aged steaks, pub grub classics and a warm atmosphere. A children’s menu is available for little ones and promises only freshly made dishes – no frozen nuggets! There is also a dedicated menu with vegan and vegetarian options.
Avenue 22 prides itself on providing guests with top-quality and locally sourced fresh food including goat’s cheese from Fivemiletown, early potatoes from Comber, and seafood from County Down. Favourites on their menu include Salt & Chilli Squid and their tasty Clayton Burger. Suitable for families with children, their kid’s menu has soup of the day, fish and chips, pizza, pasta, burgers and chicken goujons.
The spacious restaurant contains floor-to-ceiling windows where you can sit, relax and enjoy your meal as the life in the busy city whizzes by. Fancy a drink? Avenue 22 has a selection of whiskeys, gins, cocktails and craft beers with experienced servers on hand to make a recommendation.
Drinks in Belfast
The Points Whiskey and Alehouse aims to provide both tourists and locals with a true sense of this city’s diverse culture, housing live music acts from across the country seven nights a week. They pride themselves on having an amazing whiskey selection to match any pub. Visitors can grab a cold pint or whiskey and lounge by the large open fire.
The bar is inspired by the notorious district in New York’s Lower Manhattan known as the ‘Five Points’. Described as the first Slum in America and established in the early 19th Century, this infamous district became home to the first influx of Irish migrants, a melting pot of local criminals and gangs of all types.
Located near many of Belfast’s well-known attractions such as Great Victoria Street Station, the Grand Opera House, City Hall and Crumlin Road Gaol, The Crown Liquor Saloon was established in 1873 and is a piece of history in its own right. A true gem of the Victorian Era, though The Crown has been refurbished a number of times it still remains true to its roots with original features and gas lighting present in the grade A listed building.
Traditionally operated as a gin palace you will find a wealth of gin styles and serves, traditional cask ales, fine whiskeys and everything in between at The Crown.
Santeria is a great place to visit for fans of alcohol and those who prefer a quality cup of coffee. With an 8-page cocktail menu containing 3 types of Espresso Martinis, a selection of Whiskey, Vodka, Gin and Rum cocktails and a selection of wines you are sure to find something to tingle your taste buds at Santeria.
Should you feel a little peckish, Santeria also offer a gourmet wood-fired pizza menu for you to enjoy while you sip and chat the night away.
Modern minimalism meets classic Victorian architecture in the listed building that houses The National. With a newly installed heated beer garden, The National offers café dining and evening socialising with their cocktail menus, simple but tasty food menus and coffee that packs a punch. They are proud to serve the best in local food and drink in a stripped-back, casual setting perfect for couples and friends to catch up in.
Serving ice cold Sangria in summer and sweet Hot Cider in winter along with a variety of cocktails, beers, spirits and wines with unsolicited views of Belfast the Perch Rooftop Bar is Belfast’s original rooftop bar and the proud winner of the LCN award for “Best Outdoor Space”.
Situated on the 5th-floor rooftop of the historic Linenhouse Building in the Linen Quarter, the original sliding door lift will take you up to the bar where you notice original windows, brick-clad walls and a bird’s eye view of the city below. There is no other bar like this in Belfast.
Things to See in Belfast
Prison Island is a must-visit for fans of tv shows The Cube and Crystal Maze. Suitable for families, friends, teams and parties, Prison Island is comprised of 25 cells that will test intellectual, technical and physical skills. Unlike an escape room, Prison Island allows you to leave a cell at any time giving you a chance to try your hand at any of the challenge rooms.
Each challenge lasts 5 minutes and you can attempt it as many times as you like. There is also an Urban Axe Throwing station at Prison Island if you fancy trying your hand at some axe throwing.
Golden Thread Gallery is Belfast’s leading contemporary visual art gallery with a mission to engage, inspire and educate diverse audiences about visual art. They host 6 major exhibitions in the main gallery spaces and 6 emerging local artist exhibitions in the Project Space every year.
They also host art workshops for all ages and abilities, talks and guided tours linked to exhibitions, artist mentoring and outreach and education projects with communities across Northern Ireland making it well worth a visit for all.
Are you a fan of Game of Thrones? You can take an official coach day tour from Belfast City where you’ll see Old Castle Ward where King Robert asked Ned to be Hand of the King in season 1, the tree where Brienne dispatched three Stark soldiers and Inch Abbey where Robb Stark became King in the North among other iconic locations from the show.
Every tour guide is an extra from Game of Thrones with backstage insights from the show and all attendees are given Northern wool and leather cloaks, metal swords and hand-painted Stark family banners to feel fully immersed in the experience. This tour is a great way to learn more about your favourite show while also seeing some of the North’s most beautiful hidden gems of scenery.
A visit to Belfast Zoo makes for a fantastic day out for children (and adults) of all ages. The 55-acre site is home to more than 120 species of animals including tiny golden mantillas, giant Asian elephants and plenty in between. Make the most of your day at the zoo by arriving early and make sure to check out the times and locations to catch one of the daily talks or feeding times where children can discover interesting facts about their favourite animal.
Tip: Clayton Hotel Belfast have fantastic family room offers with tickets to Belfast Zoo included.
This award-winning museum and visitor centre must be seen to be believed. Titanic Belfast is the world’s largest visitor experience, located in the docklands where the ill-fated ship was built. Within the ship-shaped building you’ll discover 9 fully interactive galleries to experience life in Belfast in the early 1900’s, how the Titanic was built, what it was like on board and even see original and White Star artefacts.
You can also view the SS Nomadic on site which is the world’s last remaining White Star vessel to see 100 years’ worth of maritime and social history. Truly one of the highlights of any visit to Belfast, make sure you have lots of time to enjoy this informative, exciting and emotional attraction like no other.
Things to do in Belfast
Belfast’s official Black Taxi Tours are led by local driver guides with first-hand experience and personal accounts of life in Belfast during the troubles. The drivers come from both catholic and protestant backgrounds promising an unbiased tour of both sides of the story.
On their Belfast Political & Mural Tour you’ll see the raw side of Belfast city and its colourful history through the infamous murals, the inspiration behind them, visit the important areas like the Shankill and Falls Roads and sign your name upon the Peace Wall that separates the Protestant and catholic communities.
Inspired by the Mourne Mountains and led by top creatives, Mourne Creative seeks to keep the creativity in the Mournes alive and well by welcoming guests to designer-maker workshops inspired by the majestic landscape. From Ceramics to willow-weaving and everything in between, the workshops explore Irish heritage craft with a contemporary feel.
There is also a curated collection of work from new, emerging Irish designers and artists as well as established ones, that showcases the beauty of Ireland sourced here in Mourne. A visit to Mourne Creative is highly recommended if you attend a workshop you can leave with your own piece of art in the form of a ceramic mug, dog bowl, pot or vase.
- Club Vitae Swimming Pool
Did you know that Clayton Hotel Belfast is the only hotel in the city centre with an indoor heated swimming pool? Use of the pool is included during your stay and children are welcomed with adult supervision. The pool is 15-metres long and 1.1-metre in depth and perfect for completing lengths or having fun with the family.
Victoria Square is best known for its fantastic shopping experience, but did you know that you can visit the Victoria Square Dome on your shopping trip to enjoy 360° views of Belfast? The dome tour guide Gerry is on hand to help identify key points of interest in the city such as the famous Harland & Wolff Cranes, Belfast City Hall, Stormont Buildings and Cave Hill.
If you’re into yoga you can experience a session inside The Dome one Sunday per month and feel as if you’re among the clouds while you complete your practice.
Taste and Tour is a series of multi-award-winning food and drink tours in Belfast with a 5-star Tourism NI rating. They offer a variety of tours and experiences to suit all types. Choose from the Belfast Gin Jaunt, 5 stop Brunch, Crafty Beer & Street Eats, Belfast Whiskey Walk, Belfast Food Tour and City Cocktail Circuit tours where an expert guide will take you the best spots to sample food and drinks for each.Taste & Tour guides are local to the city and passionate about sharing their knowledge and recommendations with guests on the tour. There is no better way to see the best in food and drink in the city.
Serving delicious food, top-class service and incredible entertainment, forget the Moulin Rouge – an evening at Cabaret Supper Club cannot be beaten. Found in the heart of Belfast City, each weekend the Cabaret Supper Club hosts an exciting night of cocktails, comedy, acrobatics and burlesque performances that will make you laugh and leave you in awe. On show night you’ll be assigned a host for the evening and, as well as the show, you can enjoy a 3-course meal, specialty cocktails and fizzing champagne while you witness world-class performances. Booking is essential.
Located close to most of Belfast’s main attractions mentioned above Clayton Hotel Belfast is a four-star luxury hotel that provides the perfect escape from the bustling city for some R&R time. Enjoy the onsite swimming pool and enjoy a delicious dinner in Avenue 22 restaurant with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows and have a great night’s sleep in the top-quality beds in our spacious rooms. View the range of hotel offers for all types of guests and book your stay.